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Baltic Operation (1941)
Part of The Eastern Front of World War II
Прибалтийская операция.gif
Execution of operation 22.06.1941 - 10.07.1941
Date22 June-9 July 1941
LocationBaltic region region, USSR
Result Successful German Offensive
Germany Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb Fyodor Isodorovich Kuznetsov
655,000, 7,673 guns and mortars, 1,389 tanks, 1,070 aircraft 348,000, 5,573 guns and mortars, 1,393 tanks, 1,210 aircraft
Casualties and losses

The Baltic Operation, also known as the Defensive operation in Lithuania and Latvia (Oборонительная операция в Литве и Латвии) encompassed the operations of the Red Army from 22 June to 9 July 1941 conducted over the territories of the occupied Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in response to an offensive launched by the German army.

Operational parts

The operation consisted of three distinct smaller operations

Border Defensive Battles (22–24 June 1941)
Battle of Raseiniai also known as the 'Kaunas Counterattack'
Šiauliai Counter-Offensive Operation (24–27 June 1941)[2]
Defense of the Hanko Naval Base (22 June–2 December 1941)


The principal Red Army formations of the operation were the Northwestern Front and the Baltic Fleet, with the major ground forces consisting of the 8th (commander General Major P.P. Sobennikov), 11th (commander General Lieutenant Morozov) and later 27th Armies.

The operation was conducted after the forces of the Baltic Special Military District were alerted in the morning of 22 June 1941 following a surprise attack by the German Wehrmacht's Army Group North which consisted of the 18th, 16th Field Armies and the 4th Panzer Group, and elements of the 3rd Panzer Group, supported by the Luftflotte 1.[3]

On 22 June, the Soviet 8th Army was positioned in northern Lithuania opposed by the German 18th Army. The Soviet 11th Army defended the rest of the Lithuanian border with East Prussia and sought to contain the attacks of the German 16th Army and the 4th Panzer Group.

While the Soviet 8th Army retreated along the Jelgava–Riga–Tartu–Narva–Pskov direction, the Soviet 11th Army sought to initially hold the Kaunas–Vilnius sector of the front, but was forced to retreat along the Daugavpils–Pskov–Novgorod direction. These withdrawals, although costly in losses of personnel and materiel, avoided major encirclements experienced by the Fronts to the south, and succeeded in delaying the Army Group North sufficiently to allow preparation for the defence of Leningrad.

The operation was not a single continuous withdrawal, but was punctuated by short-lived counterattacks, counterstrokes or counteroffensives.[4]

Subordinate Red Army formations

The subordinate formations and units of the Armies were:

Front Subordinate

  • 65th Rifle Corps (11th and 16th Rifle Divisions, *5th Airborne Corps (2nd, 10th and 201st airborne brigades)
  • Northwestern Front Air Force (commanded by L.P. Ionov)[5]
    • 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 57th mixed air divisions
  • 10th antitank artillery brigade (артиллерийские бригады противотанковой обороны)
  • 10th, 12th and 14th air defence brigades (бригады противовоздушной обороны)
  • 110th, 402nd and 429th high power artillery regiments (артиллерийские полки большой мощности)
  • units and subunits of support troops
  • 1st Long Range Bomber Corps of the Stavka Reserve


The Soviet forces were defeated and forced to fall back. The next operation, according to the Soviet official history, was the Leningrad Strategic Defensive Operation (10 July-30 September 1941) which attempted to establish a stable front along the Narva–Novgorod line.


  1. G.F. Krivosheev Colonel-General (Author), John Erickson (Foreword), Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, Greenhill Books, London, 1997 ISBN 1-85367-280-7
  2. Also known as the Battle of Kelmė in German as in Glantz, David M., Atlas and operational summary: the border battles, 22 June-1 July 1941; daily situation maps prepared by Michael Avanzini
  3. p.69, Bishop
  4. p.70, Glantz
  5. p.36, Wagner


  • Wagner, Ray (ed.), Fetzer, Leland, (trans.), The Soviet Air Force in World War II: the official history, Wren Publishing, Melbourne, 1973 ISBN 0-85885-194-6
  • Bishop, Chris, The Military Atlas of World War II, Igloo Books, London, 2005 ISBN 1-904687-53-9
  • Glantz, David, M., Colossus reborn: The Red Army at war 1941-1943, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, 2005 ISBN 0-7006-1353-6

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