Now the nights are drawing in I will get down to uploading some photo's from my various trips this year. In August I had the pleasure of visiting Belarus and following the route of Heers Gruppe Mitte from the first day of Operation Barbarossa via Minsk to Vitebsk. In this initial thread I will post some photo's of the Fortress of Brest Litovsk, a primary objective on day one of Op Barbarossa.
The area around the nineteenth-century Brest Fortress was the site of the 1939 Battle of Brześć Litewski, when German forces captured it from Poland during the Polish September Campaign. However, according to the terms of the 1939 German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact the territory around Brest as well as 52% of the then Poland was assigned to the Soviet Union. Thus, in the summer of 1941, the Germans had to capture the fortress yet again - this time from the Soviets.
The Germans planned to seize Brest and the Brest Fortress which was located in the path of Army Group Centre during the first hours of Operation Barbarossa. The fortress and the city controlled the crossings over the Bug River, as well as the Warsaw–Moscow railway and highway.
The fortress had no warning when the Axis invaded on 22 June 1941, and became the site of the first major fighting between Soviet forces and Wehrmacht. From the first minutes of the invasion, Brest and Brest Fortress were shelled by the German Wehrmacht. The initial artillery fire took the unprepared fortress by surprise, inflicting heavy material and personnel casualties. Fierce battles were fought at the border, in the town of Brest and in the fortress itself. The first German assault on the fortress took place half an hour after the bombardment started; the surprised Soviet defenders were unable to form a solid front and instead defended isolated strongpoints–the most important of which was the fortress itself. Some managed to escape the fortress; most were trapped inside by the encircling German forces. Despite having the advantage of surprise, the subsequent attempt by the Germans to take the fortress with infantry quickly stalled with high losses: about 281 Wehrmacht soldiers died the first day in the fighting for the fortress. Heavy fighting continued two more days. In the evening of June 24, 1941, some 368 Germans were dead and 4-5,000 Red Army soldiers in captivity.
On June 25 and June 26, 1941, local fighting continued mainly in the citadel. Till the evening of June 26, 1941, most of the northern Kobrin fortification, except the East Fort, was captured. It is claimed that isolated defenders were being rooted out by Germans as late as August when Hitler and Mussolini visited the fortress with heavy security to protect them from remaining defenders. The only documentary proof of resistance after June 29, 1941, is a report that states a shoot-out on July 23, 1941, with the subsequent capture of a Soviet "Oberleutnant" the next day.
If interested could I suggest that you watch the film 'Fortress of war' that tells the story of the siege from a Soviet perspective. Great film if done a la Hollywood.
Map of the Fortress complex,
Central memorial complex overlooking the remnants of the building where the treaty of Brest Litovsk was signed between Germany and Russia in 1918.
Outer wall of the main Citadel.
Result of flame throwers on brick.At the end of the seige ratherthat enter individual rooms/cellars flamethrowers were employed to clear resistance.
Memorial to Regimental Kommissar Yefim Fomin, One of the central figures in the defence shot on this spot as both a commissar and a Jew
Memorial to NKVD troops
Artillery pieces and in the background what was the officers club. Elements from the first German assault were cut off here and later Soviet troops hid in tunnels underneath emerging to snipe at Germans after the official fall of the fortress. Recently the remains of over 300 soviet troops were found in one such tunnel which has been sealed up and left with them still interred inside.
As always tanks..
North gate in 1939, after Guderian captured the fortress for the first time prior to handing it over to the Soviets.
Articles from the museum.
Ost fort, the final part of the complex to surrender following extensive bombing by the Luftwaffe.
Graves of German troops fallen in the assault.
Hitler and Mussolini visit Brest litovsk.