Please enter your password Forgotten your password? Continue Cancel Send email OK. Page 1 of 1. The cemetery for German soldiers that died in the Battle of Kursk was inaugurated by the German War Graves Commission with some guests visiting. The attack, the so-called 'Operation Citadel', was the last major offensive operation of the German Wehrmacht against the Soviet Union and took place between 5 and 16 July Hoth had discussed this move with Manstein since early May, and it was a part of the 4th Panzer Army's plan since the outset of the offensive.
Though the German advance in the south was slower than planned, it was faster than the Soviets expected.
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The next day, the first German infantry crossed the river. Despite the deep defensive system and minefields, German tank losses remained lower than the Soviet's. On 11 July, Army Detachment Kempf finally achieved a breakthrough. In a surprise night attack, the 6th Panzer Division seized a bridge across the Donets. Once there, they were to strike southeast to attack the Soviet positions at Prokhorovka from the flanks and rear. The 1st and 2nd SS Panzer divisions were to wait until 3rd SS Panzer Division attack had destabilised the Soviet positions at Prokhorovka; and once underway, the 1st SS Panzer Division was to attack the main Soviet defences dug in on the slopes southwest of Prokhorovka.
To the division's right, the 2nd SS Panzer Division was to advance eastward, then turn southward away from Prokhorovka to roll up the Soviet lines opposing the III Panzer Corps' advance and force a gap. Tasked with flanking the Soviet defences around Prokhorovka, the unit first had to beat off a number of attacks before they could go over onto the offensive. Most of the division's tank losses occurred late in the afternoon as they advanced through mine fields against well-hidden Soviet anti-tank guns. Although the 3rd SS succeeded in reaching the Karteschewka-Prokhorovka road, their hold was tenuous and it cost the division half of its armour.
The majority of German tank losses suffered at Prokhorovka occurred here. Though the Soviet counterattack failed with heavy losses, and were thrown back onto the defensive, yet they did enough to stop a German breakthrough. The threat of further Allied landings in Italy or along southern France made Hitler believe it was essential to move forces from Kursk to Italy and to discontinue the offensive. Kluge welcomed the news, as he was aware that the Soviets were initiating a massive offensive against his sector, but Manstein was less welcoming.
Manstein's forces had just spent a week fighting through a maze of defensive works and he believed they were on the verge of breaking through to more open terrain, which would allow him to engage and destroy the Soviet armoured reserves in a mobile battle. Manstein stated, "On no account should we let go of the enemy until the mobile reserves he [has] committed [are] completely beaten. This removed the force Manstein believed was needed to succeed. The offensive continued in the southern part with the launch of Operation Roland on 14 July.
This marked the end of Operation Roland. One of the panzer corps' divisions was transferred to Italy and the other two were sent south to meet new Soviet offensives. The extent of Soviet reserves was far greater than he realised. These reserves were used to re-equip the mauled 5th Guards Tank Army, which launched Operation Rumyantsev a couple of weeks later.
During Operation Citadel, Luftwaffe units in the area had 27, flying sorties with combat losses a 0. Soviet units from 5 July to 8 July conducted 11, flying sorties with combat losses of aircraft 4. Despite German unit performance, the Wehrmacht was now lacking strategic reserves.
During the defensive preparations in the months leading up to Citadel, the Soviets also planned and prepared counteroffensives operations that would be launched after the German offensive had halted. Soviet offensive operations for the summer of were planned to begin after the strength of the German forces had been dissipated by their Kursk offensive. The Bryansk Front , under the command of Markian Popov , attacked the eastern face of the Orel salient while the Western Front , commanded by Vasily Sokolovsky , attacked from the north.
The Soviet spearheads sustained heavy casualties, but pushed through and in some areas achieved significant penetrations. These thrusts endangered German supply routes and threatened the 9th Army with encirclement. The thinly stretched 2nd Panzer Army stood in the way of this Soviet force. The German commanders had been wary of such an attack and forces were quickly withdrawn from the Kursk offensive to meet the Soviet offensive. Operation Kutuzov reduced the Orel salient and inflicted substantial losses on the German military, paving the way for the liberation of Smolensk.
Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev was intended as the main Soviet offensive for Diversionary attacks , launched two weeks earlier across the Donets and Mius Rivers into the Donbass, drew the attention of German reserves and thinned the defending forces that would face the main blow. They drove through the German positions, making broad and deep penetrations.
By 5 August, the Soviets had liberated Belgorod. By 12 August, the outskirts of Kharkov had been reached. In the ensuing tank battles, the Soviet armies suffered heavy losses in armour. After heavy fighting the city was liberated on 23 August. This battle is referred to by the Germans as the Fourth Battle of Kharkov, while the Soviets refer to it as the Belgorod—Kharkov offensive operation.
The campaign was a strategic Soviet success. For the first time, a major German offensive had been stopped before achieving a breakthrough. The Germans, despite using more technologically advanced armour than in previous years, were unable to break through the in-depth Soviet defences and were caught off guard by the significant operational reserves of the Red Army.
This result changed the pattern of operations on the Eastern Front, with the Soviet Union gaining the operational initiative. The Soviet victory, however, was costly, with the Red Army losing considerably more men and materiel than the German Army. However, the Soviet Union's larger industrial potential and pool of manpower allowed them to absorb and replenish these losses, with their overall strategic strength unaffected. With the failure of Zitadelle we have suffered a decisive defeat.
The armoured formations, reformed and re-equipped with so much effort, had lost heavily in both men and equipment and would now be unemployable for a long time to come. It was problematical whether they could be rehabilitated in time to defend the Eastern Front Needless to say the [Soviets] exploited their victory to the full. There were to be no more periods of quiet on the Eastern Front. From now on, the enemy was in undisputed possession of the initiative. With victory, the initiative firmly passed to the Red Army.
For the remainder of the war the Germans were limited to reacting to Soviet advances, and were never able to regain the initiative or launch a major offensive on the Eastern Front. Though the location, plan of attack, and timing were determined by Hitler, he blamed the defeat on his General Staff. Unlike Stalin, who gave his commanding generals the liberty to make important command decisions, Hitler's interference in German military matters progressively increased while his attention to the political aspects of the war decreased.
Stalin stepped back from operational planning, only rarely overruling military decisions, resulting in the Red Army gaining more freedom of action during the course of the war. The casualties suffered by the two combatants are difficult to determine, due to several factors. In regard to the Germans, equipment losses were complicated by the fact that they made determined efforts to recover and repair tanks.
For example, tanks disabled one day often appeared a day or two later repaired. Many were transferred to the United States national archives and were not made available until , while others were taken by the Soviet Union, which declined to confirm their existence. Russian military historian Grigoriy Krivosheyev , who based his figures on the Soviet archives, is considered by historian David Glantz as the most reliable source for Soviet casualty figures. The Voronezh Front suffered 27, irrecoverable casualties and 46, medical casualties, for a total of 73, The Steppe Front suffered 27, irrecoverable casualties and 42, medical casualties, for a total of 70, During the two Soviet offensives, total casualties amounted to , men.
During Operation Kutuzov, Soviet losses amounted to , irrecoverable casualties and , medical casualties, for a total loss of , men.
Collected Pictures of the WW2 Battle of Kursk – The Biggest Tank Battle Ever
The Bryansk Front suffered 39, irrecoverable casualties and , medical casualties. The Central Front lost 47, irrecoverable casualties and , medical casualties. The Voronezh Front lost 48, irrecoverable casualties and , medical casualties, for a total of , The Steppe Front lost 23, irrecoverable casualties and 75, medical casualties, for a total of 98, The Soviet losses were roughly three times larger than the German losses. The loss ratio suffered by the Soviets was roughly 5: Soviet tank strength went back up to 2, tanks by 3 August due to the repair of damaged vehicles.
Total casualties are uncertain. Karl-Heinz Frieser, who reviewed the German archive record, calculated that during Operation Citadel 54, casualties were suffered. Of these, 9, were killed, 1, were reported missing and 43, were wounded. The 9th Army suffered 23, casualties, while Army Group South suffered 30, casualties.
In facing Operation Kutuzov, 14, men were killed, 11, were reported missing presumed killed or captured and 60, were wounded. Total casualties for the three battles were about 50, killed or missing and , wounded per German military medical data [ citation needed ]. During Operation Citadel, to tanks and assault guns were destroyed. By 5 July, when the Battle of Kursk started, there were only operational Panthers.
Within two days, this had dropped to Due to enemy action and mechanical breakdowns, the combat strength sank rapidly during the first few days. By the evening of 10 July there were only 10 operational Panthers in the frontline. Approximately 40 Panthers had already been repaired and were on the way to the front. About 25 still had not been recovered by the repair service On the evening of 11 July, 38 Panthers were operational, 31 were total writeoffs and were in need of repair.
A slow increase in the combat strength is observable. The large number of losses by hits 81 Panthers up to 10 July attests to the heavy fighting. Thus, a report on 11 August showed that the numbers of total writeoffs in Panthers swelled to , with only 9 operational. The German Army was forced into a fighting retreat and increasingly lost tanks in combat as well as from abandoning and destroying damaged vehicles.
Battle of Kursk 1943
Most of these occurred during their offensive at Kursk. The total number of German tanks and assault guns destroyed during July and August along the entire Eastern Front amount to 1, Of these, Frieser estimates that were destroyed during the Battle of Kursk. Frieser reports Luftwaffe losses at planes, with lost during the German offensive, destroyed during Operation Kutuzov, and a further lost during Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Battle of Kursk order of battle. Lloyd Clark Clark , p. Citino used the term to comment on the failure of the operation: There was no strategic breakthrough—no "blitzkrieg", no war of movement. Instead it turned into World War I with tanks". Citino In The Wehrmacht Retreats: Fighting a Lost War, , Citino did not use the term "blitzkrieg", instead describing Citadel as an attempted operation in the classical tradition of Bewegungskrieg , literally: He listed three elements: Of these, surprise was by far the most important.
Guderian , p. The great commitment certainly would not bring us equivalent gains. The figure for German manpower refers to ration strength which includes non-combatants and wounded soldiers still in medical installations. The figures for guns and mortars are estimates based on the strength and number of units slated for the operation; the figure for tanks and assault guns include those in workshops. Some comrades became frightened, leaped out of the trenches, and began to run away. The commander saw who was running and quickly forced them back into the trenches, making it sternly clear that they had to stay put.
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The tanks reached the trench line and, with a terrible roar, clattered overhead In addition to the units listed below, there are also the 4th Guards, 27th, 47th and 53rd Armies. Clark , p. Perhaps the order of battle below represents only the formations relevant to Operation Citadel. The German Freya radar stations at Belgorod and Kharkov in had only picked up Soviet air formations approaching Belgorod and were not responsible for the failure of the entire Soviet preemptive air strike on the eve of Operation Citadel.
Figures are from German archives. A Military, Political and Global History. Exact numbers are unknown; the entire German eastern front lost 1, tanks and assault guns for July and August, so the number of is an estimate. Weapons and military equipment. G Solotiev, Kurskaya Bitva, p.
Hitler's Gamble, p. Nazi Germany's War in the East, First ed. Archived from the original on 4 July Retrieved 6 August Retrieved 17 June Retrieved 20 October The 2nd Army was tasked with pushing the western face of the salient once the encirclement was completed, but never got do so since the northern and southern pincers failed to meet at Kursk.. Military Publishing House Moscow. Retrieved 4 July Tom Jentz, Hilary Doyle. The named reference kosave was invoked but never defined see the help page. The Second World War.
Bellamy, Christopher October Images of War - Battle of Kursk , is an illustrated account of this pivotal battle of the war on the Eastern Front, when the Germans threw , men and 2, tanks against 1,, soldiers and 3, tanks of the Red Army in a savage battle of attrition.
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Apr 27, Karl rated it did not like it. This collection of photographs from the Battle of Kursk provides good coverage of the German side of the battle, but inexplicably has no pictures of the Soviet Army, except for a few shots of prisoners in German hands. Susan Mathis rated it it was amazing Jul 18, Adrian rated it it was ok May 25, Lawrence rated it it was amazing May 23,