The Defence of the Citadel

The Citadel, occupying the area of the smallest island of the fortress, had the greatest concentration of material resources and personnel. In the southern part of the defensive barracks at the Kholm Gate there were units of the 84th Rifle Regiment. The casemates to the left of the Terespol Gate were occupied by the soldiers of 132nd Detached Battalion of NKVKholm Gate. June 1941.D escort troops. In the tower above the Terespol Gate eight commanders` families lived. In the casemates on the right of the gate there were storehouses, stables, workshops of the 333rd Rifle Regiment. Closer to the Belostok Gate the 31st Detached Motor Transport Battalion was stationed. NorBrest (Triple-Arched) gates of the Citadel. June and northern parts of the defensive barracks were occupied by units of the 44th Rifle Regiment, the 37th Signal Battalion, the 111th Detached Field-Engineer Battalion, the 455th Rifle Regiment (up to the Triple Arch Gate). To the right of the Triple Arch Gate, on the ground floor of the barracks, the 33rd Detached Engineer Regiment was quartered; the first floor was occupied by armoured and motorized infantry company of the 75th Detached Reconnaissance Battalion. The White Palace and the building of the Engineer Department were occupied by the 75th Detached Reconnaissance Battalion, while its armoured vehicles BA-10, motor vehicles, amphibian tanks T-38 were on the river bank by the fork of the Mukhavets.

The former church building (built in 1876) was used as the Red Army club of the 84th Rifle Regiment and next to it there was a dining house for officers.

In the area of the Terespol Gate there were barracks of the 333rd Rifle Regiment and border guards.

Between the barracks of the Alexei Naganov (1915-1941) with his wife Anastassiya (1922-1991).333rd Rifle Regiment and the dining house for officers there were 45mm and 76mm guns, antiaircraft guns, mounInterior of Red Army clubhouse of the 84th infantry regiment (a former church). June 1941.ted on vehicles. In the backyard of this barrack and on the bank of the Mukhavets River there were trucks, motorcycles, fuel-servicing trucks of the 31th Detached Motor Transport Battalion.

In the first hours of the war the enemy’s assault detachment of the 3rd battalion of the 135th Infantry Regiment broke into the Citadel through the Terespol Gate and occupied the clubhouse of the 84th Rifle Regiment and the officers’ dining house. The task of the enemy was to capture the Kholm and Triple Arch Gates in order to block the exit from the Citadel, but Wehrmacht assault groups were stopped by fierce bayonet counterattacks. By order of the regimental commissar Y.M.Fomin the soldiers of the 84th Rifle Regiment were the first to mount a counterattack. They were supported by border guards, soldiers of the 132nd Detached Battalion of NKVD escort troops, the 75th Detached Reconnaissance Battalion, the 33rd Detached Engineer Regiment, the 455th Rifle Regiment. In the north-western part of the Citadel the soldiers of the 31st Detached Motor Transport Battalion, the 44th Rifle Regiment, the 37th Detached Signal Battalion, the 111th Detached Field-Engineer Battalion went to assault. In the course of the defenders’ fighting the enemy’s assault groups were dPainting «Brest Fortress Defenders» by P.A. Krivonogov, canvas, oil, 1951.efeated and suffered heavy losses. Their remains were blocked at the clubhouse and in the officers’ dining house.

Having neither unit commanders nor any orders from them, middle and junior officers could the defence of the Citadel and form combat groups all around the Citadel.

Regimental Commissar Y.M.Fomin commanded the defence at the Kholm Gate and in the building of the Engineer Staff.

Lieutenant N.F.Shcherbakov and Private A.K.Shugurov were at the head of the defenders in the area of the White Palace and the barracks of 33rd Detached Engineer Regiment.

Lieutenant A.A.VinogradoThe White Palace. June 24, 1941.v commanded the regiment, fighting by the Triple Arch Gate.

Senior Lieutenants V.I.Bytko, A.I.Semenenko and Junior Lieutenant I.V.Sgibnev led the defence in the position of the 44th Rifle Regiment.

Since June 23, the Nazis resorted to the tactic of exhaustion. Besieging the fortress, they controlled by fire all Ivan Zubachev (1898-1944)approaches to water in the river day and night. The hardest ordeal that befell the defenders was thirst. Heat, air, filled with soot, smoke and the stench of decaying bodies, made the thirst unbearable. Water was badly needed for women, children and the wounded. It was nearby, just a few steps away in the river, yet all river banks were under fire. The water, fetched from the river, was often paid with blood and lives of many known and unknown defenders.

On June 24, in the 33rd Detached Engineer Regiment’s barrack at the Triple Arch Gate there was a meeting of commanders, where Order No.1 was compiled. According to it the battle group of the Citadel was set up, led by Captain I.N.Zubachev and his staff.

The staff attempted to unite separate groups of defenders. Messengers were directed to different parts of the Citadel, to inform of the created staff and its decisions. On the morning of June 26, a group of 120 soldiers under Lieutenant A.A.Vinogradov took an attempt to break out Order of the day № 1, addressed to the Brest Fortress garrison, issued on June 24, 1941.from the Citadel, yet suffered heavy losses. In the evening, in the north-eastern outskirts of Brest city, the survivors encountered Nazi tanks and were captured. Later the withdrawal of the remaining defenders failed.

In late June, the part of the barracks, where the defence staff was located was destroyed, many of officers were killed or wounded and taken prisoners including the commanders of the defence. Y.M.Fomin was executed by the Nazis shortly after his capture and I.N.Zubachev died in 1944 in a prisoners-of-war camp in Hammelburg. The Terespol Gate and the basements of the 333rd Rifle Regiment barracks became another sector of lasting defence. Lieutenants A.M.Kizhevatov and A.E.Potapov commanded the combatants in this area. In order to crush resistance, the enemy resorted to flamethrowers.

 Yefim Fomin (1909-1941)  Andrey Kizhevatov (1907-1941)

All photos in photogallery...