Relatively little coverage has been made of Russian campaigns and battles during the Great Patriotic War in English language publications and books. What has been published in the Russian language has contained many distortions to fit the accounts into the ‘official’ Soviet view. When a book, such as this new title from Pen & Sword, appears in both Russian and English, based on extensive research and showing the Russian and German views, it is a rare and valuable historic account.
NAME: The Siege of Brest 1941, A Legend of Red Army Resistance On The Eastern Front
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Rostislav Aliev
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, 1939-1945, 1941, technology, tactics, organization, Red Army, armour, Easter Front, siege warfare
DESCRIPTION: Relatively little coverage has been made of Russian campaigns and battles during the Great Patriotic War in English language publications and books. What has been published in the Russian language has contained many distortions to fit the accounts into the ‘official’ Soviet view. When a book, such as this new title from Pen & Sword, appears in both Russian and English, based on extensive research and showing the Russian and German views, it is a rare and valuable historic account.
The general impression held by most in the West is that the German invasion of Soviet territory was initially swift and comprehensive. The picture is one of an overwhelming Lightning War where technically superior equipment and tactics enabled the Germans to rapidly roll up any Soviet resistance. This is not an accurate account of what happened, anymore than the view that the Soviets reversed roles after the German defeat at Stalingrad.
As the Germans advanced, their tactics dictated that any stiff resistance was to be isolated, with the German Army sweeping around it and onwards to the final victory. This relied on some forces being dedicated to what was essentially siege warfare, with the Luftwaffe being given the responsibility of aerial bombardment to contain and reduce resistance until fresh troops could be applied to eliminating the enemy forces. The theory was that armour and airborne troops would be employed to maintain the momentum of the advance, but that any pockets of resistance would be dealt with quickly by those formations following the spearheads. The difficulty with this concept was that determined resistance could become firmly entrenched and difficult to eliminate later. In the process, the fluid and fast moving ‘front line’ could create a series of salients and a significant enemy counter attack could cut off large spearhead forces and cause considerable damage, as happened with Stalingrad and Kursk.
When the German Army rolled over its start line in June 1944,the Soviet frontier fortress of Brest came under immediate artillery bombardment. In line with the German concept of lightning war, the German troops swept around Brest and on in pursuit of the disintegrating Soviet forces. The concept enabled the Germans to advance deep into Soviet territory and, as the advance continued, many of the Soviet strong points came under renewed pressure and fell. Brest was to be one example of Soviet troops holding out, knowing that there was no prospect of immediate relief.
The author has untaken extensive correspondence with German and Russian survivors and has reconstructed every stage of the resistance at Brest.
In the conditions at Brest and on the extended German front, by then well to the East of Brest, the final defeat of the garrison was inevitable. In the event it proved a very expensive German victory and a costly defeat for the Soviet defenders.