Battle of Raseiniai

The Battle of Raseiniai (23–27 June 1941) was a tank battle fought between the elements of the 4th Panzer Army and two Soviet Mechanized Corps in Lithuania 75 km northwest of Kaunas in the attempt by the commander of the Northwestern Front 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 (22–24 June 1941) as part of the larger Baltic Strategic Defensive Operation.

For months, the Soviet leadership had refused to heed warnings from the Western Powers of the German troop buildup along its western border. Germany and its Axis partners thus achieved almost complete tactical surprise. Much of the existing Soviet air force was destroyed on the ground; the Soviet armies were initially overwhelmed. German units encircled millions of Soviet soldiers, who, cut off from supplies and reinforcements, had few options other than to surrender.