You are on page 1of 5

Battle of Raseiniai

The Battle of Raseiniai (23–27 June 1941) was a tank
battle fought between the elements of the 4th Panzer
Group commanded by Gen. Erich Hoepner and the 3rd
Mechanized Corps[4][a] commanded by Major General
Kurkin & 12th Mechanised Corps[4][b] commanded by
Major General Shestapolov in Lithuania 75 km northwest of Kaunas in the attempt by the commander of the
Northwestern Front, Kuznetsov to contain and destroy
German troops that had crossed the Neman River (Nemunas). The result of the battle was the almost complete destruction of Soviet armoured forces of the Northwestern
Front, clearing the way for the continued German offensive towards the crossings of the Daugava River (Western
Dvina). This was one of the major battles during the initial phases of Operation Barbarossa known in Soviet history as the Border Defensive Battles (22–27 June 1941)
as part of the larger Baltic Strategic Defensive Operation.


German bombers destroyed many of the signals and communications centers, naval bases, and the Soviet aerodromes in particular; from Riga to Kronstadt, on Šiauliai,
Vilnius and Kaunas the bombs rained on carefully selected targets. Soviet aircraft had been on one-hour alert,
but were held on their airfields after the first wave of German bombers passed.
At 9:30 AM on 22 June, Colonel General Kuznetsov, ordered 3rd and 12th mechanized corps to take up their
counterattack positions, intending to use them in flanking attacks on the 4th Panzer Group, which had broken
through to the river Dubysa (Dubissa). By noon, the Soviet divisions began to fall back. The German columns
then began to swing towards Raseiniai, where Kuznetsov
was concentrating his own armor for a major counterattack on the next day. By the evening, Soviet formations
had fallen back to the Dubysa. Northwest of Kaunas, forward elements of Erich von Manstein's LVI Panzer Corps
reached the Dubysa and seized the vital Ariogala road
viaduct across it. Without this crossing, Germans tanks
might have been trapped in what was a giant natural tank
ditch. A dash to Dvinsk would have been wholly ruled
out. Meanwhile southwest of Vilnius more armor from
the 3rd Panzer Army, which had ripped through the Soviet 11th, moved across the Niemen River over the intact


Army Group North, commanded by Field Marshal
Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, and staging in East Prussia prior to the commencement of the offensive, was
the northern of three Army Groups participating in the
invasion of the Soviet Union. Army Group North controlled the 18th and 16th Armies, along with the 4th
Panzer Group commanded by General Erich Hoepner. In
total, the Germans had 20 infantry divisions, three Panzer
and three motorized infantry divisions. Air support was
provided by the 1st Air Fleet.

By the end of 22 June, the German armoured spearheads
had crossed the Niemen and penetrated 80 kilometres (50
mi). The next day, Kuznetsov committed his armoured
forces to battle. Near Raseiniai, the XLI Panzer Corps
was counter-attacked by the tanks of the Soviet 3rd and
12th Mechanised Corps. But this concentration of soviet
armour was detected by the Luftwaffe, which immediately directed heavy air attacks against tank columns of
the 12th Mechanised Corps south west of Šiauliai. These
attacks went unopposed by any Soviet fighters and were
carried out with great success. The Soviet 23rd Tank Division sustained particularly severe losses. Ju 88’s from
Luftflotte 1 thundering in at low level, setting ablaze 40
vehicles, including tanks and lorries.[5] The battle would
last four days.

The military administrative control over the Baltic republics area where the Army Group North would be
deployed was exercised by the Special Baltic Military
District which after the invasion was renamed into the
Northwestern Front, Commanded by Colonel General
Kuznetsov. The front fielded 8th and 11th Armies with
the 27th Armies in its second echelon. All together,
Northwestern Front had 28 rifle, 4 tank, and 2 motorized


It was here that German forces encountered a unit
equipped with the Soviet KV heavy tanks for the first
time. Gen. E.N. Soliankin’s 2nd Tank Division from
Soviet 3rd Mechanised Corps attacked and overran elements of the German 6th Panzer Division[7][c][I] near
Skaudvilė on 23 June. The Germans’ Panzer 35(t) tanks
and antitank weapons were practically ineffective against
the Soviet heavy tanks—some of them were out of am-

The operation

Army Group North's 4th Panzer Group advanced in two
spearheads, led by the XLI Panzer Corps and LVI Panzer
Corps. Their objectives was to cross the Neman and
Daugava, the most difficult natural obstacles in front of
Army Group North's drive towards Leningrad.

We moved closer and closer to the enemy.Soviet) tanks continued to advance. [6] torised Rifle Division were severely depleted due to losses 6th Panzer Division in vehicles and personnel. Meanwhile. At the same time the Soviet high command (Stavka) released Major-General Lelyushenko’s 21st Mechanised Corps from the Moscow Military District to co-operate with the 27th Army. roughly in line with them. striking along the Daugavpils-Ostrov highway. The KV-1 & KV-2. the Soviet 8th Army fell back towards Riga and the 11th towards Vilnius to the Desna. managed to cut off elements of the 6th Panzer Division which had established bridgeheads on the Dubysa. who for his part continued to approach us unconcerned. were really something! Our companies opened fire at about 800 yards. A fantastic exchange of fire took place without any visible German success. A breach gaped in the Soviet front from Ukmergė to Daugavpils.The Soviet Baltic Fleet was withdrawn from bases in bilising them by firing at their tracks and then by tackling Liepāja. the leading formations of LVI Panzer Corps furiously set about enlarging the bridgehead. and 8th Army commander . It stalled the Division’s advance for a full day while being attacked by a variety of antitank weapons. and Riga by 26 June.[16] [h] guns by literally driving over them.[10] The next day. AA Guns.[11][12][d][e] 3 After the operation After the seizure of the Dvina bridges and the fall of Dvinsk. An immediate drive forwards would make it almost impossible for the Soviets to defend Leningrad. Colonel General Kuznetsov also decided to use Major-General Berzarin’s 27th Army. and all armourpiercing shells simply bounced off them. which we first met here. by deploying the 8th Army on the right bank of the river from Riga to Livani while the 11th Army would defend Livani-Kraslava sector. it was not to be: orders received with disbelief by the tankers were to wait for the infantry to arrive. but closed with and destroyed German antitank of fuel and ammunition. at a crossroads in front of Raseiniai. on 28 June. The Soviet 3rd Mechanised Corps had obligingly run out of fuel. Windau. In the end the wait would last almost a week. In the south. Berzarin was to pull his troops off the Hiiumaa and Saaremaa islands and out of Riga and bring them to Daugavpils. but it remained ineffective. A protective front established & defensive fighting continued. On 25 June. By the evening of 25 June. until it finally ran out of ammunition. by 23 June. or by blowing them up at Von Manstein’s's LVI Panzer Corps dashed for the River close range by high explosive charges of the Sticky Bomb Dvina and in a remarkable coup seized bridges near type. 11th Army commander Lieutenant-General Morozov ordered the units falling Colonel General Kuznetsov was removed as front comback to the old fortress town Kaunas on the Niemen to mander by Timoshenko. An account by the Thuringian 1st Panzer Division Dvinsk intact. Von Manstein halted on the Dvina. In the course of that operation we succeeded in immobilizing some of them with special purpose shells at very close range 30 to 60 yards. E. a single KV-2 heavy tank. At 5:00 AM. A priceless opportunity now offered itself to the Germans. and by 1 July were in retreat to Estonia. Lelyushenko attacked upon Kuznetsov's orders in an attempt to destroy the German bridgehead near Daugavpils. but attacked on the next day. However. a single tank of this type held for one day the entire pletely destroyed. the Germans crossed the railway bridge over the Dvina. Thus we were presently faced with the alarming situation of the Russian (sic) tanks driving through the ranks of 1st Panzer Regiment towards our own infantry and our hinterland. On 30 June Soviet troops withdrew on the right bank of the river. At Riga on the afternoon of 29 June. The Russian (sic . describes this battle. Lelyushenko had 98 tanks and 129 guns. but by now was very short munition. them with artillery. Very soon we were facing each other at 50 to 100 yards.2 3 AFTER THE OPERATION move on to Jonava some 30 miles to the north-east. Our Panzer Regiment therefore about turned and rumbled back with the KV-1s and KV-2s. A counter attack was launched and the Russians (sic Soviets) were thrown back. the XLI’s Panzer Corps 1st Panzer Division & 36th Motorised Infantry & following infantry Divisions had cut through the rear of the Soviet Mechanised Corps and linked up.[8][9][f] Attempts to destroy these armoured giants concentrated on first immo.[14][15][g] The 12th Mechanized Corps pulled out of the trap. Soliankin’s 2nd Tank Division was encircled & almost com[13] The 5th Tank Division & 84th MoA KV-2 tank. By 26 June. & Gen. Marshal Semyon Timoshenko ordered Colonel General Kuznetsov to organize a defense of the Western Dvina.N.

p23 [6] Steve Newton. Pskov itself fell on the evening of 9 July. p33 . pp 18–19. The 5th Tank Division was at Yelnya by 4 July 1941 and consisted of 2.000 men after the first two weeks of combat. 2007. Stumbling Colossus. Barbarossa to Berlin .552 men and a total of 2 BT-7 tanks and four armoured cars. p.[10] Hitler Moves East by Paul Carrell 1964 pp 23-24 neer Battalion 57. one company from Panzerjäger [11] Zaloga 1995. 2003. and the 8th Army was being rammed inexorably towards the Gulf of Finland. Panzer Operations on the Eastern Front The Memoirs of General Raus. p155-p156 [5] Christer Bergstrom. Battalion 41. 4 • f • g • h • I Footnotes • a On 22 June 1941 3rd Mechanised Corps had 31. e The Tanks were eventually destroyed by Batteries of 88mm Flak Guns & 100mm Artillery Guns employed in Anti-Tank role. pp 17–18. 5 Sources & References [1] Chris Bishop. p32 [4] Glantz. On 11 July 1941 Col P Poluboiarov. The Memoirs of General Raus. German Sources reported the destruction of more than 200 tanks. The 11th Army commander was therefore ordered to move to Dno. It was destroyed at the Battle of Białystok– Minsk.A Chronology of the Campaigns on the Eastern Front 1941-1945. 155 Panzer 35(t). Afterwards they were buried nearby with honours by the German Soldiers of the Unit held up. Bt Series Tanks. • b • c • • On 22 June 1941 12th Mechanized Corps had 28. But the German pause had given time for more troops to be rushed in to Siege of Leningrad.[12] Steve Newton. The Battle for Leningrad 1941-1944. Timoshenko issued a directive on 29 June to the Northwestern Front stipulating that in the event of a withdrawal from the Daugava. Despite this. d General Erhard Raus the Officer in Command of 6th Panzer Division's Kampfgruppe Raus which was the Unit held up by the lone vehicle disagrees. one Company of Panzer Engi. 2003. 'Barbarossa . 2005. The crumbling of the Northwestern Front on the Velikaya and the German sweep to Luga were grave setbacks for the Soviets. Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion 57. with the rail and road bridges remaining intact.3 Major-General Sobennikov took over the front on 4 July.832 men & 749 Tanks including only lighter Soviet T-26. p66 [2] Brian Taylor. The crew had remarkably only been apparently stunned by the shots which had entered the turret. German Wehrmacht Panzer Divisions 1939-1945. one company of Panzerjäger Battalion 41 & Motorcycle Battalion 6 (Morning). p21-p25 fantry Regiment. 2003. only 30 Panzer IVs. p14 [3] David Glantz. one Battery of the 2nd Battalion Flak Regiment 411 & Motorcycle Battalion 6 (After. the next river line. Kampfgruppe Raus consisted of Panzer Regi.[9] Steve Newton. Which were Kampfgruppe Von Seckendorff consisting of the 114th Motorized infantry Regiment. the Velikaya. including 29 KV-1s. Northwestern Front armoured directorate reported that the 3rd Mechanised Corps had 'completely perished' having only 400 men remaining who escaped encirclement with 2nd Tank Division & only 1 BT-7 tank. he says the vehicle was damaged by several shots from an 88 Anti-Tank Gun firing at the vehicle from behind while it was distracted by Panzer 35(t) tanks from Panzer Battalion 65 & the crew were killed by Grenades from a Pioneer Engineer unit who pushed the grenades through two holes made by the gun while the turret had started moving again. p13 [8] Zaloga 1995. The 1st & 3rd Battalions the 76th Artillery Regiment.The Air Battle: July– December 1941. Panzer Operations on the Eastern Front ment 11. 5 Panzerbef 35(t)'s (command tanks) & 8 Panzerbef’s. reported on 29 July that the strength of his corps had fallen to under 17. the river Velikaya line fell rapidly on 8 July. one Battalion of the 4th Motorized inThe Memoirs of General Raus. On entering the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa the 6th Panzer Division had a total of 245 tanks which consisted of 47 Panzer II. 150 guns & hundreds of trucks & vehicles. 2003. and the battle for the city would be long and hard. Panzer Operations on the Eastern Front noon). 2002. Colonel Grinberg temporary commander of the 12th Mechanized Corps after the death of his corps’ original commander Major General Shestopalov. was to be held and every effort made to get Soviet troops emplaced there.975 men & 651 Tanks including (10 T-34 & 2 Battalions of 50 Heavy KV-1s). the other five or six shots having not apparently penetrated completely. 33 [7] Steve Newton. 1998. Panzer Operations on the Eastern Front The Memoirs of General Raus. 2003.

ISBN 1-85780-270-5 Coordinates: 55°21′N 23°17′E / mechcorps/3mk.The Red Army on the Eve of World War'. 24:00// Sbornik boyevykh dokumentov vol. Moscow. via http://rkkaww2. “Mekhanizirovannye korpusa RKKA v boyu”. ISBN 1-85532-496-2.The Air Battle: July–December 1941.armchairgeneral. HQ North-western Front. Moscow.283°E . 1958 and E. ISBN 0-7006-1208-4 • Christer Bergstrom.4 6 FURTHER READING [13] David Glantz. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. 2005 . Stumbling Colossus. • Steven H Newton. Drig. Ian Allan Publishing.. 2 July 1941. Stumbling Colossus. Voyennoye Izdatelstvo Ministerstva Oborony. 'Panzer Operations on the Eastern Front. Kansas. KV-1 & 2 Heavy Tanks 1939–1945. 34. The Battle for Leningrad 1941-1944. 'The Battle for Leningrad 1941-1944'.htm [15] Glantz. 2002. Steven J.1.350°N 23.The Memoirs of General Raus 1941-1945' (2003) Da Capo Press ISBN 0-306-81247-9 • David Glantz (1998). Jim Kinnear. 1998. Kansas. (2007) 'Barbarossa . p33 [14] Boyevoye Doneseniye No. p126 [16] Glantz. ISBN 0-7006-0879-6 • David Glantz (2002). and Peter Sarson (1995). 'Stumbling Colossus . AST. p128 6 Further reading • Zaloga. 1998.

Hohum. contributors. Mrg3105. Soviet_Union_%281923-1955%29. Mercenary2k. the digitalization of the originals as provided by the Digital Image Archive. Boothferry. MoRsE. Scarian._Russland-Nord. SmackBot. Xqbot. Lokyz. org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-209-0091-11%2C_Russland-Nord%2C_russischer_Panzer_KW-2.svg License: CC-BY-SA-3. Rich Farmbrough. Hamish59 and Anonymous: 12 Contributors: Wwoods. Muta112.jpg Source: https://upload. Tswold. CmdrObot. Kubanczyk. StoneProphet.svg Source: https://upload.wikipedia.svg. 7._russischer_Panzer_KW-2. Rjwilmsi. FrescoBot. Daccos~enwiki. LilHelpa. Jim Reich_%281935%E2%80%931945%29. Darwinek. ZéroBot. Moswento. MisterBee1966. Rickyyeo2503. Cydebot. Cpl attari.wikimedia. Plasticup. Ketiltrout. GrouchoBot.5 7 Text and image sources. TXiKiBoT. Michael Devore. Andrein.2 Images • File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-209-0091-11.svg License: Public domain Contributors: Own work Original artist: Fornax • File:Flag_of_the_Soviet_Union_(1923-1955). Original artist: Nägele • File:Flag_of_German_Reich_(1935–1945). Samdacruel.3 Content license • Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.svg Source: https://upload. Bilsonius. Noclador. Addbot.wikimedia. Mzajac. Ardfern.0 . Roger Davies. and licenses 7. The German Federal Archive guarantees an authentic representation only using the originals (negative and/or positive). resp. Renata3.0 de Contributors: This image was provided to Wikimedia Commons by the German Federal Archive (Deutsches Bundesarchiv) as part of a cooperation project.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: created by rotemliss from Image:Flag of the Soviet Union.jpg License: CC BY-SA 3. Luckas-bot. Squids and Chips. NikonMike. Tim1357.wikimedia. Buckshot06. -Ilhador-. Dodo19~enwiki. The Anomebot2. Andrwsc.1 Text • Battle of Raseiniai Source: https://en. Ymblanter. MBK004.