From history lessons we know the dry facts about when the Great Patriotic War began and where the first blow came. But only under the walls of the Brest Fortress, turned after the victory into a monument, events take on color and volume, telling the story of the courage and dedication of the defenders who took a knowingly unequal battle.
The name has historical roots. Fortifications on four hills with the Citadel as the center of defense began with a small watchtower, built in the 13th century and called “Berestia”. It was of great strategic importance. The complex was fully completed in the 19th century.
During World War I, the fortress changed hands several times, passing to Germany and Poland. In 1939 it finally ceded to the USSR. It was also the first to be attacked in the first hours of the war in June 1941. The defenders fought without hope of reinforcements, the main avalanche of enemy troops quickly bypassed it on all sides, rolling inexorably onward. But the island of resistance held firm, even with destroyed warehouses, communications, and almost no food. The survivors went down into the catacombs, continuing to resist and defend the locals, but already in conditions of guerrilla warfare. The monument “Courage” in the Brest Fortress is dedicated to the unparalleled bravery of Soviet soldiers.
The memorial complex is small, but it will take several hours to see it. A quick jog down the main central avenue is unacceptable; it will not allow you to look at the details. Many of them are allegorical. The meaning that the creators wanted to convey to posterity is revealed gradually when you look at the sculptures, memorial plates, walls turned into ruins, the square with fluttering tongues of eternal flame.
The opening of the monument to the defenders of the Brest Fortress took place in 1971.
The central figure of the composition is the sculpture “Courage” designed by Kibalnikov. The original dimensions, about 7 meters, were disproportionate to the total area of the complex, and we had to increase it fivefold. The warrior, grown into the ground up to his shoulders, tilted his head stubbornly, an expression of irreconcilable stubbornness on his face. He will not come down from the ruins, defending to the last man the lines entrusted to him. On the sides and on the back are bas-reliefs with the telling titles “The Last Grenade”, “Attack”, “The feat of artillerymen” and other images.
The second most important art object depicts the feat of the water carriers, who brought life-giving water to the defenders of the fortress. After the first bombings, all communications, including the water supply, were destroyed. The area was shot through literally to the centimeter. Without food a person can live for 2-3 weeks, without water the period is reduced to a few days. Water was often brought directly in the helmets and was economized, handed out literally in drops.
Located on the north side, made in the form of a star with an unclosed contour. It leads visitors between the lower beams. The soundtrack is the soft sound of a war song and Levitan’s chiseled phrases, reading out the text about the treacherous attack of Nazi Germany. Nearby, there is an open-air exhibition of military equipment.
They are located on the south side, at one time were called Hospital, because they led directly to the medical building. From afar, they look like the setting for a chivalrous novel. The red brick wall is crowned by shaped turrets with dentils. A bridge with a wooden deck leads to the entrance. Numerous potholes from bullets and shrapnel can be seen up close. Among them is a memorial plaque mentioning the execution of resistance commander Yefim Fomin.
It is the center of the Brest Fortress monument. On it is the main monument, the Eternal Flame, an obelisk in the shape of a bayonet. Defenders of the fortress and civilians have long been buried under the ruins, during the search it was possible to find and bury more than a thousand people. They rest beneath slabs located at the foot of the obelisk in three rows.
Near the Eternal Flame, which burns unceasingly in a star-shaped bowl, is a series of plates with the names of the cities-heroes. The earth capsules are stacked beneath them.
A guard of honor made up of young soldiers is on duty near the monument. They consider it an honor to stand still for 30 minutes until the next shift.
Sculptural composition “Heroes of the Border”
Another important monument is a group composition. One part is dedicated to the women and children who found themselves in the fortress on that fateful day and, together with the soldiers, endured the hardships and horrors of war. The second depicts an element of combat that was taken by the border guards under Lieutenant Kizhevatov’s command. The composition is made of granite and bronze. To see it, you have to walk to the Terespol Gate.
St. Nicholas Garrison Church
Towering on a hill, the building was the most important point in the defense of the fortress. During the fighting on this patch many attackers and defenders were killed. The temple is considered an architectural and historical monument, as it was erected in the 19th century as part of the fortress. It is also part of the memorial complex. In 1994 it was returned to the church and the bells were installed. The restoration of individual elements is ongoing.
Video overview of the Brest Fortress
The fortress after the war was partially rebuilt, adding sculptural groups. It serves as a monument to the fortitude and heroism, selflessness and courage of the soldiers who won the terrible and bloody war.