The First World War and the Brest Fortress

phoca thumb l foto-2After the First World War broke out in 1914, it was necessary to complete the earlier started intensive construction works that were to strengthen the defensive fortifications along the western border of the Russian Empire.

phoca thumb l foto-1To put on military readiness, it was necessary to complete the construction of 5 forts and some intermediate temporary and permanent fortifications in the outer defensive ring line of the Brest-Litovsk fortress. The preparation for the defence was carried out under the guidance of the fortress commandant General V.A. Layming. The work went on continuously, day and night.

The construction of all the forts, intermediate fortifications and defensive barracks was almost complete by the beginning of October, 1914. The outer defensive line of the fortress totalled about 45 kilometres.

The Defence Council, formed by the fortress commandant General V.A. Layming, admitted: «With a prudent use of munitions the fortress can hold out within 8 months».

However, when the Kaiser's troops were near Brest-Litovsk, the Russian High Command made a decision to evacuate the garrison of the Brest-Litovsk Fortress, because the Russian fortresses in Kovno and Novogeorgievsk failed to stop the swift advance of the enemy and were captured. Till August 25, 1915, the Russian troops abandoned the Brest Fortress carrying away the most valuable munitions out of the fortress, destroying and blowing up the forts and other defensive fortifications. On the night of August 26, 1915, the German and Austrian troops entered the fortress. In commemoration of the event a silver medal was coined in Germany that showed German Field Marshal von Mackensen on the obverse and on the reverse side -German soldiers with the burning Brest-Litovsk Fortress in the background.

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