The Battle of Kiev was a World War II German military operation which took place in the neighborhood of Kiev, the Soviet Union, from August 23 to September 26, 1941. The Battle of Kiev resulted in the largest encirclement of troops in history in which more than 665,000 Soviet troops were trapped by the German pincers.
On June 22, 1941, Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. As the German forces closed in on Moscow, the Führer suddenly changed his mind about the strategy of Operation Barbarossa and ordered the commander of 2nd Panzer Group, Heinz Guderian, to swing south, in order to help Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt to clear the Ukraine. This order was Hitler’s biggest military blunder, for, if the German armored forces had gone straight eastward, Moscow would have been surrounded and eventually fallen, with Stalin within, to the German forces before the onset of the harsh Russian winter and the arrival of the Siberian divisions.
Guderian’s 2nd Panzer Group swung around the east of Kiev while 1st Panzer Group, under the command of Ewald von Kleist, made the other jaw of the pincers. The two Panzer groups met at Lokhvitsa, 120 miles behind Kiev. The German 6th and 17th Armies of Army Group South, and the 2nd Army of Army Group Center reduced the pocket, aided by the two Panzer groups. A fierce fighting ensued as the trapped Soviet forces were heavily bombed by aircraft and artillery. By September 19, Kiev had finally fallen as the pocket had been reduced. The last remnants of troops east of Kiev surrendered on September 26, 1941.