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Battle of Kursk: Germany's Lost Victory in World War II

Originally published by World War II magazine. Published Online: June 12, 2006 
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Following their disastrous defeat at Stalingrad during the winter of 1942-43, the German armed forces launched a climactic offensive in the East known as Operation Citadel on July 4,1943. The climax of Operation Citadel, the Battle of Kursk, involved as many as 6,000 tanks, 4,000 aircraft and 2 million fighting men and is remembered as the greatest tank battle in history. The high-water mark of the battle was the massive armor engagement at Prochorovka (also spelled Prokhorovka), which began on July 12. But while historians have categorized Prochorovka as a victory of improved Soviet tactics over German firepower and heavy tanks, new evidence casts the struggle at the 'gully of death' in a very different light.

The Germans' goal during Citadel was to pinch off a large salient in the Eastern Front that extended 70 miles toward the west. Field Marshal Günther von Kluge's Army Group Center would attack from the north flank of the bulge, with Colonel General Walther Model's Ninth Army leading the effort, General Hans Zorn's XLVI Panzer Corps on the right flank and Maj. Gen. Josef Harpe's XLI Panzer Corps on the left. General Joachim Lemelsen's XLVII Panzer Corps planned to drive toward Kursk and meet up with Field Marshal Erich von Manstein's Army Group South, Col. Gen. Hermann Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army and the Kempf Army, commanded by General Werner Kempf.

Opposing the German forces were the Soviet Central Front, led by General Konstantin K. Rokossovsky, and the Voronezh Front, led by General Nikolai F. Vatutin. The Central Front, with the right wing strengthened by Lt. Gen. Nikolai P. Pukhov's Thirteenth Army and Lt. Gen. I.V. Galinin's Seventeenth Army, was to defend the northern sector. To the south, the Voronezh Front faced the German Army Group South with three armies and two in reserve. The Sixth Guards Army, led by Lt. Gen. Mikhail N. Chistyakov, and the Seventh Guards Army, led by Lt. Gen. M. S. Shumilov, held the center and left wing. East of Kursk, Col. Gen. Ivan S. Konev's Steppe Military District (renamed Steppe Front on July 10, 1943) was to hold German breakthroughs, then mount the counteroffensive.

If their plan succeeded, the Germans would encircle and destroy more than five Soviet armies. Such a victory would have forced the Soviets to delay their operations and might have allowed the Wehrmacht desperately needed breathing room on the Eastern Front. Model's Ninth Army never came close to breaking the Soviet defenses in the north, however, and soon became deadlocked in a war of attrition that it could not win. On the southern flank, Kempf's III Panzer Corps, commanded by General Hermann Breith, also encountered tough Soviet resistance. By July 11, however, Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army was in position to capture the town of Prochorovka, secure a bridgehead over the Psel River and advance on Oboyan. The Psel was the last natural barrier between Manstein's panzers and Kursk. The Fourth Panzer Army's attack on the town was led by SS General Paul Hausser's II SS Panzer Corps, General Otto von Knobelsdorff's XLVIII Panzer Corps and General Ott's LII Army Corps. Hausser's corps was made up of three panzer divisions–the 1st Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (Adolf Hitler's bodyguard), 2nd SS Das Reich (The Empire) and 3rd SS Totenkopf (Death's Head). Although all three were technically Panzergrenadier divisions, each had more than 100 tanks when Citadel began. Knobelsdorff's corps was composed of the 167th and 332nd infantry divisions, the 3rd and 11th panzer divisions, Panzergrenadier Division Grossdeutschland and Panther Brigade Decker, and Ott's corps contained the 25th and 57th infantry divisions.

Opposing Hausser at Prochorovka was the newly arrived and reinforced Fifth Guards Tank Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Pavel A. Rotmistrov. The Fifth Guards was the Soviet strategic armored reserve in the south, the last significant uncommitted armored formation in the sector, with more than 650 tanks. The Soviet operational armored reserve, General Mikhail E. Katukov's First Tank Army, was already in action against Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army south of the Psel. Katukov's army had been unable to prevent the Germans from reaching the river, however. His VI Tank Corps, originally equipped with more than 200 tanks, had only 50 left by July 10 and 11, and the other two corps of Katukov's army also had sustained serious losses. On July 10, the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf, commanded by SS Maj. Gen. Hermann Priess, had established a bridgehead over the Psel, west of Prochorovka. By July 11, the division's panzer group had crossed the river on pontoon bridges and reached the bridgehead. What was left of Katukov's armor regrouped to oppose the XLVIII Panzer Corps below Oboyan or counterattack the Psel bridgehead. Reinforced with the XXXIII Rifle Corps and X Tank Corps, Katukov launched continuous attacks on the Totenkopf units on the north bank of the river.

During the evening of July 11, Hausser readied his divisions for an assault on Prochorovka. Totenkopf anchored the left flank of the corps, while Leibstandarte, commanded by SS Maj. Gen. Theodore Wisch, was in the center, assembled west of the town between a rail line and the Psel. Das Reich, commanded by SS Lt. Gen. Walter Krüger, moved into its attack zone on the corps' right flank, which was several kilometers south of Tetrevino and southwest of Prochorovka.

While Hausser's SS divisions prepared for battle, there was feverish activity in the Soviet camp as well. On July 11, the Fifth Guards Tank Army arrived in the Prochorovka area, having begun its march on July 7 from assembly areas nearly 200 miles to the east. The army consisted of the XVIII and XXIX Tank Corps and the V Guards Mechanized Corps. Rotmistrov's 650 tanks were reinforced by the II Tank Corps and II Guards Tank Corps, increasing its strength to about 850 tanks, 500 of which were T-34s. The Fifth Guards' primary mission was to lead the main post-Kursk counteroffensive, known as Operation Rumyantsev, and its secondary mission was as defensive insurance in the south. The commitment of Rotmistrov's army at such an early date is stark evidence of Soviet concern about the situation on the Psel. The Fifth Guards' arrival at the Psel set the stage for the Battle of Prochorovka.

Prochorovka is one of the best-known of the many battles on the Eastern Front during World War II. It has been covered in articles, books and televised historical documentaries, but these accounts vary in accuracy; some are merely incomplete, while others border on fiction. In the generally accepted version of the battle, the three SS divisions attacked Prochorovka shoulder to shoulder, jammed into the terrain between the Psel and the railroad. A total of 500 to 700 German tanks, including dozens of Panzerkampfwagen Mark V Panther medium tanks with 75mm guns and Panzerkampfwagen Mark VI Tiger heavy tanks with deadly 88mm cannons, lumbered forward while hundreds of nimble Soviet T-34 medium tanks raced into the midst of the SS armor and threw the Germans into confusion. The Soviets closed with the panzers, negating the Tigers' 88mm guns, outmaneuvered the German armor and knocked out hundreds of German tanks. The Soviet tank force's audacious tactics resulted in a disastrous defeat for the Germans, and the disorganized SS divisions withdrew, leaving 400 destroyed tanks behind, including between 70 and 100 Tigers and many Panthers. Those losses smashed the SS divisions' fighting power, and as a result Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army had no chance to achieve even a partial victory in the south.

While it makes a dramatic story, nearly all of this battle scenario is essentially myth. Careful study of the daily tank strength reports and combat records of II SS Panzer Corps–available on microfilm at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.–provides information that forces a historical reappraisal of the battle. These records show, first of all, that Hausser's corps began with far fewer tanks than previously believed and, more important, that they suffered only moderate losses on July 12, 1943. As those reports were intended to allow the corps commander to assess the combat strength of his divisions, they can be considered reasonably accurate. Considering that information, it seems that the Germans may have been near a limited success on the southern flank of the salient.

The number of SS tanks actually involved in the battle has been variously reported as high as 700 by some authorities, while others have estimated between 300 to 600. Even before the Battle of Kursk began, however, the II SS Panzer Corps never had 500 tanks, much less 700. On July 4, the day before Operation Citadel was launched, Hausser's three divisions possessed a total of 327 tanks between them, plus a number of command tanks. By July 11, the II SS Panzer Corps had a total of 211 operational tanks–Totenkopf had 94 tanks, Leibstandarte had only 56 and Das Reich possessed just 61. Damaged tanks or tanks undergoing repairs are not listed. Only 15 Tiger tanks were still in action at Prochorovka, and there were no SS Panthers available. The battalions that were equipped with Panthers were still training in Germany in July 1943.

On July 13, the day after the Battle of Prochorovka, Fourth Panzer Army reports declared that the II SS Panzer Corps had 163 operational tanks, a net loss of only 48 tanks. Actual losses were somewhat heavier, the discrepancy due to the gain of repaired tanks returned to action. Closer study of the losses of each type of tank reveals that the corps lost about 70 tanks on July 12. In contrast, Soviet tank losses, long assumed to be moderate, were actually catastrophic. In 1984, a history of the Fifth Guards Tank Army written by Rotmistrov himself revealed that on July 13 the army lost 400 tanks to repairable damage. He gave no figure for tanks that were destroyed or not available for salvage. Evidence suggests that there were hundreds of additional Soviet tanks lost. Several German accounts mention that Hausser had to use chalk to mark and count the huge jumble of 93 knocked-out Soviet tanks in the Leibstandarte sector alone. Other Soviet sources say the tank strength of the army on July 13 was 150 to 200, a loss of about 650 tanks. Those losses brought a caustic rebuke from Josef Stalin. Subsequently, the depleted Fifth Guards Tank Army did not resume offensive action, and Rotmistrov ordered his remaining tanks to dig in among the infantry positions west of the town.

Another misconception about the battle is the image of all three SS divisions attacking shoulder to shoulder through the narrow lane between the Psel and the rail line west of Prochorovka. Only Leibstandarte was aligned directly west of the town, and it was the only division to attack the town itself. The II SS Panzer Corps zone of battle, contrary to the impression given in many accounts, was approximately nine miles wide, with Totenkopf on the left flank, Leibstandarte in the center and Das Reich on the right flank. Totenkopf's armor was committed primarily to the Psel bridgehead and in defensive action against Soviet attacks on the Psel bridges. In fact, only Leibstandarte actually advanced into the corridor west of Prochorovka, and then only after it had thrown back initial Soviet attacks.

Early on July 12, Leibstandarte units reported a great deal of loud motor noise, which indicated massing Soviet armor. Soon after 5 a.m., hundreds of Soviet tanks, carrying infantry, rolled out of Prochorovka and its environs in groups of 40 to 50. Waves of T-34 and T-70 tanks advanced at high speed in a charge straight at the startled Germans. When machine-gun fire, armor-piercing shells and artillery fire struck the T-34s, the Soviet infantry jumped off and sought cover. Leaving their infantry behind, the T-34s rolled on. Those Soviet tanks that survived the initial clash with SS armor continued a linear advance and were destroyed by the Germans.

When the initial Soviet attack paused, Leibstandarte pushed its armor toward the town and collided with elements of Rotmistrov's reserve armor. A Soviet attack by the 181st Tank Regiment was defeated by several SS Tigers, one of which, the 13th (heavy) Company of the 1st SS Panzer Regiment, was commanded by 2nd Lt. Michael Wittmann, the most successful tank commander of the war. Wittmann's group was advancing in flank support of the German main attack when it was engaged by the Soviet tank regiment at long range. The Soviet charge, straight at the Tigers over open ground, was suicidal. The frontal armor of the Tiger was impervious to the 76mm guns of the T-34s at any great distance. The field was soon littered with burning T-34s and T-70s. None of the Tigers were lost, but the 181st Tank Regiment was annihilated. Late in the day, Rotmistrov committed his last reserves, elements of the V Mechanized Corps, which finally halted Leibstandarte.

Das Reich began its attack from several kilometers southwest of Prochorovka and was quickly engaged by aggressive battle groups of the II Tank Corps and II Guards Tank Corps. Fierce, somewhat confused fighting broke out all along the German division's axis of advance. Battle groups of 20 to 40 Soviet tanks, supported by infantry and ground-attack planes, collided with Das Reich regimental spearheads. Rotmistrov continued to throw armor against the division, and combat raged throughout the day, with heavy losses of Soviet armor. Das Reich continued to push slowly eastward, advancing into the night while suffering relatively light tank losses.

Meanwhile, on the left flank, Soviet First Tank Army elements unsuccessfully tried to crush Totenkopf's bridgehead. The SS division fought off the XXXI and X Tank Corps, supported by elements of the XXXIII Rifle Corps. In spite of the Soviet attacks, Totenkopf's panzer group drove toward a road that ran from the village of Kartaschevka, southeast across the river and into Prochorovka.

The fighting, characterized by massive losses of Soviet armor, continued throughout July 12 without a decisive success by either side–contrary to the accounts given in many well-known studies of the Eastern Front, which state that the fighting ended on July 12 with a decisive German defeat. These authors describe the battlefield as littered with hundreds of destroyed German tanks and report that the Soviets overran the SS tank repair units. In fact, the fighting continued around Prochorovka for several more days. Das Reich continued to push slowly eastward in the area south of the town until July 16. That advance enabled the III Panzer Corps to link up with the SS division on July 14 and encircle several Soviet rifle divisions south of Prochorovka. Totenkopf eventually reached the Kartaschevka­Prochorovka road, and the division took several tactically important hills on the north edge of its perimeter as well. Those successes were not exploited, however, due to decisions made by Adolf Hitler.

After receiving the news of the Allied invasion of Sicily, as well as reports of impending Soviet attacks on the Mius River and at Izyum, Hitler decided to cancel Operation Citadel. Manstein argued that he should be allowed to finish off the two Soviet tank armies. He had unused reserves, consisting of three experienced panzer divisions of XXIV Panzer Corps, in position for quick commitment. That corps could have been used to attack the Fifth Guards Tank Army in its flank, to break out from the Psel bridgehead or to cross the Psel east of Prochorovka. All of the available Soviet armor in the south was committed and could not be withdrawn without causing a collapse of the Soviet defenses. Manstein correctly realized that he had the opportunity to destroy the Soviet operational and strategic armor in the Prochorovka area.

Hitler could not be persuaded to continue the attack, however. Instead, he dispersed the divisions of the II SS Panzer Corps to deal with the anticipated Soviet diversionary attacks south of the Belgorod­Kharkov sector. On the night of July 17-18, the corps withdrew from its positions around Prochorovka. Thus, the battle for Prochorovka ended, not because of German tank losses (Hausser had over 200 operational tanks on July 17) but because Hitler lacked the will to continue the offensive. The SS panzer divisions were still full of fight; in fact, two of them continued to fight effectively in southern Russia for the rest of the summer.

Leibstandarte was ordered to Italy, but Das Reich and Totenkopf remained in the East. Those two divisions and the 3rd Panzer Division, which replaced Leibstandarte, were transferred to the Sixth Army area, where they conducted a counterattack from July 31 to August 2 that eliminated a strong Soviet bridgehead at the Mius River. Without pause, the three divisions were then transferred to the Bogodukhov sector in early August 1943. Under the command of the III Panzer Corps, they were joined by another unit, the Fifth SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking. During three weeks of constant combat, the four divisions played a major role in stopping the main Soviet post-Kursk counteroffensive, Operation Rumyantsev. They fought Rotmistrov's Fifth Guards Tank Army, rebuilt to 503 tanks strong, and major portions of the First Tank Army, now at 542 tanks.

By the end of the month, Rotmistrov had less than 100 tanks still running. Katukov had only 120 tanks still in action by the last week of August. While at no time did any of the German divisions have more than 55 tanks in operation, they repeatedly blunted the thrusts of the two Soviet tank armies, which were also reinforced by several rifle corps.

Totenkopf repeatedly cut off and defeated all of the First Tank Army's thrusts toward the Kharkov­Poltava rail line. Das Reich threw back two Soviet tank corps south of Bogodukhov and blunted Rotmistrov's last major attack west of Kharkov, and the III Panzer Corps halted Operation Rumyantsev.

After Kharkov itself fell, however, the German front gradually collapsed. The Soviets regrouped, committed additional strong reserves and renewed their attack toward the strategically important Dnepr River. Army Group South was subsequently forced to abandon much of southern Ukraine in a race for the safety of the Dnepr. Despite the remarkable efforts of the German army and Waffen SS panzer divisions during July and August, the Germans were too weak to hold the Kharkov­Belgorod­Poltava sector after their summer losses.

It is apparent from their operations during the late summer that the SS panzer divisions were not destroyed at Prochorovka. This reassessment of the battle provides food for thought regarding possible German successes if Manstein's panzer reserves had been utilized as he had intended.

To what extent the course of events in Russia would have been changed is, of course, unknown, but it is interesting to speculate. If Army Group South's panzer reserve had been used to encircle and destroy the Fifth Guards Tank Army and the First Tank Army, the outcome of the war in Russia might have been significantly different. Although it was beyond the German army's capabilities to force a military end to the war by the summer of 1943, a limited victory in the south could have resulted in a delay of Soviet strategic operations for months or perhaps longer. It is doubtful, however, that this pause would have lasted long enough for the Germans to transfer enough forces to the West to defeat the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion.

But one fact is beyond any question, regardless of the number of tanks possessed by the Germans or Soviets or what might have been possible. Due to Hausser's panzer corps' failure to take Prochorovka on July 12 and the subsequent misuse of German panzer reserves, the momentum of the Fourth Panzer Army was slowed dramatically. When Hitler abandoned Operation Citadel on July 13, the Germans' last opportunity to influence events on a strategic level in the East was lost.

It is interesting that the information regarding German tank losses at Prochorovka has not been made available before now. Due to the lack of crucial primary-source information–especially the records of the II SS Panzer Corps on the Eastern Front–there had been no evidence to correct the erroneous accounts and impressions given in previous studies of the Eastern Front.

Waffen SS formations' records of their Eastern Front operations were not declassified until 1978­1981. By that time, many of the major works about the Eastern Front had already been published. Later authors accepted the accounts of the battle as given in the earlier books and failed to conduct additional research. As a result, one of the best known of all Eastern Front battles has never been understood properly. Prochorovka was believed to have been a significant German defeat but was actually a stunning reversal for the Soviets because they suffered enormous tank losses.

As Manstein suggested, Prochorovka may truly have been a lost German victory, thanks to decisions made by Hitler. It was fortunate for the Allied cause that the German dictator, a foremost proponent of the value of will, lost his own will to fight in southern Ukraine in July 1943. Had he allowed Manstein to continue the attack on the two Soviet tank armies in the Prochorovka area, Manstein might have achieved a victory even more damaging to the Soviets than the counterattack that had recaptured Kharkov in March 1943.



This article was written by George M. Nipe, Jr. and originally appeared in the February 1998 issue of World War II magazine. For more great articles subscribe to World War II magazine today!

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214 Responses to “Battle of Kursk: Germany's Lost Victory in World War II”


  1. 1
  2. 2
    Dalton C. Rocha says:

    Beyond any doubt, nazi Germany lost the Battle of Kursk in 1943.I'm not a communist, but This battle showed a strong Red Army.No other nazi Germany offensive was launched in the east, after this battle.

    The Red Army surrendered in 1991, whitout any shoot.

  3. 3
    Ivan says:

    Red Army surrendered in 1991, without a shot, but is back ;-) thank God

  4. 4
    Ara Bulbulian says:

    Yes, the battle of Kursk can be considered a loss for the Germans given the attrition loses and objective failures. This resulted in Germany passing the initiative to the Russians for the remainder of the war. However, had the attack started in May as originally scheduled, I strongly believe it would have resulted in a decisive German victory. The delays imposed by Hilter in order to wait for his wonder weapons (mostly panther tanks) forced the Germans to attack incredible well fortified positions. Ironically, almost all the panthers either broken down or were lost in the first days of the battle and played no part in the later tank battles. If it hadn’t been for the Russians mistakenly believe the main thrust would occur in the north, the German southern push would have amounted to even less. Even so, the Germans could have come out of the battle with a strategic victory had Manstein been allowed to continue his push and use his reserves.

  5. 5
    diego says:

    The tank battle in the south salient began on July 7 and finish on 13 July,the battle on 12 July was only a little episode.Despite this was fought by all the 4 panzer army.

  6. 6
    Prince Valiant says:

    Napoleon said: " History is what the victors have agreed on"
    The Kursk/Prokhorovka myth shows what intentional blatant lies can do to history.
    The reality shows that the soviets were still not able to overcome german panzer tactics by 1943, not even with numbers heavily in their favour and
    the wehrmacht obviously lacking "supertanks". they had to take six times or more losses compared to the panzer-divisions.
    60 years of tenacious myths still in existence show, however, that the soviets excelled in just one thing: propaganda lies…

    • 6.1
      skinutter says:

      Yeah, and because the Soviets were only good at propaganda the Nazis believed them and lost the war! Get real! The Nazis got smashed on the Eastern front. They had over 70% of all their armour, artillery and manpower dedicated to the Eastern front and still lost. Some pretty amazing propaganda that!

    • 6.2
      AllanS says:

      Indeed, Prince Valiant, you don't truly believe your diatribe? Both sides excelled at propaganda. True, the Soviets lacked skill using armored tactics, up until Kursk. The fact that they for once WAITED and let the Nazis batter themselves against nearly impenetrable defenses in the salient suggest they had learned their lessons well.

      No, the Soviets never were better than the Nazis on an armored tactical level, but they certainly were capable of extolling a crushing defeat against Germany.

      Or would you believe that it was only the Americans who did this?

    • 6.3
      pavel rennenkampf xocoyotzin says:

      Yeah, the reality also shows that the Soviets were beginning Operation Kutuzov even as the Germans were making their gains in the south, made from their last chance to exploit poor Soviet distributions of their forces. The historiography of the battle overlooks the Soviet offensives that were beginning during it, and it is indeed an example of the blatant lies that the ham-handed and incompetent Nazi empire was somehow superior to the Soviet one that lasted not two years, but multiple decades, created by the self-serving memoirs of Nazi generals in the NATO armies.

      • 6.3.1
        gwynn says:

        its this simple. in an interview with a german tank comander he said & i quote. we never fouight the russians 1 on 1, we were always out numbered. " i was up against 30 t-34's agains my 1 tiger.i was forced to retreat. not because of damage…i ran out of ammo"

    • 6.4
      Chas315 says:

      Yes Prince, but all this aside, the Soviets won a decisive victory at Kursk. It was a catastophe for the Germans, they expended massive resources, manpower and materials with not a thing to show for it. The Germans needed total victory at Kursk, anything less was a disaster. All are in agreement that the Soviets suffered horrific losses in infantry, tanks and aircraft, but these losses could all be made good in short order. The author has some good points to make about exagerated and fictional accounts of the battle, but the consensus of these comments, as I read it, is that his basic premiss is not valid. Manstien by continuing to press the offensive in the south would have just cost the Germans more resources. The Author neglects to mention that the Soviets had another front commanded by Koniev in reserve.

    • 6.5
      HenryWallace2012 says:

      If anyone is un American among any Americans it's those who longed for a damn Nazi victory anywhere.

  7. 7
    Andrew says:

    Even though the Battle of Kursk has been called a victory for the Russians I think it would be fair to say it was in fact the Germans last Victory. This is a personal conclusion drawn on the losses on both sides, comparing the number of planes, troops, light and heavy armament on either side before the battle it was clear that the German army was at a distinct disadvantage. For the German army to have held the masses of the Russian army at bay for such a period of intense fighting showed a great difference in skill, planning and tactics. It is again agreed that if the German army had the military supply support that the Russian army had the out come of the battle would have been a decisive win for the German army.
    In my conclusion the fact that the Russian army had an overwhelming advantage of the number of troops and machinery the Russian army should have had an easy win. The losses sustained both in Troops and machinery for the Russian army shows a definite victory for the German army. Just because the German army’s Goal of taking Kursk failed does that mean they lost the Battle, No, they failed to reach there objective. The German army won many battles but still lost the War in the end, so does that mean that because Germany Lost the War there victories are now also seen as losses? There was however one thing highlighted at this pivotal point on the Eastern Front and that was that the German War Machine could no longer keep up with the demand the War demanded both in Troops and machinery and it was this fact that changed the tide of the war and not the outcome of the battle of Kursk.

    • 7.1
      Incitatus says:

      Kursk was a strategic defeat for Germany, deal with it. It was also the stupidest battle of WW2. In a nut shell Germany decided to attack the Soviets at the most obvious place on the Eastern Front. The Russians knew exactly where the Germans were going to attack and built up massive defences. Here is the stupid bit, the Germans knew the Russians knew and still carried out the attack. Sorry your arguement holds no water, if the Germans committed insufficent forces to win, that is their incomptency. Attacking a prepared enemy at their strongest point was supposed to have died out in WW1 but theNazi High Command had no other attack strategy than Blitzkrieg. It had worked well in 1939-1941 but by 1943 it was dead as a dodo. Defence in depth defeated Blitzkrieg. Now go read Operation Bagration or as it was called the defeat of Army Group Central in August 1944. It was a slaughter of German troops.

      • 7.1.1
        Keith Tillman says:

        You need to do some better research to make such bold statements. Try "Delivered From Evil" by Robert Leckie as a starter. The Germans cut heavily into the Russian defenses despite the huge numbers of weapons, perpared positions and knowledge of the attack. They inflicted massive casualties on the Russians and were indeed poised for a final decisive thrust when Hitler called off the attack. It's not the happy, crushing German defeat you wish for but it is the reality. Too many well-documented, relaible sources support this to dispute it at this time. An examination of the losses is enough to illustrate the point. Inflicting 3 to 1 casualties while on the attack, against prepared positions who knew they were coming is a pretty wicked wallop.

      • 7.1.2
        AllanS says:

        Keith, Incitatus is correct. Even if the Germans had been able to succeed at Prochorovka and vicinity it wouldn't have made any difference. Model's Army was stopped dead in its tracks in the second line of defenses in the North and they only got THAT far because the Soviets retreated to that line.
        Also, While the Southern Force under Manstein was still quite powerful, it was depleted and could not have been victorious over the THREE FRONTS that were still waiting to attack once it was deemed the Germans were exhausted.

        Referring to one book does not suggest that you have done YOUR research sir. Fact are facts and you sound just a bit biased.

      • 7.1.3
        Chas315 says:

        I agree with Invictus. Kursk was a decisive stategic defeat for the Germans. Soviet losses were irrelevant, as the Soviets fought the entire war without reguard for losses. All soviet losses could be "made good" and by mid 1943, no German losses could. As I see it, The Kursk Offensive was an all out gamble on the part of the Germans. For victory, they needed to take Kursk with pincer movements from the north and south, thus cutting off 5 Soviet Armies. Anything short of this was a catastrophe. All are in agreement that the Soviet losses in planes and tanks were horrific. But I think to say that Manstien could have achieved a partial strategic victory in the South if Hitler would have let him continue is a stretch. The Soviet counter attack in the North had already begun by July 13.

      • 7.1.4
        xxxtanker says:

        You are ALL wrong, did you not read that Hitler had multiple divisions north-west of Kharkov, yet did not send them in, regardless of Von Manstein's pleas? Hitler lost because of lack of tactical intelligence, certainly not the quality of his troops or the invasion of the USSR in the first place.

        The German Pzkpfw VI Tiger II had immense firepower, it started life as an AA gun, but then converted to field artillery, and finally one of the best, if not the best tank of WW2. It is accurate with an 8 pound shell at over 2 kilometers, and could easily shoot down the inferior T-34s. the T-34 is a medium, with fairly minimal armor on the front, and the Tiger II's were heavy tanks with heavy guns. T-34s, nor the upgraded T-34-85 could not penetrate a Tiger II's armor straight on, as the Red Army claims.

        The Red Army lost 7 times the troops and guns as Germany, yet they still one, because of Hitler's crucial decision to pull out of Prokhorovka, or not reinforcing the front in the first place.

      • 7.1.5
        AllanS says:

        XXXTanker, just where should I start with you? You go on (like so many) about the Tiger tanks. Sure, they usually overawed their opponents in battle, when they weren't broken down of course. But they were over-machined, over-complicated and just took up far too many resources to be an effective STRATEGIC weapon. Oh, and the Tiger 1 had a 21 pound shell, not an 8 pd. shell as you stated. Hitler lost at Kursk because it was an ill-conceived plan from the start. Yeah, let's build up our armies for THREE MONTHS right in front of the Russians and then ATTACK them with only a 1:1 ratio in men, armor and planes. And those multiple divisions you speak of to the north-west of Kharkov, they had to remain in-situ because they still had half of the Central Front directly in their way. Nope, sorry tanker, the Nazis never had a chance of beating the Soviet Union.

      • 7.1.6
        CrackshotCrossbow says:

        True, if Hitler had listened to Manstein in March and attacked from then, Kursk would have been a monumentous victory for Germany. Then, after encircling all those troops west of Kursk, the Red Army would have been crippled. By the next spring, the Wehrmacht would most likely have taken Stalingrad, Leningrad, and possibly Moscow.

      • 7.1.7
        Kensai says:

        "Defence in depth defeated Blitzkrieg. Now go read Operation Bagration or as it was called the defeat of Army Group Central in August 1944. It was a slaughter of German troops."

        Defence in depth had nothing to do with the Soviet victory in 1944. Sheer numbers only.

        From the Wikipedia of Operation Bagration:

        Strength
        GERMANS
        486,493 "frontline strength"[1]
        400,000 support and non-combat personnel[2]
        118 tanks[3]
        377 assault guns[3]
        2,589 guns[3]
        602 aircraft[3]

        SOVIETS
        2,331,700 Soviets
        (excluding reinforcements)
        79,900 Poles
        2,715 tanks[3]
        1,355 assault guns[3]
        24,363 guns[3]
        5,327 aircraft[4]

    • 7.2
      pavel rennenkampf xocoyotzin says:

      The Russians did not have overwhelming numbers, the Germans were baked a concrete cake on the northern edge of the bulge, and their successes in the south were due to this being the one major armored engagement in the war where their best tanks were better than the best Soviet tanks. That the USSR was beginning Operation Kutuzov before Pokhrokovka indicates the the pattern Nazi fanboys overlook: the boys in field gray really did lose the war and the Soviets really did win it. This is not to say Stalin was good, just that there's a difference between Saturday Morning cartoon villainy and the professional brand of evil murderous dickery, which is what the USSR had.

    • 7.3
      Skinutter says:

      It comes back to the definition of the term victory.
      Is it who killed more people or destroyed more tanks. If that is you definition, then the Germans won at Kursk.
      But that is not the definition of victory. A victory is defined by which army has the initiative after a battle.
      In that case, the Russians won at Kursk, as after that battle they had the initiative and the Germans were never able to organize an attack of significance for the rest of the war. It was the last battle the Germans were able to initiate on the Eastern Front. They gained nothing from this battle, how can you call it a German victory.
      If you are interested in seeing how much the Russian generals had progressed in their military skills, read the literature on the Battle of Bagration. Now there is now doubt about that victory.

  8. 8
    Hitler EGO-Stuborn lost the war for the west says:

    the whole scenario in wwII was driven by political drives from Hitler, he forgot that once war was at a stake, the popularity contest was over and reason, tactics and strategy will dictate the course to victory. The hold ground 'at all cost' was a political doctrine not to show weakness to the enemy, Stalingrad was of not significant strategic value just because the name tag was Stalin (another political drive), the detour from Moscow was another political mistake (his generals insisted that this siege was of a tactical and strategic value), the assembled high command with Keitel and Jodl was also made on political grounds to have ass kissers yes-sir staff, etc, etc. , these in fact showed how political poisoned was the whole campaigns and as you know politicians are not the best in running war matters.

  9. 9
    Ken Geesey says:

    As a long-standing historian of the battle, it apperas that most followers of this battle fail to realize that the battle was never winable for Germany. Germany simply lacked the manpower and equipment to succeed in a slugfest affair. By July 43, Russia had increased its manpower by over a million men on the front while Germany was nearly 100,00 short of minimal goals. Added to that the tremendous disparity in tank production and the results are preset. For those that believe the final commitment of remaniing tank reserves could have saved the day, this would have led to the total destruction of the Second Army in the late summer Soviet offensive. Finally, any efforts to achieve an early spring victory fail to account for the weather and the lack of sufficient forces. The best option, although seldom discussed, was to draw the Russians away from the defenses and use mobility to wear them down. This always worked following failed attacks, but was never a "first option" approach.

  10. 10
    Karl Eriksen says:

    the germans had 2 options to victory- 1. draw the soviets away from the prepared positions, retreat and move forces aside allowing deep penetration of soviet armies, and then strong counterattacks as the soviets lost momentum due to supply and logistical problems. 2. Move the axis of attack far more North and South to bypass and surround the heavily fortified soviet positions, effecting a much larger pincer. As it became apparant that the key element of blitzkrieg, suprise, was missing, the Germans needed to change things at the last moment to avoid playing into the soviet trap.

  11. 11
    Stefano Berti says:

    One of the Most big Mistakes,of Adolf Hitler was to attack Russia ! Same Mistake that Napoleon did. Also Adolf Hitler, opened to many Fronts,and that made German Supremacy wasting Lots of Power !
    At my advice Hitler should Open A front at time,solve and win the War, with a Country at time,then move against the other countries,and also not to attack Russia on Winter time !!

    • 11.1
      elpup says:

      There were in the end three main factors despite Hilter himself that spelled disaster for the German Army.
      1. Richard Sorge: if not for him German victories in Russia could have never been reversed. There would have never been a stalingrad.
      2. Pearl Harbor: if not for the Japanese the considerable might of the American war machine might have surfaced much too light and window for an invasion into north africa might have never been possible.
      3. Oil should have been seized from the middle east not from the caucuses. If Rommel had been reinforced before the American and British concentration of forces precious rescources would have been available for the remainder of the war.

      • 11.1.1
        Bingi says:

        Absolutely..

      • 11.1.2
        Bingi says:

        Not only did Hitler start interfering in battle maneuver plans.. He even started interfering even in the tank design process.. Though Heinz Guderian – The father of the Panzers believed in large number of tanks with excellent mobility and adequate firepower, Hitler insisted on huge tanks with enormous firepower.. But these tanks were very difficult and time consuming to manufacture. Also speed and mobility was severely hampered, which had always been the crux of the German offensive.. Two points to add:
        1. Had Italy not unnecessarily invaded Greece and the Balkans, only to retreat and force Germany's intervention which fatally delayed Operation Barbarossa for 2 months,(from mid May to July) maybe things would have been different.
        2. Also the overconfidence of Germans that prevented them for preparing against any in-eventuality (Winter). A 2 month disruption of offensive is sufficient for a country like Russia( huge resources) to shift the tide of the war.
        Its ironic that a man who took Germany out of the ashes played a crucial role in pushing it back into it.
        Anyway, as an Indian I salute them coz they played an crucial role in helping us achieve our freedom from the British.

      • 11.1.3
        Chas315 says:

        I agree for the most part. Oil was a tremendous if not prohibative problem for Germany. The problem with seizing oil fields in the Middle East, would have been protecting the supply line. For this to occur, the Germans and Italians would have needed to completely defeat the British in the Mediterranian, something they never even came close to doing. They would needed to take Malta and perhaps Gibraltor. Germany only became involved in North Africa to bail out the Italians who failed miserably against the Brits in Egypt despite huge advantages in manpower and stategic positioning. Hitler's masterplan was dependent on the Italy to secure the Medaterranian, his southern flank. The utter failure of the Italians ultimately to even defend their own soil. cost the Germans dearly.

      • 11.1.4
        CPTWayne says:

        Rommel's reinforcements were torpedoed out from under him because the Germans mucked around not knowing their code had been broken. The Allies knew where to put their subs to sink the resupply ships.

  12. 12
    oliver craig says:

    many of the e.mails talk of the heavy losses the red army had to take in comparison to the german army and this is no doubt correct but, the russians took heavy losses throughout the war and still won.even if the ss divs. had broken through in the south where were they to go without large reserves to support them.also zhukov,stalin etc would have reacted differently I am sure of this. blitzkreig needs powerfull tank forces but,also powerful reserves(which the germans didnt have).the german army was the best of ww2 as most historians agree on but, attacking the ussr and then declaring war on the usa all in a space of six months they were doomed to defeat

    • 12.1
      Chas315 says:

      The German Army was the best of the war until 1943, after that is was the Americans, and the waves of Soviets.

  13. 13
    Edison Silva says:

    Manstein was a genius indeed, but he was not the God of War himself as some people might believe in here. He made a terrible strategic mistake in Kursk and never recognized it. Guderian, the masterminf of Blitzkrieg and the man who knew better than any other the real situation of Panzer units, was totally against the offensiove. But Manstein convinced both Kluge and Hitler to go ahead instead. The clash of tanks in the south was only part of Kursk battle, and nos a decisive one. The Red Army had already started to counter-attack in the north salient by the time Manstein was making his way in the south. Kluge had to face the most powerful enemy forces and had no reserves to do so. What exactly Manstein would do if he had "won" in Prokhorovka – would he take Kursk all by himself? Just how the german infantry forces would cope with the tanks if there were still thousands of russian soldiers fighting between them?
    Fact 1: in the meeting in late July with Hitler, Manstein said the enemy was beaten and had no further reserves and he needed just another panzer army to achieve victory.
    Fact 2: in early August, the same Manstein told OKW that he lacked 1000 tanks and more than 100.000 troops just to hold the line.
    What happened in these few days that could change the whole scene in the east: was the Red Army miraculously reinforced or was Manstein absolutely deluded about the enemy he thought he knew so well? If I were Hitler, I'd fire him the moment I received this request, for it would be evidence that, or Manstein lied about the Red Army reserves before, or he never had the slightest idea of the real strenght of the enemy. Either options would be most embarassing for the only Wehrmacht general who refused to accept his defeats, prefering instead to consider them "lost "victories".

    • 13.1
      AllanS says:

      I'm interested in your 'facts', Mr. Silva. From where exactly did you get them?

      Manstein did indeed wish to attack the Kursk salient at two different times. The first time was as soon as it was created and he would have done so had not Kluge refused (rightfully so since his troops were exhausted) to attack in the North. Also, the spring thaw was setting in meaning practically no movement because of the mud.

      After this, the only time he felt confident that an attack would succeed against the Kursk salient was IMMEDIATELY after the rains stopped and movement could commense. It's is very likely that Kursk would have been a German victory had they attacked before the Russians could build up the defenses they did.

      • 13.1.1
        KeithTillman says:

        Interesting Allan how you question everyone else's \facts\ but never offer any of your own. Your responses are just statements of your opinion. I even refer to a previous post where I refer to Robert Leckie's book \Delivered From Evil\ and here is the key words you missed in your narrow viewed haste to contradict..\as a starter.\ John Ellis' \Brute Force\ would be a good next stop for you as well as the Books by Michael Reynolds or any number of accounts of the individual panzer divisions engaged in the battle. Try to get it from mixed sources though. Another good place are the studies by Trevor Dupuy on German vs Soviet combat effectiveness. In summary, despite your best wishes, the allies, and especially the Soviets, generally defeated the Germans by overwhelming numbers and attrition. The spy rings, ULTRA, and certain areas of allied advantage- like single seat fighters in the West, certainly helped tip that even more in the allies favor but Kursk will always remain at best a Pyhirric victory for the Soviets ( 177,000 casualties for Operation Citadel alone) and more likely a near tactical success and missed German opportunity due to Hitler halting the attack in the South which gave the Soviets the break they needed to recover. It was a big battle, try not to capture its flavor in a sound bite…do you work for FOX News ?

  14. 14
    Larry Arnold says:

    This is an interesting site and some wonderful insights are included. Ken Geesey makes a point that I have believed was true for many years.

    The Germans used extensive aerial surveillance before the attack. They should have known about the extensive Russian defenses. Heinz Guderian knew that Blitzkrieg meant fast moving and deep penetrating panzer divisions disrupting the enemy from behind and encircling enemy formations. This tactic was not used in Citadel; the entire operation turned into a slugfest.

    Had the Germans used a northern faint using older tanks backed up with 88s in a slow advance, the main force could have struck from a hundred miles south of the salient and then employed Blitzkrieg tactics to encircle the static defenses at Kursk. This would have been a devastating defeat for the Russians. They would have lost thousands of vehicles and armor in addition to at least a million men. Depending on German losses and fuel reserves, they may well have been able to push on to Moscow. I don’t think the Russians could have recovered from losses like that again. The initiative would have been reestablished and with the new weapons (which were far superior to anything the Russians had) I think Germany would have prevailed.

    The big mistake with Barbarossa wasn’t in the idea of attacking Russia, it was the strategic tactics again and not using all the weapons the Germans had. First, the Germans should have made sure Japan would attack the Russians in the east. That would have pinned down the Siberian divisions. Second, instead of three army groups, I would have used two (middle and north) and just played defense in the south. The two attacking armies would have a main priority of capturing Leningrad. With Leningrad captured, the Germans would have had a port to make supply much easier. The capture of Leningrad would have been easy in my plan because instead of wasting the German surface navy in stupid Atlantic raids, I would have used the great ships like Bismarck, Tirpitz, the pocket battleships and other ships along with the army and Luftwaffe to take Leningrad. Those ships would have pounded the hell out of Russian defenses. It is true that forward airbases would need to be established to protect the ships before their arrival.

    Once the port was secured, supplying the army would have been much easier. A winter offensive might have even been possible to cut Russian supplies from their northern ports or later in 1942 a major offensive to capture Moscow would have been possible. In any event, the idea of only going so far and then resupplying would have served the Germans far better and using their naval firepower effectively instead of wasting their ships would have easily put them over the top at Leningrad.

    • 14.1
      nikueki says:

      Obviously, you are very sad and unhappy with Germany's loss of the war and wish it never had happened!

    • 14.2
      Jozef Krak says:

      Mr Larry Arnold:

      Had the Germans won in Russia, the Third Reich would have existed to these days. Millions more of Jews and Poles and Russians and others would have perished in the gas chambers to make room for the "Lebensraum". The world would not have been as it is today. There is no point in speculating how a better strategy would have helped them to win. It is good they lost.

      • 14.2.1
        Bolshevik says:

        Instead millions got killed and raped by the soviets, hundreds of millions got tucked behind an iron curtain, etc.
        So, where is the difference? Are some people more valuable than others?

      • 14.2.2
        Harry says:

        @Bolshevik

        But rest of the world had peace since then, even if it was cold war. th Hitler, who even after geting Sudetenland, wanted more and more. .

  15. 15
    Larry Arnold says:

    My apologies, I meant i agreeded with Karl Eriksen.

  16. 16
    Edison Silva says:

    A faint was actually used in the north, since Model had much less power than Hoth, and there was a lot of fake german movements in the Orel salient to convice the russians that the main assault would be launched in the north, towards Moscow. The 'Kempf detachment' was Manstein's secret weapon, and its advance behind enemy lines took the russians completely by surprise, with a dramatic impact in the morale of their troops in that sector.

    But that is not the point. The very idea of encircling all the soviet force in Kursk area, just like the maneuvers of 1941-42, was absurd at that time. Russian generals were not stupid as they seemed before. Kursk was just too obvious, germans could never convince the russians they would not attack there. And due to the fact that russians themselves were already preparing their attack, it would not be wise to provoke them with 'faints' in the very area they intended to strike shortly after.

    Most of russian armor were not deployed in the salient, but instead was withdrawn and spread around the vicinity for imediately engaging AFTER german offensive was done. They could never be encircled. Manstein hmself pointed that on his book, when arguing that the Kursk operation should've take place 2 months before, when russians were not yet prepared and their armor was still in the salient.

    So, even if Masntein could actually encircle Kursk (which is absolutelly unlikely), he would still have to face a russian armored counterattack, for he could never destroy all enemy tanks in the area. It would be, at the very best, a Pyrrhic victory instead of a "lost victory". And to even dream of Moscow after all this nightmare, well..

    And that's not all, folks. It's widely accepted today that the soviets lost about 50% of their tanks in the whole operation. But how could they lose so many tanks in the south of the salient since they've placed most of their power in the north, where they were expecting to face german's main attack? Most of all: how could they breach and advance so fast in order to liberate Kharkov if they were so beaten by Manstein's forces? And, what's most interesting: how could they NOT ADVANCE in the north? I believe the answer is quite obvious. The Hagen Line blocked russian advance and certainly have cost a lot of tanks to them. Kluge was right in his intuition to prepare a defensive line, so he could hold ground even facing the enemy's large force. But Manstein didn't do so. No surprise he would change his own opinion about the real enemy's force in a matter of weeks. And those who have read his book should pay attention to the conditions he established to achieve victory in Kursk. Not only his south wing should be reinforced with another Panzer Army and SS divisions, but also de north wing should keep the pressure in order to neutralize the enemy's capability of maneuver. In other words, he wanted Model to bleed to death losing all his few tanks so he could achieve victory in the south, but he never asked himself why Model refused to do so. And in the end, it was Model's parcimony that ensured the survival of Army Group Center for at least a year more. Army Group South instead was so depaupered in the Kursk battle that would therefore become a minor force in the whole campaign in the Eastern Front.

  17. 17

    [...] tanks, 4,000 aircraft, and 2 million men.  It was the greatest tank battle in history.  I found this article on HistoryNet about the [...]

  18. 18
    Steve says:

    I am not aware that Prokhorovka has been much-trumpeted as a Soviet "victory". Why the writer says this is a mystery. Before I read this article, I was aware that the Soviets, had, once again, suckered the Germans into a battle of attrition rather than maneuver. The specific losses are not critical. As long as both sides take losses, the Soviets would be replacing their's more easily. Even if the Soviets give up 100 tanks to 10 German tanks, they would be recovering faster. Like Grant in Virginia in 1864, the Soviets realized that they did not need to "win" battles, they just had to keep making their adversary take losses.

    Germany was basically defeated in WWII not by neat military maneuvers, but by brute-force casualties. By war's end, 50% of 1939 German male population were casualties. The Germans were run out of men, and Kursk contributed to that, same as all the other battles, regardless of who "won".

    • 18.1
      pavel rennenkampf xocoyotzin says:

      Yeah, the problem with this analogy is what the Soviets did after this in Ukraine and then in Operation Bagration and overunning the Balkans. All of this was maneuver warfare to a degree the Germans never matched, and the Warsaw Pact that replaced it lasted for decades where Hitler's fascist empire lasted all of two years. Sorry Wehrmacht fanboys, your side lost. The Soviets were the real masters at evil dickery, and the Germans never more than poor imitations. I mean my God, the Soviets were able to successfully hang German generals for their own atrocities and cover this up for decades, where the Germans were made to flagellate themselves for years for having been dumb enough to invade a dictatorship run by someone Hitler's equal in evil but by far his superior as a politician and as a dictator.

      Which again, this is not to say Stalin is good, just that Hitler was not as good as people say he was as far as evil dicker.

      Oh, and Grant did win in Virginia in 1864, in six weeks with Lee having all the advantages Grant repeatedly outflanked him from the Rappahannock to the gates of Richmond and Lee was never able to escape the Petersburg trap. That meant the CSA had to turn to their army that lost all its battles but one to save their asses and well, the hard-luck fellows of the Army of Tennessee just couldn't hack it.

      • 18.1.1
        Allan Stevens says:

        Lee had all the advantages?? What on earth are you talking about? Oh, and the Third Reich lasted for 12 years not 2. Get your 'facts' straight before ranting Pavel.

      • 18.1.2
        HenryWallace2012 says:

        Do you even believe the crazy things you say?

  19. 19
    Johan R says:

    One aspect of the battle of Kursk that is often forgotten, is the impact of air power. Three examples of Shturmovik attacks on Panzer divisions during the battle might put things into perspective. 9th Panzer lost 70 tanks in 20 minutes the 7th of July 1943, 3rd Panzer lost 270 tanks and 2000 men in two hours, and 17th Panzer lost 240 of its 300 tanks in four hours, effectively being destroyed.
    These facts and the accounts of the appaling kill to loss ratio when Soviet tanks met German head on, at Prokhorovka and other places, leads to one important conclusion: It was air power that won this "tank battle" for the Red Army.

  20. 20
    William Cwiklinski says:

    The Germans did not lose the war on the eastern front, the Soviets won it.

    They did it using Soviet equipment, Soviet manpower, and most of all Soviet tactics.

    Any study of Soviet mobile warfare viewed from a narrow tactical level is pointless as the Soviets themselves view it as repeated combat situations needing no true inspiration or direct guidance. Basically tactical situations repeat themselves over and over again and there is no need to gain 'tactical skills' as those skills are learned on the battlefield not in the classroom.

    If Kursk is viewed from the Operational/Strategic level, the view the Soviets consider important, then the Germans were out fought, out thought, and out maneuvered. Look at the battle from the start until the end of the Soviet counter-attacks. Soviet reserves were well placed to avoid getting 'trapped', and in position to blunt any real gains the Germans made. The Soviet operational plan, which Zhukov used again and again against the Germans before the Battle of Kursk, was to allow them to bleed themselves white against defensive positions. Once the Germans had reached their limit Zhukov counter-attacked, often with devastating results.

    Hitler complained to Guderian that the "Army isn't achieving the victories it did early in the war." To which Hurry Heinz replied, "Change your methods." The Soviets had learned and the Germans hadn't changed. Proof, the Soviets fired a preliminary bombardment against the Germans before the start of their offensive. They knew from past experience when, where, and more importantly, at what time the German's would reach their jump off points. The Germans got plastered and it delayed the entire offensive by a couple of hours.

    Kursk looked at from this view shows the Germans to have placed themselves in a position to suffer defeat even before the first shot was fired.

    While it is 'nice' to toss around tank loss ratios they miss the entire point of what actual victory on the battlefield is. Napoleon won the Battles of Quatra Bras and Ligney-Sombreffe but he lost the Battle of Waterloo, and therefore lost the war. The Germans may, or may not, have won a tactical victory at Kursk but in the end it didn't matter because the Soviets ended up in control of Orel and Kharkov after the smoke had cleared. So in the end the Soviets achieved their conditions for victory while the Germans didn't even come close to obtaining their aims.

    Fact: The Germans had only a handful of Panthers and Tigers at Kursk the majority of their hardware was PzIIIs and PzIVs, both of which were outclassed by the T-34.

    Fact: The army taking ground, which the Germans were when the offensive started, suffers fewer tank losses because they can recover their damaged tanks on the field the opponent cannot. It is only natural that the Soviet tank losses were higher at the start of the offensive. One then needs to look at German tank losses when the Soviets started their counter-offensive, and viola, they rocket upwards.

    Fact: For all of 1943 the Panther was a 'barn baby' which spent most of its time in the repair depots getting repaired. In general, compared to both Soviet and US tanks, the German equipment was too complex to maintain and spent too much time broken instead of working. I would rather ride into battle in a reliable T-34, then risk my skin in an unreliable Panther, because if it breaks in the heat of battle (when the fuel pump goes or the front stabilizer crashes), then I am as good as dead.

    Fact: People are often too blinded by the German 'technical skills' and supposed 'tactical skills' to see that it was the Germans who had lost the edge by 1943. It was they who had failed to learn and suffered for it. The same excuses that are used to explain German defeats are exactly the opposite of those used to explain German victories. The Allies had more and better tanks then the Germans in 1940 yet the Germans won. The same applied in Russia in 1941 and 1942, and yet the Germans were still winning. But hit 1943 and 1944 and suddenly it is the faceless hordes of Soviet men and equipment that just swamps the Germans under. You cannot use the same excuses for both. The Germans where still good, and well led in the field, but the truth is that the Soviets and the Allies had both caught up a good margin on both levels and it was therefore the Germans who failed to maintain their lead.

    • 20.1
      Allan Stevens says:

      I agree with your comments except for parts of your first paragraph. You've left out that over 200,000 American trucks, half-tracks and jeeps; thousands of American aircraft and tanks and several hundred British tanks were sent to the Soviet Union and USED everywhere. I also disagree with your comment about studying mobile warfare on a tactical level is pointless. Tactics alone won't win a war but extremely POOR Soviet tactics at the beginning of the war almost led to the Soviet Union losing.
      Finally, there were 200 Panthers involved at Kursk, yes most of them DID break down. Also, there were approx. 160 Tigers involved at Kursk as well. These numbers are hardly what one would call a 'handful'.

      • 20.1.1
        Sam says:

        total amount of US help to Soviet Union accounted for only 4 % of USSR domestic military production. Actually – UK got 11 times more material help from US than USSR. Soviets directly asked US not to send them western tanks, but rather send trucks instead since western tanks sucked so much.

      • 20.1.2
        Allan Stevens says:

        True, but they STILL received several thousand of our sucky tanks, tanks which the Germans still had to destroy. And again, the Soviet Union produced almost no trucks in comparison to the numbers that the U.S. sent them.

  21. 21
    teldon says:

    There is one and only one major influencing factor in this battle. This information was only recently released and relates to the secret X intelligence obtained by the British who had long since broken the ULTRA secret codes.
    This defined the complete German order of battle as well as the political strategy underpinning the military assault.
    The communists were supplied with this information on Churchills direct orders and Stalin was then able to flood resources into Kursk in the full knowledge that he had an overwhelming advantage of intelligence far beyond that of any single German commander who was only privy to his own individual battle plan.
    This brilliant combination of British secret intelligence and Soviet power, far more than American tanks or planes, was the single factor that won WW2 for the western nations.

  22. 22
    Winter says:

    The Germans favored the more sophisticated, and woefully complex panzers, such as Tigers, in sharp contrast to the Russians cheap but efficient T-34s. The Tiger, though undeniably powerful, was hard to manuever and harder still to replace, the Russians on the other hand favored the T-34s simple controls and simple tech requirements for productions. In the end, for every T-34 destroyed by the Germans, ten more were standing by for replacement.

    To say that the Russians were inferior to German tactics is a fallacy. The Russians were able to improvise and develop strategies for beating the German Blitzkrieg and they also enjoyed the advantage of mass production of tanks and a nearly inexhaustible supply of manpower. The Germans, for all their tactical and fighting prowess (especially that of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps) could not afford such high losses.

    • 22.1
      Chas315 says:

      The Germans not only insisted on having complex, over engineered heavy tanks that could only be produced in limited quantities, they also wanted to create a multitude of different types of heavt tanks and tank destroyers. Many believe the Panzer Mach 4H was an adequate main battle tank, on a par with the Sherman and T-34, but with a better gun. If the Germans had produced this tank in great numbers, as Guderian preferred, and not dabbled in the heavy tanks. it might have made quite a difference.

      Also, you make good points about Soviet tactics. By 1943, the Soviets had created their own tactics which were effective against he Germans. The tactic of "hugging" the enemy, i.e. fighting the Germans in close quarters was extremely effective in denying the Germans the advantages they had in firepower. The tactic of flooding the battlefield with infantry (shock troops and prisoner platoons) was effective despite huge losses in infantry. These tactics were developed as survival mechanisms from 1941-43.

  23. 23
    Duke Armstrong says:

    it is interesting that many are cognizant of soviet and even west german propaganda to re-write history in their favor and yet seem oblivious to the existence of american propaganda in its own attempts at re-writing history.

    1. Von Manstein served under West Germany and obviously wrote his memoirs to shift all the blame in Hitler like many other Nazi generals that lived thru the war. At the same time, Manstein and his kind served their US masters to downplay Soviet successes.

    2. To say that the Nazis had no chance of winning in Kursk or the entire war at that point in time is to say that they were all fighting in futility. Not very likely given the admiration these German professional generals actually elicited. The objective of Citadel was clear enough – to say it was futile is to say entire German High Command were madmen like Hitler. Prokhorovka itself shows that Soviet reserves were brought to action to counter German ' breakthrough ' notwithstanding all the Soviet defense preparation. Everything was therefore still hanging in the balance and Germany's defeat though maybe foreseeable was not absolutely certain. After all, Model himself was present to try stop Normandy landings in June 1944. And from this time July 1943, the Nazis fought up to Berlin in 1945.

    3. All these therefore trample on the poor pretense that Soviet tactics at this time were close to par with German military. Germany was simply overwhelmed and was eventually fighting on 3 fronts.

    4. So the question, which side won the battle at Kursk? this issue will of course never be settled. some people try to play safe and say its a draw. still, if the figures are to be believed, Soviet losses were 3 or 4 times more than the Germans. though Germany is generally considered to be unable to replace its losses in the manner that the Soviets could, the fact remains – at that ration of 4:1 losses, the German forces of 900,00 at Kursk even if totally lost would take out 3.6 million Soviets. something to ponder.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    David. L says:

    To what extent regarding the Battle of Kursk is all about the unknown facts suggested that the Soviet actually suffered a huge loss against the German in an epic tank battle in Prokhrovka. But it also the fact that the German missed the opportunity to destroy the rest of Soviet 5th Armor Army because Hitler was reluctant to let von Manstein to continue his operation. To some extent, if Hitler allow von Manstein to continue to attack Soviet Armor in Prokhrovka. It would be a minor victorty for the German. But it would delays Soviet's strategic offensive and rewrite the history completely. It would also allow Panzer to reinforce significant forces to Western Europe, which it will able to defeat the Allies forces in Normandy in 1944.

    I acknowledged the fact that Germany's Wehrmacht was proved very aggressive and high morale. It also has sophisticated weapons such as Panzer, aircraft, U-boat and famous dual-purpose 88mm gun. They had excellent commanders and tactics. The only flaw for Wehrmacht is that they couldn't use their strategy properly. In some cases, Hitler ignored his commanders' advise to use both tactics and strategy effectively and allow them to command independently without interference. In the end, the German forces were gradually weaken by several battles such as Stalingrad and El Alamain and several promised projects were too late to revive Germany's fortune in the war.

  26. 26
    Bsuthers says:

    Actually reports by corps commanders from the front show that the Germans really had little chance of ever winning the battle. It was for all purposes a lost cause. Also, at best it would have olonged a stalemate, but it certainly wouldn't have put the entire Eastern campaign back into Germany's control.

    Germany at this point simply did not have the reserves, especially in infantry, to exploit any sucess, even if the panzers had broken through to a strategic depth, which they never came close to.

  27. 27
    Vasili says:

    Interesting article, highlights the fact that even the "objective" history is propaganda. Whatever Soviet writings about Kursk, british interpretation of "heroic" Dunkirk or american "Private Ryanesque" glorification of Normandy landing, could all be spun by the government-employed historians in any direction.

    While writing about the battle Kursk, the author forgets the entire FRONT (Stepnoi front) that the red army had in reserve (hundreds of tanks, etc). I can speculate that if Model did continue on, the german defeat could be even more decisive.

    The author misses the main point, which is typical for the western (at least english-speaking) historians. The emphasis is on LOSSES. "The russians lost more tanks, therefore the germans won". This is wrong.

    For the Red Army, losses did not mean much, neither human life, nor material. It is different -stalinist – mentality. Soldier lives are just a resource, as renewable as bullets. Tanks? Women and children at soviet factories produced more than 20 T34s per day. And the crews of these tanks, was not much of a loss either (sometimes they had just a few days of training). The surprising fact is that the overall fighting potential of the USSR proved to be by far superior compared to that of Germany. (That is Germany combined with the occupied europe) The USSR produced more hardware, which was arguably better than german, and fielded more troops. This is a fact: whatever forces were lost in 1941 and 1942, they were replaced. And then marched into Berlin.

    In contrast, germany could not sustain the losses it had in the war with the USSR. Starting in June, 1941, wermacht was losing ~50,000 men/month. The red army was losing in the initial months more 10 times the amount, and somehow – call it miraculous if you want – sustained it and came out victorious – in terms of conquered territory as a measured parameter.

    I think it is safe to say now that Germany had no chance in WW2. Most people did not see it that way at that time, and do not see now. One person who saw it well in the 19th century was Otto Bismarck. he knew..

    In 1943 russian average tank crews were still inferior to the german. Trained russian tankers were all dead in June 1941, and whoever ultimately beat the wermacht were inexperienced conscripts. After the battle of Kursk, the superb german tankers – the hardened veterans who first practiced their skills on Polish, English and French troops in 1939/1940, and then honed them in the East for two years – were finally dead.

    Strategically, it did not matter how much russian cannon fodder did it take to kill them. Once the tactical superiority of german troops was over, the german defeat was a matter of time.

    After Kursk, the germans could only field their own conscript cannon fodder which could not match the motivated and revenge-thirsty Red Army any longer. With this weak army, Germany could not be able to defend Romania, and without the romanian oil, it would have collapsed in 1945-46 even if it managed to push the Allies back into the sea in June 1944 and/or won a battle in the east here or there.

    Blaming every German defeat on Hitler is nonsense. It is what the nazi generals were saying all along, this is nazi propaganda. The fact is that these generals were beaten, their strategic thinking was inferior to that of (some) soviet commanders. Or, they did not have the courage to stand up to their fuhrer. The discipline and tactical skills of german soldiers and officers were fantastic, but the generals were bad. Their strategic mistakes are glaring: the adventurous "Barbarossa" on three (!!) directions in 1941 and not meeting any of these objectives, attacking Stalingrad and Caucasus simultaneously in 1942 – same mistake. Then, the complete lack of understanding the climate in the country they invade (not winterizing their army TWICE in 1941 AND 1942 (??) and pathetic horse-driven logistics on Russian distances ….. Why would Hitler listen to these napoleons? With such inept generals, the millions of german soldiers who died on the eastern front, had no chance.
    Many of these generals were simply pompous nazi bureaucrats confident in their racial superiority, and so they were beaten by their "inferior" soviet counterparts.

    Good history lesson for folks fighting with inferior Afghanis or Iraqis….

    • 27.1
      Chas315 says:

      I also noted that the Author neglected to note that the Soviets had an entire front in reserve. The Stepnoi front was commanded by Koniev I believe. This was the Soviets "ace in the whole". So the Germans launch the largest offensive in the history of warfare with no reserve force. The Author makes some good points, but overall I don't accept his premiss. If Manstien had continued, I believe German losses would have been greater without any stategic gains.

  28. 28
    @Bsuthers says:

    you may be right, there were several personalities involved in the final war time decisions, I guess you are refering to Keitel and Jodel as the 'oberkommand' but these guys were put by Hitler himself, why? because there were not going to argue or stop Hitlers from his decisions, if they would they would have been demoted or change by some other ass kisser and that was a problem for them. All the gernerals agreed that occupation of Moscow was the military target, why? very simple because of their very important LOGISTICS, not only militarily but politcally and sociaeconomic as well, and you can see that UP TO TODAYS…so it wasnt a brainer..but Hitlers could not see that an uneducated corporal with poor vision in this regard….and why risk 2 front war when you could have easily go step by step? why the gamble? because of playing the POLITICS ROLL it wasnt popular to see how the british took down several luftwaffe planes and bomb german cities that was not popular so he decided to take a trade of politics and popularity by attacking russia. And when the risk was taken there was not even a back up plan…great job!!!

  29. 29
    Danny says:

    I'll never understand how people can continue to write articles like this. "Well, if the Germans would have done this they just might have won this battle and that battle and ultimately the entire war!" Speculate all you want about Kursk or Stalingrad or any other battle where the Germans lost. Hey, the Germans ALMOST won Stalingrad. They had over 90$ of the city captured and if they would have broke out they could have won that battle too, but they obviously didn't.

    Of course the Russians didn't have the tactical advantages that the Germans did and they knew it, which is why they purposely made battles of attrition, a battle the Germans could never win with their very limited resources. Get over it already.

  30. 30
    Ara Bulbulian says:

    The author of this article has decided to write about pure fiction rather than the actual accounts of the final days of the Kursk offensive.

    "the Soviet tank force's audacious tactics resulted in a disastrous defeat for the Germans, and the disorganized SS divisions withdrew, leaving 400 destroyed tanks behind, including between 70 and 100 Tigers and many Panthers. Those losses smashed the SS divisions' fighting power, and as a result Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army had no chance to achieve even a partial victory in the south."

    70-100 Tigers, lol .. really sad that people still would have the audacity to write this type of Soviet propaganda. Obviously the author is not aware that many of the previously sealed record of the battle are are now open for review. My tip for the author is to read a few books by David Glantz about the battle.

    Do us and yourself a favor by using some legitimate sources before going on record with this type of garbage.

    BTW. the amount of Tigers left in the field in on July11-12 were probably more like 10-20 at most across all of SS divs in the southern sector.

  31. 31
    GFC says:

    No point replacing one Prokhorovka myth with another. Interestingly, the same problem with inflated estimates of enemy strengths/losses that fed the original Prokhorovka myth plagues this article. Operational strength and loss data for AFVs committed to Prokhorovka (with citation) can be found at: http://www.uni.edu/~licari/citadel.htm 421 Soviet AFVs committed against LSSAH on 12 July is a lot less impressive than 800. 257 were out of action the next day, with 132 destroyed. While the toll at Prokhorovka heavily favored the Germans, it cannot be construed as depleting the Soviet reserve armor. The balance of forces and additional defense lines (unknown to von Manstein) still favored the Soviets in preventing an armored breakthrough.

    The toll of the engagement between LSSAH and two corps of the 5th Guards Tank Army was outweighed by an otherwise deteriorating situation for the 2nd SS Panzer Corps. Totenkopf was under strong counterattack and eventually forced to abandon the Psel bridgehead on 16 July. 48 Panzer Corps (west of 2nd SS Panzer) was facing a critical situation that forced Army Group South to consider assistance from 2nd SS Panzer and Detachment Kempf. The Kempf detachment only achieved contact with 2nd SS Panzer by critically weakening its right flank. And that's not even considering the attacks launched at the Mius River and the Izyum area that threatened the flank of all German forces attacking the Kursk salient from the south.

    Committing the 24 Panzer Corps to the Prokhorovka salient would have been an invitation to disaster. Had the German command done so, they would have been deprived of the reserve forces that were critical to defending the southern flank of the entire operation. More tactical successes may have been achieved, but the overall situation would have been untenable.

    German thinking throughout the offensive phase of the Russian campaign was plagued by the tendency to confuse tactical success with strategic opportunity, and von Manstein's thinking in this instance appears to be no exception. Coulda woulda shoulda is an easy game to play, but it has no meaning without looking at the big picture.

  32. 32
    GFC says:

    Correction: Totenkopf was forced off the Psel bridgehead on the 14th, not the 16th.

  33. 33
    ken says:

    It is strange here how people forgot about Enigma and that Stalin was receiving dozen of reports from the english about the plans of the offensive…

    Enigma made the germans lost the war… From el Alamein to any big battles basically the secrets services of her Majesty knew everything the germans did even sometimes what they ate for lunch…

    Nothing could stop the allies from winning at koursk unless there would have been radio silence but then reco missions would have taken over and the germans would still have lost every battles.

    Enigma won the war for the allies

  34. 34
    Richard says:

    My mom lost a first cousin named Willi Herrig on July 12, 1943 at the battle of Kursk. I still have his death card, which ironically shows he was my grandmother's nephew and lists her living in Chicago, Illinois, USA and the awards he was issued like the EK2 and the Ostfrontmedal.

    He was a Gefreiter with a Panzer Grenadier regiment. I don't know what unit he was attached too, but since he was Wehrmacht I'm assuming he was on the southern salient and may have been attached to the GrossDeutschland.

    Perhaps the German archives might indicate which unit he was a member of, but I don't know for certain and can only guess.

  35. 35
    mark jones says:

    what it really boils down to is the german army could not fight all the might that was against them.Its was amazing they held on as long as they did. And had their crazy leader had done a couple of things different it could have had a different outcome. When they first went into russia they should have embrased the ukrainians and russian poeple.treating them good instead of very badly would have gave them more of a edge against the tyrant stalin. not to mention all the manpower wasted trying to rid the world of the jewish people. I really dont think all things being equal no force could defeat the german armed forces.

  36. 36
    Bill K. says:

    One thing to bear in mind is that had Manstein and Army Group South been allowed to attack in April, as advocated by Manstein himself and, among others, Guderian, it is quite possible they could have achieved more success than attacking, as they did as per Hitler's dithering and eventual orders for a June attack.

    Keep in mind, the Soviets did not have the defenses in depth and reserve forces concentrated in the Kursk bulge in April. They were too busy trying to stop Manstein's drive north through Kharkov and Belgorod. There is no evidence that Manstein's attacks had reached culmination when he was ordered to stop by Hitler and OKW. Also, remember that Manstein was ordered to fight an urban battle in Kharkov against his better judgement by Hitler, who wanted Kharkov conquered for political reasons. Had Manstein been allowed to conduct his northward drive operationally as he wanted to, he would have bypassed Kharkov with his Panzer Divisions and kept driving northeast into the reeling Russians, allowing follow up forces to bottle up the Soviets. Manstein clearly had the initiative in late March, early April. Hitler and OKH clearly pre-empted that.

    That said, it will never be known the extent to which the Germans would have achieved any more success attacking in April as opposed to June, however given the choice as a commander: would you rather attack when you have the initiative and the enemy is not prepared in terms of defense in depth, concentration of force, and knowledge of when and where you are going to attack?

    By June, as many have stated, the Soviets through Ultra and their own intelligence apparatus and common sense has well divined the intentions of the German army in the Kursk area. They had two months to build defences, concentrate their forces, and develop a battle plan to counter German plans knowing exactly when and where they were going to attack. Certainly the Germans could have done NO WORSE had Manstein been allowed to attack in April than they did by attacking in June.

    Clearly the German army could not defeat the Soviets in a war of attrition – the only chances at operational victories the German had was to continue to initiate a war of manuever. Attacking into the teeth of prepared Soviet defenses simply was never going to be a recipe for success for the Germans after 1941.

    My opinion, anyway. Great discussion.

  37. 37
    Phelan says:

    A very interesting perspective provided.

    Shows that victory does not depend on destroying more but rather on who has the last man standing…

    By 1943, Germany had already lost the war on production.and were hopelessly outnumbered in material and men…. any victory would only delay the inevitable.

    The greatest mistake was to invade Russia and attempt the racial extermination of Russians in general…. a more benign policy would see the Russians going heil Hitler…

    The second greatest mistake was not to coordinate the attack with the Japanese who subsequently hit Pearl Harbor bringing in the Americans.

    The third greatest mistake was to be distracted from the primary task of taking Moscow in 1941

    Once this 3 mistakes were done… defeat was only a matter of time.

  38. 38
    Renee says:

    I want to thanks the great people of Russia who defeated the Nazi and fascist Germans. Without their courage and success (non counting their
    suffer, 20Million martyrs and half a country destroyed by the Germans hordes (barbarian camouflaged in civilized people) we live today in democratic countries and not slaves of a so called superior race.
    These barbarians met their masters in the field and was beaten. How pity to see all of them after their defeat denying that they were monsters.
    They only blame their fuhrer, but it is them (their sons, brothers and fathers) who tortured, killed raped millions of children and women.

  39. 39
    PiRat says:

    This was a war against the global elite, Hitler thought they were all Jewish, incorrect, the elite is made up of all races following the same agenda (New World Order).

    Fighting these people is incredibly difficult since they controlled all but the Axis.

    Everything would have to have been done perfectly to win, even if Britain and USSR fell, you'd still have to conquer all of the Americas.

    Also, conquering people never really works, you have to ingrate them as one of your own, they receive the same laws and the people of the nation/new state treated as equals.

    A lot like Texas received statehood into the US.

    Once you get people to see what they can have, you can get them to reject their leader/government and the majority wish to join you (receive statehood), that's when you invade and knock the government out and integrate, then you have the government vs. people + you, you have already won before the first shot is fired.

    For this to work a state must be the free-ist (civil liberties) of them all.

  40. 40
    PiRat says:

    …a lot like the Roman empire.

  41. 41
    bobe says:

    I am so glad to read that this article is at WIKIPEDIA, i was a subscriber of WWII magazine and this article was one the most brilliant piece of information about the BATTLE OF PROCHOROVKA.
    Almost all the information about this battle looks like a STALIN'S SOVIET PROPAGANDA, never made sense to me, T 34s advancing at high speeds and ramming TIGERS,all that nonsense.
    Now everything makes sense again.
    I have the article with me is from february 1998 and should be a piece of information for serious HISTORIANS.
    STALIN tried hard to rewrite HISTORY(like in the episode of mass killing of POLISH OFFICERS when KGB meticulously tried to falsify documents to prove that the germans were responsible for those atrocities)it is time to someone like GEORGE M. NIPE,JR to start reeducating HISTORIANS so the TRUTH can be heard again.
    THE BATTLE OF PROCHOROVKA was a catastrophic defeat for the soviets, if had been the other way ROTMISTROV would had launched a counteroffensive.
    PROCHOROVKA was a graveyard for t34s and 2nd Lt. MICHAEL WITTMANN was a proof of that.
    Where they got the numbers that states germans had 700 tanks before the battle of PROCHOROVKA?.From STALIN'S SOVIET PROPAGANDA? or from ROTMISTROV'S excuses for those 650 tank lost.

  42. 42
    Gene says:

    The Germans were winning ocalized tactical victories on the eastern front all the way to 45'. They lost through attrition pure and simple. well, and they had one thing that no other army wanted or needed "A Corpral in charge".

  43. 43
    Farhan says:

    actually attacking USSR was the greatest mistake made by Reich. blitz is not appropriate for fighting in such a huge front. Reich should have waited for USSR to attack first, in that case it might have been possible for Reich to reach some sort of treaty with USSR like WWI ,,,and Reich should have been turned it's full attention to Britain and last of all USA.

  44. 44
    Tom says:

    Russia's population was greater than all of Germany's. Moreover, Russia could draw on their population – men and women – to continually add to their troop strength. Add to that about a quarter of Germany's forces were tied up in the West. Then add to that the longer and longer flanks that would be exposed and needed to be protected as German troops moved into the vast expanses of Russia – this was not exactly France they were invading – it was probably hopeless from day one. Unless, of course, one subscribed to Hitler's "Magic thinking" that Russia would somehow collapse after a few months.

  45. 45
    Panzergrenadier 42 says:

    So that was another lost victory,like Von Manstein's book title.
    BTW,this article clearly exposes the still-strong Soviet propaganda's influence in History and Western Historicians,nothing new

  46. 46
    True History says:

    Liars figure but figures don't lie… the only Battle the Soviets won on the eastern front was the one of propaganda…what military tactician would be willing to except those losses and equate it as a victory…the war was determined by the simple fact Germany had to many holes in the dam and not enough fingers to plug the numerous fronts they were fighting…then in the middle of a complete victory at Kursk Hitler takes his his reserves and sends them to Italy.

    • 46.1
      Allan Stevens says:

      The only battle ever won was propanganda? Lets start with Stalingrad. Of course, YOU would say the Germans lost it, not the Soviets won it. Batlle of Novorrisk = victory. Bagration . . . Berlin. All battles won by the Soviets. I am so sick of neo Nazi sounding types like yourself. Please include facts only and keep your opinions to yourself.

      Thank you.

      • 46.1.1
        Nick says:

        Nicely summed up Allan, it is rather distressing to read the blog and find so many who cant accept that Germany lost. Why they should be so desperate for a counter factual win betrays a bias that is probably backed up by political or nationalistic bias. I never could get into the mindset of neo fascists or Trots or any of those numbskulls.

        On the Eastern front Richard Overy sums up the Soviet war machine well. The army that fought at Moscow was the remains of the rag tag bunch hammered by Barbarossa, the army that won at Stalingrad little better, but numerically sufficient and well enough generalled to win in winter. From Kursk onwards it becomes increasingly clear that the tactical gap between the Soviets and Germans was closing rapidly, that Soviet logistics and strategic leadership were well in advance of the Germans. From the reading I have done it would appear that the Soviet generals were at least the equal and possibly superior to their German counterpart, Rokossovsky and Zhukov being truly outstanding. So Germany's wolves got hammered by a bear who woke up, knew how to wield his claws and closed his attackers into a corner where heavy blows beat bites. The stronger side won.

  47. 47
    Harry says:

    Fundamental issue is that Russians could make hundreds of errors and still contnue to fight and still grow stronger, while German losing a few battles like Moscow or Stalingrad or Kurks were never able to regain their strength. It is tribute to Soviet heavy industy and NKVD that Russians continued to outproduce Germans in terms of arms and able to take their earlier defeats in stoicic manner without collapsing. Russians had more capable leaders. Stalin, Kagavovich, Beria were more capable than Hitler, Goering ,Speer and Himmler. The main German strength was better trained soldiers and highly prefessional Generals. Hitler thought of Russia he attacked in 1941 was Russia of 1924, when He wrote Mein Kemf and expected easy victory. In 1924 Russia had no tank manufacturing capacity. Other issue was Blitzkreig works better against democratic or dictatorships where there is some freedom of information. It does not work against Totalitarian state. Totalitarian State can only be destroyed by war of attririon. Same thing happened to Germany. Allies had to defeat Germany by attrition. To a much due to same reason smaller extent Iraq was not defeated by Iran and GWB ahd to destroy iraqi army. There was no revolution or coup in Iraq.

  48. 48
    Donald Ullrich says:

    I agree with your article. My study of the day-to-day tables of equipment with respect to the three SS-PanzerGrenadier divisions of the II SS Panzer Korps during the Battle of Kursk indicate that these divisions were not decimated and retired in good order from the battlefield after Manstein was unable to convince Hitler to continue the operation in the southern sector. In fact I was expecting to see much higher reported losses! I thought to myself that the losses reported, given the high tempo of operations, were not excessive but rather moderate under the circumstances! This is not the only Word war II battle incorrectly described by historians. I just do not understand why some historians fail to make use of statistics and actual data when drawing their conclusions. It really makes for sloppy history.

  49. 49
    michael j. duffy says:

    Shortly after the end of war in Europe a number of German generals held by the British including various field marshalls were interviewed by Soviet military officers to get their take on the reasons for the German defeat..The Russian officers implied this was due to the defeats at Stalingrad and Kursk and subsequent collapse of central front in 1944.
    However, FM Von Runstedt stated the main reason,though not appreciated at the time ,was the failure to win the Battle of Britain in 1940. With a neutralized UK Germany could have put all its resources into defeating Russia. No U-boat programme, reduced occupation troops in W.Europe & no N.African campaign & later no UK/US bombing offensive on German industry launched from what was essentially a massive aircraft carrier/ troop assembly platform.

  50. 50
    Tom says:

    In 1941 Russia had nearly double the population of Germany. Moreover, 20 to 25 percent of German forces were being held in the West. Finally, Russia's army ultimately included any man or woman who could carry a gun. And then there is the matter of the enormous distances involved and the Russian winters. If Germany had one slim chance to win the war it would have been in 1941. But after their failure to take Moscow their fate was sealed. If the disaster of Stalingrad had been averted and if every military decision after that had been perfect, Kursk included, the best Germany could have hoped for was to prolong the war in the east for another 1-2 years.

    • 50.1
      Sam says:

      BS. learn history dude. It wasn't germany vs russia – it was germany's controlled Europe vs Russia. You forget to count Romania, Bolgaria, Italian forces. Finland alone fielded 600.000 men. Also – in 1941 Germany took control over appx 30% of prewar population of USSR. Also – u saying that 20-25% of german forces were in the west. – guess what – Russia had to keep 30% of it's military strength in the East on Manjuria border awaiting an attack from Japan even after december 1941. Russian winter is another after-war nazi/nato myth – it's not like Russian were not susceptible to cold.

  51. 51
    panzermeyer says:

    Evidence that I have read shows that the Russians had plenty of time to prepare for Citadel because the Germans were lax on security issues months before the attack. I agree that the Germans actually won Kursk; I agree that Hitler got scared about Sicily and called off the Citadel operation. I agree that the Commies did not care one iota for the lives of their troops, considered them mere product to be used.I agree that the Russians were ill led and poorly equipped. I agree that Stalin was a worse monster than Hitler (Stalin wanted the Jews wiped out too) I agree that one German soldier was the equal of 50 Russian soldiers in tactical intelligence and fighting morale. I agree that Germnan small unit tactics were the best of all armies in World war II. I agree that, in the long run, superior German equipment was no match for cheap, mass produced inferior Russian and western hardware. I agree that the T-34 was the best tank of the war. I agree that the Sturmovik was the best attack aircraft of the war.

    • 51.1
      velkore says:

      the Ju87 stuka and ju88 were as good or better , the one most agree on is the p47 thunderbolt and the corsair , the t-34 ?? was junk it had great ideas, sloped armor wide tracks but lacked good crew lay out , Radio, had transmission issues, they only won because of masses of t-34 s were up versus few jerrys , the jerrys never had oil the ussr had, hence they needed to field great tanks, no hope of matching ussr in numbers,, the germans never even got off the Horse, !! the oil shortage always stopped them ! as best tank ? the late war Panthers, & tigers 1& 2 on a 1 to 1 fight ill take over any other tank !!!! i look to kill ratios not how many were produced , hans Rudel in a ju87 wrecked many a t-34 s , oil and production won germany never had a hope !!

      • 51.1.1
        Allan Stevens says:

        The Hawker Tempest and Typhoon were as good a ground-attack aircraft as any other.

  52. 52
    panzermeyer says:

    AS a followup to my last message,I wish to clarify and expand upon my crticism of Hitler: In fact,hitler's decision to call off Citadel was not due to his supposed lack of nerve. On the contrary, Hitler was always more a political animal than military strategist. When Sicily was invaded, Hitler invoked the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo treaty and honored his commitment to mussolini. Though he considered the Italian war effort less than stellar (the North African venture was an irritant ), he nevertheless provided loyal support first to his old friend and second to the protection of German interests in the ETO. Hitler's quick response to Sicily was an effort to provide political backup to Mussolini, whose political and military influence over the Italians and their king was by that time
    quavering. The success of Kursk had taken a back seat to larger geopolitical considerations. If Hitler had wanted to he could have crushed the Kursjk salient like a bug.

    • 52.1
      Chas315 says:

      The Italians were certainly a disastrous ally for the Germans in so many instances. Hitler's master plan called for the Italians to take control of the Mediterranian and cover his southern flank. In the end the Italians couldn't even defend their home soil. Another blunder of Hitler's; failure to comprehend how incredibly weak the Italians were in combat situations, and how costly his unquestioned allegence to Moussalini would be.

    • 52.2
      Harry says:

      If one looks at Russian strategy at Kursk, it was not much different from the one they used at Stalingrad. The difference was ammount of equipment available to them in 1943 compared to 1942. Both were used as bait to draw German army to fight attrition war to deprive it's advantage in training and wear it out and then cut it off from it's supply line with much larger force.

      Hitler was always a fast learner, especially from his enemies. He realized the trap, after heavy loss to army group center. It is Hitler's instict to cancel the Operation Citedel that saved German army a major disaster and help Germany fight for nearly two more years.

  53. 53
    panzermeyer says:

    As a further adjunct to my commewntary, I wish to remind all clear thinking readers of the German army of world war II that vthere are two glaring mistakes most amateurs make when discussing the German army:
    1. Wehrmacht means armed forces NOT army. HEER is the name of the German army. For our purposes we describe OSTHEER as the German army on the eastern front and WESTHEER as the German army in western and northern Europe, central Europe and North Africa.
    2. Field Grey is NOT grey. Field grey is infact grey-green with an emphasis more on the green. There were no gray clad german soldiers in World War 2. They all wore green uniforms and if I see one more idiot saying the german were grey clad, I will consider him an ignoramus and rank amateur.

  54. 54
    Harry says:

    In any decision there are 50/50 chance of right or wrong. In Hitler's case since refusing to accept anything less than Chancellor’s position in 1933, Hitler was consistently right in every major decision he made until 1942. Manstein on the other hand was more a politician. Granted he was genius in strategy, for putting Mastein plan, which knocked out France in 1940. But it is Hitler, who took the gamble not Manstein.

    Manstein showed political self-preservation, in sanctioning anti-Semitic orders from Hitler, while keeping his hands clean. As a senior commander to Paulus, he encouraged Paulus to disobey Hitler’s order to stand fast at Stalingrad, but refused to order himself to do that. He disobeyed Hitler only when he realized that his army would be destroyed and he would be blamed for that. It is the same trait that he showed when plotters against Hitler approached him; he did not join them but also did not betray them either.

    Based on that records it is safe to say that his claim that all Russian reserves were committed and he be allowed to continue the offensive, knowing full well that Kluge, whose army has taken the brunt of the Kursk battle, and others would oppose it. Only few a weeks later he gave up Kharkov without fight, shows that either he failed to see the writing on the wall or too was stubborn to accept it or was trying to create a myth around himself.

    For those who tried to put all blame for defeat on Hitler, while claiming that he would have won war if he had listened to his Generals seem to forget the fact that without Hitler, Germany might have been stuck into long attrition war in West against British and French armies, which was Stalin's plan to get his enemies weakened and get low a cost victory, like his getting Poland in 1939 without firing a single shot.

  55. 55
    foggy says:

    The Russian view of WWII is usually the same, Germans never had a chance and the stupid allies did almost nothing. Take away the enigma intelligence and I wonder how brilliant the Soviet Generals would appear. What kind of spectacular advantage is one side given to understand their opponents plans on each major attack?? Make no mistake thank God the Germans lost, too bad the Communists won though. Its the Devil's own choice, to be against Hitler you have to side with Stalin. What a moral dilemma. On one thread we saw a Russian writer making the point that Stalin was less evil than Hitler as he had murdered more people than Hitler but Hitler killed them in a shorter time frame, wow.
    As for blame at Kursk, of course Hitler was a dictator and called the shots on the battlefield. Manstein wanted to pin the Soviets against the Black Sea and slaughter them there. I do not comment if that might have worked what with Enigma I really do not see much chance for any major victory . Really what good is your feint to the north or your feint to the south? As Manstein said of Hitler, "complete idiot." A corporal with total power over an entire country. Really you would have to say that Stalin was much more intelligent than he, and truely Stalin seemed to get the best of Churchill and Roosevelt also, no arguements there. I went to Red Square recently and saw buried behinid Lenin's tomb Stalin with his huge head made into a bust. It seems to almost boggle the mind to imagine one of the world's greatest mass murders given burial in a place of honor. The Soviet writer here is right to saw we do not understand the Russian mind. The Soviet army did surrender as mentioned earlier in this thread but now with the untold billions of dollars in oil coming from Siberia we may see the second coming of the Great Russian Bear.

  56. 56
    michael j. duffy says:

    To date nobody has reflected on the failure of Goering and his side kick Air Marshall Hugo Sperle to defeat the British at the Battle of Brtitain in the late summer of 1940. With Britain out of the equation, probably not occupied but neutralized , Germany would have had a complete free hand in Europe . The resultant benefits would have been a legion. A reduced U-boat programme and exit from Norway. Limited occupation forces in Western Europe. No future involvement in North Africa. No bombing campaign launched from Britain and no USA involvement in Western Europe. No future military aid to Russia. Probable access to British military know how including Rolls Royce engines, radar, atomic research, Spitfires and strategic bombers such as Lancaster which Germany lacked. No Enigma code cracking to undermine their secret plans. With this scenario war with Russia would have been tough but successful. Part of the reason Hitler never seriously pressured a defeat of Britain in 1940 was he was at heart an anglophile and hoped to retain the British Empire intact as part of his plan for world domination. Clearly he got his priorities mixed up. Britain first then Russia not the other way round.

    • 56.1
      Allan Stevens says:

      Michael, you give a pretty good argument except that in order to truly neutralize Britain, Germany would have HAD to either occupy the island, or bomb it continously (something it could not do effectively given it's lack of heavy bombers) in order to keep it's factories from producing war materials.

      It is doubtful, but not impossible, that Britain would have ever surrendered to Germany. As a result, Germany would have had to occupy and totally control Britain, something which would require several hundred thousand troops.

      • 56.1.1
        CPTWayne says:

        Have you ever visited the Imperial War Museum in London? The posted articles I read there indicated Great Britain came close to surrendering. But, I don't know how true they really were.

      • 56.1.2
        Allan Stevens says:

        Yes, I have been to the IWM. Would love to see the one in Duxford also, maybe someday. There has always been talk of surrender at that time, but I have never read anything like an official document related to this topic. Were the articles you read transcripts of high level meetings, or something else? I think it would be fascinating to know exactly what was being considered at that time.

  57. 57
    Harry says:

    Michael j. duffy's point that if Britain was neutralized, Hitler would have been successful in Russia is based on assumption that two other players, Russia and US would have done absolutely nothing to stop Britain from getting neutralized.

    More possible scenario is that if Operation Sea Lion had been launched, Russia would have seized Romanian Oilfields and US would have found a way around to help Britain. Goering and probably Ribbontrop understood the situation better and therefore tried to dissuade Hitler from Russian adventure. The only way Germany would have succeeded against this trio would have been to wait until it had transformed the industrial power of occupied Europe in service of German War machine, as total Industrial output of Germany together occupied Europe was only marginally inferior to US at that time.

    It is to be remembered that by 1937, Germany was trailing behind Russia and US as world’s largest Industrial power.

    • 57.1
      Fred says:

      All together too many of you in this particular thread seem to be forgetting the activities at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge,and Hanford. I suspect that mushroom clouds might have started appearing over various cities throughout the Reich starting in mid 1945.

  58. 58
    Mark Stewart says:

    This is a thought prooking article and I agree to a large extent with teh sentiments conveyed by the author. Von Manstein was an artist when it came to his ability at intuitively anticipating the manner of response of the enemy formations. It was his initiative through manouver that restored the front and brought the initiative back to the German forces after Stalingrad. It was again he that recovered Kharkiv after retreating out of it and then going on the offense to recover it. I believe that once he had moved out of the entanglements of the soviet defences he was into the flat open country where the Germ,an mobile offensiveness could really chew up the Soviets. It was this brilliance and assessment that we are being exposed to here. von Manstein was certainly a Genius, a recognized one that even Nato couldn't dispense with. Krushchev actually admitted after the war in his memoirs that if the Germand had continued the push the result would have been very different, and hes not even a tactician in the military sense anyway. No Kursk could have been a very different result of manstein had been permitted to play to the Wehrmachts strength and that was away from battles of attrition and Kursk was fast moving out of teh attrition game taht the Soviets wanted to play. The game they successfully used at Stalingrad playing off the vanity of Hitler as Churchill had done previously when he had bombed Berlin and facilitated the alteration in GERMAN AIR CAMPAIGN TO THE UK's CITIES AS APPOSED TO THE ELIMINATION OF THE UK's AIRFORCE.No Manstein I believe could certainly have carried out the destrution of the 5 said armies. One has only to look at what he achieved with even worse ratios in early '43 to realize that. What the would have meant is anyones guess. There are so many options as to which way the war could of gone what the impact would have been etc My guess is that an armistice between the Soviets and the Germans could very realistically been forged as discussions were already going on in sweden but after kursk were scuppered. Stalin was sick and tired of taking the losses whilst the Allies fought hardly any of Hitlers divisions. One has only to read Davis's account of WW2 to gain an insight as to who spent what time facing how many axis troops andones can see where the war was fought. So we are defintely in What if land…Assumming the war continued then the end result is probably a longer one either way fat man and little boy get to visit berlin instead of Nagasaki & Hiroshima.

  59. 59
    Brian says:

    All I know is I am very thankful for all our allies help in defeating Hitler!I cannot imagine a world if he had won.Being an american I am also thankful that FDR lied to his people in order to help the allied efforts!

  60. 60
    Harry says:

    It would be interesting if inputs from Kluge, an Anti-Hitler, Model, a Hitler supporter, and Hausser, Commander of of SS Panzer, were available to get a more complete picture of the front as well as the reason for Hitler's decision to cancel Operation Zitadelle and also subsequent fall of Belgorod and Kharkov within few weeks. Only then it is possible to say who was right Manstein or Hitler.

    So far it appear that Hitler's selection of time to attack Russia, his order to stand fast at Moscow, which prevented German route in 1941, His decision to divert to Kiev in 1942, needed to ensure food grains and prevent possible Russian counter attack on vulnerable oilfields of Romania, were correct. His refusal to allow Paulus to withdraw from Stalingrade was disastrous. while jury is out in term of his decision to cancel Operation Zitadell.

    The major German failure was in intelligence field. They underestimated Russian military as well as industrial strength. They did not have a single spy in Russian high command, therefore they have to rely on the instincts of their leaders.

  61. 61
    Bill says:

    I feel absolutely no pity for those arrogant krauts. They got their asses whippled so bad it mellowed out thier Karma. Everything went down hill from there. They reped what they sowed. They should have turned all of Germany into a cow pasture and move the survivors to Somalia or Kenya so as to defile their tutonic blood line.

    • 61.1
      Harry says:

      Before you start condemning all Germans you should know that Germans were on the brink of making Nuclear weapons, but some of the key scientists involved in the project decided not make it available to help regime and convinced everybody that it was not feasible. Otherwise Nazi Germany might had atomic weapons in time and they already had rudimentary delivery system of V-2 rockets.

      It is also worth noting that bulk of intelligence about German army's plans were supplied to Red Orchestra and other intelligence agencies by Germans themselves.

      Germans like everybody at that time, including Jews and Hitler's enemies such as Brunning, Chamberlain and Stalin, fell under hypnotizing spell of Hitler to their doom.

      • 61.1.1
        Allan Stevens says:

        Harry, it turned out that the Germans were not anywhere as close to building an atomic bomb as some folks believe. Perhaps by 1947, if Germany could have managed to last that long.

        I've never heard of any scientists trying to persuade the OKH or others that it wasn't feasible to build it. Do you have more details on this?

        Thanks.

      • 61.1.2
        Alan says:

        This is widely thought to be an invention of Heisenberg and others to make themselves look better after the war. We know that the Germans were in fact far behind the US in the development of the A-bomb and had spent nothing like the necessary amount of money and time to do so.

        So, either we have to conclude that somehow Hitler's scientists were on the verge of producing a bomb using far less money and effort than the US or that Heisenberg was exaggerating the danger to make himself look good in the wake of WW2 — "Look, thanks to me Hitler didn't have the A-bomb! See, I was on the side of the angels after all…"

  62. 62
    Siam Erzuah says:

    No matter how these so-called experts try to twist and turn the facts, the historical records (and hence the truth )still remains: the Soviets whipped the Germans ass—and they whipped them really really bad. The rest is irrelevant! Russia, by destroying the cream of the mighty German Army won WW II for the rest of the world. People can sex the facts and manipulate them anyway they want it: they mighty Soviet Army won the war and not the United States

    • 62.1
      Allan Stevens says:

      In your dreams, Siam! Yes, they did whip the Germans and did so ALMOST entirely by themselves. But you conveniently forgot the fact that the United States sent the Soviet Union THOUSANDS of tanks and over 200, 000 trucks, prime movers, jeeps etc. . .. Not to mention the P-37 Airacobra, a plane which was loved by most Soviet pilots who flew them.

      Please do your homework before spewing what sounds like nationalistic pride.

      Thank you!

    • 62.2
      mike says:

      Rediculous all the nations combined won the war.
      Ussr had a big hand but without American weapons they would not have won.
      I know People hate the USA but do you really believe a world with no counter to the communist would be a good world. To be honest the Allies should have listened to Patton and Churchill and invaded a weakend USSR

      • 62.2.1
        Sam says:

        and USSR would simply overrun western forces and took full control of europe. U forget that at that moment Japan was still fighting and US was counting on USSR strike on Japanese continental forces in china (aka – what really won ww2 on Japanese front, not nuking civilians).

      • 62.2.2
        HenryWallace2012 says:

        Winnie was flat out nuts. His own top army officer thought so. Untreated bi polar and boozed up like crazy. He was one messed up nobility dog.

    • 62.3
      HenryWallace2012 says:

      The fact is the Russian outfought, outsmarted, and outdid the "master race" lower than snake scum and won that battle not only their own country but for all humanity. Deal with it.

  63. 63

    [...] And they did. Chopping through an immense junkyard of trashed Soviet material, General Hausser's Feldpolizei Po Po hauled off columns of dazed and defeated Russian POWs, the final breakthrough was at hand on the morning of 12 July when II Ss breached Psel river – the last obstacle to Kursk – and collided with the Russian armored reserves at a place called Prokhorovka. For over 8 hours this enormous armored brawl raged unabated, slashing the orchards and churning the lush, green cornfields of a few square miles of upper Donetz river valley into a blackened inferno of exploding armor, wrecked burning vehicles and charred corpses – drenched intermittantly by downpours from violent thunderstorms. The controversial climax of Zitadelle involving over 2K panzers – as the largest panzer battle in history – has acquired mythic stats – heroic Russian stories of Russians ramming Deutsch Tigers, the 3 premier Waffen Ss fighting shoulder to shoulder, death ride of the panzers and a glorious Soviet victory suffer from hard facts as Prokhorovka gets re examined. [...]

  64. 64
    Nuker says:

    Had the Germans kept up the battle of Kursk, it would be another Stalingrad… for the Germans of course. The Soviets were already beginning an offensive around Orel and the week when Hitler cancelled Citadel, the Soviets launched another offensive towards Kharkov. The latter operation was intended to go ahead even if the Germans had continued Citadel.

    Becausre Hitler cancelled Citadel, the German forces that had previously been directed against the southern Kursk salient were able to pull back and partially blunt the Soviet offensive. If Hitler does not cancel Citadel, then the Soviet Kharkov Offensive would cut-off and annihilate the core of Germany's rebuilt panzer troops.

    Furthermore, the Soviets still had plentiful strategic reserves just to the east of the Kursk bulge which they could rapidly move forward to blunt any further Germans attempts at advancing. So the Germans would find themselves facing more men and more tank to their front just as they find their line of supply and retreat fully overrun by even more troops and tanks with the red star.

    A pity too, it would have ended the war faster…

  65. 65
    tom says:

    Probably the only chance Hitler had to win the war was in 1941. (And that's a whole separate debate) Even if Stalingrad been avoided, and everything that happened afterward, the 2 to 1 population between Gemany and Russia was just too great to overcome. Then add to that the the vastness of Russia, the weather, the supply problems, lend lease, the fact that at least 20 percent of Germany's forces were held in the West….after '41 the best that Germany could have hoped for was to keep Russia at bay for 2 more years. But of course, by the middle of 1946 the U.S. would have had at least 30 A-bombs, one more powerful the next and that would have been finis for the German armies plus the Nazi high command in their bunkers. Incidentally, had the war gone that way I doubt an atomic attack on Japan would not have been necessary. As it turned out, the leaders there weren't as fanatical – crazy – and the German ones.

  66. 66
    mike says:

    Hitler should have listened to Guderian and beat GB before invading USSR. According to Guderian he knew the importance of knocking the BRits out of Africa and the Middle East.

    • 66.1
      Alan says:

      It's doubtful that the Germans could have truly beaten Britain as such. They might have been able to make the cost high enough that the British decided it was better to just sue for peace, but it is doubtul the Nazis could have brought the UK to heel through arms alone. Seawolf never had a realistic chance of success (not after the German navy lost so much in the invasion of Norway) and the Island only became tougher to invade over time. Likewise, the British at the time were getting most of their supplies — including their Oil — from the US, not the Middle East. So, the Germans would have needed to either win the Battle of the Atlantic or convince the US from supporting the Brits, but the odds are America would have eventually come into the war even without Pearl Harbor. Plus, it is also iffy at best that the Soviets wouldn't have themselves attacked by '42 or '43. That would have given the Germans limited time to defeat the British, probably not enough in my opinion.

      The best — but in practice impossible — tactic for Germany was to forge some sort of peace during '40-42 that would have allowed them to hold on to their gains (or at least a favorable position in Europe). But, that would have required Churchill being thrown out of office and Stalin accepting a compromise peace. Again, that sounds pretty iffy to me.

      • 66.1.1
        CPTWayne says:

        Don't kid yourself. If the Germans had not stopped at Dunkirk and let the Brits go home, he could have easily defeated Britain. They did not have enough material to arm a single division after Dunkirk.

      • 66.1.2
        Alan says:

        But, you forget CPT that the Germans still needed to get across the Channel. It wouldn't matter if in terms of land forces they outnumbered the British by a thousand if they couldn't get those hordes across the sea. Truth is that the Germans never came all that close to air superiority as it might seem and even if they "had" the British would have just pulled their bases back and reserved their planes for the actual invasion.

        Meanwhile, the British had a formitable Navy, the equal to any in the world and FAR, FAR superior to anything the Germans possessed. If the Germans had launched their invasion the British navy would have swooped down and destroyed the German transports thereby making any follow up supply impossible. Sure, the British may have paid a high price (but, probably not as the Germans had little experience in anti-naval air operations), but the Germans would have been left high-and-dry on the shore without resupply and facing an enemy getting stronger by the day. The end result would have been a humiliating German surrender. Many Germans at the time feared that end result and wargames/studies after the war confirmed it. After their terrible naval losses in the Norway campaign and their great sea inferiority in the first place AT BEST the Germans could have landed a single wave and then hoped that was enough to scare the British into surrendering. But, with Churchill in charge that is highly doubtful.

        It would have been better for the Germans to instead concentrate in the Mediterranean and Middle East. A total victory there would have badly damaged British prestege and put pressure on even Churchill to come to some sort of negotiated peace. By attacking and causing the Battle of Britain the Germans just showed that the Bomber wasn't the killer weapon many feared and that the British could stand up to them.

        In other words, Hitler's only real hope was to intimidate the British into an useful peace with Nazi Germany. Otherwise, only a many years long naval build up could have ever make a cross-channel invasion possible (if you don't believe me just note the overwhelming firepower/resources the allies put into D-Day — and it was only possible after years of effort leading to '44. An attack earlier likely would have failed).

    • 66.2
      Nick says:

      The Royal Navy hammered the German surface fleet during the Norway campaign, effectively removing any chance that the Germans could mount local superiority to the British during an invasion. Total air cover might have mitigated this but was never won from a well prepared Royal Air-force. In effect the reality the Wehrmacht faced was a sea journey on barges with little chance of getting past even depleted Royal Navy. It would have been a slaughter, even if the Luftwaffe had control of the air took a high toll of ships, their were simply too many: even a fraction of the weight of naval gunnery possessed by the British would have destroyed an invasion attempt before it reached the shore. Any who did would have had a logistical nightmare on their hands for re supply.

      The credit for the British strategic victory has always gone to the air force: the reality behind it is that the British naval strength was the decisive factor. Even without an invasion of Russia it would have taken Germany years to build a surface fleet capable of assisting the Luftwaffe to get their army across the Channel.

      • 66.2.1
        José de Sá says:

        Good points, Nick!
        I would add only the point that obviously the Nazis knew from the beginning that they could not win the British. They were well aware of the traditional navy superiority of the UK, which had already locked Napoleon in the continent.
        So, as with Napoleon, Hitler had planned an empire for the continent only. He never had a serious plan to win the UK, he even left the british to go home in Dunkerk, and he even tried to get their support for his attack againts Russia, sending Rudolf Hess to negotiate an alliance.
        From then on, the only intention of the nazis regarding the UK was to avoid the build-up of a future invasion from the UK, isolating it through the Atlantic battle. They lost it.

  67. 67
    Aussie says:

    Nobody doubts Kursk was a strategic defeat for the Germans, albeit the Soviets paid a high price for victory. But at this stage of their campaign, the Germans had to win every major battle, while the Russians did not. Increasingly, the Germans were getting drawn into new battles of attrition which they could not afford to lose . Even had the Germans achieved the basic Zitadelle objective, could it have made a decisive difference on the Eastern Front? Only if they also annihilated 4 or 5 of the Soviet Armies in the process.
    By 1943, German strategy itself on the Front was in such disarray, it is no wonder more and more German generals were getting exasperated with Hitler.
    Too little attention is paid to German supply problems. Even if the Wehrmacht won a big battle, they invariably lacked sufficient supplies to follow up on it. Moroever, the Soviets eventually perceived this weakness, too.
    What was the point of occupying new Russian territory? – just to satisfy Hitler's delusions? Conquered land contained hostile peoples, as well as armed guerillas. The occupiers were denied access to food or any other resources in these lands. Because of wholesale destuction, they failed to get shelter from the weather. (one reason their conquest of Stalingrad had been a Pyrrhic victory indeed.) Thus, the further the German armies penetrated into Russia, the longer their supply lines and the bigger their logistical burdens – surely, a fatal weakness of the Hitlerian strategy on the eastern Front.
    The Russians could deploy five times the number of tanks in a battle like Kursk, because they could supply enough fuel to run them. The German armies could hardly match Russian supplies, so the Wehrmacht was doomed to fight Russian tank battles with numerical inferiority. For the German, winning was now imperative; but for the Russian, a loss meant trading space for time, and a retreat meant they could fight another day. Tactical failures aside, Kursk illustrates how the Soviet generals were learning to attack German strategy.

    • 67.1
      Chas315 says:

      Good Point. Even if the Kursk Offensive achieved all its goals, it would have done nothing more than buy the Germans time. The winning move for the Germans would have been to never set foot in Russia in June, 1941.

      • 67.1.1
        Alan says:

        The only other tactic would have been to: One, used the nationalistic feelings of the Ukranians, et al to German's advantage — even if Hitler ultimately planned on betraying them in the short term the effects would have been highly positive, and; two, (and most important IMHO) you go in with the idea of getting the best and quickest negotiated peace possible. There are signs that the USSR was willing to make a deal when things looked the worst, but of course that would have meant Hitler making a deal when things seemed best for him — not too likely. But, the German's only ultimately hope was to intimidate the USSR into making a favorable peace or somehow brining down its fall. But, by making it a "Victory or death" situation where even those that hated the Communist regime were willing to fight for it since the alternative was even worse the Nazis guaranteed their own defeat.

  68. 68
    glynn surdivall says:

    The Russians had the advantage of "operation Lucy" which consisted of German officers who rejected Hitler who secretly supplied the Russians with vitally important information of the German plans for "operation citadel".

    • 68.1
      HenryWallace2012 says:

      It was the Lucy spy network. So! But what about that "lovely" betrayal of the victory over the Nazis by that deal some top dogs in the US Army cut at Ft Hunt? We're still living with the results of that. How's that Nazi policy of the Nazi Gehlen network working out for you? How about Korea, Vietnam, the Domincan Republic, Grenada and the milliions of lives destroyed by those monsters?

  69. 69
    glynn surivall says:

    If the Germans had won in Russia the British and Americans would have beaten the Germans with nuclear weapons.That would have prevented the cold war and the possibility of world wide nuclear conflagration.The way the war and its aftermath turned out was for the best for mankind

    • 69.1
      Alan says:

      But, with a mainland Europe completely under the thumb of the Nazis would the US/British even tried, even if they had the bomb and the Nazis couldn't get one for years? It would have required resorting to de facto nuclear blackmail — surrender or have all your cities reduced to ashes. Would the citizenry of the democracies of the world supported that sort of plan?

      And, would things have ever gone that far if the USSR had surrendered in 1941 and the bomb was still at best three years away? No Normandy invasion would have been thinkable without the Soviets holding down the vast majority of Germain resources. So, with no land invasion possible nuclear blackmail would have been the Allies' only card — and I have a hard time believing they would have been willing to destroy all the major cities of Europe (would Hitler have surrendered after anything less?) for final victory.

      Remember, when the bomb was dropped on Japan it was already near defeat and just required that one last shock to convince them to surrender. A powerful German having just defeated the USSR would have been high on success and far less likely to give in (at least not without a lot more cities being reduced to cinders).

      IMHO, of course.

      • 69.1.1
        velkore says:

        no I think berlin Hamburg , and the Rhur going up in flames would have made them toss in the surrender , but who knows, ???

  70. 70
    Bruce says:

    Interesting analysis. Add that by July 1943, luftwaffe losses, under-production and dispersion, esp. due to allied strategic bombing, meant increasingly limited, briefer periods of air superiority beginning late 1942, coinciding with Germany's military decline.
    Blitzkrieg, like all methods, thrives with air superiority, (1939-1942 at best).
    Allied air superiority, (directly/indirectly), helped enable Shermans to overcome Tigers.
    Life is harsh without air superiority no matter who you are, or what you're driving, or if the sun is shining.

  71. 71
  72. 72
    José de Sá says:

    A mix of good and of supercial points, here.
    Of course the russians were far superior in strategy, while the germans were fooled by his racial vision. They thought that with only good german SS soldiers and true german material, without those romains and italians they faulted for the Stalingrad disaster, they could win an impossible victory! In Kursk, they came to learn that after all they were not that superior race, and that was the reason for Hitler´s depression.
    Men are fool.
    All those 50 million dead (20 of them russians), for nothing!

  73. 73
    BlueBoy says:

    When an army is forced from the field of battle for whatever reason, the forcee still occupying that field is winner.

    • 73.1
      José de Sá says:

      … well, not necesseraly. The russians had not given any strong resistance to the german field progression, only to atract the germans to deep Russia, where they could be encicled. I'm talking about the Stalingrad strategy, which had as a goal the encirclement of all the south armies group and not only the 6th army in the city. The russians had already done something similar with the french army in Borodino, and Mao Tsé Tung did the same in his "long march".
      But what you say is right if the army which is forced from the field had no intention to do it in the beginning, as with the germans in Kurks.

  74. 74

    [...] hindsight. An example of what I'm talking can be seen in this article about the Battle of Kursk: Battle of Kursk: Germany's Lost Victory in World War II Anyway, the guy I was discussing is now ignoring much of my arguments, which is a [...]

  75. 75
    Help!! says:

    Can someone please summarise the battle of Kursk in a paragraph for me because I can't pick oput the key points well enough.
    Thanks.

  76. 76
    José de Sá says:

    This was the last great battle in the East Front, in the summer of 1943 and a few months after Stalingrad. It was a german attack which led to the largest tanks battle ever, with their army "purified" from foreign troops (who they blamed for the Stalingrad defeat) and based on SS "superior race" divisions only. The germans lost. The russians had a much better warfare lead and more men and equipments.

  77. 77
    erpiu says:

    yes, the germans won this battle and kept winning and never losing any tanks, but meanster adolf kept sabotaging the glorious wins of his wehrmacht geniuses and trying to get rid of those german tanks that just wouldn't go away… Until adolf had to kill himself in may 1945 because he couldn't stand anymore that his wehrmacht geniuses wouldn't get tired of winning and of not losing any tanks. But at that point the german tanks evaporated and the russians won… :( A truly sad story for wehrmacht genius eric von manstein who had fought so hard with himmler in order to get his warriors choice watches robbed from exterminated russian "terrorist-coddling" ruskies and jews…

  78. 78
    William says:

    A lot of points of view here, some sound and rational, so not. Having said that, I will share my "opinion". At any given time between 1933 and 1945 many reasons can be given for the defeat of the German forces. It was a total combination of these reasons that lead to the outcome of the war. First of all, any attack on Russia from Poland/Rumania is most difficult in that Russia becomes a funnel and the front becomes wider the further one goes. Thus diluting strength to cover space. Second, Moscow and Stalingrad were both of strategic value. Moscow for reasons of communication and transport/supply as well as the political leadership situation. In 41-45 no Soviet commander, much less average fighting man/woman sneezed with out orders from Moscow. Stalingrad was a major tank manufacturing city as well as the location was paramount for river supply to Southern Russia. Had Stalingrad been surrounded and not invested, It would have saved many German fighting man as well as vast stores of equipment/munitions and cut supply to the south as well as cutting T-34 production in the area. Leningrad was of no importance at all and tied down too many resources to have been productive. As for Kursk, I believe it was a monumental blunder on the German side. The Russians NEVER acquired the talent for offensive armored combat as had the German forces. In addition, German commanders became masters (Manstein) in counter offensive operations. I believe that since EVERYONE knew how obvious a pincer attack on the Kursk bulge was, concern the large disparity in the size of the two armed forces in the area, A German plan of allowing a Soviet attack , combined with mobile defense and as the Soviets over extended them selves, (as they always had), a vicious serious of counter attacks would have been the best option for destroying Soviet forces in the field while minimizing German losses.

    • 78.1
      José de Sá says:

      I generally agree with you, but have some comments to add, if you don´t mind:
      1 – There was no particular strategic city in Russia for Hitler. The strategic russian assets he was looking for were space (for colonnies) and natural resources, the most important of them being the oil fields in Caucasus. Regarding Moscow as a power center, the soviet hig-command could allways leave it, as it had been done with Napoleon, and that was the reason why Hitler postponed the Moscow atack for after the encirclement and destruction of the soviet armies in the center, in the 1941 Summer. At that point (Moscow) Hitler was right.
      2 – Stalingrad was important not because of its tank factories but for military tactical reasons. Most soviet tank factories were much far away, near of even after the Ural mountains, impossible to reach by the germans, and that was one of the brightest soviet strategic decisions.A reason in which the soviets exploited to their benefit one of their strategic assets: space! Stalingrad was important because it was a gate to any encirclement temptative of the german armies in Caucasus, as it was shown just after the german defeat in the city.
      3 – The big Hitler mistake was his underestimation of the "human factor", or his overestimation of the "german race" superiority. He expected to destroy the russian armies very quickly, which he did, in 1941. What he did´tn expect was that after such an amazing amount of human and material losses, the russians still could assembly new armies after new armies, both in soldiers ready to fight to death, and in material not as bad as Hitler had expected.
      4 – After all, the germans lost 4,5 million men there (plus one million from their allied forces), while the russians lost more than 11 million. But the russians were ready to pay that price, which Hitler had never expected. Besides, the russians also mastered well their specific strategic assets of space and winter, the sympathy for communism amid a lot of western intellectuals (which provided a superior spy service, even in the german high-command), and a "winning will" which was shown to be stronger in the communist ranks than in the fascist ranks.
      5 – After all, it was proved that the germans are not the "superior race". Just a people trending to follow lunatics…

  79. 79
    Johan says:

    Hello, i am doing a history internal on the Battle of Kursk, Can anyone help me by answering these 3 questions, any information would be greatly appreciated,
    1. Why was it crucial that Soviet Russia defeated Nazi Germany?
    2. To what extent was it crucial that Hitler defeated Soviet Russia, in order to regain initiative and save his reputation?
    3. To what extent did the Lucy spy ring help the Russians defeat Germany?

    Thankyou for your help, any information relevant to my questions would be greatly appreciated

  80. 80
    José de Sá says:

    Johan, are you asking why was it crucial to any of the contenders to win the war? Wars are to be won, aren´t they?
    Regarding the role of the Lucy ring in that battle and in general in the East front war, it provided some tactical advantages, together with some other information sources, namely the "red orchestra" spy organization and the "Enigma" uncrypted data provided by the British. For this battle all those mutually confirming sources were very important to give the russians time to prepare their defenses, which were detrimental fot their victory (most german tanks were "kaput" by land mines).

    • 80.1
      Johan says:

      Thank you Jose, by the first part of my question I mean, what was it that both sides had to gain from a victory, e.g. Soviet Russias victory would put an end to Hitlers offensive power on the eastern front, and from Germany's perspective, Hitler needed to regain his initiative and save his reputation, after the defeat in Stalingrad. I guess you could look at it as if my questions were wanting to know both sides motives, and how a victory in the Battle of Kursk would benefit them, what they were looking to gain. Thanks

      • 80.1.1
        José de Sá says:

        Johan, I think that the main goal of both sides in the Kursk battle was the destruction of the military capability of the other side.
        Since the beginning of the Eastern front Hitler had looked for that destruction, but for his suprise the soviets were able to assembly new armies after new armies after any great defeat. Hitler was allways convinced that "that time" he had destroyed the soviet reserves, only to be atonished (and depressed) by the discovery that huge new reserves were deployed by the russians shortly after.
        The russians, on the other hand, knew that they could not win the germans by attacking them, so they managed the battle in order to erode the german forces in a defensive battle, particularly the german superior tanks and aviation. Only after the german attack forces have been seriously weakened by land mines, well placed artillery and waves of T-34, have the russians lauched their own attack – a very enlarged encirclement attack, which reconquered Orel and pushed the germans to the Dniepr.
        But only in 1944 the russians felt they could launch a Summer attack capable to destroy most german forces – which they did, in the "Bagration" operation.

  81. 81
    Johan says:

    Thank you for your help Jose

  82. 82
    mya says:

    Im doing a report on WW2 and I'm including information on the battle of Kursk. I just need to know the outcome of this battle and how it helped the allies

    • 82.1
      Sid says:

      Just tell the Soviet myth about thousands of tanks charging each other and ending in a tangled smoking heap resulting in huge losses on both sides. As a professional writer I can tell you the best story is the "right" story. I've read the comments here and no one is very close to the historical facts, quite complicated, and most are out in left field. The real color doesn't matter in the land of the blind.

  83. 83
    Allan Stevens says:

    Germany lost all strategic initiative after the loss at Kursk, while the Soviet Union gained it and never lost it. Germany started a withdrawal from August 1943 onward as a result of Kursk. Obviously, their victory at Kursk helped the Soviets, and maybe to some degree, helped the other Allies. If Germany had won however, it's possible (though very unlikely) they could have fought the Soviets to a stalemate, which in theory, would have allowed them to release more troops to fight elsewhere.

  84. 84
    José de Sá says:

    Allan Stevens,
    I am just a guy who loves History and has an obsession (fear?) for the horror of war. I am an european as well, interested in knowledge about what kind of roots have this doubtfull "Union".
    This said, I want to congratulate for your very large knowledge on this subject and you wise opinions.
    Regards,

  85. 85
    michael j. duffy says:

    Gentlemen, after reading and digesting all the very interesting and thought provoking articles detailed above I think the consensus why Germany lost WW2 (or did it fact?) was too many Russians and one too many Germans.

  86. 86
    aldol says:

    does it really matter?
    2.8 million German soldiers died between July 1944 and May 1945
    of Napoleon's Grand Armee most died in the retreat to France
    i.e.: most casualties are incurred after the battle/war is lost
    so…. it really does not matter if tactical advantages or strategic solutions bring a partial victory. it is when the enemy is running that hte slaughter can commence
    as the Romans have known 2000 years ago

  87. 87
    l337 says:

    The answer is simple. Whoever lost more men is the loser. It's the Soviets. Because they came up with a strategy that ended up with more of their comrades dying. The real winner are the Germans, because they came up with strategies that saved their own guys. How do you kill 860,000 of your own countrymen? send them to their deaths in a human wave attack? that's one big loser for me.

    • 87.1
      AllanS says:

      The answer is not that simple. In fact, your over-simplification is rather ignorant. The Nazis lost the battle of Kursk, plain and simple. It doesn't matter that the Soviets had 3 times the casualties, they had the manpower to replace their losses. The Nazis did not.

  88. 88
    l337 says:

    Any loss of men is a loss. No strategic success will ever replace the loss of human life. So whoever loses more men in a battle is clearly the worst commander for me.

    • 88.1
      aldol says:

      Bull.
      let's say i lose 10 men you lose 1 but i got you running out of ammo and now i will slaughter 2000 of yours
      yous till win?

    • 88.2
      Harry says:

      It is goal of diplomacy not to waste life. War is the last choice, not first. Goal of war is to gain territory, or resources’, saving human life is secondary. So your argument is not valid. Soviets may have lost three times more men than Germans lost, but they capture half the Germany, so they are the winners. Americans are bigger winner because they capture half of the Europe at much less cost. Their ROI was better.

      Actually Stalin also planned in the same way as Americans did, by letting other fight out and enter only when combatants are already weakened. He did that in the case of Poland. He would have been able to do what Roosevelt and Eisenhower were able to achieve, winning the war at minimal cost, had it not been for Hitler selecting Manstein plan over OKH plan for battle of western Europe. If Hitler had stopped after winning Battle of France, he would have been considered the smartest stretegist.

    • 88.3
      José de Sá says:

      Do you consider the USA won the Vietnam war? There, 20 viets were killed for each american…
      As a matter of fact, while still fighting the french vietnamese war, there was a conversation between a french representative and a vietmin leader (I don´t remember who). The french said: "don´t you see we will kill 10 of yours for each of ours? Give up the war!"
      But the vietmin leader answered: "ok, we are ready to pay that price. Are your ready to pay yours?"
      And that is a good summary of the point. A war after another, you allways see that the most powerfull part is not ready to pay its price, even if it is much lower than ist opponent's price.
      Not that I think that had happened in Kursk. They both paid all the price they could. However, the russians had more men and material to pay!…

  89. 89
    aldol says:

    in fact the soviets cherished the Germans attack as they flanked them by attacking army group center a couple of hundred miles to the north. no matter what the germans did at Kursk, they would lose the battle in the end.
    the only way for the German not to lose
    was not to engage in battle at kursk but to continue a fighting retreat . to shorter lines of logistic supply and a shorter front line denying the human and material advantage to the soviets

  90. 90
    Douglas says:

    The "Great Patriotic War" could be likened to a battle between a strong, alpha wolf (one of Hitler's nicknames was Herr Wolf, BTW) and a bear. The wolf is swift, powerful, and bites hard. The bear is slow, but far more powerful and possessing far greater endurance. The wolf's only chance to survive, aside from retreat, is to hit at the bear's vulnerable points w/o letting the bear get a hold of him. Once the bear has the wolf in his grip, it's over.
    Now, how this applies to the battle of Kursk in general, and Pokhrokovka in particular, and was Manstein right, or was Hitler?
    It was right for the OstHeer to attack the Kursk "bulge"…in late April or early May, once the weather permitted movement, but before the Soviets could reinforce the salient as they had by July. Even then, the attack should have had limited objectives, because overall Germany was no longer capable of taking out the Red Army by offensive action. Their best hope lay in flexible defense and using theSoviet territory they still had. Before the start of Kursk, Guderian asked Hitler, "why do you want to attack in the East at all?". Hitler replied, "I know, every time I think of it my stomach turns". The Fuhrer should have trusted his intuition. Attacking an obvious target, and having given the Red Army sufficient time to prepare defense in depth, was to fight on Stavka's terms. It's a tribute that the Heer could inflict three or four times as many casualties as they took, and made the Soviets pay dearly for their resistance, but even then, the cruel math was against Germany, pure and simple. That along with the willingness of the Soviet leadership to sacrifice trainloads of equipment and millions of gallons of blood, if necessary, and their ability to enforce that will on their subjects.
    Even so, Pokhrokovka was instructive as to overall it could have gone, even if it's not exactly how the Germans had planned it. Once Liebstandarte attacked, they drew out the Fifth Guards tank army to get shot up. Now, from the Soviet perspective, the 5 GTA was doing its job,and the sacrifice of so many T-34s and Soviet soliders was justified by stopping the south hook of the German offensive cold in its tracks. Sure, Guderian might have exploited this tactical victory and had the panzers run amok in the Soviet rear, but to what end and at what cost? That's assuming that Guderian didn't lead his panzers into a trap, which Hitler rightly feared. The best possible long-term outcome, IMO, would have been the Americans and the Soviets meeting on the Oder instead of the Elbe, and a longer readjustment following the German surrender to the pre-arranged occupation zones.
    Had the Germans played a game of either holding their forces out of range of the crushing Soviet artillery, and holding their panzers well in reserve to deal with breakthroughs, and only conducting limited offensives as the opportunity to slap the Red Army around presented itself (a noteworthy example being the Doppelkopf offensive that briefly reunited ArmeeGruppes Mittel and Nord in the wake of Bagration), they stood even as late as mid-1943 a decent chance to wear the Red Army down. The success of Leibstandarte at Pokhrokovka in bleeding the Soviet armor shows that it was possible.
    As Von Mellenthin pointed out in 'Panzer Battles', they noticed after the battles in the summer and fall of '43 a noticeable decrease in the quality of the Soviet forces facing them, and it was considered that they could yet entice the Red Army into another "Brussilov" offensive.
    Instead, not only Hitler but his boot-licking general staff blundered repeatedly into fighting the war on the Soviet's terms, and refused to reassess why they were getting bled white. Indeed, there was even AFTER Kursk a decent chance to spin out the war and get both Churchill and Stalin to quit, before the American juggernaut got going and the American sentiment was still largely to avenge Pearl Harbor.
    BTW, before one ridicules the American Sherman tank, please consider that the Soviets themselves greatly appreciated it, calling it the "Emcha" (Russian pronounciation of "M4"). The Shermans, powered by a pair of Detriot Diesel Allison 6-71 two-stroke diesels (which itself the Soviets gladly copied postwar, considering it a better engine than anything they had in its class), were allocated to their "Guards" divisions. This greatly pissed Stalin off, motivating him to direct improvements to both the T-34 (resulting in the T-34/85) and the KV series (which resulted in the introduction of the IS series), that his tankers preferred a "capitalist" beast to the best that Soviet industry could put out. The Sherman, with all its considerable faults, had a crew layout far more conducive to fighting, both in tactical efficiency and crew endurance. The T-34 was cramped, noisy, overworked the commander, and in spite of its overall excellent mechanics was a beast to drive. The Soviets even went to the trouble of fixing up and reusing a considerable amount of German "Mark III" tanks (if the turret was damaged beyond repair, they'd weld up a boxy superstructure and mount their excellent 76.2mm gun), so desperate they were for decent tanks.

  91. 91
    aldol says:

    only a couple of comments.
    1.Hitler lost the war in december 1941.
    of 162 divisions that started Barbarossa only 11 were up to decent strength levels by february 1942, with no chance to resupply indefinitely in raw materials like the russian could.
    2 . Hitker KNEW that he lost the war by december 1942 ( stalingrad)
    3. US supplied Russia with 500,000 trucks ( forget the planes and the tanks, they were totally secondary) , while Hitler's army moved on horses.
    enough said
    Hitler never had a chance to win the war
    EVER
    even if he had taken Moscow in 1941
    he could never cross the Urals and was doomed to defeat.
    Kinda the same for Japan and the US
    Whenever a strategy for attack is based on speed and quick resolution, it really means that the attacker recognizes that he does not have the stamina to stay in it for the long run

  92. 92
    aldol says:

    Kursk in the end was just a photo-op so to speak for Hitler nothing else.

  93. 93
    Johan says:

    What historical ideas were involved in the Battle of Kursk?

  94. 94
    Yractrebor says:

    Hitlers biggest mistake was not leaving the eastern front German Generals to do there jobs and not interfere. with the army. By not dispersing the divisions of the II SS Panzer Corps to deal with the anticipated Soviet diversionary attacks south of the Belgorod­ Kharkov sector cost the Germans the eastern front. Also letting the British go at Dunkirk was a huge mistake.

    • 94.1
      astevens says:

      Nothing Hitler could have done would have made any difference. He lost the war as soon as he invaded the Soviet Union largely due to his insistence on not moving Germany to a full war economy after it's defeat in the Battle of Britain. He couldn't have his precious frauleins working in those dirty factories after all.

      • 94.1.1
        Harry says:

        You have a point. Fundamental problem that Hitler had was he was totally against equality in both race and gender area. In comparison both US and Russia,more later then former, at least nominally preached race and gender equality.

        That translated in eastern front in to a reality that even though USSR had only three times the population of Germany, Germans had to kill six Russian soldier for every German killed, which they could not do it. Second fact was Russian could use non-ethnic Russians as soldiers, without too much fear or paranoia and they could fully use there female labor force..

        In addition using slave labor and force labor for their factories prevented full potential of German Industries, as these workers were more interested in sabotaging rather then help increase the production. They considered outsmarting SS as their key objective for ruining their lives.Brutality only increased their resolve.

        These more than any other factors spelled doom for Nazi Germany once Hitler's instinct start failing and fortune stop smiling at Germans.

        It must be acknowledged that all German success from victory over France and Britain in 1940 to reaching up to Moscow and preventing the collapse of German front in Russia can be credited to Hitler personally for overriding timid Generals and taking bold gamble, which paid of handsomely.

  95. 95
    aldol says:

    captains talk strategy generals talk logistics.
    Germany in 1941 had not been put on a war economy status.
    they had supplies for a 6 months campaign. they had horses to move supplies, imagine that.
    The war on the East was lost before it was started as, even if they had taken Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad, in the end they would not been able to deal with the:
    106,000 light, medium and heavy tanks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_combat_vehicle_production_during_World_War_II ) that russia built between 1940 and 1945
    versus
    47,000 light medium and heavy tanks that the germans built in the same period http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_armored_fighting_vehicle_production_during_World_War_II
    the US built 99,000 in the same period http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_armored_fighting_vehicle_production_during_World_War_II
    turning to planes now:
    russia 143,145
    Germany 119,307
    US 324,750

  96. 96
  97. 97
    aldol says:

    Summary of production

    System Allies Axis
    Tanks and SP guns 227,235 52,345
    Artillery 914,683 180,141
    Mortars 657,318 100,000+
    Machineguns 4,744,484 1,058,863
    Military trucks 3,060,354 594,859
    Military aircraft total 633,072 278,795
    Fighter aircraft 212,459 90,684
    Attack aircraft 37,549 12,539
    Bomber aircraft 153,615 35,415
    Reconnaissance aircraft 7,885 13,033
    Transport aircraft 43,045 5,657
    Training aircraft 93,578 28,516
    Aircraft carriers 155 16
    Battleships 13 7
    Cruisers 82 15
    Destroyers 814 86
    Convoy escorts 1,102 -
    Submarines 422 1,336
    Merchant shipping tonnage 33,993,230 5,000,000+
    Other:
    Pillboxes, bunkers (steel, concrete – uk only) 72,128,141 tonnes 132,685,348 tonnes
    Estimate Concrete runways 10,000,000 tonnes
    Most Battleships and Cruisers were produced before the war and many served through its entirety.

  98. 98
    aldol says:

    logistics win wars

  99. 99
    aldol says:

    Military losses on the Eastern Front during World War II[92]
    Forces fighting with the Axis
    Total Dead KIA/MIA Prisoners taken by the Soviets Prisoners who died in Captivity
    Greater Germany 4,300,000 4,000,000 3,300,000 374,000
    Soviet residents who joined German army 215,000+ 215,000 1,000,000 Unknown
    Romania 281,000 81,000 500,000 200,000
    Hungary 300,000 100,000 500,000 200,000
    Italy 82,000 32,000 70,000 50,000
    Total 5,178,000+ 4,428,000 5,450,000 824,000

    Soviets bury their fallen, July 1944
    Military losses on the Eastern Front during World War II[93]
    Forces Fighting with the Soviet Union
    Total Dead KIA/MIA Prisoners taken by the Axis Prisoners who died in captivity
    Soviet 10,600,000 6,829,437[94] 5,200,000 3,600,000
    Poland 24,000 24,000 Unknown Unknown
    Romania 17,000 17,000 80,000 Unknown
    Bulgaria 10,000 10,000 Unknown Unknown
    Total 10,651,000 6,927,204 + Partisan KIA. 5,280,000 3,600,000

  100. 100
    aldol says:

    Human Losses of The Third Reich in World War II (Included in above figures of total war dead)
    Country Population
    1939 Military
    deaths Civilian
    deaths Total
    deaths Deaths as
    % of 1939
    population
    Austria 6,650,000 260,000 120,000 380,000 5.7
    Germany (within 1937 borders, Danzig & Memel Territory) 69,850,000 4,450,000 1,050,000 to 2,450,000 5,500,000 to 6,900,000 7.9 to 10.0
    Ethnic Germans and other nations 6,700,000 600,000 50,000 to 700,000 650,000 to 1,300,000 9.7 to 19.4
    Soviet citizens in the German military 800,000 220,000 220,000 27.5
    Totals 84,000,000 5,530,000 1,220,000 to 3,270,000 6,750,000 to 8,800,000 8.0 to 10.5
    Sources: See footnotes for Germany and Austria [8]

  101. 101
    aldol says:

    Human Losses of The USSR in World War II (Included in the above figures of total war dead)
    Country Population
    1939 Military
    deaths Civilian
    deaths Total
    deaths Deaths as
    % of 1939
    population
    Soviet Union
    (within 1939 borders)[9] 168,524,000 8,800,000
    to 10,700,000 14,600,000
    to 12,700,000 23,400,000 13.9
    Estonia
    (within 1939 borders) 1,122,000 50,000 50,000 4.5
    Latvia
    (within 1939 borders) 1,951,000 230,000 230,000 11.6
    Lithuania
    (within 1939 borders[18][19]) 2,442,000 350,000 350,000 14.5
    Poland
    Eastern Regions-
    (figures included with Poland) 11,591,000 2,000,000 2,000,000 17.2
    Romania
    Bessarabia & Bukovina
    (figures included with Romania) 3,700,000 300,000 300,000 8.1
    Czechoslovakia[10]-Carpathian Ruthenia
    (figures included with Czechoslovakia) 700,000 50,000 50,000 7.1
    Less: Population Transfers -Net[20][21][22] (1,237,000)
    Growth of Population 1939–mid-1941 7,923,000
    Soviet deaths included in the German Military 220,000 220,000
    Total population of USSR in June 1941, within postwar 1946-1991 borders[11] 196,716,000 8,800,000
    to 10,700,000 17,800,000
    to 15,900,000 26,600,000 13

  102. 102

    [...] it's interpretations, it seems he credibility in many things, like this article shows about Kursk: Battle of Kursk: Germany's Lost Victory in World War II I particularly like from Mosier's argumentation, and I belive that if one side needed more of the [...]

  103. 103
    TankDitch says:

    Contrary to popular opinion, German defeat at Kursk was not inevitable. Fearing an impending disaster, Zhukov had committed ALL of his reserves in an attempt to stop the Germans, much like Peter The Great at Poltava when he stopped Sweden. Had Hitler taken Von Manstein’s advice, Russian forces in the Kursk Salient would have been obliterated. From here one must consider that talks for a negotiated peace WERE under way in Sweden at the time.

    • 103.1
      HenryWallace2012 says:

      Great points! The Russian fought like hell for themselves, their country, and all humanity. That's the real deal. Thank God for the Russians!

  104. 104
    GreenSpleen says:

    No one seems to mention this at all…”Leibstandarte was ordered to Italy, but Das Reich and Totenkopf remained in the East. Those two divisions and the 3rd Panzer Division, which replaced Leibstandarte, were transferred to the Sixth Army area, where they conducted a counterattack from July 31 to August 2 that eliminated a strong Soviet bridgehead at the Mius River. Without pause, the three divisions were then transferred to the Bogodukhov sector in early August 1943. Under the command of the III Panzer Corps, they were joined by another unit, the Fifth SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking. During three weeks of constant combat, the four divisions played a major role in stopping the main Soviet post-Kursk counteroffensive, Operation Rumyantsev. They fought Rotmistrov's Fifth Guards Tank Army, rebuilt to 503 tanks strong, and major portions of the First Tank Army, now at 542 tanks.

    By the end of the month, Rotmistrov had less than 100 tanks still running. Katukov had only 120 tanks still in action by the last week of August. While at no time did any of the German divisions have more than 55 tanks in operation, they repeatedly blunted the thrusts of the two Soviet tank armies, which were also reinforced by several rifle corps.

    Totenkopf repeatedly cut off and defeated all of the First Tank Army's thrusts toward the Kharkov¬Poltava rail line. Das Reich threw back two Soviet tank corps south of Bogodukhov and blunted Rotmistrov's last major attack west of Kharkov, and the III Panzer Corps halted Operation Rumyantsev.”

    Connect the dots, the German army WAS still strong enough to reach a complete stalemate in the east (maybe stronger with the arrival of Panthers, Tigers and other equipment like the 1st Assault Rifle Stg44) as it was tactically FAR superior and the combat value of a German division was still surpassing the combat value of a comparative Russian division multiple times. The Soviets were CONSISTENTLY outmaneuvered and destroyed.

    • 104.1
      Jay says:

      If you look post-Stalingrad, the Soviets were continuously advancing and the Germans continuously retreating.

      The Soviets were out-producing the Germans in tanks by a large factor.

      Read up about Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Polkovodets_Rumyantsev It is assessed as a "Soviet Victory".

      If you really believe you can prove that it was not a Soviet Victory, you should go change the description on Wiki, in which case many better informed editors will promptly shoot you down.

  105. 105
    ThankSwitch says:

    Contrary to popular opinion, German defeat at Kursk was not inevitable. Fearing an impending disaster, Zhukov had committed ALL of his reserves in an attempt to stop the Germans, much like Peter The Great at Poltava when he stopped Sweden. Had Hitler taken Von Manstein’s advice, Russian forces in the Kursk Salient would have been obliterated. From here one must consider that talks for a negotiated peace WERE under way in Sweden at the time.

  106. 106
    GreenSpleen says:

    Khrushchev had some interesting things to say about what may have happened had Hitler chosen to press the attack.

  107. 107
    aldol says:

    It really would have made no difference, even if the Germans had won at Kursk they would have suffered the same fate a couple of months later somehow.
    The Germans had lost the war December 7th 1941 when the US entered the war, it was inevitable, in fact they would have lost a lot earlier in Russia if Stalin had not insisted in keeping his troops close to the german border in april may june 1941

  108. 108
    GreenSpleen says:

    I’m inclined to agree, aldol.

    Their overconfidence and arrogance, which was unjustified considering how weak their intelligence department actually was, disgusts me. Compounded with such unforgiveable blunders I feel they deserved to lose the war. Nature does not abide fools, nor does it forgive.

    Germany was warned that the whole world would be brought to bear against them – again.

    • 108.1
      martin white says:

      I can only agree wholeheartedly, there are too many commentaries here which smell of revisionist history, and ss adoration.
      By 1943 Germany was losing the war in the North Atlantic , due to the breaking of the naval codes, and the inevitable build up of forces to create a Second Front was in preparation.
      The Soviets were never seriously strategically threatened in 1943, and consequent to Kursk launched the offensives which decisively slaughtered the German Army in the East.
      The American and British heavy bombers were beginning to pulverise German industry, German people, German housing, German logistics..ie the raw ability to conduct war.
      In the background lurked the Manhatton Project…, Germany had nothing to compete with this.
      Esentially, Germany never finished off its foes , before creating new ones, and attempted to subjegate an enormous territory and populations with inadequate resources. And , yes declaring war on the USA was THE disastrous turning point, enabling the essential re-arming of Britain, and in terms of aid to the Soviet Union..it was the supply of logistics, trucks , jeeps, and railroad stock which enabled the Soviets to manoevre.

      A negotiated peace was never on the agenda.Hence , the demand for unconditional surrender.Germany had hurt all the "Big Three" powers, and there was little appetite for forgiveness.

      Thankfully, after WW2 Nato did NOT underestimate the soviet threat.Nor did it require the alleged military brilliance of defeated German officers.
      The bomb kept the peace, not the insight into Soviet military affairs of defeated german officers..

    • 108.2
      Dan says:

      Warned by who? That's a tell.

  109. 109
    aldol says:

    only a couple of comments.
    1.Hitler lost the war in december 1941.
    of 162 divisions that started Barbarossa only 11 were up to decent strength levels by february 1942, with no chance to resupply indefinitely in raw materials like the russian could.
    2 . Hitker KNEW that he lost the war by december 1942 ( stalingrad)
    3. US supplied Russia with 500,000 trucks ( forget the planes and the tanks, they were totally secondary) , while Hitler's army moved on horses.
    enough said
    Hitler never had a chance to win the war
    EVER
    even if he had taken Moscow in 1941
    he could never cross the Urals and was doomed to defeat.
    Kinda the same for Japan and the US
    Whenever a strategy for attack is based on speed and quick resolution, it really means that the attacker recognizes that he does not have the stamina to stay in it for the long run

    Kursk in the end was just a photo-op so to speak for Hitler nothing else.

  110. 110
    Rainman says:

    I don't know if this is relevant or not, but there is a Normandy veteran who lives on my street that had some amazing experiences fighting the Tiger & King Tiger tanks. He told us that a large group of his Shermans ganged up on a King Tiger and a couple Panzers. He told us that his group fired on that King Tiger until they all only had a few shells left between them. He said they fired over 100 shells on it and never did manage to kill the crew inside. He said everyone couldn't believe their eyes when it simply drove off after they stopped firing on it. He told us that the next day his tank was hit by what he thinks was a Tiger. Apparently the shell that hit them had something wrong with it because it made a clean hole right through the front of his sherman and exited out the back with another clean hole, just like sticking a pencil through 2 pieces of paper. He said it was a miracle that no one was killed and he still wonders how his Sherman was not blown into a million bits.
    Good, better, best, or worst I am pretty sure I would rather be in the tank that the opposing tanks can possibly run out of ammo before you drive around the next hedge row. The other option does not seem like it would be very pleasant, imagine driving along knowing it only takes one shell from your opponent for your tank to be blown to smithereens and you are taking a "dirt nap". My motto is every day above ground is a good day!

  111. 111
    José de Sá says:

    Your story agrees with many others, Rainman, and there is no doubt that the Tiger was a fine piece of engineering! It is known that after capturing their first Tiger tanks near S. Petersbourg (then Leningrad), the russians themselves reach the conclusion that the tank could not be pierced by artillery on the front, after analysing it carefully. But it had some weak spots too…
    First, its shielding was much weaker on the sides, from which resulted the russian tactics to let it penetrate the lines and then shoot it on the sides. T34 too used to attract it to some decoys or even some of them, to let others to appoximate enough by the sides to shoot it there. Second, its tracks could be destroyd by mines, and third its top was vulnerable to air strikes, which was the weakness most exploited in the Western front.
    In the endl, it was not invincible, and it was won.

  112. 112
    José de Sá says:

    I forgot to add: of course german crews were well aware of the lateral weakness of the Tiger, and they counter it by trying to allways face their enemies fire. That was easier if they could progress in formation, with other tanks protecting their sides, but that could not allways be done, of course, and still there were the problems with the mines and the air strikes. Michael Wittman ace was a master in keeping its Tiger facing the enemy fire, for example, and yet in the end it was killed by an ambushed Sherman which hit it in the left side…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Wittmann#Death

  113. 113
    ChuckS says:

    Churchill did not surrender because he knew Hitler had to attack the Soviets before he ran out of oil or Stalin would attack first leaving the nazis's nowhere. The german generals collaborated with Hitler because if germany had to fight anyway this would be there best chance. Downside is if they would succeed, everybody had to be f***** nazi's!

  114. 114
    VicOnline says:

    Dear KeithTillman:
    I do appreciate your comments above and below as well as obsession with Robert Leckie's book Delivered From Evil . I went over that book as well as Dr. Robert Leckie's web-page at University of Northern Iowa. With do all respect, however, I have serious reservations about his work. You see, Keith, Dr. Leckie is not a historian. In contrary (please have a look in his web-page based CV), he got his undergraduate and graduate education in Political Sciences (no offense, but political science in my opinion and experience, goes really bad with fact-based historical observations). He is (associate) professor and vice-chancellor at third-rate undergraduate-only university in US. Being familiar with US academic system, I have strong reservations that he has enough resources to conduct very accurate, beyond what is available in US and a few European libraries SCIENCE-based investigation on what indeed happen in July 1943… Of course I could be wrong, but I truly believe that there is no such a thing as completely unbiased book writer, especially if he/she writes outside of their field of specialization on historical matter… That being said, and being in agreement with discussed above military losses, I argue you to think about two things:
    1. Which country/countries won the WWII? As far as I remember, it wasn't Germany…
    2. If German army was so effective (and yes, they were more efficient and better trained than the Soviet Army at least until late 1943 – beginning 1944 – no question about this) why overall military-based causalities are estimated by European sources are close to 1:2 or 1:2.5? If each German soldier can easily kill 30-40 Soviet troops as is was mentioned above based on individual interview given by German soldier, wouldn't you expect military-based casualties be closer to at least 1:10 if not 1:30?
    Just think about this for the moment…

  115. 115
    aldol says:

    I know a thing or two about battles.
    It is apparent that hitler was an incompetent in matters of war. The fact that he encountered success in the first 5 months of 1941, really means nothing.
    it is easy for an attacker to break through when the defenders are not ready.
    most of the readers here fail to realize that after december 1941 Germany achieved territorial gains but no strategic objectives.
    they had lost the war, hitler knew but his enormous ego would let him face the reality of the situation.
    kursk was a waste of resources that Germany could no longer afford.

  116. 116
    ANIYAH says:

    THIS IS HELFULL FOR MY TEST….IM NOT GOING TO CHEAT IM GOING TO STUDY….THANKS INTERNET

  117. 117
    RF says:

    it is terrible even to imagine that we could all live in German dominated world only if we were late landing in Sicily and making Hitler to halt his victorious operation

  118. 118
    OPUS says:

    Kusk a tactical stalemate for the Germans and a Strategic win for the Russians.

  119. 119
    tps says:

    An excellent revisionist article on Kursk that must be read and contemplated.
    http://www.uni.edu/~licari/citadel.htm

  120. 120
    Jay says:

    This is totally idiotic "After receiving the news of the Allied invasion of Sicily, as well as reports of impending Soviet attacks on the Mius River and at Izyum, Hitler decided to cancel Operation Citadel."

    After Kursk the Soviet forces broke out west of Kursk and penetrated German defenses in depth. If the Whermacht were unable to stop these penetrations, they were OBVIOUSLY too weak to complete the encirclement AND destroy the surrounded Soviet armies.

    Basically after Stalingrad anyone with any sense (which apparently Nipe lacks) understood that the Germans were too weak to defeat the Soviets. It is fashionable for German apologists to now blame everything on Hitler.

  121. 121
    R. L. Hails Sr.. P. E. says:

    In an open physics conference, held in Berlin,in 1939, a speculative design concept of an atomic bomb was presented. After the war, a review indicated it was essentially correct. The Manhattan Project was a race in the dark. Every major combatant nation knew of the technology, but did not know how to obtain the bomb fuel (what purity, how much, and how best to make it destructive, and how to deliver it?) The advancing ally armies all had nuclear bomb combat engineers tasked with neutralizing the enemy's capability and assessing it's development.

    Within hours after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese high command knew the essence of the weapon, and of course, its power.

    What does this have to do with Kursk? Strategically, war is a meat grinder of people and technical resources. After Stalingrad, and Midway, by 1943, the destruction rate made an allied victory inevitable, the Axis simply were incapable of continuing the rate of destruction. And we now know that the B-29 was developed to slaughter Germany but was late in development/ deployment. Germany had no chance; neither did Japan. Both militaries initially were staffed with the best warriors known to history, and excellent weapons. At the end of the war, their best were dead, and the rest were using inferior weapons. Tactically, the US, with the UK, learned that tanks were killed by aircraft. The P 47 was a flying truck, whose mission was vehicle destruction, close air support for forward air controllers. With gasoline engines, the Sherman was not favored to go head to head with a German tank.

    WWII was largely won in Russia, the slaughter on both sides was biblical. Mankind lost, savagery won.

    Man must learn, and has not, to live in a nuclear age. Fission can occur in a millionth of a second, and evaporate a city, or occur over years, and heat a baby's bottle. The thinking behind Kursk may teach us how to live in peace.

    This post had computer problems and may be redundant.

  122. 122
    ST_SVK says:

    Sir, very well written.

  123. 123
    Ruben says:

    I agree with you in every point. Let's also consider the very stupid idea of attacking the civil population. That, just made much more partisans than the Nazis could handle, disrupting their supply lines and the troops needed to control the occupied territories.

  124. 124
    Dan says:

    The rate at which the Germans were destroying tanks around Kursk strongly indicates that they should have reinforced the effort. The Russians would have cracked up and retreated 50 or so miles.

    The redeployment to Sicily was a mistake. Manstein tasted blood and he was correct to want to keep pressing. A defeat in summer for the Russians would have been demoralizing beyond all calculation.

    Germany's problem was always political encirclement. They tended to get the best of everyone on the battlefield 1870-1943.

  125. 125
    aldol says:

    the German general staff knew that the war was lost in December 1941 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I13EjPEoqQ8

  126. 126
    Bobby Lawndale says:

    I thought the Red Army didn't believe in God.

  127. 127
    Raven says:

    Here Here I had the advantage of having family who were at Kursk . The tank crews and engineers hear much when behind the scenes and the Deutscher Panzer Tiger 88 crews Waffen and Wehrmacht had to be pulled physically away. from the front at Kursk angered at their successes being relegated to dispersing . Their were no illusions for the Deutsch when it came to their superior tactics against the Slavic armies or Americans who simply threw armor at every problem not tacticians not close to the league of the Deutsch numbers won the war not strategies .

  128. 128
    StewartM says:

    Nipe's been making this fallacious pro-Manstein argument that the Germans \could have won\ at Kursk if they had just continued slugging it out for years now. For a rebuttal of his points, see: http://www.uni.edu/~licari/citadel.htm (see Myth 8, which demolishes all of Nipe's contentions point-by-point). I would add that Nipe picks-and-chooses from his losses stats, probably exaggerating Soviet losses (other historians estimate these to be lower than he) while choosing a somewhat lower German loss figure, neglecting it seems that what the Soviets and the Germans classified as a tank \loss\ differed (for the German, a tank was merely \damaged\ even if its pieces had to be picked up and sent back to Germany to be completely rebuilt, while for the Soviets anything that took a tank out of service, even temporarily, was a \loss\–a T-34 getting stuck in a ditch and having to be towed out counted. Many of the merely 'damaged' German AFV in fact never saw action again). It may have been that *proportionally* the losses using the same metrics were closer than Nipe contends.

    All the focus on AFV losses also ignores a critical factor hampering the German offensive…the lack of enough infantry support, and the high losses among the infantry divisions and panzergrenadiers that were committed. Soviet doctrine, with its emphasis on \shock\ units (infantry units reinforced with tanks, SPGs, artillery, and engineers) whose job was to break the enemy's line, which was exploited by fresh exploitation forces (i.e., the tank armies, paired tank/mech corps, and cavalry-mech groups), was more desirable. But due to the lack of supporting infantry, the Germans at Kursk had to use their mobile divisions as the spearhead, which wore them down.

    Finally, Nipe focuses way too much on the situation at Prochorovka in isolation of what's happening not only along the rest of the front at Kursk, but indeed the entire strategic scenario along the Eastern Front. Earl Ziemke accurately described the German Kursk offensive as a herring intent on swallowing a sardine while swimming into the jaws of a shark–the offensive itself was launched from far-from-stable salients which were at-risk of being encircled themselves (from the Orel and Kharkov directions). The more that the Germans committed their armor into trying to swallow the \sardine\ the more at-risk they were of being eaten by the \shark\. Moreover, the Germans had pretty much committed all their resources to Kursk…a staggering 2900 of their total armored strength of 3500 along the entire Eastern Front was committed to the Kursk area,. Contrast that to the Soviets committing only 5100 of their total strength of 8,000 (low count) to 10,000 (high count). This meant that all the Soviets had to do was to \intercept\ the German offensive rather than to \defeat\ it, to grind it up and slow it down, and they would have an number of other sectors along the front where German strength was weakened to launch offensives. That is largely what happened, and indeed the Germans were only able to contain the offensives near Orel, Izyium, and the Mius *because* von Manstein was overruled and the panzer divisions hastily pulled out of the Kursk area to counter those Soviet breakthroughs.



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