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Secrets of June 22: unknown heroes of “Kyrgyz regiment”. Chapter XVIII

The author of the books «Brest Fortress: view of the German party», «Storm of Brest Fortress», «Brest. June. Fortress» (in co-authorship with I. Ryzhov), the winner of the All-Russian literary award of Generalissimo A. V. Suvorov Rostislav Aliyev told about unknown pages of the Brest Fortress defence to our portal:

- It is written much. However any who would come to library and, having plunged into its thematic catalogue, started studying a subject, would notice a number of the essential moments. Firstly, the most part of literature on fortress was printed prior to the beginning of the 1970th and wasn’t republished. In general, «Brest Fortress» of S. S. Smirnov became the only republished book since then. Secondly, despite the impressive bibliographic list, all literature on fortress is reduced, in general, to two books — «Brest Fortress» and the memoirs collection of fortress defenders «Heroic Defence'.

With rare exception the memoirs of defenders are the literary processing which is only more or less taking the authentic text of the events participant as a basis. Thus the literary editor of the text tried to tone down sharp details of memoirs as much as possible, but also the details of events (for example, without calling sometimes divisions where the fortress defender served, his rank or position). As a result rather «heroic essay» turned out. The same belongs to other group of literature which is possible to call «stories about heroes». Here the lion’s share of the text is whether the description of the hero and his relatives searches, or his biography.

After fundamental researches of S. S. Smirnov, A. A. Krupennikov’s work, the first director of the museum of the Brest Fortress defence became the following milestone in studying of the Brest defence. In the preface to the collection «Heroic Defence» of 1961 he tried to give the picture based on archival materials relieved of legends and emotions which were in many respects inherent in S. Smirnov’s works. But, generally, that picture of events which existed more than 50 years, since 1961, was rather unilateral, was based on the extremely limited set of documents and stories of eyewitnesses and remained invariable.

For last decades the situation with sources changed: in the different regions of the USSR the enthusiasts found even not tens, but hundreds of defenders supplying absolutely opposite information on defence and new documents, first of all «from the enemy party». Also the general atmosphere changed — became possible to tell about what it was necessary to hold back in the late fifties. In a word, life persistently demanded to revise «Sergey Smirnov’s version».

Quite so I saw the task when in 2003 became interested in a subject of the Brest Fortress defence. I couldn’t think then the new picture of defence «Aliyev's version» will become a result of work. I began to compare and connect the various memoirs of defenders from the collection «Heroic Defence» on the basis of «Smirnov's version», having rejected obvious myths. In many respects it was promoted by my experience of journalistic business trip in Chechnya in 1995 where I saw and understood that real war in many respects differs from the smoothed and embellished texts describing it. Proceeding from it, I tried to demythologize the Defence, to make it extremely realistic, to recreate most detailed history of events.

I went to the museum in Brest to work in its archival funds with texts of defenders memoirs. Once I managed to do it, but in the second, they probably felt that my interest is «too deep» and the doors of funds department were closed for me. What to do? After all I remained without primary sources and the desire to solve «secrets of the Brest Fortress» only amplified!

The unexpected way out was found. If I wasn’t allowed to look at a subject from «our party», so it is necessary to try to look at fortress defence «from that side of Bug», from the German part storming it. If there is no opportunity to study the Defence history, so will study the Storm history.

It is possible to tell that then, in 2006 when I ordered documents from the German military of archive in Freiburg for the first time, the work with the sources of that party which weren’t published earlier was absolutely new not only for me, but also for many Russian military historians. This work promised new opening and they were made! That history of Defence that appeared as a result from pages of archival fund of the 45th infantry division, was, of course, slightly different from «Smirnov's version». I can’t call it opposite, eventually, after all Sergey Sergeyevich Smirnov took the German document for the work as the base— the report on fortress storm written in July, 1941. But in details, it was already absolutely other history.

Thus, instead of specification of the Defence history, I described the Storm history. Certainly, there was also a defence history on the basis of all those data that I managed to collect. The book «Storm of Brest Fortress» made a certain success — three reprinting in Russia and one in Great Britain. Critics called it «total research, finishing chord of the Brest researches», they say everything is stated in detail that there is nothing to write further.

However, right after its publishing it became clear the main researches are still ahead. Such conclusions were promoted also by obtaining new primary sources — memoirs of defenders, (though, certainly, after the book publication the archival funds of the defence museum were closed for me) and acquaintance to other enthusiasts of Defence studying. The book helped us to be. And now I, already in a co-authorship with Ilya Ryzhov, could return to a former task — specification of Defence history. It appeared both more interesting and more resonant work.

The discoveries made by us, as a result of which there was a dilogy «Brest. June. Fortress» (in three volumes) are, of course, not detection of «gold of the Third Reich». But, nevertheless, it is new names, new dating, new episodes of fights — in a word a new picture of Defence. The streamlets of new smallest details and facts somehow imperceptibly suddenly merged to the rough rivers.

Originally the edition of «Brest. June. Fortress» was conceived as a photo album on the basis of Ilya Ryzhov’s photo collection. We didn’t believe that it will be possible to collect a lot of new material about fortress that would allow to process the events created a little more than a few years ago. However the new materials arrived, the text volume to photos increased and it was impossible to depart from requirements to the publication of hundreds of photos. Therefore it was necessary to make a peculiar book luxury — the edition of the highest level of polygraphy that it was possible to make out the smallest details in photos and with the text based on new sources, first of all. As a rule, the publishers endow with polygraphy at large volume of the text, i. e. quality of a photographic material, or on the contrary endow with the text at high quality of a photo. We tried not to endow anything.

In the defence history of the Brest Fortress there were new heroes, though not recognized officially. That is, their place in the history of Defence is designated only in our book; for official history they are in an anonymous number of hundreds of «common and imperceptible heroes».

There were new «aspects of defence». One of them is a multinationality of defence nature, multinationality of garrison. One of such pages is participation of representatives and natives of the national republics of the former Soviet Union in fortress defence. The available official data on this question are outdated and incomplete. The German documents of storm of the Brest Fortress fixed the existence of the representatives of the Central Asian people (Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Uzbeks) among the defending; thus their number was, apparently, so big that gave the grounds to note in the German documents the existence of the whole «Kyrgyz regiment» in fortress.

Now on the basis of processing of large volume of archival materials, it was succeeded to establish some tens earlier unknown surnames of the participants of the Brest Fortress defence in 1941 who are the natives of the Central Asian republics of the former USSR.

For some reason it wasn’t advertised. If there were books telling about «national divisions» of the Brest Fortress in republican publishing houses, so it was excluded in the central publishing houses. Though, in general, the facts of a multinationality of some divisions and rather even their «mononationality» weren’t challenged, simply it wasn’t told about it. We told about it.

At the same time the search of material about fortress defenders ---natives of the republics of the USSR, was complicated because of quite clear problems. Here we need to hope only for the help of not indifferent people, and it appeared — the part of materials was provided by the consul general of Uzbekistan in Novosibirsk A. Kayumov. And he personally translated from the Uzbek language the remained letter by miracle of one of the Brest Fortress defenders. The difficulty was that it was written on the Latin alphabet (in 1929 in Central Asia and in Kazakhstan a traditional Arab ligature was replaced with the modified Latin which, in turn, in eleven years was changed for Cyrillics which is specially adapted for these languages). Also big help was given by attaches of vice-consulate of the Kyrgyz Republic in Novosibirsk M. Apyshev, the deputy of the Osh City Council T. Zhorobekov, the journalist of the Osh Echo newspaper T. Kushnareva. With their help it was succeeded to find three defenders of Brest Fortress in the republican Book of Memory from the published list of defenders who were registered as missing persons. Thanks to our above-named colleagues in this sacred business. In Kyrgyzstan in Cholpon — Ata we were succeeded to find one of the last defenders of the Brest Fortress — Vasily Vasilyevich Kovalenko. Letters from him are a relic already in itself.

The detailed scheme of placement of the Red Army divisions in the Brest Fortress is published for the first time. By the way, during the work over the book, for situation designation the special 3D scheme of fortress was created and the events are shown on it.

Hundred photos unpublished earlier are sometimes better than any memoirs of fights, as nobody survived on many sites of defence who could tell about their fight. And on a photo we see how Germans hammered the windows of cellars by slippers where the defenders defended themselves as the German sappers bore explosive to them.

The German sources are considerably updated too, generally at the expense of materials of private foreign collections. These are diaries and letters of the ordinary soldiers and officers of Wehrmacht storming the fortress. «The book of radio negotiations of the 45th infantry division» became a highlight of a documentary basis. But, alas, it gives more questions than answers including because it was filled hastily, directly during the fight therefore the illegible handwriting manages to be distinguished not everywhere.

I remembered the opinion of one of my companions when he for the first time took in hand three volumes of «Brest. June. Fortress»: there is no such edition about one of the operations of the Great Patriotic War! Probably, it is the most exact characteristic of the book.

Work over «Brest. June. Fortress» exhausted our forces. After all we are, certainly, not «freelancers» — everything should be done in time which remained from the main work, endowing days off and holidays. On the other hand, after the publication of such books it is difficult to present what new it is possible to tell else. However new material gradually arrives, generally from Internet auctions, the relics appeared connected with Brest of 1941. For example, it was succeeded to get two topographic maps belonging to officers of Wehrmacht — the participants of fortress storm. There is an operational fighting situation on them put those days that will allow to draw new conclusions. Big document files managed to be got on participation in defence of fortress of the Soviet frontier guards, circumstances of fortress defence by the Polish troops in 1939. In a word, we hope, there will be new, not less interesting works in the future.

P. S. Rostislav Aliyev and his assistants, without hoping for the state help, find sponsors and often on own means continue to investigate the white spots of the Brest Fortress defence. Unfortunately after the publication of article about defenders of the Brest Fortress by the journalist T. Kushnareva in the Osh Echo newspaper in 2012, there was no reaction from consulate general of Russia in Osh and Embassy of Russia in Bishkek.

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Author: Almaz Batilov

Publication date : 16 December 2014 01:24

Source: The world and we

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