Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

A New Deconstruction of Prokhorovka

By Dennis Showalter 
Originally published by World War II magazine. Published Online: October 05, 2011 
Print Friendly
1 comment FONT +  FONT -

Demolishing the Myth
The Tank Battle at Prokhorovka, Kursk, July 1943: An Operational Narrativ
e
By Valeriy Zamulin. 672 pp.
Helion & Company, 2011. $69.95.

For anyone interested in the war between Russia and Germany, the battle of Prokhorovka had it all. On July 12, 1943, the Eastern Front's essential elements coalesced here in a perfect metaphorical storm. A dramatic, climactic head-on clash between an elite Soviet tank army and the Waffen SS was spearheaded by a muzzle-to-muzzle, hull-to-hull confrontation between the war's finest signature tanks—Germany's Tiger and Russia's T-34. At day's end, the report allegedly raced across Soviet radio networks: "The Tigers are burning!" No more needed to be said.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to World War II magazine

It's a swell story, and historians liked it as much as anyone. But in recent years, scholars examining surviving German records in detail have unearthed significant data that undercuts its dramatic flair. Far from being annihilated, the Tiger units lost only a few tanks. In fact, the Soviet Guards tangled themselves in the terrain, the dust, and their own numbers, suffering massive losses for no significant gain. Indeed, current orthodoxy among historians redefines Prokhorovka as a German local victory that, if properly understood and exploited at the time, might have salvaged something from Operation Citadel.

Historian Valeriy Zamulin restores balance to the battle with this remarkable volume, one of the finest examples of World War II operational history published since the Soviet Union's collapse. Beginning in the 1990s, he worked with newly declassified operational accounts prepared by the Red Army units engaged at Kursk, and with participant accounts in the Prok­horovka Field Museum. He then dove deep into German sources. Several years after its Russian publication, here at last is an English edition.

"Definitive" is a tag abused by reviewers, but for this book it is unavoidable. For starters, Zamulin establishes the actual numbers and the losses on both sides. He presents the personalities and abilities of Russian commanders who have too often previously appeared as mere opposite numbers to their German adversaries. And he describes German and Russian troop movements, operationally and behind the lines, with astounding clarity since this pivotal battle was defined by hamlets and hills never heard of before or since.

Detailed and coherent, focusing down to company level when appropriate, Zamulin's Demolishing the Myth concludes that Prokhorovka was not in fact World War II's largest tank battle—that distinction goes, ironically, to one of the Soviet disasters during Barbarossa's opening weeks. It accepts that German tank losses were much less than generally thought. It makes no effort to conceal Soviet errors of command and execution. It even concedes that the Germans held their ground and prevented a Soviet breakthrough.

But what really counts is that the Germans, too, were stopped completely. Their best troops, under their best commanders, failed to execute a comprehensively planned operation. After this, the Red Army never turned back, while the long German retreat led inexorably to the streets of Berlin.


Recommended

One Response to “A New Deconstruction of Prokhorovka”


  1. 1
    bobe says:

    The Operation Citadel was a gamble, after STALINGRAD germans lacked infantry for such an offensive, ZHUKOV was aware of that, he had information about every german formation in all details, he had information from spies (german and british ) and partisans behind enemy lines, it was a gamble from a LUNATIC HITLER, to bleed his best soldiers its tanks and airplanes, in a final wreck of the powerful german army/airforce.
    the delay of CITADEL just made possible to create formidable soviet defenses lines.
    Prrokhorovka was a disaster for the soviets but it stopped the germans and HITLER again helped soviets by halting offensive to help MUSSOLINI, another example of insanity, soviets had no more reserves while germans still had some fresh panzer divisions.
    KURSK was a waste for the germans, although a GERMAN TACTICAL VICTORY(outnumbered they caused much higher losses on the enemy) the soviet rapidly replaced their losses in men airplanes and tanks, while the germans couldn't do it, so the war was over in the eastern front.
    What we hear about soviet propaganda is that PROKHOROVKA was a soviet victory but all the new information available points to contrary,
    it was catastrophic disaster for the soviets, also the TIGER made such FEAR on the soviets that they spread lies about it and said that after the third day MOSCOW laid claim to 1,539 tank kills what was just a absurd.



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy