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First Battle of Kiev

A German AT gun overlooking the city of Kiev

The First Battle of Kiev occurred in 1941 and it was part of Operation Barbarossa. The battle began on August 23, 1941 and ended on September 26, 1941 resulting in a German victory. During the battle, the largest encirclement of soldiers in all of history occurred.[1] Over 660,000 Soviet troops were surrounded by the German forces. This forced the Soviets to practically rebuild a large part of their army anew. While successful in dealing a huge blow to the Red Army, many German commanders argued after the war that the transfer of resource into the fighting around Kiev proved critical in delaying Operation Typhoon a month after it 'should' have launched.[2]


With Army Group Centre fought to a standstill during the Battle of Smolensk on 21 August, Guderian led the 2nd Panzer Group and the 2nd Army Group south from Smolensk and on 25 August seized the vial bridges over the Desna River near Konotop for his tanks, before advancing to Romny.[3]

Meanwhile, General von Kleist's 1st Panzer Army had fought their way over the Dnieper River and the 6th and 7th Armies marched in direction of Kiev, forcing Budenny to order the Southwest Front to maintain their positions west of Kiev.

From 20 to 26 of August the Soviets mounted several attacks along the Don River. But the 3rd Bersaglieri Regiment and supporting cavalry and Black Shirts units frustrated all efforts to break through the Italian lines.[4]

On 10 September General von Kleist reinforced the 17th Army at Kremenchug with 331 panzers for the planned attack on 11 September.

On 12 September, after a delay of 24 hours due to heavy rain, the two German armies attacked with the 'Luftwaffe flying support missions from Kirovograd and Uman and providing flak batteries for the advancing panzers and German infantry.

On 16 September Guderian and Kleist linked up near Lokhvitsa and the fate of the five Soviet armies defending Kiev was sealed.

However the fighting to reduce the massive Soviet pocket would last another 10 days, and a number of Soviet troops and leaders, including Nikita Khrushchev, Timoshenko and Budenny would be able to escape the German encirclement.

On 26 September the Soviet defenders surrendered, with 616,304 reportedly killed, wounded or captured in defence of Kiev.[5]


In total, the Soviet forces suffered 616,304 killed or captured in the Battle of Kiev.. 84,240 were reported wounded or sick.

The German forces suffered 26,856 killed, 96,796 wounded and 5,008 captured or missing. On 24 September, the Germans suffered further losses when several buildings were destroyed in downtown Kiev after booby traps in the forms of bombs and mines went off.


  2. Glantz, David M. House, Jonathan. When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler, University Press of Kansas (1995)
  3. "With Army Group Centre fought to a stanstill around Smolensk, Guderian's Panzer Group 2 was ordered south, where it and von Kleist's Panzer Group 1 successfully encircled the Soviet Southwest Front in the Kiev area in SeptemberThe Defense of Moscow 1941, Jack Radey, Charles Sharp, Stackpole Books, 2014
  4. "From the 20th to the 26th of August Italian Forces have been subjected to extremely fierce Soviet attacks along the Don River. The Bersaglieri, Cavalry and Black Shirts have untiringly repulsed the attacks which wave after wave were launched in the desperate attempt to break through the Italian lines." Il Marco Polo, Issues 13-14, p. 126, Shanghai, 1941
  5. "Soviet figures for the Kiev (including losses at Uman) from June 22-September 26 total 616,304 KIA, MIA, or POWs, plus 84,240 wounded or sick, from the Central, Souchern, and Southwestern Fronts." Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Reference to Casualty and Other Figures, 1500-2000, Micheal Clodfelter, p. 500, McFarland, 2002