“Brest-2019” project, inventarisation & documentation.

The first steps toward the understanding of Brest Fortress’s heritage: inventarisation and documentation of outstanding cultural heritage complex is nearing completion.

In Soviet times Brest Fortress was well known across the globe, but at the same time was a closely guarded secret.  Soviet ideology, to which the history of mankind actually began in 1917, did not see the use in studying tsarist monuments. For that reason there was no due attention paid to the over-a-hundred years long history of the fortress, while attention was focused on the defence of the fortress, which lasted for nearly two weeks in summer of 1941.

In times past, the person of the famous Soviet Lieutenant-General and Professor Dmitry Mikhaylovich Karbyshev, who participated in the construction of the Brest-Litovsk forts in years 1911-1913, lifted the veil on the construction of strong fortifications on the Western Border of the Empire. However, just a year ago, a quite an expert could say that he understands the fortification system of Brest-Litovsk. Professional research in this area did not exist.

Project Brest-2019 by setting a global agenda on introducing the Brest Fortress’s heritage to the cultural and social space has drawn the attention to current research issues on the heritage of the huge fortress. The first workshops have resulted in the understanding that a professional approach to the Brest Fortress’s heritage is needed. According to Vladimir Orlov, director of Military Heritage Centre (Kaunas, Lithuania) “even a small practice is worth great theory; that is to say, any proposals for the regeneration of such an important historical monument should be based on solid historical research and thorough understanding of the site we are going to work with”.

The inventarisation and documentation group was one among the first groups formed for the project’s needs.  The group includes experts with high professional competence in the field of fortification and cultural heritage. The fieldwork on fortified sector, buildings and constructions within the banks began by the end of 2012. Alongside the fieldwork archival research and search for extant documents were initiated. Serious efforts were needed in order to conduct the research. According to Alexei Starkov, the head of the inventarisation and documentation group of the Brest-2019 project, “Brest Fortress is a large and complex object. It is important in the process of inventarisation to identify, connect data with plan, measure, attribute both historical and modern objects, as well as to create a coherent and consequent indexing and accounting systems. That is to say, to lay the systematic basis for the work with the site for many years to come. According to present knowledge there are 129 single constructions and construction complexes on the territory of the Kobrin fortification. And this is not the limit. Most of them have cultural heritage attributes or are already under state protection. Some objects are in critical condition and require urgent conservation measures. There are conflicting objects as well as objects, which are the part of abandoned tourist infrastructure. Systematization of diverse information about the Brest Fortress’s objects and transformation of information into knowledge is in the scope of the study of the inventarisation and documentation group”.

Experts from Memorial Complex “Brest Hero Fortress”, who already have considerable experience in researching the history of building of the Brest-Litovsk fortress as well as the history of the old city, which was located within the present walls of the fortress few centuries back, were very supportive of work being undertaken. Thanks to their support the group of foreign experts has quickly adapted to the new working place.

As a result of this work a research on different objects of the Brest Fortress, including architectural bases of lost sculptures was conducted. In the course of archival work carried out in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Warsaw a significant body of hitherto unknown documents has been discovered. Most of these documents had not seen light for more the 100 years. Accompanying archival sheets were missing the information regarding research workers.

On the basis of this unique information we were able to set a complete list of the objects, which existed in the fortress, as well as to learn about the construction objectives of a given redoubt, lunette or casemate. The fortress was no longer a tumble of different buildings and objects: thanks to inventarisation data a strict logical structure was brought back to the fortress; motivation for two-hundred year old engineering solutions was clarified.

During the archival and field works historically valuable inscriptions were discovered on buildings walls. As a result of work it was possible to establish the existence of casemates, which have been covered up with soil for many years already; This have brought to the fore hitherto unknown facts about the ancient Berestye castle, an uprising in 1831, as well as about the details of the city displacement.

The variety of the data available will form the basis for the creation of an electronic database, i.e. information system that soon will be in demand for the purposes of regeneration and museumification of new objects and now-abandoned territories of Brest Fortress. This should significantly speed up the preparation of preservation projects and improve their quality.

The inventarisation works will last until the end of 2013. The results will be published to make them available to all parties interested in the subject.

The Brest-2019 project, which serves as a platform for inventarization of the heritage of Brest Fortress, was initiated by Brest City Executive Committee and Vladimir Mikulik, a businessman from Brest. Brest-2019 is a complex project aimed at including Brest Fortress and the adjacent areas into the modern city scenarios and imparting to it new functions of a communicational, cultural and historical, entertainment and business center of the city.

Project contacts:

Inna Prilezhaeva, project director, +79262272186, inna-amcult@bk.ru

Alina Dzeravianka, Project Coordinator, + 375295544017, ibrest2020@gmail.com

Artsiom Zdanevich, pr-manager, +375297201070, pr.brest2019@gmail.com



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