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Brest-Litowsk and Barbarossa

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe October 1939 to February 1943' started by Kai-Petri, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I remember having read on Brest-Litowsk that the Red Amy soldiers fought for a long time there after the beginning of Brabarossa.

    Anybody know more of this. How long did they fight? Or was it just after-war propaganda?

    :confused:
     
  2. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

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    I found it on this site:
    http://www.brestonline.com/History/bh6.shtml

    The Brest fortress was the place where the war made its first thundering step which broke the silence of that memorial dawn in June 1941. By the beginning of the war the fortress had lost its defence significance due to the powerful weapons and new military tactics.

    Some of the fortifications were destroyed, and the fortress was used by the Soviet army only for billeting the troops. Soviet frontier-guards first were attacked on. The detachment of the lieutenant Kizhevatov armed with guns and grenades repulsed several tank attacks. Having big losses the frontier-guards withdrew to the fortress which became the main center of resistance on the border.

    Five hours after the start of the war Germans encircled the fortress and entered the city. The street fights began. Having advantage in arms and manpower nazi quickly suppressed the resistance in the city and continued to move eastward.

    The fortress made a prolonged defence against the Germans. The 45th division formed in the Hitler’s native land in Austria was storming the fortress. The division was enforced by three artillery regiments. 500 cannons took the fortress under fire, 600 bombs were thrown on the fortifications.

    Old Russian fortifications became impregnable for armed to the teeth Nazi. The participant of the German offence Rudolf Gschopf remembers: “We believed the fortress was turned into the pile of ruins. Right after the artillery fire the infantry crossed the Boog river and tried to take the fortress by quick and energetic offence. We got disillusioned. Russians were caught in beds by our fire.

    Nevertheless, they amazingly quickly recovered, formed fighting groups and organised selfless and persistent defence... Our losses in manpower, particularly in officers, became of sorrowful rate. Numerous Russian soldiers hidden and camouflaged in the bushes on the western island did not let our reinforcements pass. On the first day of the war two headquarters of our regiments were encircled and destroyed. The commanders of the regiments were killed.”

    The attempt to take the fortress instantly failed, and the its siege began. On the 24th of June, two days after the war started, the united command of the Soviet troops in the fortress was created headed by captain I.N. Zubachev and political officer E.M. Fomin to organise more effective defence.

    Cut from the outside world, starving and parched with thirst, they stood firm and died the death of heroes. Nazi had to pay a high price for every fort, every casemate, every stone of the fortress. The fortress was constantly under artillery fire. Neither flame-throwers and tear gas nor tank attacks and air attacks broke the defence.

    When nazi took ground fortifications soviet soldiers continued fighting in the underground. The heroic defence lasted almost a month when the Soviet-German front line was far in the East. Even the enemy was shocked at the courage of the fortress defenders. “Officers and men has kept fighting till the last minute. The demand to surrender... had no impact on them” (from a report of the Staff of the Armies’ Group “Center” to its Command). Soldiers fought to the last.


    WE ARE DYING
    HONOURABLY...
    WE SHALL DIE BUT NOT
    ABANDON THE FORTRESS.
    MOTHERLAND, FAREWELL!

    The long-suffering walls of the fortress conveyed these words.


    Some historians claim though, that Soviet soldiers did not want to leave the fortress and try to go to the East because they were actually secret police officers who committed a lot of crimes agains local population just before the war.

    Thus, they had little chances to survive on their way to the East and had nothing else to do as to stay in the fortress and fight against Germans from whom they could not expect mercy either. Nevertheless, the fact that these soldiers made a prolonged defence lacking water, food and amunition makes them heroes.
     
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  3. Heartland

    Heartland Member

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    Brest-Litowsk was one of the first indications that the whole rotten structure coming down may not be entirely true. Like Erwin posted, the city was encircled a few hours into the invasion on June 22. The hoeplessly encircled defenders fought on against the odds, enduring heavy Luftwaffe attacks on June 28 attempting to dislodge them with heavy bombs. On June 30 the the citadel fell, with the Wehrmacht taking several thousand prisoners. Fighting continued however, and the Wehrmacht brought in heavy siege guns to hammer the city. Still, the final resistance was not squashed until July 23 when the last few survivors surrendered, almost exactly one month after getting encircled.
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Thanx Erwin, Heartland!

    Just what I wanted to know!

    ;)
     
  5. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Another tidbit on Brest-Litowsk... the super-heavy Karl-Gereate mortars were used by the Germans against the Russian fortress. A battery of two guns- Artillerie-Abteilung (mot) 833 was used to fire from Terespol. The "Zitadelle of Brest" and the "North Fort" were engaged by the guns. The guns were NR. IV ("Thor", I think equipped with the 54cm barrel) and NR. III (not sure of the name, I know it was equipped with the 60cm barrel from photos). The guns fired a total of 31 rounds between the two. 24 were fired on the Zitadelle. The damage from the shells was readily discernable from the hits of Stukas and other artillery. From an after-action report- "The shells fired by the battery certainly had a strong physical and demoralizing effect. In hindsight, this action appears to have been completely worthwhile."
    Although also of note, the guns had a large share of mechanical difficulties during the operation. On the first day, firing was cut short due to... "rounds getting stuck so that the breech wouldn't close while loading the fourth round in one gun and the fifth round in the other." At one other point a "specialist" had to be flown in from Ardelt in Eberswalde to fix one of the cranes needed to assemble the guns.

    Crazy likes big guns...

    [ 25. March 2003, 10:54 PM: Message edited by: CrazyD ]
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Excellent addition. Thanx CrazyD!

    ;)
     
  7. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

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    Didn't they use them against Sebastopol in 1941?

    Does anyone know if they used the "Fat Berta's" in WW2. Or was this only in WW2?
     
  8. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Yup... Erwin, check the thread in the Russian Front area on "Sevastopol"... from a while back. I posted some of the info on the Karl-Gereates use at Sevastopol, which I'm planning on finishing tonight.

    The "Big Bertha" gun was only used in WW1. BUT- the germans did come up with some even more impressive big guns for WW2.

    http://www.ww2forums.com/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=000052
    Dora thread

    http://www.ww2forums.com/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=000059
    Thread on the Karl-Gereate super-heavy self-propelled mortar series. I've got a really good book on these- lemme know if there are any specifics you want me to post.

    http://www.ww2forums.com/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=7;t=000033
    Sevastopol thread.
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Just curious. Read that in Brest-Litowsk there were Chechen soldiers, the numbers varying from 17 to 4,000. ANybody have a book to give as source?
     
  11. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    I have not heard this Kai and too would be interested in some info.
     
  12. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

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    Hi everyone -

    In the night/morning of 22 June, when Operation “Barbarossa” started, were 6[SUP]th[/SUP] and 28[SUP]th[/SUP] rifle division stationed at Brest-Litowsk, each about neraly 9,000 men (5 russian regiments, 2 of them artillery regiments, a reconnaissance batalion, an anti-aircraft batailon, supply forces and medical bataillons) - and 300 officers' families in the fortress . On the opposite bank 30 meters far from the border river Bug and Muchawiec was the 45th Infantry Division under the command of Major General Fritz Schlieper, who had the task of taking the fortress. The 45[SUP]th[/SUP] Infantry division were about 17,000 men.

    The German plan to take the fortress by storm did not work out. The nearly four square kilometer area of the fortress was surrounded by ditches and rivers, divided internally by water channels and artificial arms again in four small islands. Casemates, sniper stands, turrets with Pak (anti-tank guns) and anti-aircraft guns were well camouflaged. Since spring 1941 the fortress turned into one of the strongest fortess on the borderline. The fortress architecture offered families and soldiers protection, so that many were able to survive the massive artillery attack which started at 3:15 am. on 22[SUP]nd[/SUP] of june – which had surprised them in her sleep. Under very unfavorable conditions, the Red Army took up arms and began to put up to defend against the attack. Others succeeded, the fortress - as provided in case of an attack - to leave eastwards.


    The 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] batailon of Infantryregiment 135 (part of the 45[SUP]th[/SUP] infantry division) under the command of captain Praxa was ordered to capture the island in the west part of the fortress and the center with the barack blocks. The Germans knew that they could only conquer the fortress by infantry forces, because the fortress was “panzersicher” – which means, that it seemed not be very successful to attack the fortress by armored forces.

    The detailed German plan was that the artillery fire should stop after each 4 minutes and being brought forward 100 meters. But what “nasty” surprise for the attacking german infantry men: the artillery fire, even the heavy shells of two 60 cm mortars, couldn´t destroy the mighty walls of the citadel. Although the german forces reached the other shore side of river Bug by stormboats after 9 minutes (at 3:28 am).

    Around midday, the 135[SUP]th[/SUP] and the 130[SUP]th[/SUP] infantry regiments fought deep in the fortress. But in front of the Eastfortress on the North Island and near the Officers' Club and the barracks complex of the central island the assault went not 1 meter further. Soviet snipers and machine guns in the turrets blocked the way. Artillery couldn´t been used because of the close interaction between the attacker and defender units.

    The 45[SUP]th[/SUP] Infantry division of the Wehrmacht suffered unexpectedly heavy casualties on the first day of the war. On the evening of the first day of the assault 21 officers and 290 NCOs and men had been killed by russian flame-throwers, handgrenades, killed by snipers or in combat man against man.

    Field Marshal Günther von Kluge ordered already on the evening of 22 June "that no useless german blood should be cast in the battle for the citadel”, because the fights have only local significance. The enemy should be starved in the citadel.

    Fierce fighting stopped after three days, at the end of the third day, about 4,000 Red Army soldiers were in a German POW camp. Two more days, was fought in which resistance to individual herd on 27 June was widely rest in the fortress, only the Ostfort on the North Island was defended.

    As a result of the failure of the assault the german task forces were withdrawn from the fortress and several new assaults by artillery forces and by the Luftwaffe (german airforce) for some days started.

    On 29[SUP]th[/SUP] of June later Feldmarschal Kesselring started an air-assault with Stuka planes against the East-Pillboxes and bunkers. The 500 kg bombs were ineffective. In the afternoon when the germans used 1800 kg bombs the assault was successfull. Women and children came out of the fortress and 400 soldiers surrendered and went into captivity. But the Officers' Club still defended. No man surrendered.

    After the fighting (officially the fight ended on 30[SUP]th[/SUP] of june) there were approximately 5,000 to 6,000 soldiers of the garrison of the Brest Fortress in captivity, at least 2,000 more were dead. Without any hope of survival, or even a military success, the Russian defenders fought an heroic fight up to 30 June, some even up to 23 July 41 (the day when Major Gravilov was captured).

    The quantitative analysis of available sources shows that the heavy fighting has last three days. In this period, falling about 90% of German losses in killed, wounded about 70%, and just over 80% of the Soviet losses in prisoners. The last Army soldier who was killed not in the hospital, but in combat, was the sergeant Erich Mathwig, on the 27th June 1941.

    On the vast and difficult terrain of the fortress with its many building complexes, casemates and cellars were hiding some isolated small groups of Soviet soldiers who endured to the end, even though they possessed little more than ammunition, food and water. But they were from the army apparently no longer perceived as a threat, as early as 29 June left the first part of the 45th Infantry Division Brest, the bulk of the division followed on 2 July, while weaker forces until 8 July 1941 fulfilled guard duties.

    Here a small film about the assault on the fortress of Brest-Litowsk
    <span class="longtext">[video=youtube;0ofFSMgFJIs]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ofFSMgFJIs[/video]
     
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  13. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I came across Cechnya: Life in a War-Torn Society at Google books. You might try that.
     
  14. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    Excellent maps from German and Soviet sources here:

    Maps 1941 West

    [I would like to have the Russian map translated]
     
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  15. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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    Likewise.

    But excellent timing. I was just about to pop up a question here.
    I am reading Brian Fugate's Operation Barbarossa - Strategy and Tactics on the Eastern Front, 1941.

    It is an absolutely outstanding book. World Class stuff. (He got his PHD in Russian and German Military History. "This book is a result of his studies.")

    But his maps drive me nuts. While there are lots of them, he has so many references on each page you are having to flip back multiple pages to earlier maps to stay on top of it all.

    Exactly what I was looking for! Thanks!
     
  16. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

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    What maps are you looking for ... I know the side Earthican posted here -if you are looking for special german situation maps just ask me (please tell me which time (date) an which region you´re looking) - maybe I can help you
     
  17. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Feel free to PM me, I can help with the Russian translation.
     
  18. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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    I am having the most trouble with Chapter 4, Battles for the Upper Dnepr Mid July on in 1941.
    These were very, very big battles, very fast moving, in multiple areas, simultaneously, with rapid army transfers (by both sides) at little notice to deal with developing situations.
    Simple drawn, one page maps just can not handle the breadth and scope of what was going on at all during this period of the war.

    Damned interesting reading. Let me tell you. One terrific book. I've read it several times and have not even begun to absorb it all.

    Can't recommend it enough: Brian Fugate's Operation Barbarossa - Strategy and Tactics on the Eastern Front, 1941.
     
  19. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

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    Hello Fred -

    I am very sorry that I don´t know what "chapter 4" means - here in Germany it´s hard to get the book by Brian Fugate you´re talking. I would be interested in this book (my grandpa served for nearly 3 years on the eastern front (Armygroup South 41/42; Armygroup North end of 42 (then wounded), Armygroup South late 43/44 and in the end serving on the western front (missing in action till 01/45)) but I guess it´s only available in the US or Canada... okay.

    You said "mid Djnepr" -this is not a very concret region, right? Can you tell me a littlebit more (cities, units - if you know which we´re looking for ...) this would help me to look for the concret situation maps.

    Regards
    Nordwind511 (Meikel)
     
  20. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    It is likely he means the attack of Guderian southbound through Mogliev and Gomel, the second is the crossing of AGS near Cherkassy
     

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