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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Brest: Hero Fortress of the USSR

From a folder of historic cards published in 1985 on the 40th anniversary of the victory of the USSR in the Great Patriotic War we continue our series looking at the Hero Cities and Fortresses as well as other sites and battles critical to the Soviet victory. The folder was entitled "No one is Forgotten. Nothing is Forgotten."

This eleventh post looks at the heroic defense of Brest. The fierce defense of the fortress stands as one of the most incredible feats of resistance and bravery in the war.

It is important to never forget the tremendous determination, courage and sacrifices of the Soviet peoples and Red Army in the great struggle of liberation against Nazism and fascism that was World War II.

Brest is the first heroic page in the annals of the Great Patriotic War. The courageous defenders of the Brest Fortress, defending it for a month, showed outstanding military valor, mass heroism and became a symbol of the unparalleled fortitude of the Soviet people.

The heroic defenders of the Brest Fortress, who took the first blow of the enemy troops, covered themselves with immortal glory. Hitler's command, having decided to seize the fortress on the move, sent the 45th Infantry Division of the 1st 2nd Army Corps to storm the fortress and concentrated hundreds of guns and mortars at its walls. About 3,500 Soviet soldiers courageously defended the fortress, not sparing their lives for the honor of their beloved Fatherland. The defenders of the fortress not only defended themselves using old fortifications and field fortifications, but also launched counterattacks, pushing back enemy assault groups to their original positions. For more than three weeks, the small garrison of the Brest Fortress, in conditions of an acute shortage of ammunition, food, water and medicine, pinned down an entire enemy division, reinforced by powerful artillery, flamethrowers, tanks and aircraft.

Soviet soldiers steadfastly and selflessly defended every structure, every underground passage. They fought until the last bullet, until the last breath. A disturbing signature was found on the wall of one of the casemates of the citadel: “I am dying, but I am not giving up! Goodbye, Motherland. 20.V 1 1 1941"

Among the participants in the heroic defense were soldiers from over 30 nationalities and nations of the Soviet Union. This was a legendary feat of the sons of the Soviet people. 68 participants in the defense of the Brest Fortress were awarded state awards, and the commander of the 44th regiment of the 42nd Infantry Division, Major P. M. Gavrilov and the head of the 9th border post, Lieutenant A. M. Kizhevatov (posthumously) were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

On July 28, 1944, during the Belarusian offensive operation, Soviet troops liberated Brest and completed the expulsion of the Nazi invaders from Belarusian soil. For the heroism shown during the liberation of Brest, the 47 most distinguished units and formations were given the honorary name of Brest. On May 8, 1965, the Brest Fortress was awarded the honorary title “Hero Fortress” with the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal.

The main entrance of the memorial complex "Brest Hero Fortress"



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