Attack of the Dead
In 1915, the world looked on with admiration Osovets defense, a small Russian fortress at 23.5 km from the then East Prussia. The main objective of the fortress was, wrote party defense Osovets S. tipsy, "to block the enemy nearest and most convenient way to Bialystok … make the enemy lose time or to engage in a long siege, or to find detours." Bialystok — Transport Hub, which opened the way to take in the Vilna (Vilnius), Grodno, Minsk and Brest. So for the Germans through Osowiec lay the shortest way to Russia. Bypass the fortress was impossible: it was located on the banks of the Beavers, controlling the whole district, in the vicinity — swamps. "In this area there are almost no roads, very few villages, some households are interconnected by rivers, canals and narrow trails, — describes the terrain edition of People's Commissariat of Defense already in 1939. — The enemy will not find here no roads, no shelter, no closure, no positions for artillery. "
Germans launched the first attack in September 1914: tossing Konigsberg guns of large caliber, they bombarded the fort for six days. A siege Osovets began in January 1915 and lasted 190 days.
Germans used against the fortress of all their latest achievements. Delivered the famous "Big Bertha" — siege engines 420-mm caliber, 800-pound bombs which break through two-meter steel and concrete slabs. Crater of the explosion was five feet deep and fifteen in diameter.
The Germans estimated that to compel surrender of the fortress with a garrison of a thousand men with only two of these guns, and 24 hours a methodical bombardment 360 shells every four minutes — a volley. Under Osowiec brought four "Big Bertha" and 64 other powerful siege weapons, with 17 batteries.
The most terrible enemy was at the beginning of the siege. "The enemy February 25 opened fire on the fortress, carried it on 27 and 28 February to the hurricane, and so continued to smash the castle until March 3" — recalled S. tipsy. According to his calculations, this week the horrific attack on the fortress was released only 200-250 thousand heavy shells. And all for a siege — up to 400 thousand. "The brick buildings collapsed, wood burning, weak given the huge concrete spalling in the vaults and walls, wire connection was interrupted, ruined highway funnels, trenches and all improvements on the shafts, such as: roofs, machine gun nests, lightweight shelters, erased from the face of the earth" . The fortress hovering clouds of smoke and dust. Along with the artillery fortress bombed German airplanes.
"Terrible was the view of the fortress, the whole castle was shrouded in smoke, through which in one, then in another place great tongues of fire erupted from the explosion of shells, pillars of earth, water and whole trees flew up, the earth trembled, and it seemed that nothing could withstand such a hurricane of fire. The experience was such that no one will come out of this whole storm of fire and iron "- so wrote the foreign correspondents.
Command, believing that requires almost impossible, asked the defenders to hold at least 48 hours. The fortress was another six months. And our artillery during the terrible bombing even managed to knock out two "Big Bertha", a thinly disguised enemy. Along the way, blew up an ammunition dump.
August 6, 1915 was the first for the defenders Osovets black day: for the destruction of the garrison of Germans used poison gas. Gas attack they prepared carefully, patiently waiting for the right wind. Launched 30 gas cells, a few thousand bottles. August 6 at 4 am on the Russian positions flowed dark green mist mixture of chlorine and bromine, which reached them for 5-10 minutes. Gas wave 12-15 meters in height and width of 8 km penetrated to a depth of 20 km. Masks from the defenders was not.
"All life in the open air on the beachhead of the fortress was poisoned to death — recalled party defense. — All the greens in a fortress in the near area of the path of movement of gases has been destroyed, the leaves on the trees turned yellow, curled up and fallen, the grass had turned black and fell to the ground, flower petals flew around. All copper items in the bridgehead of the fortress — of guns and ammunition, sinks, tubs, etc. — were covered with a thick layer of chlorine oxide green decoration food stored without hermetic sealing — meat, butter, lard, vegetables, were poisoned and unfit for consumption. " "Poluotravlennye wandered back — that's a different author — and thirsty, bends down to water, but here in the low places gases trap, and secondary poisoning led to death."
German artillery massed reopened, following a barrage and a gas cloud to storm Russian front line moved 14 Landwehr battalions — and this is no less than seven thousand foot. Promoted after the gas attack remained alive scarcely more than a hundred defenders. Doomed Fortress seemed to have been in German hands. But when the German circuit close to the trenches of deep-green chlorine fog descended on them … counter-attacking Russian infantry. The sight was horrifying: the men went to the bayonet with people, wrapped in rags, shaking with a terrible cough, literally spitting out pieces of light on the bloody shirt. These were the remains of the 13th company of the 226-th infantry regiment Zemlyansky, a little over 60 people. But they plunged the enemy in such terror that the German infantry, not accepting the fight, rushed back, trampling one another and hanging on their own barbed wire. And by him with clubs wrapped chlorine Russian batteries began to beat, seemed to have perished artillery. Several dozen half-dead Russian soldiers to flight three German infantry regiment! Anything like the world did not know the art of war. This battle will go down in history as the "attack dead."
Osowiec Russian troops still left, but later on the orders of the command, when his defense has lost its meaning. The evacuation of the fortress — another example of heroism. Because remove all of the fortress had at night, day Grodno highway was impassable, his constantly bombed by German airplanes. But the enemy left no cartridge or projectile, or even a can of food. Each gun pulled on straps 30-50 gunners or militias. Night August 24, 1915 Russian sappers blew up all that remained of the German fire, and a few days later, the Germans decided to take the ruins.
Fought so "clogged" Russian soldiers protecting "rotten tsarism" until the revolution did not spread out the exhausted and tired army. They kept a terrible blow the German war machine, keeping the possibility of the existence of the country. And not just his. "If France had not been erased from the face of Europe, that first of all we have to Russia", — said later the Supreme Commander Allied Forces, Marshal Foch.
In Russia at that time the names of the defenders Osowiec were known almost everyone. Here on whose exploits bring patriotism, is not it? But when the Soviet government to know about defense Osovets rely army engineers, and even then only in a utilitarian-technical perspective. The name of the fortress commandant was erased from history: not only that Nicholas Brzhozovsky — "royal" general, so more then fought in the ranks of the whites. After World history Defence Osovets altogether transferred to the category of forbidden: too unflattering begs comparison with the events of 1941.
And now in our school textbooks World devoted a few lines on the shelves worthy issues — few and far between. The exposition of the State Historical Museum of the war of 1914-1918 do not have anything. Alive a memory of the people, which has kept the feat of Russian soldiers. And even if the last book will be destroyed, the people's memory will never die. Russian do not surrender!
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