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Post Info TOPIC: "Attack of the Dead Men" from "The Defense of the Fortress Osowiec” (1915)


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"Attack of the Dead Men" from "The Defense of the Fortress Osowiec” (1915)

I came across a very obscure, but interesting reading the other day..

"Attack of the Dead Men" from "The Defense of the Fortress Osowiec” (1915).

Very interesting reading and the only english translation of the original russian story.

The story is too long to just copy/paste it here, but you can read it on this link.

This is the preface from the translator.

This is a translation of an extract from the book called “The Defense of the Fortress

Osovets”. The book describes the second attack on the fortress Osovets by the German troops

in WW1. The second attack started in January 1915 and lasted for 6.5 months where the first 6

months and some days were devoted to mutual cannon fire. The first 40 pages or so of the book

describe the terrain, the available weapons and the cannon fire in minute detail. I skipped those

pages and translated only the part that is about the famous poison gas attack made by the

Germans against the defenders of the fortress Osovets.

The authors of the book, officers Sveshnikov and Bunyakovsky, were in the fortress Osovets

at the time and took part in the described events. The book was published in 1917 before the

Russian revolution. Due to that fact, the authors are using the old-timey pre-revolution Russian

which differs in several ways from the modern Russian instilled by the Communist party after

1917 and possesses a sort of special lilting, long-winded charm which I tried to preserve (not

sure how successful I was). I also preserved the italicization of the original text.

The book was written with the intention of being used by military historians interested in this

period and as such it is not nearly as dramatic in the description of the gas attack as later

retellings; in fact, it was only called “the attack of the dead men” much later for the purposes of

amping up the drama. It is, however, the most accurate and detailed (and, to my knowledge,

more or less the only one) witness account that has survived over the century that has passed

since. The book in its physical form is only available in one or two of the biggest libraries in

Russia, most copies having been lost or destroyed, and fans of military history are sharing it

with each other as a pdf in their blogs.

Also, the book contains a large number of illustrations, such as military maps and weapon

schematics. I translated one such map covering the general area around Osovets in Photoshop

for you to have a clearer picture of what is going on and where everything is happening.

Hope you enjoy this text.



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