The last stronghold of the Russian Empire

The last stronghold of the Russian EmpireShe could not resist the pressure of the enemy, so as not meet modern requirements

One reason for the defeat of Russia in the first world war was a hell of swift delivery in 1915 of Russian fortresses. Whereas in France the fortress (Verdun and others) stopped coming of the Germans in 1914.


Construction of modern fortresses on the western borders of the Russian Empire began at the behest of Nicholas I as early as 1831. After 6 decades, to December 20, 1893 at these frontiers were the fortress first and second lines (Modlin, Brest-Litovsk, Ivangorod, Warsaw, Kovno, Osovets, Zegrzh). They were armed with cannons 5068, languishing in the main (standard gun of 1867 and 1877: 203 — 203 mm, 152 mm — 1642 mm 122 — 477, 107 mm — 1027, mortars standard 1867 and 1877: 203 mm — 145 mm 152 — 371).

I note that in the time of Alexander II and Alexander III the quality of Russian weapons in what is not inferior to the German counterparts. Fortunately, they have been designed by the same engineers — the company Krupp.

Based on the officers of the Prussian general staff, Friedrich Engels wrote: "The Russian, especially after 1831, did what they do miss their predecessors. Modlin (Modlin), Warsaw, Ivangorod, Brest-Litovsk, form a system of forts, which is a combination of their own strategic abilities is the only one in the world. "

But in the reign of Nicholas II in Russia was not created nor 1st languid modern weapons (in other words with rollback along the channel axis) if, obviously, do not take 6-inch (152-mm) howitzer reference 1909. But it was faster hull, if the serfs tool. In the end, the end of the first decade of the twentieth century Russian fortress artillery park considerably out of date: about 30% of its members had the instruments of the standard in 1877, 45% — 1867-th, 25% — smooth-bore system of Nicholas I. And no modern guns, howitzers or mortars in the middle of 11 thousand guns!

The last stronghold of the Russian Empire

Due to the lack of new products in 1911 in Russia was disbanded siege (in other words, languid land) artillery. Her guns were sent for scrap or warehoused in fortresses. And it would appear again in the Russian army in accordance with the plans of inspector general of artillery stately Duke Sergei Mikhailovich only to 1922. The fortress artillery also would get new weapons by 1930.

Meanwhile, plans to build the western forts RF radically revised almost every year. In February 1909, on the report of the Head Chief of the General Staff VA Suhomlinova Nicholas II ordered to abolish the Modlin Fortress, which was considered upscale, and Batumi, Ochakiv and Ust-Dvina. Coupled with the fact the Government has approved the early activation of "proper form" fortifications of Brest-Litovsk, Kronstadt, Vyborg, Vladivostok, because Sukhomlinov argued, "the conservation of forts in the state," as they were then, "it would be a betrayal."

However, a year and three months later, in May 1910 the new chief GUGSH Gen. EA Gerngross sought from Nicholas another decree at which the Modlin Fortress, Batum, Ust-Dvinsk and Ochakov not only not abolished, but had to rebuild to meet modern requirements. Surprised this is not necessary. At different times of the ruler, without further insidiously, with mutually agreed views. For example, January 1, 1910, he allowed the abolition of Ivangorod fortress. And on November 26 1913 podmahnul "Top approval for the preservation and partial reconstruction of the fortress Ivangorod."

During the confusion, it was decided to make another strong bastion in the west — in Grodno. It is rightly called the last stronghold of Russian empire.

The last stronghold of the Russian Empire

Etalon stronghold XIX CENTURY

Back in 1831 during the Polish uprising in St. Petersburg set out to enclose Grodno land fortifications. But while there was red tape, violent lords were pacified, and why all the plans remained on paper. Interestingly, the authorities at the time entered for the local inhabitants of the special tax in order to obtain additional funds for construction. Funds are often charged a couple of years. Where did they go after — the secret of the Engineering department.

August 4, 1912 Nicholas II approved a plan to build another fortress of Grodno. It was to consist of 16 forts, corresponding to standard designs developed by military engineers KI Velichko, NA Buinitskii and Vladimir Malkov-Panin, 18 lettered reference to half a company Fri, 38 Fri license support for infantry platoon.

After discussion, the plan brought in configuration and it has undergone review June 2, 1912 in the Engineering Committee of the Head of Engineering Management. In a brand new version of the forts fell to 13, number of support fr — to 23, and lettered — has risen to 19. Apart from them, it was supposed to build open panels for large-caliber guns, some shelter for the infantry, powder magazines, airport, dam, road and a number of auxiliary facilities. The border fortress area is approximately 10 km from the projected band forts.

Immediately it should be emphasized that the project is out of date fortress of 40-50 years. The town center was located at a distance of 6-8 km from the strip constant bombardment of the forts and could even cabinet enemy artillery. In this case, since the end of the 80-ies of the XIX century Russian officers — General Staff and engineers — offered to join the western fortress continuous line of fortifications, in other words to make fortifications. But the military generals, ministers ANKuropatkin and VA Sukhomlinov going to fight by the rules of the mid-XIX century.

July 2, 1912 Grodno fortress builder freshly baked appointed Major-General DP Kolosovsky. September 1, 1912, he was given an order of the Head of Engineering Committee reads: "To present the plan now rassredotachivaniya credits for 4 years of 1912-1915., Guided by the judgment of price engineering and procurement, having in mind that in the bill calculated on the work to create a Grodno fortress amount of 15,950,000 rubles. already allocated in 1912, 204,000 rubles. and is intended to obligate in 1913 — 3.746 million rubles., in 1914 — 5,000,000 rubles. and 1915 — 7,000,000 rubles. '.

Note that the allocated funds were apparently not enough, as the construction cost of only 1 number 4 of the fort near the village Strelchik have gained 2.3 million rubles in 1913.

Work around Grodno should just finish in 1917. But for 23 августа 1913, the High command of the city was declared a fortress, although the construction of a major land position was at the initial stage. Real fortress garrison and weapons also have not had. Yet Lieutenant General MN Kaigorodova appointed its commander.

Scope of work distributed between 14 operational sites, which have become the heads of engineering officers. Not counting the fighter then worked civilian workers and local farmers, civilians employed
by the contractors.

During the construction of the forts of Grodno took for the base project in 1909, developed by General K. Velichko. Its peculiarity lies in the fact that virtually from the beginning of the strengthening works have been adapted for defense. In the first stage of construction — as a field redoubt, then — as a temporary base station with a concrete parapet and a ditch with the rudiments of countermine galleries and footway, which could be used as a shelter during the bombing of non-hazardous. At the very least built crotch and gorzhevye polukaponiry, gorzhevye barracks are faced scarps and counterscarp.

And yet the beginning of World War II, none of the Grodno castle fort was not ready and a half. In each capacity were only shooting parapets and podbrustvernye gallery. Do not have time to build or trunks (on some forts work on their construction has just begun), nor polukaponiry, much more so footway, countermine galleries and gorzhevye barracks. Apart from the huge forts were erected and several so-called small forts in the 1, 3, 4, 5 Fortova groups.

The last stronghold of the Russian Empire


July 13, 1914, General of Infantry MN Kaygorodov signed an order number 45, 1st paragraph which said: "In the High command of the fortress of Grodno declare martial law." Immediately on the military situation and the whole thing Grodno region.

The next day received a telegram from the Minister of the Interior NA Maklakova, instructing enact "The Pre to the war period". July 16 Nicholas II declared mobilization, he later canceled it, and early in the morning on July 17 announced the re. July 19 (in other words, on August 1 on a brand new style), Germany proposed to end the call the vaults of the Russian Federation and, being refused, declared war.

Mobilization subject to not only the people and the cars and bikes. The drivers who ran these cars, after medical examination commissions and they are not being found defective, the number is now accepted into the military. (I note in passing that in the corresponding document was marked: "Persons belonging to Judaism can not be chauffeured in the armed forces.")

Car owners do not make them available to the army in time without preconditions respectful, could drop to jail for up to 3 months. In general, the notorious dancer Kshessinsky not give the military nor the 1st of 3 stallions own steel, but obviously not pleased to jail …

As for Grodno, then the local inhabitants took away 22 cars and 5 bikes. They are all made available to the commandant of the fortress.

Meanwhile, the construction of the fortress of Grodno did not stop. The study VN Tiles "City-fortress. Grodno during the First World War, "describes the situation:" If at the end of July — early August 1914 on the defensive objects from Grodno and the county worked 2,746 people and 301 supply, in March 1915, they were already 7596 people and 1896 supply. And by March 15, 1915 to all the serfs and position papers in the area were busy firming 28,515 people and 8,350 carts. "

December 31, 1914, is responsible VN tiles in his book, from Grodno and other western provinces of the Russian Federation began the mass deportation "of the German colonists males aged 15 years and older, except for patients who can not withstand the move. When eviction controlled by the following guidelines: 1) under the colonists should understand all farmers Russian citizens of German nationality, and 2) Germanize Lithuanian Lutherans also be evicted. "

In autumn 1914, Nicholas II deigned to inspect the fortress near the front. October 30th ruler came to Ivangorod. First he went to the commander Schwartz land cathedral, then — on the battery number 4, then visited the church in Opatstvo. "I dropped the fort Vannovsky … Came back to train with the darkness "- wrote the governor in his diary. I recall that sunset October 30 (old one for style) at 16.30. So Makar, the Cathedral, the church, the battery and the fort with His Majesty took about 3 hours.

But back to the royal diary: "November 1. Saturday. In 10:00. morning rolled in Grodno. Adopted persons in authority and deputations from the provinces. At 10 1/2 Alix came with Olga and Tatiana. It was pleasant to encounter. Let's go together to the cathedral, and then in two hospitals with the wounded. The weather was cool and rainy. Breakfast on the train. At 2 1/4 went to the commandant Kaigorodova through town on Highway Osovetskaya. I reached the fort number 4th on the hill. Heard a report on the work to strengthen the defense of the fortress. He looked at the fort and battery on number 19. Came back to the train around 5:00. ".

So, on the way there and back, and a viewing of the fort batteries and took just three hours.

Here is a monarch focused on the western fortresses of the Russian Federation!

The last stronghold of the Russian Empire

In the main JUNK

By the beginning of the First World War the most powerful tools of Grodno fortress were 24 standard six-inch guns in 1904. Although they were released after the Japanese campaign, they have been designed in the early 90-ies of the XIX century and differed from those made earlier prototypes only marginally improved ballistics yes breech, which replaced the piston.

In addition fortress artillery included 95 six-inch (ammunition — 8550 rounds) and 24 42-line, in other words, 107-mm gun (3600 rounds) standard 1877. As protivoshturmovyh guns supposed to use a 12 battery and 57 light guns. Explain to the modern reader: refers to the 107-mm and 87-mm field guns reference 1877. The castle also had 53 new three-inch (76-mm) guns protivoshturmovye standard 1910 on wheeled carriages.

To combat false meant 23 six-inch howitzers Schneider standard 1909 and 8 standard eight-inch mortars 1877. But the latter, apparently, could not keep consuming.

The funny thing is that the governor and the Supreme Commander of the majestic Duke Nicholas in the first months of the war decided to use Russian fortress artillery against the enemy … fortresses. 10 (23) October 1914 rate gives the order to send guns from Kovno to Koenigsberg, from Grodno — to Thorne and Graundentsu of Osovets — to Lettsenu of Novogeorgievsk — to Poznan. But soon the situation changed dramatically at the front and redeployment canceled …

…Come 1915 year, and armament Grodno castle remained the same as in August 1914. Meanwhile, the German troops were approaching it all closer and closer, and the Russian generals, oblivious to Konigsberg and Thorne, began feverishly, with pine forest on, collect guns to Grodno. Namely, at the end of 1914 — March 1915, from Vyborg fortress in Belarus sent four six-inch guns and eight 42-line reference tools in 1877. Another 12 six-inch guns and four 42-line guns were brought from Petrograd. Vpribavok in Grodno got about fifty 57-mm coastal guns Nordenfeld of coastal forts that were used there for zeroing languid guns.

In the late summer of 1915, from the 2nd Battalion languid cannon artillery regiment in Grodno by rail delivered two 10-inch (254-mm) machine guns on the shore Durlyahera to them 493 TNT bombs and four 152-mm guns Caen from 1200 trotyl 113 bombs and shrapnel. These guns were installed
in Grodno on temporary wood bases.

1915 Our first home purchased from the Land of the Rising Sun 20 seven 28-cm howitzers and 30 four 24-cm howitzers, although they are out of date by at least 20 years of age. Fourteen of 28 cm and 10 24 cm howitzers in September 1915, met in Grodno. It is not enough that these guns were old, should be attached shells filled as much as the final of the XIX century smokeless powder. By explosive action in a couple of times they conceded TNT shells of the same caliber.

Plus to the above in accordance with the telegram Chief of Staff of the Supreme Commander of the 16 June 1915 the fortress of Sevastopol in Grodno in the second half of 1915 posted seven 11-inch guns with a standard 1877 340 shots per gun, 24 Nine coastal mortars reference 1877 year with 200 shots on the barrel and 60 field guns reference 1877. But these tools were not included in Grodno fortress. Three 11-inch single returned back to Sevastopol, and other guns were sent to the formation of the reserve battalions of fortress artillery.

The last stronghold of the Russian Empire

Inglorious Death

In August 1915, German troops broke through in Grodno. August 16, at a particular submission of the fortress commandant MN Kaigorodova was given two cases — Consolidated Osovetskaya (57 and 111th Infantry Divisions) and the 1st Army (22 and 24th Infantry Divisions). On the flanks of the Grodno covered 4 more bodies under the command of generals Artemyev, Balanina, Evreinova and Karatkevich. On the same day issued an order Osovetskaya and the 1st Army Corps to quit their positions and take up defensive positions on the contours of the fortress. On the site of the village of Fort Trichy to number 4 located 24th Infantry Division under the command of Major-General Polanski (4.5 thousand bayonets) and give it 118, 119, 120, 239th brigade of the municipal militia. Their neighbors to the right and left were the 57 and 22th Infantry Divisions.

August 17 Germans stormed part of the 1st Army Corps, and after a stubborn fight were able to move forward. On the subsequent morning by deploying one division in the direction of the villages Rogachi, Biljana, Kustintsy, the enemy on the run captured Russian positions.

August 21 (September 2), German troops crossed the Neman on pontoons. Fights broke out in the streets of Grodno. By mid-day or 22 August the Germans occupied the city, taking in all that the above 2-thousand prisoners.

According to the report of the commander of the fortress of Grodno to 21.00 on August 22 a large part of it could undermine the forts. But in reality, they only received minor injuries. In this just to make sure even at this time by visiting the abandoned building. Some forts generally remained intact. For example, the captain Desnitsky reported to own his report: "In forte IV undermine could not, because the cords were taken away from the lower ranks of demolition. Powder magazine is not undermined, as was previously occupied by the Germans, as we came out of the fort. "

Yes, without glory died last stronghold of the Russian Empire …

Most of the fortress artillery fell into the hands of the enemy intact. Interestingly, the two 10-inch (254-mm) guns on carriages Durlyahera German experts at new pipes stuck caliber 238 mm. This allowed the data to make better ballistic weapons, means in the Kaiser's Army and the Wehrmacht as a 24-cm guns SKL/50. Take part in the First World War, they did not have time. But from July 1940 until August 1944 he had a chance to keep the sights across the English Channel, while the battery "Oldenburg", located a few kilometers north of Calais.

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