History 12/02/20 “attack of the dead”: the Russian soldiers were shocked by the Germans,

There are many examples of true heroism and courage of Russian soldiers during the First world war. One of these episodes is associated with the defense of the fortress Osovets 6 Aug 1915 and went down in history as the “attack dead.”

In the German siege

the Old fortress Osowiec 50 kilometers from the Polish city of Bialystok and 23 kilometers from the border with East Prussia was of great strategic importance, being one of the centres of defence of the so-called “Polish bag”. In September 1914 it came part of the 8th German army.

Although the Germans had a significant numerical advantage and they used heavy artillery, the Russian managed to repel the assault. The second assault began on 3 February 1915. After six days of intense fighting, the Germans managed to occupy the first defense line Russian. The fortress was subjected to massive artillery fire.

“Terrible was the appearance of a fortress, the whole castle was enveloped in smoke, through which in one or in another place, escaped the huge tongues of fire from the explosion of shells, pillars of earth, water and whole trees flew up; the earth was shaking, and it seemed that nothing could withstand such a hurricane of fire,” – wrote one of the leaders of the Military engineering Academy of the red army and the direct participant of those events Sergey Khmel’kov in his work “the Struggle for Osowiec”.

the General staff of the Russian army put before the members of the defense task – to hold at least two days. And this time the German assault was repulsed.

the Poisoned soldiers

But the Germans did not give up. In July 1915 they again went on the offensive. This time the enemy decided to use against the defenders toxic substances. In the area of Osovets launched 30 gas cells. Early on the morning of 6 August, they released a cloud of chlorine.

the Gas penetrated to a depth of 20 kilometers. Ruscal wasn’t expecting a gas attack, and any protective means from that they had. This led to heavy losses from the defending fortress 226-regiment Zemlyansky. About 1600 people were completely destroyed.

the Germans did not stop there, they also began to bombard the fortress, and the guns fired chemical warheads. Then the storm rushed the German infantry, numbering about 7,000 people. The first two lines of the Russian defence has been taken.

Then the commandant of the fortress, Lieutenant-General Nikolai Brzhozovsky was ordered to lead a bayonet counterattack. It was headed by the commander of the 13th company of regiment Zemlyansky Lieutenant Vladimir Kotlinski, gathered under its start a few dozen fighters, the least affected by gas.

it seemed that in battle the dead faces of the soldiers were earthy colors, wrapped in rags, the skin was visible ulcers from burns. Some spat blood, and instead of the usual cheers from the soldiers ‘ gulp was heard eerie wheeze.

However, a handful of these goners managed to draw numerous German infantry to flight. Lieutenant Kotlinski in battle, received a mortal wound, but at eight o’clock the breach was eliminated, and by 11 the attack was completely repulsed.

a Few days later, the General staff was given the order to cease fighting and the evacuation of the military garrison of the fortress – its further defence was impractical from the point of view of the General situation at the front.

In September 1916 Lieutenant Kotlinski was posthumously awarded the order of St. George 4-th degree for the defense of the fortress Osovets. The names of the ordinary members of the defence, alas, did not survive in history.

the causes of the victory

“Attack of the dead” defense Osovets was first described in 1939, already mentioned Sergey Khmel’kov: “the attack is “dead”… so impressed the Germans that they have taken the fight and rushed back, a lot of Germans died on the wire networks before the second line of trenches from the fire of fortified artillery.”

But what aboutthe Braz dozens of Russian soldiers managed to defeat a few thousand Germans?

first, the German soldiers were convinced that the gas attack will make Russian completely unable to resist.

second, a bayonet charge was still not opposed by thousands of German soldiers, and only one of the 18th regiment of the 70th brigade of the 11th division of the army reserve.

third, a tremendous psychological effect on the German infantry had only one kind of going on the attack poisoned “zombies”. Until the Germans came to himself, began to attack the Russian artillery.

Can it be called “attack of the dead” feat? Of course Yes! After all, the soldiers rushed into the fight with his last strength, poisoned, almost no chance to push the enemy back… And as it often happened in Russian history, prevailed.

© Russian Seven

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