Main artillery fort GHW XII Werner, Żurawica
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Main artillery fort GHW XII Werner

Żurawica

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A well-preserved main artillery fort GHW XII is of high scientific value as the second permanent artillery fort built during the third stage of the construction of the Przemyśl Fortress. It bears the traces of fights during the third siege of the fortress in 1915. Additionally, the fort also has decorative architectural details. As a crucial part of the system of fortifications which formed the Fortress of Przemyśl, it remains a valuable historical monument of European importance.

History

In 1855-1856, as part of the construction of fortifications of the first stronghold around Przemyśl, artillery sconce no. 13 of the FS type (Feuer-Schanze) was built north of the Żurawica village, in the northern part of the ring. In 1882-1884, during the construction of permanent fortifications forming part of the Fortress of Przemyśl, the sconce was transformed into a permanent artillery fort GHW XII "Żurawica" — the second one to be built in the fortress. The name was later changed in honour of the architect of the fort, Anton Werner. It is marked as Lagerfort XII (Werner) on the Festung-Umgebungs-Plan von Przemyśl (fortress map). In 1912-1914, the gorge section underwent modernisation. In place of a demolished defensive wall with a gate, a steel sponson with stations for two machine guns flanking the fort’s gorge was added to the barracks’ wall. The purpose of the fort was to defend the space between the road to Cracow and the railway line as well as the interfields stretching towards forts XI and XIIIa. In 1909, the fort was armed with four 15 cm cannons of the M.61 type standing on tall trailers (additional four reserve cannons) on the front ramparts, four 9 cm M.75/96 field guns on tall trailers on flank ramparts, and eight 15 cm grenade cannons (Granatkanone) on casemate trailers in the front caponier and at gorge stations. The fort was manned by 9 officers, 1 infantry company (266 soldiers), 94 gunners and 10 pioneers (sappers). During the first siege of the fortress (18.09-9.10.1914), fort XII and the adjacent artillery batteries supported the defence of neighbouring fort XI "Duńkowiczki" attacked by Russians. Before the surrendering of the fortress during the second siege (9.11.1914-22.03.1915) caponiers in the moat and the ammunition warehouse in the western part of the central bunker had been blown up. During the third siege (30.05-4.06.1915), after being shelled with heavy artillery, the fort was overrun by German and Austro-Hungarian forces. During the interwar period and after World War II, the fort was used by the Polish Armed Forces as an artillery munitions storage facility. Partial demolitions, among others, of the Carnot walls at the foot of the rampart, were conducted at that time. For a few years, the fort has been owned by a private person who has carried out repairs, renovations and cleaning works and adapted it for use as a museum dedicated to World War I, opened in 2010.

Description

The GHW XII "Werner" (Gürtelhauptwerk XII Werner) is a single-rampart artillery fort erected as part of the centred fort system. The fort is located north of the built-up area of Żurawica, at 20 Forteczna Street.

The area of the fort measured within the boundaries of the fortress plot is approx. 8.5 ha.

The fort was designed as a pentagon. The structure is surrounded by a deep dry moat with a masonry counterscarp on the front and flank sections. The remains of an earthen five-sided roundel with an entrance in the middle have been preserved in the gorge section. The fort’s gorge terminates in barracks with an entrance vestibule located along the central axis. The vestibule vault shows a visible hole pierced by a large-calibre bullet. Entrances in the vestibule lead to the guardhouse with a prison and to a commander's room. The central part of the vestibule includes entrances to corridors running along the corner wall, leading to all casemates that originally housed servants' room, soldiers' and officers' dwelling rooms, 2 kitchens, 2 food warehouses, and 2 bathrooms. Behind the entrance to the east corridor, there is a niche with a well. The barracks are sheltered by means of an earth rampart. The vestibule leads to a narrow courtyard enclosed by a bunker originally housing two delivery warehouses of cannon munitions with laboratories, combat emergency shelter, dressing station and two toilets. The eastern part of the bunker has not been preserved. On the axis of the bunker, there is an entrance to the postern leading to the non-existent front caponier. Exits to battle posts are found on both sides of the courtyard. The main rampart that includes ten foreheads and flanks features traverses housing emergency bunkers. Posterns lead from two bunkers to currently non-existent barrack caponiers. Fire posts of cannons and infantry were positioned between the traverses. All casemates, vestibule and posterns have concrete vaults. The façade of the barracks and the central bunker features semi-circular casemate openings enclosed by brick walls with rectangular windows. The entrance gate on the barracks's axis is decorated with surrounds that imitate rustication.

Viewing of the fort is possible during the opening hours. The fort is located along the “left-bank fortress route of the Fortress of Przemyśl” (marked in black) and along the cycling route running around the forts of the Fortress of Przemyśl.

compiled by Adam Sapeta, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Rzeszów, 17-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Bobusia B., Gosztyła M., Zub M. Plany Twierdzy Przemyśl, Przemyśl 2004
  • Bogdanowski J. Sztuka obronna, Kraków 1993.
  • Bogdanowski J. Architektura obronna w krajobrazie Polski od Biskupina do Westerplatte, Warsaw - Cracow 1996.
  • Brzoskwinia W., Idzikowski T., Środulska-Wielgus J., Wielgus K. Wartości zabytkowej Twierdzy Przemyśl, [in:] Informator regionalny Twierdza Przemyśl, 2nd Edition, Rzeszów 1999.
  • Forstner F., Twierdza Przemyśl, translated by Bańbor J., Warsaw 2000.
  • Idzikowski T., Twierdza Przemyśl. Powstanie. Rozwój. Technologie, Przemyśl 2004.
  • Sapeta A. Zestawienie obiektów Twierdzy Przemyśl, [in:] Informator regionalny Twierdza Przemyśl, 2nd Edition, Rzeszów 1999.
  • Website: Fort XII Werner Museum. Przemyśl Fortress. http://www.fortwerner.pl/ (access: 16.10.2014).

General information

  • Type: defensive architecture
  • Chronology: 1882-1884
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Forteczna 20, Żurawica
  • Location: Voivodeship podkarpackie, district przemyski, commune Żurawica
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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