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Georgia: First Republic, 1918-1921

Last modified: 2018-07-18 by ivan sache
Keywords: exile |
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Flag of the First Republic of Georgia (1918-1921) - Image by Ivan Sache, 29 November 1998

See also:

The 1918-1921 flag

According to Trembicky's monograph Flags of Non-Russian Peoples under Soviet Rule published as the Flag Bulletin [tfb], #8 (3) in summer 1969, the flag of Georgia was the same as the flag used in 1990-2004 except for having dimensions 1:2 instead of the modern 3:5 and having a slightly larger canton. Trembicky states that it was flown as the flag of the constituent republic of the Transcaucasian Federation on 22 April 1918 when the Federation was formed, and as the flag of independent Georgia from 26 May 1918 until the Red Army finally completed the conquest of Georgia 18 March 1921.

Norman Martin, 24 November 1998

The Georgian flag was designed by Jakob Nikoladze who won a contest, and was accepted by the Georgian de facto authorities on 25 March 1917.
On 22 May 1918, Georgia proclaimed independence under the flag created in 1917 but only de facto because the flag laws were not changed and the former Transcaucasian Federation flags were still officially in use. The national flag was officially adopted only on 22 April 1921 and the former federal flag was officially abolished.

Jaume Ollé, 29 November 1998


A reported variant of the flag of the First Republic of Georgia - Image by Ivan Sache, 29 November 1998

Some variations of the Georgian flag were reported for the period 1918-1921. One of them is a horizontal black-white-red (1:1:2) flag.

Jaume Ollé, 29 November 1998

Standard of the First Republic


Standard of the First Republic - Photo contributed by Aleksandar Nemet, 21 July 2009

The shatandart of the First Republic is kept in the First Republic Hall of the Parliament of Georgia, used nowadays to hold meeeting of parliamentary commissions.

The State Council of Heraldry of Georgia, 4 September 2012

The word shtandart (შტანდარტი) is the Russian form of the word standard, and is used in vexillology in exactly the same way. Perhaps that is the word which was meant to be used, but got misspelled somehow?
If one might wonder why they would use a Russian word, one shall bear in mind that Russian was the "language of inter-ethnic communication", as it was officially called, in the USSR and that only the younger generations of Georgians did not use it as such. Consequently, it seems quite possible that, if there was any uncertainty about the correct English word to use, a Russian word was used instead, in hope that it would be recognized by foreigners.

Tomislav Todorović, 12 September 2012

Georgian has also borrowed the word from Russian, ending up slightly different. Whatever the etymology, the word shtandarto (შტანდარტი) appears in Georgian Wikipedia referring to various flaggy things including vexillums and presidential standards.

Jonathan Dixon, 12 September 2012

The Georgian government in exile

Leuville-sur-Orge (4,837 in 2015 inhabitants), a town located 30 km south-west of Paris is more famous in Georgia than in France. The seat of the Georgian government in exile in 1921, the "castle" of Leuville has been for generations of Georgians a symbol of resistance and aspiration to freedom.

In 1921, three years after the proclamation of the independence of Georgia, the Red Army invaded the country. Gathered in Batumi, the Parliament voted the exile of the Government, which was granted political asylum by France. On 18 March 1921, President Noe Zhordania (1868-1953), the members of the Government, a few Representatives and their families went aboard the ship Ernest Renan. Once in Paris, they founded the Georgian Association in France.
Running out of money, the emigrates looked for a cheaper place. Using Georgian state funds, they acquired in Leuville a 5-ha domain surrounding a "castle", indeed a hunting lodge. Some thirty Georgian emigrates lived in the fifteen flats of the castle and shared the lounge.
Life in Leuville was harsh. There was neither water nor electricity supply and money quickly vanished, as well as any hope of return to the homeland. The President and the members of the Government grew local vegetables in the garden, as well as Georgian red beans and Russian pickles, which were also produced by the local growers and jointly sold on the markets in Paris.

The Government in exile established its official residence in Leuville and maintained close contacts with the anti-Soviet resistance in Georgia. Organized from Leuville, the 1924 national insurrection failed after the execution of its local leader, Benia Chkhikvishvili (1881-1924), the former Mayor of Tbilisi and official owner of the castle of Leuville.
On 10 February 1927, the three main Georgian political parties in exile constituted a real estate company, The Georgian Home, and purchased the castle. The notarial deed states that the estate, bought with Georgian state funds, should be retroceded to Georgia as soon as the country recovers its independence.
The survivors from the 1924 insurrection fled to France; most of them settled in Sochaux and Audincourt (east of France) and Paris; Leuville was their meeting place.
In the 1960s, some thirty Georgians still lived in the castle and another ten of them lived in the town of Leuville. To maintain connection with Georgia, a print was set up in the castle and Georgian newspapers were published.

After the death of the founders of the real estate company, the Association for the Georgian Home was founded. Today, the castle is inhabited only in summertime. The Association organizes workshops, visits and celebrations. It also takes care of the tombs located in the "Georgian square", a part of the municipal cemetary of Leuville that was offered to the Georgian community. The Roman Catholic church of Leuville is also officially lent to the Georgian Orthodox Church for weddings and funerals; it houses an icon of St. Nino, the patron saint of Georgia.
On 26 May 2001, the National Day of Georgia, the municipality of Leuvillle twinned with the Georgian municipality of Mtskheta.

The lounge of the castle of Leuville shows a few souvenirs from the Georgian government in exile, including photographies and the original independance act of the country, shown today flanked by the two national flags of Georgia (1918-1921 & 1990-2004; 2004-).
[Eva Csergo, Caucaz agency, 29 December 2004]

Ivan Sache, 15 February 2005