Pyotr Mikhailovich Gavrilov

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pyotr Gavrilov ( Russian Пётр Михайлович Гаврилов ; born June 17 . Jul / 30th June  1900 greg. In Alwidowo , Kazan province , today Rajon Pestrezy , Republic of Tatarstan ; † 26. January 1979 in Krasnodar ) was the commander of the 44th Rifle regiment of the 42nd Rifle Division (1st line-up) of the Red Workers 'and Peasants' Army (RKKA) , which was stationed in the Brest fortress in June 1941 . Since June 22, 1941 and until his capture (possibly on July 23, 1941) he was one of the defenders of the fortress against the German troops. In his service from 1918 to 1947 he reached the rank of major in the infantry . From the day of his capture until his liberation by American troops in May 1945, he was in German captivity. In 1957 he was honored as Hero of the Soviet Union for his role in the battle for the Brest Fortress (1941) .


Until June 22, 1941

Pyotr Gavrilow came from a peasant family and belonged to the Keräschen (a group of ethnic Tatars who are not Muslims , but Orthodox Christians ). He lost his father at an early age and had to work hard for a living even in childhood. At the age of 15 he moved to Kazan . In the spring of 1918 he voluntarily joined the Red Army, fought on the Eastern Front against Kolchak , and later against Denikin in the North Caucasus . After the end of the civil war , he stayed in the army. Since 1922 he was a member of the CPSU (B) .

In September 1925 he graduated from the infantry school in Vladikavkaz , married here and adopted an orphan boy. In 1939 Major Gavrilov graduated from the Frunze Military Academy and became the commander of the 44th Rifle Regiment. His regiment was one of the units that were used in the Soviet-Finnish War 1939-1940 . The 44th Rifle Regiment had been stationed in Brest since May 1941 . In June 1941 he spoke openly about the possible German attack, which is why he was summoned to a party commission. The commission meeting was to take place on June 27, 1941.

Defense of the Brest fortress and years of imprisonment

But it didn't come to that. On June 22, 1941, the German Reich attacked the Soviet Union . The Brest fortress, located near the border, immediately became a battlefield. Major Gavrilov tried to lead out the units of his regiment encircled in the fortress. When he did not succeed because the fortress was already surrounded, he took over the command of the soldiers of the 1st battalion of his regiment as well as of smaller isolated units from the 333rd and 125th rifle regiments. He fought on the earth walls near the north gate (in the so-called Kobryner fortification, which got its name after the neighboring town of Kobryn ) and later in the so-called "Ostfort" (actually a reduit ), where several have been going since June 24th a hundred defenders of the Kobryner Fortress had withdrawn. Overall, Major Gawrilow commanded about 400 men at the end of June 1941 and had two anti-aircraft guns, a pair of 45-mm guns and a quadruple anti-aircraft machine gun available. The defenders of the east fort put up bitter resistance, which was only broken on June 29, 1941 after a bombing with several 500 kg bombs and one 1,800 kg bomb. Although it was unanimously decided at a party meeting on the morning of June 29th that everyone should fight to the death and surrender had been categorically ruled out, Gavrilov sent almost all of his people into captivity. However, he himself stayed with about a dozen other men in the destroyed eastern fort to continue his fight.

According to his own statements, Gavrilov was seriously wounded and starved only on July 23, 1941, the 32nd day of the war, in captivity. In fact there was an incident that day with several injuries and the capture of a Soviet commander in the northern part of the fortress, but the name of the prisoner does not emerge from the German sources. First he was housed in the prisoner-of-war camp 'Yuzhny gorodok' in Brest. The doctors among the prisoners of war declared that he had typhus and kept him hidden in the hospital barracks, where he received more food and more attention than was usual in a prisoner-of-war camp for Red Army soldiers. This saved his life. He was later imprisoned in the Ravensbrück concentration camp and until May 1945 in the Hammelburg POW camp . Gavrilov is silent about his liberation in his published writings. He was freed by US troops, which could have been interpreted as a flaw in his biography.

post war period

After the liberation, Major Pyotr Gavrilov was reinstated in the army according to his rank. However, he was initially denied the restoration of his membership in the CPSU (B) because his party book had been lost - or he was no longer wanted in the party as a former prisoner of war. In addition, his search for the family was unsuccessful. Because many officer families of the Brest garrison were executed during the occupation from 1941 to 1944, he was told that his family was most likely also dead.

From autumn 1945 he served as head of a Siberian camp for Japanese prisoners of war. In 1947 he resigned from the army and moved to Krasnodar with his second wife.

In 1956, the Soviet writer and journalist Sergei Smirnov visited Gavrilov in Krasnodar and interviewed him about his experiences during the war. To a large extent, based on these conversations, Smirnov wrote the book "The Brest Fortress" ( Russian Брестская крепость ), which appeared in 1957. Due to Smirnov's publications in newspapers and his appearances on the radio, PM Gavrilov's membership in the Communist Party was restored in 1956. A few months later, on January 30, 1957, he received the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, the title Hero of the Soviet Union with the associated Golden Star medal, and the Order of Lenin for his courage and exemplary performance of the soldiers' duty in the defense of the Brest Fortress .

In 1956 Pyotr Gavrilov received the news that his family, whom he had not seen since June 22, 1941, had survived the war. However, his first wife was already seriously ill and died a short time later.

Gavrilow wrote memories of the battles for the Brest Fortress, which were published in newspapers and the anthology "Geroičeskaja Oborona" (1961, 1963, 1965, 1971), as well as the book "Sražaetsja krepost '" (Eng .: The fortress fights) . In these writings, however, he dealt very liberally with the facts, exaggerated the successes of the defenders of the Brest fortress in the fight against the Germans and withheld the subject of prisoners of war as far as he could.

In the 1960s and 1970s he lived in Krasnodar and died there in 1979. He was buried next to his war comrades in Brest.


  • Sražaetsja krepost ( Сражается крепость ). Krasnodar: Krasnodarskoe knižnoe izdatel'stvo, 1975. 94 p. (2nd extended edition, Krasnodar: Krasnodarskoe knižnoe izdatel'stvo, 1980. 142 p.)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. A. Krupennikov: Predislovie. In: Geroičeskaja oborona. Sbornik vospominanij ob oborone Brestskoj kreposti v ijune-ijule 1941 g. Minsk 1963, p. 23
  2. Combat report on the capture of Brest-Litovsk . July 17, 2009. Archived from the original on December 27, 2014. Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved December 10, 2010. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. PM Gavrilov: Sražaetsja krepost '. Krasnodarsk 1975, p. 66
  4. Kurt Mehner (ed.): The secret daily reports of the German Wehrmacht leadership in the Second World War 1939-1945. The mutual situation briefing of the Wehrmacht, Army and Air Force command on all main and secondary theaters of war: "Situation West" (OKW theaters of war north, west, Italy, Balkans), "Situation East" (OKH) and "Luftlage Reich". From the files in the Federal Archives / Military Archives, Freiburg i.Br. Volume 3: March 1 - October 31, 1941. Osnabrück 1992, p. 211.
  5. PM Gavrilov: Sražaetsja krepost '. Krasnodarsk 1975, p. 89