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Operation Barbarossa   >   Battles   >   Battle of Kiev

   
 

Battle of Kiev


Ruined city of Kiev
The Battle of Kiev (known by the Russians as the "Kiev Defensive Operation") was a major battle that took place around the city of Kiev in the Ukraine between approximately July 7th and September 26th 1941.

The Battle was a major defeat for the Soviet Red Army, with the Germans encircling the entire Southwestern Front, and capturing approximately 665,000 Soviet prisoners. Four Soviet Armies (the 5th, 21st, 26th and 37th Armies) with 43 divisions were almost entirely destroyed, and the Soviet 40th Army suffered heavy losses as well. As a result of the battle, the Soviets lost control of most of the Ukraine, including Kiev itself, and the city of Kiev itself was not liberated until November 1943.

The circumstances of the battle were important for the overall Barbarossa campaign, and despite the German victory in the Battle of Kiev, were arguably one of the reasons why the Germans failed to capture the Soviet capital, Moscow. What happened was that during and immediately after the frontier battles, Army Group Center advanced much more quickly than Army Group South. As a result, the Germans in Army Group Center formed a huge salient, and large forces around Kiev, although lacking mobility due to the loss of most of their tanks, nevertheless threatened the flank of Army Group Center.

Germans Generals Halder, Bock and Guderian, wished to continue the advance to Moscow as soon as possible, however Hitler prioritized attacking Kiev and the Ukraine. Hitler's orders (Supplement to War Directive No. 34) issued on August 12th represented a compromise between Hitler's and the General's views.
  • Army Group Center would loan the 2nd Panzer Group (Panzergruppe 2) to Army Group North temporarily.

  • Army Group Center would loan the 3rd Panzer Group (Panzergruppe 3) to Army Group South temporarily.

  • Once the 2nd Panzer Group and 3rd Panzer Group had achieved their objectives, they would be returned to Army Group Center, along with the 4th Panzer Group (Panzergruppe 4) of Army Group North, and then would drive towards to Moscow.
The outcome, as already mentioned was a major German victory around Kiev, but a delay in the attack on Moscow. Some people have argued that this diversion was one of the main reasons why the Germans did not reach Moscow in 1941, others however say that the exposed right flank of Army Group Center, bad weather, and strengthening Soviet resistance would not have allowed the Germans to take Moscow in any case.


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