The Liberation of Brest and Brest Fortress in July, 1944

Konstantin Rokossovsky (1896-1968)Brest was liberated as a result of the Lublin-Brest operation by the troops of three armies of the 1st Byelorussian front commanded by the Marshal of the Soviet Union K.K.Rokossovsky.

The plan of the Lublin-Brest operation was approved by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief on July 7, 1944.

A Soviet tank padded on the northern outskirts of Brest in 1941. July 1944.The right wing of the 1st Byelorussian front consisted of the 48th, 65th, 28th armies and the mechanized cavalry group. The 61th army represented the center of the front. The left wing consisted of the 70th, 47th, 8th guards, the 69th, 2nd tank, the 6th and 16th air army, the 7th guards and the 2nd guard’s cavalry corps, the 1st Polish Army.

The liberation of settlements in Brest region began before the Lublin-Brest operation, during the Byelorussian offensive operation «Bagration» (June 23 - August 29, 1944).

From July, 5 to 28 1944 parts of the 70th, 28th, 61th, 65th, 16th air army, the mechanized cavalry group, the Dnieper’s flotilla released the following Brest regional centers:

- 5 July - Lyahovichy (the mechanized cavalry group);

- 7 July - Gancevichy (the 23rd infantry division, the 415th infantry division, the 12th guards infantry division of the 61st army, the partisans of the brigade named after Lenin);

- 7 July - Stolin (the 12th guards infantry division, the 415th infantry division of the 61st army);

- 8 July - Baranovichy (the 20th infantry division, the 130th infantry division, the 50th infantry division of the 28th army, the 18th infantry corps of the 65th army);

- 10 July - Luninets (the 23rd infantry division, the 55th infantry division of the 61st army, the Dnieper’s military flotilla, the partisans of the brigade named after Kirov);

- 12 July - Ivantsevichy (the 20th infantry division of the 28th army);

- 14 July - Pinsk (the 55th infantry division, the 415th infantry division, the 12th guards infantry division of the 61st army, Dnieper’s military flotilla);

- 15 July - Beryoza (the 48th guards infantry division of the 28th army);

- 16 July - Ivanovo (the 48th guards infantry division, the 55th guards infantry division of the 28th army, the 212th infantry division, the 12th guards infantry division of the 61st army);

- 16 July - Pruzhany (the 50th guards infantry division, the 96th guards infantry division of the 28th army, the mechanized cavalry group);

- 17 July - Drogichin (the 12th guards infantry division, the 212th infantry division, the 415th infantry division of the 61st army);

- 18 July - Zhabinka (the 20th infantry division of the 28th army);

- 20 July - Kobrin (the 20th infantry division of the 28th army, the 12th guards infantry division, the 212th infantry division, the 415th infantry division of the 61st army);

- 20 July - Malorita (the 76th infantry division of the 70th army, the partisans of the brigade named after Lenin);

- 22 July - Kamenetz (the 50th guards infantry division, the 54th infantry division of the 28th army).

- 18 July, 1944 the guns announced the beginning of the Lublin-Brest operation.

The Red Army soldiers near Terespol Gate of the Citadel. July 1944.The main attack was caused by the left-wing troops of the 1st Byelorussian front in Kovel-Lublin direction. The 70th army commanded by Colonel-general V.S.Popov, the 47th army commanded by Lieutenant-general Nikolai Gusev, the 8th guards army commanded by Colonel-general V.I.Chuikov, the 69th army commanded by Lieutenant-general V.Ya.Kolpakchi with the support of the 6th air force army commanded by air Lieutenant-general F.P.Polynin broke through the enemy defenses west of Kovel at the front of 30 km and in two days moved 13 km forward. The 1st Polish army under the command of Lieutenant-general Z.Berlinga advanced in the 2nd echelon.A Border marker 50 km north of Brest. A photo, 1944.

By July, 20 more than 400 settlements had been released, including the regional centers of Volyn region: Ljuboml’, Ratno, Turiysk, Zabolot’e etc.

20 July – the parts of the 70th, 47th, 69th and 8th defending armies went out to Western Bug, made a forced crossing of the river and entered the territory of Poland. 22 July - the 7th guard’s cavalry corps released the first polish town Chelm.

24 July - the troops of the 2nd tank army got control over Lublin. 16 units and formations of the 1st Byelorussian Front were awarded the honorary title of «Lublin’s».

At the right extremity the 48th, 65th, 28th armies and the mechanized cavalry group fought hard. The commander of the 28th army A.A.Luchinsky recalled: «In early July 1944 Hitler's command launched to organize a new front line of defence in the direction Bialystok-Brest. On the 100km area of Nazi defence between Biala Podlaska and Brest, a quite strong enemy force was established, consisting of two tank and seven infantry divisions, six divisional forces and two separate brigades with a dozen regiments of custodial guard».A Red Army battery is firing over the enemy close to the fortress. Brest. July 1944.

With the release of the troops of the right wing on the line Svisloch, Pruzhany and on the approaches to Brest all the conditions for the encirclement of Brest by the enemy force had been created. The troops of the 28th and 70th armies had to perform the task.

Hitlerites set up in the Brest area a powerful, profoundly echelon, fortified region, rich with lots of pillboxes, minefields and other long-term and field fortifications linked to each other by communication trenches. The forts of Brest fortress were included in defense system.The Soviet banner over Brest. July 28, 1944.

On July, 28 1944 units of the 12th guards infantry division (Colonel D.K.Maltsev), the 212th infantry division (Colonel V.G.Kuchinov), the 415th infantry division (Colonel P.M.Moshchalkov), the 9th Brest guards infantry corps of the 61st army, the 48th guards infantry division (Major-general G.N.Korchikov), the 20th Brest infantry corps of the 28th army, the 160th infantry division (Major-general N.S.Timofeev), the 114th Brest infantry corps of the 70th army released Brest.

In the newspaper «Pravda» № 181 of 29 July, 1944 there was published the order of the supreme commander-in-chief on the release of Brest and the article by Ya.Makarenko «The Liberation of Brest» was printed, detailing the course of the fight.

The newspaper «Pravda» № 181 of July 29, 1944 reported on the liberation of Brest.The newspaper «Pravda» № 181 of July 29, 1944 reported on the liberation of Brest.The newspaper «Pravda» № 181 of July 29, 1944 reported on the liberation of Brest.The newspaper «Pravda» № 181 of July 29, 1944 reported on the liberation of Brest.The newspaper «Pravda» № 181 of July 29, 1944 reported on the liberation of Brest.

In his memories, about the liberation of Brest, senior lieutenant, commander of the reconnaissance of the 48th guards’ infantry division of the 28th Army D.M.Neustroev wrote: «The attack, and then the assault of Brest and the Brest Fortress lingered in my memory for the rest of my life. Those were hot and unforgettable days. The 48th guards’ infantry division advanced on the left flank of the 28th army. The south of Brest, to the left of us, the 160th infantry division of the 70th army also advanced.

The Brest Fortress. July 1944.Having entered the city, we found a huge site of fire in its place. Instead of houses, blackened pipes stuck out, like dark crosses in a huge Nazis’s cemetery. The streets were littered with German corpses, full of mutilated tanks, artillery and mortars...»Drawing «At the grave of a comrade» by A. Glukhov, Brest. September 1945.

With the Soviet troops exit to the river Vistula and the capture of bridgeheads on its western coast Lublin-Brest operation was finished.

47 units and connections of the first Belarus front were given the honourable name «Brest». More than 20 soldiers were given the rank of the Hero of the Soviet Union for the excellent performance during Lublin-Brest operation.

As a result of Lublin-Brest operation the exile of fascist aggressors from the territory of Belarus came to the end. In the course of the operation the Soviet troops advanced to 260 km and, having seized the bridgeheads on the Vistula, created favorable conditions for the subsequent rout of the opponent on the Warsaw strategic direction and completed the release of Poland. 

All photos in photogallery...