Battle of Kursk

Battle of Kursk

 

The Battle of Kursk took place on the Eastern Front during World War II. It commenced when German and Soviet armed forces clashed near the city of Kursk between early July and late August 1943. It was the largest clash of armored vehicles(tanks) and also the costliest of aerial warfare in history. It would end with the Soviet Union’s decisive victory and would also be the last major offensive Germany would be able to launch in the Eastern Front.

In the aftermath of the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad during the winter of 1942-1943. Hitler wanted to crush the Soviet Union’ war capability to this effect he ordered for a massive attack at Kursk. However many of his Army High Command Staff strongly disagreed with any kind of attack on Kursk, in fact they were skeptical of any attack on the Eastern Front that year as can be seen by the following quote between Hitler and one of his Generals:

“Was it really necessary to attack Kursk, and indeed in the east that year at all? Do you think anyone even knows where Kursk is? The entire world doesn’t care if we capture Kursk or not. What is the reason that is forcing us to attack this year on Kursk, or even more, on the Eastern Front?”- General  Heinz Guderian

And perhaps the most surprising part is that Hitler replied:

“I know. The thought of it turns my stomach.”

Which goes to show that even Hitler himself had big doubts about Operation Citadel which was the codename for the attack on Kursk.  However, The Operation went on.

The Soviet Union made plans of its own. Thanks to a spy ring named Lucy based on Switzerland the Soviet Union mostly focused on preparations such as placement of mines for the coming German attack and also had a counter attack operation ready.

 

As the titanic battle began, the Germans plan was to shorten their lines by destroying the Kursk bulge which was created after their defeat at Stalingrad, They envisioned breaking through the southern and northern flanks to finally achieve a encirclement of the Red Army. However, thanks to German delays to wait for more equipment such as the Tiger and Panther tanks and not to mention the Soviets having inside information about the German plans

Germany had 780,900 men, 2,928 tanks, 9,966 guns and mortars, and 2,110 aircraft going against the Soviet Union’s 1,910,361 men, 5,128 tanks, 25,013 guns and mortars, and 2,792 aircraft. As seen they were both pretty much equal in firepower. However since the Soviets knew of the German attack plans they held a major advantage.

By the end of July the Germans had been exhausted after much fierce fighting mostly due to the massive defensive preparations the Soviets had made. It was then the Soviets began massive counter attacks which were devastating to the Germans and by August  23, 1943 the battle was over. This marked the beginning of the end for Germany as it was the last major operation it was able to conduct in the Eastern Front, from that point on the Soviets took the initiative and slowly began reclaiming lost territory as they headed west.