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Battle of Brześć Litewski

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The Battle of Brześć Litewski (also known as the Siege of Brześć, Battle of Brest-Litovsk or simply Battle of Brześć) was a World War
II battle involving German and Polish forces that took place between 14 and 17 September 1939, near the town of Brześć Litewski (now
Brest, Belarus). After three days of heavy fights for the stronghold in the town of Brześć, the Germans captured the fortress and the Poles

Battle of Brześć Litewski
Part of the Invasion of Poland

1 History
1.1 Before the battle
1.2 Opposing forces
1.3 Battle
2 Aftermath
3 Reference

Before the battle
Initially, the Polish forces did not plan to defend the old fortress of Brześć. The town was located deep behind the Polish lines and was
seen as a supply depot and organisation centre rather than a front-line fort. However, after the Battles of Mława and Wizna the German
XIX Panzer Corps under General Heinz Guderian broke through Polish lines and sped southward with the aim of flanking Warsaw from
the East and cutting Poland in two.
According to the secret protocol of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 23 August 1939, the region of Brześć was assigned to the Soviet
"sphere of influence". However, the Soviets did not begin their invasion of Poland yet, and had the rapidly advancing German corps
stopped, it would give Poles time to regroup and prepare. Already on 8 September the German foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop,
notified the Soviet government that the German forces would have to violate the Soviet "sphere".

Map showing the advance of German XIX Corps on Brześć Litewski.

14–17 September 1939


Brześć Litewski, Poland (now Belarus)


German victory


The ancient fortress of Brześć is at the confluence of Muchawiec and Bug Rivers. Occupying the site of a medieval castle, it was
strengthened and reconstructed in Napoleonic times and then again in 1847. Heavily damaged during World War I, the fortress was turned
into a matériel depot and its central part into a prison. Although largely obsolete by contemporary standards, the fortress occupied a
strategic position in the Polish lines and its defence could prevent German forces from crossing Polesia into Lesser Poland and Galicia to
the south.

Heinz Guderian

Brześć defense group

XIX Panzer Corps:
10th Panzer Division
3rd Panzer Division
20th Infantry Division

+70 tanks and AFVs
unknown number of infantry

Opposing forces

3 infantry battalions
1 engineering battalion
2 armoured trains
15 FT-17 tanks

The city of Brześć was defended by a small improvised force under General Plisowski. The Polish forces consisted of three infantry
battalions, one engineering battalion, some artillery and were assisted by two armoured trains (numbers 55 & 53) commanded by Captains
Mieczysław Malinowski and Andrzej Podgórski.
The German forces consisted of the entire XIX Panzer Corps under General Heinz Guderian.

Konstanty Plisowski

Units involved

The aim of the German XIX Corps was to seize the fortress in order to prevent elements of a divided Independent Operational Group
Narew under General Młot-Fijałkowski from retreating southwards and joining the rest of the Polish forces. The German forces consisted
of an entire armoured corps: the 3rd Panzer, 2nd Motorised and 20th Motorised Divisions.

At the end of the summer the fortress was housing the march battalions of 82nd and 35th infantry regiments and elements of various
smaller units. Moreover, a large number of newly mobilised reservists started to arrive at the fortress, awaiting forward deployment to their
units. From these units General Konstanty Plisowski organized a force of roughly three infantry battalions, aided by an engineering
battalion, several batteries of artillery and two companies of old FT-17 tanks used for training, Nos. 112 and 113.


Commanders and leaders

Casualties and losses

1,000 killed, wounded and captured
15 tanks destroyed

On 14 September 77 German tanks of the 2nd Battalion of the 8th Panzer Regiment, part of 10th Panzer Division, reached the area of Brześć and attempted to capture the fortress on the run. The probe
attack was repelled by Polish infantry and the 113th company of light tanks, consisting of 12 obsolete Renault FT tanks. All the Polish tanks were destroyed, but the German forces were forced to retreat
towards their initial positions. Polish Armoured train number 53 (PP53), which made a reconnaissance advance to Wysokie Litewskie, was attacked by a scout patrol from the 10th Panzer Division. The
crew from the train opened fire with artillery. Several other skirmishes were fought, but were largely inconclusive.
Later that day the German artillery arrived and started bombardment of both the fortress and the town. Heavy street fighting ensued. At dawn approximately half of the town was in German hands, the other
half being defended by Polish infantry. Polish anti-tank weapons, artillery and AA guns were very scarce and were unable provide enough support for the infantry. The following day Polish defenders
withdrew from the town, but heavy casualties on both sides prevented the German units from continuing the attacks on the fortress. Instead, it was constantly shelled with artillery and bombed by the
When reports told Polish General Plisowski that scout elements from the 3rd Panzer Division were seen near the railway station at Żabinka, north of Kobryń, he sent PP55 to prevent his forces from being
cut off. A platoon of 5 scout tanks left the train near Żabinka and attacked German armoured cars near a bridge on Muchawiec River. After losing three tanks the other two withdrew. A further attack by an
assault platoon from the train failed. After a combined attack of the assault platoon and PP55 artillery, the Germans left the area of the Muchawiec bridge. When they returned, PP55 attacked another battle
group of the 3rd Panzer Division (consisting of scout elements and the 5th Tank Regiment, supported by the 6th Battery of the 75th light artillery Regiment). After destroying a few armoured cars, the train
withdrew towards Brześć and the train station was left in German hands.
The main assault finally started in the early morning of 16 September. The defenders had plenty of small arms ammunition and light arms thanks to
the munitions depot in the fortress, but had almost no anti-tank weapons and insufficient artillery cover.
Although the German infantry was repelled and the assault of German tanks was stopped by two FT tanks sealing the northern gate of the fortress,
by nightfall it became apparent that the German pressure made the situation very grave. Despite heavy losses, the German 20th Motorized Division
and 10th Armoured Division captured the northern part of the citadel. Meanwhile, the combined 3rd Armoured Division and 2nd Armoured Division
comprising the XXIInd Armoured Corps entered the area. The Poles were unable to re-supply and the casualties rose to almost 40%.
At dawn General Plisowski ordered part of the Polish forces to retreat from the easternmost fortifications and regroup to the other side of the river
and southwards. The evacuation was completed by early morning, 17 September when the last unit crossing the bridge blew it up to hinder the
Germans. An hour later elements of the German 76th infantry regiment entered the fortress – almost unopposed. The only Polish unit to remain in
the fortress was the remnants of 82nd Infantry Regiment under Captain Radziszewski who decided to fight to the end.


A gate to the northern island of the fortress blocked by the
FT tanks

On 17 September 1939 the Red Army crossed the Polish border and started its quick advance westwards. The Soviet 29th tank brigade under
Brigadier Semyon Krivoshein reached the area of Brześć later that day and took over the fortress from the Wehrmacht. During that event a joint German-Soviet parade was held in the town, after which the
German forces left the area, crossed the Bug River and started their pursuit of the fleeing forces of general Plisowski.
Some 40 kilometres (25 miles) to the east the Polish improvised "Kobryń" Infantry Division under Colonel Epler was ordered to retreat in tandem with Plisowski. After the Battle of Kobryń the division
evaded encirclement and joined the forces of General Plisowski. The Polish forces were soon joined by the Podlaska Cavalry Brigade and together started to make their way towards Lwów and the

Belarus Sieges involving Germany Sieges involving Poland This page was last modified on 1 August 2015. a non-profit organization. you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. By using this site. Under command of General Franciszek Kleeberg they formed the bulwark of the remaining Polish Army. additional terms may apply.wikipedia.J. that ended on 6 October 1939. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Zaloga. [1]:83 It was besieged and captured again by the Wehrmacht in the beginning of Operation Barbarossa in 1941. ISBN 9781841764085 Retrieved from "https://en. 2002. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd. Poland 1939. Joint parade of the Wehrmacht and Red Army in Brest at the end of the Invasion of Poland. The Brest Fortress was handed over to the Soviets in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Reference 1. at 20:32. At the center Major General Heinz Guderian and Brigadier Semyon Krivoshein .. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation. fighting effectively against both the Wehrmacht and Red Army until the Battle of Kock.. S.php?title=Battle_of_Brześć_Litewski&oldid=674125217" Categories: Battles of the Invasion of Poland History of Brest.Romanian Bridgehead.