Brest Fortress

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Brest Fortress


the hero-fortress near the city of Brest, Byelorussian SSR, at the confluence of the Mukhavets and Bug rivers.

As early as the 19th century, Brest’s location at the junction of roads to Warsaw, Vilnius, Moscow, and Kiev gave it strategic significance as an important stronghold on the western border of Russia. Construction of the Brest Fortress was begun in 1833. It was repeatedly modernized during the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th, and by World War I (1914-18) it was a powerful first-class fortress with a citadel, individual fortification works, and forts. In 1915 it was bypassed by German troops without a battle. It was part of Poland from 1919 to 1939. It was returned to the USSR in 1939.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45, the Brest Fortress became famous for a heroic 28-day defense (June 22 to July 20, 1941). The fortress was attacked by the German 45th Infantry Division reinforced by tanks, artillery, and air support. The scanty individual subunits of the 42nd Rifle Division, the 6th Rifle Division, and the border guards (3, 500 men in all) that were stationed in the fortress took the thrust of the enemy’s superior forces.

The defense was directed by Major P. M. Gavrilov, Captain I. N. Zubachev, and Regimental Commissar E. M. Fomin. For some days the heroic defenders of the fortress successfully repulsed the attacks of the German fascist forces. On June 29-30 the enemy launched a general assault on the fortress, managing to take many fortifications. The defenders suffered heavy losses, but they continued the resistance under incredibly difficult conditions (a lack of water, provisions, and medicine). For nearly a month, the heroes of the Brest Fortress paralyzed an entire German division. Most fell in battle, some fought through to the partisans, and a portion of the weakened and wounded fell prisoner.

The defense of the Brest Fortress was a striking example of the extraordinary fortitude and courage of Soviet fighting men. It was truly a legendary exploit of the sons of the people, who had boundless love for their homeland and who gave up their lives for it. The Soviet people revere the memory of the courageous defenders of the Brest Fortress: Captain V. V. Shablovskii; Senior Political Instructor N. V. Nesterchuk; Lieutenants I. F. Akimochkin, A. M. Kizhevatov, and A. F. Naganov; Junior Political Instructor A. P. Kalandadze; Assistant Political Instructor S. M. Matevosian; Senior Sergeant Abdullaev D. Abdulla-ogly; Regimental Ward P. S. Klypa; and many others. In memory of the feat of its heroes, the fortress was awarded the honorary title Hero-Fortress on May 8, 1965, and presented with the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal.


Smirnov, S. S. Geroi Brestskoi kreposti. Moscow, 1961.
Nikonova, T. K., comp. Geroicheskaia oborona Brestskoi kreposti. Moscow, 1955.
Geroicheskaia oborona: Sb. vospominanii ob oborone Brestskoikreposti v iiune-iiule 1941, 3rd ed. Minsk, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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