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Permanent hour: nine years underground
Material posted: Publication date: 24-02-2015

Russian soldiers imprisoned in the basement of the besieged fortress, carrying his post for nine long years. The Investigation Of Alexey Nikulin. Imagine that you are locked in the basement. You have food, water, but no light and no one to talk to. Except with rats. Much you soak? Three days? Week?

There's one almost unbelievable story relating to the events of the First world war. It tells of a simple Russian soldier, who spent nine long years in the dungeon of one of the Russian fortresses. During the retreat in August 1915 all that could be evacuated: heavy weapons, ammunition — was removed, and the fortress blown up. As a result of explosion in one of the casemates were bricked up soldiers hours of an underground warehouse.

Veteran, writer and journalist Sergey Smirnov wrote about defense of the Brest fortress during the Second world war. It was he who excavated and restored the course of the defense of the fortress and her defenders brought the good name. In the process of investigation, he got information about another heroic feat of the Russian soldier. In 1924, the Polish military was inspected they inherited the farm and at analysis of blockages found the Russian soldier who was in an underground prison for nine years. In the essay "the Permanent time, yet the legend" Smirnov wrote:

"...from somewhere in the dark depths of the tunnel loudly thundered hard and terrible voice: — Stop! Who goes there? ...Then in the silence clearly snapped the bolt action rifle. The sentry was on duty and was carrying his service in strict accordance with military law. Thinking and rightly reasoning that an evil force would be armed with a rifle, an officer, spoke good English, called out to the invisible soldier and explained who he was and why he came. The answer was totally unexpected: the sentry said that he was put here to guard the warehouse and he can't let anyone in the dungeon, until it was replaced on the post. Then the stunned officer asked, does time, how much time he spent here, under the ground. Yeah, I know, was the reply. — I assumed the post nine years ago, in August 1915... I was eating canned goods stored in the warehouse... oil and greased the rifle and ammunition. ...I have had this person, when the whole terrible sense of what had happened came to his mind? Whether he rushed, stumbling and hitting in the dark on the walls, where was the exit, until he came to fresh obstruction, only that his tightly cut off from light, from life, from people? Whether in desperation and rage he shouted, calling for help, sending curses to those who forgot about him, buried alive in a deep grave? Whether balanced, tempered the character of the veteran soldier made him more easy to relate to what happened? And, perhaps, convinced of the irremediable character of what happened, he habitually turned a soldier and a goat leg, inhaling the acrid cigarette smoke, began to ponder his situation. However, even if the soldiers at some time succumbed to understandable in such circumstances to despair, he soon had to realize that nothing can be done, and, of course, was above all to examine their own underground housing. ...The most vivid imagination would be unable to imagine what he felt and thought of the underground prisoner for the past nine years. ...Say that underground time was his own unique calendar. Every day, when upstairs, in the narrow hole of the ventilation shaft faded pale ray of light, the soldier was doing on the wall of an underground tunnel notch, meaning the last day. He counted even the days of the week, and on Sunday, the notch on the wall was longer than the other. And when he came Saturday, he, as befits a Russian soldier languor, piously followed the army's "bath day". Of course, he was unable to bathe — in the pits-wells that he dug with a knife and a bayonet in the floor of the dungeon, the day had accumulated quite a bit of water, and it was only enough for drinking. His weekly "bath" was that he was walking in the Department store where he kept the uniforms, and took from the bundle a couple of soldiers clean underwear and new socks".

This essay has made on my child and the receptive mind such a strong impression that the search for answers to historical mysteries have become an important part of my life and for all life was predetermined by the trajectory of my interests. It is no exaggeration to say that what I'm doing today, removing the historical adventure series "Russian trace", I am indebted to Sergei Sergeyevich Smirnov and his essay on the permanent time. I never, like Smirnov, could not doubt its reality, because I am not surprised why the name of the soldier has not been preserved in history.

Why in the USSR the hero's homecoming, and he at his request was returned to Russia, did not receive adequate publicity? The main reason one — it was someone else's war, and there was no heroes! The country needed its heroes, which are in abundance appeared during the Civil war, collectivization and the development of the Arctic.

But the exceptions were small notes in the Soviet press, and, remarkably, this incredible event even served as the basis for the creation in 1929 of the last film of the silent era of film Director Friedrich Ermler "Chip Empire", "he "died" with the king, and was "raised" under socialism".

So where then was, and perhaps remains reliable information? Probably, in Poland there was found the soldiers and the first publications appeared in the press.


For the beginning I should find out why this work has not been completed and, having received the answer to this question, perhaps to resume his search would have no meaning — Smirnov could easily found evidence to refute this legend. So I went for the answer to the journalist Konstantin Sergeevich Smirnov, the son of Sergey Smirnov.

Smirnov, Jr. encouraged dad not finished the investigation, because he was too passionate about the subject of the Brest fortress, believing this to be a fact of life, and the theme of time felt permanent at the time, exhausted.

The Brest fortress

My path lay back where this story began, in Brest. Most of those who read about the Brest fortress and even been there, I believe that the fortress is mainly the citadel, the Central fortification, where there is a memorial complex. It is not so: the whole complex is Central not only strengthening almost 2 km in circumference and two rings of FORTS, 32 and 45 miles in circumference each.

Began construction of the fortress in 1833, and the main construction works were finished in 1942. I can only imagine what a huge number of underground utilities were built during almost a century of construction. And some fortifications exist only under earth — the upper part of the long-destroyed, and can only be found using old maps or specialist.

Such as Dmitry Borodaenko, have the leader of the local club, who knows the underground utilities Brest fortress better than his apartment, which allows him from time to time to make discoveries. In 18 years of searching he had found in various parts of this complex are the remains of Soviet soldiers, and a few years ago in one of the underground dungeons he found even a warehouse or even a cache of women's shoes, which, judging by the tags on the boxes, was abandoned by smugglers in the 50-ies.

Dmitry argues that over the years studies have not found traces of unchallenged time in those parts of the fortress, which he managed to examine. No marks on walls or something similar. Together with him I managed to sneak into the dungeon of the three FORTS that are located at a considerable distance from each other and constructed in different periods.

The dungeons are vast — sometimes in two or even three tiers. The conclusion that suggests itself, — if there is food to survive in such conditions. The ventilation is very good, the temperature never drops below +7 °C, with water and big problems — condensate and groundwater seep through the concrete and accumulate in the recesses of the floor.

Yes and the inhabitants missing: some of the FORTS was chosen by colonies of bats. But hordes of rats, which, occupying their leisure time, struggling time, to meet it was not necessary — because there is no food, no uniforms, just like the legend, there is no reason to stop on these dungeons. Of course, arguing that to survive in the dungeon you can, I do not take into account the psychological factor — it's hard to even imagine how can people survive alone and in almost complete darkness! He probably lived with hope that he will be found. The thought that you have to spend in a dungeon nine years, you can really go crazy.

Those who have read about defense of the Brest fortress in June 1941, in the course of that individual pockets of the defense were recorded even in late July. But few people know that, according to the evidence, who discovered Smirnov (and his words confirms Larisa Bibik, Deputy Director of the Museum complex) in the course of its investigation, the last defender of the fortress resisted until April 1942, ten months!

Sovetskaya fortress

Although research of the feat of the Brest fortress defenders and gave an impetus to the story's time, but as the place of his imprisonment in publications called several fortresses: Brest, Przemysl (Peremyshl), Ivangorod and Osowiec. Because of all the Russian fortresses that Osowiec went to the most difficult and tragic share, in the legend it, most likely, talking about it — to such conclusion comes Smirnov. After the First world war of the Osowiec, like many other Russian fortresses, were on the territory of Poland.

We went to Poland, in Sovetskuyu fortress. The FORTS of Osowiec are the vast swamps of Polesie, and, getting here, the question arises: who and why decided to build a fortress here and why the Germans spent a whole year to get it? This question is a quite logical answer: via is the shortest, Yes, in General, and the only way from Berlin and Vienna to St Petersburg. On both sides of the swamp.

Russian commanders asked the garrison to hold out 48 hours. Osowiec stayed a year.

One of the reasons why a permanent sentry managed to survive for nine years, is a vast underground reserves of strength and primarily food. So it was worth trying to explore the underground part of the fortress, well at least that part of it, which is a relatively affordable and safe.

The fortress is so badly damaged that, in fact, they are merely piles of brick and concrete. Not surprising, because during the siege the Germans fired at Osowiec about 200 000 heavy shells, plus if you waste the rest blew up our. Correspondents of the French and Russian Newspapers of that time compared the fortress of hell, an active volcano, where they can't get out alive no man.

In the part of the underground casemates, which have been examined, we were unable to detect any traces of unchallenged time, which is not surprising — underground utilities too extensive and not all are available, and do the traces, if there were, could not be maintained. But I managed to find articles and publications in Newspapers of the time. And most importantly — there was a letter officer Vladimir Grigorievich Rodionov, who had been in the fortress before the Second world war, after just 15 years after these events, examined her and talked with local residents.

He heard the story not from the press, and from witnesses of these events, the inhabitants of the village Honens, which is located near the fortress. Moreover, according to them, underground warehouse, which was discovered by Russian soldiers, were outside the fortress. The letter was written after the publication of the essay on time permanent, and very important information that it contained, was not used Sergey Sergeyevich Smirnov. So, I think this story has a sequel.

Alexey Nikulin


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