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The Fortress of Bobruisk

Mogilev Region, Bobruisk

The Fortress of Bobruisk, whose ruins are still to be seen lying around, emerged at the site of a former castle in 1807-1836 after the town became part of the Russian Empire. They started building the citadel by order of Tsar Alexander I dated August 1 1810 and on June 4 1811 there was the Russian three-colour flag waving in the air above the fortress. It was regarded a top-class unassailable fortress with state-of-the-art military ammunition. Before the war of the Year 1812 began they had built 5 major bastions, the banks and the ditches.

Russia’s 2nd army spearheaded by Commander Bagration used to stay at the fortress for some time. After the Russian army retreated, a 5,000-strong detachment would hold the citadel for 4 months.

The fortress of Bobruisk was the only one that never surrendered to the enemy.

In the 1812-1836 period the reinforcement of the fortress continued.

Many of those who participated in the December revolt at the Senate Square in St Petersburg had served in Bobruisk as military officers. In May 1823 Bobruisk witnessed a plot by Muraviov-Apostol, Bestuzhev-Riumin and Pavalo-Shvekovski (all participants of the December revolt) to assassinate Tsar Alexander I. After the revolt was suppressed, some of the participants were sent to Bobruisk for penal servitude. Some considered hard labour at the prison of the Fortress of Bobruisk a greater punishment than being in exile in Siberia.

In 1886 the fortress was turned into a warehouse to become a prison for junior officers and soldiers a year later.

The Polish troops that seized the town on August 28 1919 turned the fortress into a concentration camp for war prisoners. The town had not been liberated until July 10 1920, when the retreating Polish army took some Russian P.O.W.s along and sold them to slave traders from Congo.

During WWII Bobruisk was there to witness of the first counterattacks the Soviet troops made against the Germans. After the town was occupied by the German army the fortress was again converted into concentration camp.

There is a great deal of underground tunnels under the citadel. Some of them are several kilometres long and lead under the riverbed all the way to the nearest woods.

Now there are plans to arrange an indoor skating rink in of the surviving buildings of the citadels.

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