On 22 June 1941, soon after 3am, the first German shells smashed into the Soviet frontier fortress of Brest - Hitler's Operation Barbarossa had begun. Across a massive front stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, the Wehrmacht advanced, taking the Red Army by surprise, brushing aside the first stunned resistance, breaking through and taking thousands of prisoners, but the isolated stronghold of Brest held out. The defenders, trapped and without hope of relief, put up a tenacious resistance against an entire German division as the Soviet front collapsed behind them. The Germans had allowed twelve hours to secure the area, but it took them nine days. The heroic defence of Brest has become one of the legends of the Second World War on the Eastern Front, an example of selfless Soviet heroism in the face of Nazi aggression. Rotislav Aliev, in this gripping narrative, describes the fighting in vivid detail, hour by hour, and he strips away the myths and exaggerations that have grown up around this famous story.
Rotislav Aliev was born in Moscow and studied at Novosibirsk State University where his special subject was the Second World War. He later became a journalist and he embarked on a programme of extensive research into the history of the defense of the Brest Fortress in 1941. He concentrated in particular on the German side of the story and carried on a voluminous correspondence with relatives of the German soldiers who took part in the assault His original research work resulted in a new history of the siege which is more complete, and more balanced, than that found in previous accounts. His book was published in Russia in 2008.