World Abaza Congress

24 June 2024
Battles in the mountains of Abkhazia
from the history of the Great Patriotic War
The battles on the mountain passes of Abkhazia are one of the bloodiest episodes of the Great Patriotic War, which largely determined the outcome of the battle for the Caucasus. The persistent attempts of the German troops to penetrate deep into the Republic proved futile: the enemy was unable to occupy the towns of Abkhazia.
Marukh Pass - an observation deck with an obelisk and memorial plaques in honor of the soldiers of the Red Army who fought and died during the Great Patriotic War
In the summer of 1942, fascist troops launched an offensive in the Caucasus, and by the autumn of the same year they occupied most of the Kuban and North Caucasus. The fighting reached the mountain passes of Abkhazia. In the towns they began to build defenses and bomb shelters. The offensive was repelled, the enemy was unable to capture Sukhum, Gudauta, and Gagra, and in October 1943 was completely rejected from the territory of the Caucasus. Much valuable information about the battles in the mountains of Abkhazia is contained in the book of the historian Vladimir Pachulia "Abkhazia in the Great Patriotic War", as well as in the memoirs of the Sukhum resident Yevgeny Chernyshev. From his diaries, in particular, we learn about the victims of the air raids, about the defense of the high-mountainous village of Pskhu, about the ships with the wounded in the port of Sukhum.
The attack on the Caucasus
© From the book by Kazi-Magomet Aliyev "In the Edelweiss zone"
It was drizzling in the morning. Father turned on the receiver. With a stammering voice, Molotov reported on the perfidious attack of fascist Germany on the Soviet Union. The news spread around the yard. The receiver gathered adults from around the yard. Message repeated. Adults were anxiously discussing the news. We, the children, did not understand much, but they said cockyly that we would now beat the Germans!
from the book of memoirs of a resident of Sukhum Yevgeny Chernyshev
Fascist Germany attacked the Soviet Union in the early morning of June 22, 1941. On the same day, the USSR Supreme Council declared the mobilization of military service throughout the country, including the Transcaucasian Military District, to which Abkhazia belonged.
Father and daughter are waiting for news on the radio, Sukhum, 1941
© Yevgeny Chernyshev
As early as 11 o'clock on June 23, in the Gagra district they reported: all citizens who are to be mobilized were handed the summons, a transport was prepared for sending people to Sukhum. By June 27, the mobilization plan for the Gagra district was fully implemented. In other areas of the republic, mobilization was also organized.
Military sanatorium, Sukhumi, 1941
From 4 to 19 July, the military registration and enlistment offices of Abkhazia received 5974 applications with requests to go to the front, including from the girls. In total, during the years of the Great Patriotic War, 55.5 thousand natives of Abkhazia were drafted into the ranks of the Soviet army and navy. Of these, 17 thousand 430 people have not returned from the battlefields. Twenty-two natives of Abkhazia were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.
From October 1, 1941, in all towns and districts of Abkhazia, all men from 16 to 50 years old began to study military science without interruption of work.
The Red Cross Society and the health authorities of Abkhazia began training physicians: sanitary instructors, grooms, and nurses.
The housing department began to issue food ration cards for bread, sugar, salt and other products. The main thing was bread. Worker was entitled to 800 grams, serving men 600, a housewife — 500, children — 400 each. The bread cards were assigned to a certain shop. Saleswoman cut off the coupon for today with each card. Then for the report she stuck them on the sheets.
From the book of memoirs of a resident of Sukhum Yevgeny Chernyshev
Sukhum city council has adapted 22 basement, semi-basement and basement rooms for bomb shelters. It was planned to build 11 more air-raid shelters that were supposed to save the residents of the town during air or chemical attacks.

In Abkhazia, as in all the border republics and some central regions of the USSR, martial law was introduced.
German bomb of the period of the bombing of Sukhum, fragment of the exposition of the Abgosmuseum
© Naala Avidzba
According to the loudspeaker, the latest news was transmitted in the town. Crowds of people listened to it. The expectation of the quick defeat of the fascists and the postponement of hostilities to Germany after the first reports that prevailed in the first days of the war was replaced by alarm. The Nazis bomb and capture our towns.
From the book of memoirs of a resident of Sukhum Yevgeny Chernyshev
The plans of the fascist command initially did not provide for an attack on the Caucasian territories. However, when the Germans' lightning war plan failed, they turned to the Caucasus.
Map of the war of 1941-1945
© From the book by Evgeny Chernyshev "Abkhazia of the 30s-40s. German aircrafts bomb Sukhumi"
There are a lot of refugees in the town. Some of them found shelter where they could. The rest went farther east. Many of them at home were bombed, lost loved ones, homes.
From the book of memoirs of a resident of Sukhum Yevgeny Chernyshev
On August 23, 1941, the Transcaucasian Military District was transformed into the Transcaucasian Military Front. Allied forces entered Iran, where since the beginning of the war there were provocations directed against the USSR. This defused the situation on the southern borders of the Soviet Union.
Map of the war of 1941-1945
© From the book by Evgeny Chernyshev "Abkhazia of the 30s-40s. German aircrafts bomb Sukhumi"
At the end of September 1941, Abkhazia began the construction of defense facilities in which the entire able-bodied male population of the republic was involved. During construction, horse-drawn transport was actively used. Abkhaz auardyn (type of bullock cart) turned out to be indispensable.

In November 1941, in the village of Bambora in Gudauta, the construction of an airfield began. A special group of high-speed aircraft was soon stationed here. Its tasks included the fight against enemy air reconnaissance.
Photo and diploma of the pilot-attack aircraft Kiazim Hothotovich Agrba, a fragment of the exposition of the Abgosmuseum
© Naala Avidzba
At the beginning of 1942, the "Junkers-88" aircraft, with three German pilots performing reconnaissance, made an emergency landing in the Gudauta region. The hidden pilots were searched for five days and later captured. Later, throughout the war, the enemy threw paratroopers and saboteurs into Abkhazia, mostly from among Russian émigrés in the West or recruited Soviet prisoners of war.
German aircrafts "Junkers-88"
The Soviet command assumed that the Germans would make an attempt to attack the Caucasus from the sea, therefore they were actively preparing to repel the naval landing. However, the main forces of the invasion was the land army of the Germans. The picture of the enemy's plan began to emerge only at the end of June 1942. From that moment, actions began to defend the passes of the Main Caucasus Range.
At the beginning of August 1942, the Klukhor Pass was defended by the 1st and 2nd rifle companies, a mortar platoon, two sapper squadrons — a total of 218 people with 189 rifles, 14 machine guns, 4 mortars, 8 RPPs. For the destruction of the main trail on the northern slope of the pass, only preparatory work was done.
The defense of the Klukhor, Himsa, Tsekerker, Chamashkha, Dou passes was organized; Aghvar, Ahtsyrva, Bygirtskha, Dhzishra; Chkhalta and Zakharovka villages. 1890 people, 1263 rifles, 69 RPPs, 14 machine guns, 35 mortars, 79 submachine guns, 20 PTRs were involved. However, the Sanchar and Damhurts passes, as well as some other important crossing paths leading from the North Caucasus to Abkhazia, remained without defense.
In mid-August, German troops launched an offensive against Pyatigorsk, Mozdok and Tuapse, and simultaneously launched an attack on the passes of the Main Caucasus Range. The operation of the German command to seize the Caucasus received the code name "Edelweiss".
Steam ships appeared in the port on the roadstead. They took turns mooring to the pier. They evacuated children from orphanages and seriously wounded from the front. They were taken to the railway station and sent further into the country.
From the book of memoirs of a resident of Sukhum Yevgeny Chernyshev
The enemy hoped to cross the Sanchar, Klukhor and Marukh passes and capture Sukhum, Gudauta and Gagra. In mid-August 1942, units of the 1st Edelweiss Mountain Division of the Germans occupied the Klukhor and Nakhar passes. The Germans went to the rear of the Soviet soldiers, beating their defenses along the mountain paths. At the same time, according to a number of testimonies, they allowed a flock of sheep in front of them. Animals that passed passes more than once found trails without any problems.
During the five days of fighting from August 15 to 19 in the battles for the Klukhor and Nakhar Passes, losses of the Soviet troops amounted to 239 people, 34 were injured, three were missing. However, although with heavy losses, the Germans managed to restrain the offensive. The fighting continued.
Wehrmacht rangers on the march through the Caucasus Mountains
Several people ran up to us from the street in order to hide from splinters falling from above. One grandmother from a neighboring yard pressed her broken intestines to her stomach. We looked at her, but we could not help.
From the book of memoirs of a resident of Sukhum Yevgeny Chernyshev
On August 15, 1942, the Germans made the first air strikes on Sukhum. Ships, boats and barges were sunk, the pier was destroyed. There were killed and wounded. Since then, the Germans systematically bombed the towns and villages of Abkhazia from the air.
The consequences of the bombing in Sukhum
© Anzor Agumaa Archive
On 25 August the Germans launched an offensive on the Sanchar Pass. They managed to capture the village of Sanchara on the outskirts of the village of Pskhu. Despite the fact that the locals, armed with hunting rifles, hastily organized the defense, the Germans quickly took the whole village. Part of the residents fled into the forest, the rest were ordered to surrender their weapons.
I, my brother Martin and the residents of the village P. Zakharov and P. Semenenko were summoned to the Pskhu village council. Everyone who could hold a weapon in their hands gathered there. The leaders of the village set before us the task: to detain the Germans until the arrival of the Red Army units. We were given one rifle and 15 cartridges for two.
From the memoirs of a Pskhu resident cited in A. Bobrov's book "The Riddles of Pskhu"
The Germans knew the paths and passages in the mountains of Abkhazia. On the eve of the war, they came to the republic as tourists and studied the terrain. Therefore, the chief lieutenant came into the house of a Pskhu resident Alexandra Shchepakina and gave her a chocolate with the words: "For your treat with delicious potatoes in the past, when we were in your village".
Combat inventory from passes, a fragment of the exposition of the Abgosmuseum
© Naala Avidzba
On August 27, the Germans left Pskhu in the direction of Gudauta. They began to descend to the villages of Achandara and Aatsy, but were rebuffed.

Strong battles were fought on the Marukh pass. At the beginning of September 1942, the 46th Army under the command of General Konstantin Leselidze launched an offensive, managed to repel Pskhu and throw the enemy back.

In the second half of October, great snow fell on the passes of the Main Caucasus Range. The depth of snow cover reached two meters. It became impossible to fight.
Delivery to of food and ammunition passes. In the photo: the guides V. Smyr, V. Cerekidze and B. Toryunov, photo by S. Korotkov, 1942
In the middle of January 1943, the German command began to withdraw troops from the passes of the Main Caucasian Range so as not to remain "in the bag" after the defeat at Stalingrad. The front was moving away from Abkhazia.
Victory in the battle for the Caucasus was of great political and military-strategic importance for the USSR. The seizure of the Caucasus and the further advance of the Germans in the countries of the Near and Middle East was prevented; oil-producing areas of Grozny and Baku were retained, as well as the bases of the Black Sea Fleet; communications leading through the Caspian Sea to Iran and to the Persian Gulf were protected.
The heroes of the Soviet Union are: Harutyun Chakryan, Noah Adamia, Rajden Bartsyts, Nikolai Khodosov, Nikolai Beria, Vladimir Ochalenko, Georgy Dermanovsky, Mihran Bastandzhyan, Mikhail Sakhnenko, David Tavadze, Vitaly Popkov, Vladimir Kharaziya, Boris Garin, Yervand Gharziah, Yervand Gharanzya, Boris Sarnenko, David Tavadze, Nikolay Redkin, Ivan Zubkov, Varlaim Gablia, Jason Kokosteria, Meliton Kantaria, Harutyun Meletyan, Yaroslav Iosseliani, Konstantin Gontar.
Ivan Vanacha, Irodion Tsulaia and Harut Shushanyan became full Chevaliers of the Order of Glory, which is equivalent to the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

© Author of the text- Astanda Ardzinba, editor - Olga Soldatenkova, bild editor - Naala Avidzba, editor-in-chief - Amina Lazba
The article used materials from the book by V.M. Pachulia "Abkhazia in the Great Patriotic War".