Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Belarus - Brest Fortress

Memorial Complex "Brest Fortress-Hero". Archeological Museum "Berestye"

Sent by Katja, a postcrosser from Belarus.

The Brest Fortress is a monument of architecture of the 19th century. It was built in 1830-1842 in the city of Brest as part of the fortification system on the western border of the Russian Empire. In 1830, the Russian Emperor Nicholas I sanctioned the fortress's project worked out by the military engineers Generals K.I. Oppermann, N.M. Maletsky and Colonel A.I. Feldman. The construction was suspended in 1831 due to the national liberation uprising. The stone laying ceremony of the defence barracks on the central island of the fortress, the Citadel was on July 1, 1836. On April 26, 1842 it became an active fortress. The distributaries of the rivers Mukhavets and Western Bug and by-pass channels divided its territory into 4 islands. The Citadel was the central and the most fortified part of the fortress. Its closed polygonal two-storeyed 1.8 km long defence barracks with almost 2 m. thick walls encircled the central island. The casemates could accommodate around 12 thousand soldiers with all the necessary combat materiel and provision stocks. An arsenal building, engineering administration, the White Palace and a garrison church were situated inside the Citadel. Four gates - Brestsky, Holmsky, Terespolsky, Bialystoksky - with the bridges connected the Citadel with Terespol, Kobryn and Volyn local fortifications, surrounded by the by-pass channels and a 10 m high defence rampart. There were stone casemates within the ramparts. The fortifications were connected to the fortress by 21 bridges. In the wake of developments in the field of artillery at the suggestion of E. I. Tatleben, the Russian military engineer-fortifier, works on thickening the main rampart began and the construction of additional fortifications started in 1864. In 1869-1872 the Graf Berg fort was constructed at. a distance of 1 km to the South-West from the fortress. In 1878 a line of 9 front-line fort fortifications was constructed at a distance of 3-5 km from the fortress wall. In accordance with the 1911 fortress expansion plan, a new fortification line of 14 forts and 21 fortified posts was to be built at a distance of 6-7 km from the centre of the fortress. Construction involving highly qualified Russian Army military engineers like I. V. Belinsky, G.I. Lagorio, B.R. Dobashinsky, D.M. Karbyshev was continued till 1914. From 1921 to 1939 the fortress and the forts were occupied by military units of the 9th Polish Army. From September 22, 1939 they housed the Soviet Army units. On June 22, 1941 the garrison of the fortress was the first to confront the German Army. It held the line for over a month. The fortress was severely damaged during the war. After World War II, the Museum of the Brest Fortress Defence was established in the defence barracks of the Citadel on November 8, 1956. In 1965, the fortress was conferred upon the title of the Hero Fortress. The Brest Hero-Fortress memorial complex including the sculptural and architectural ensemble, preserved buildings and the ruins of fortifications was opened in 1971. It is situated in the eastern part of the Central Island.

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