Kursk

Discussion in 'Education' started by Zhukov, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    Sixty-two years ago today, on the morning of 5 July 1943, the fate of the world was decided in Eastern Europe around the Soviet city of Kursk…

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    …around which a salient had formed in the Russian line.

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    Knowing German strategy, the Soviet commander, Marshal Georgi Konstantinovich ZHUKOV…

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    … strengthened the inner corners of the salient in preparation for the inevitable German pincer attack to surround the salient.

    Due to repeated delays to begin Operation Citadel (the German name for the attack on the salient) by Hitler, who wished to wait until the newest models of German tanks had arrived to participate, the Wehrmacht lost what initiative they had and the Russians were able to significantly fortify the entire region’s defenses, laying hundreds of thousands of mines, emplacing thousands of anti-tank guns, and digging hundreds of miles of defensive ditches.

    Finally, by the 5th of July, the Germans were ready to attack.

    900,000 Germans with 2,700 tanks and 2,000 aircraft, including three elite Waffen SS divisions, came crashing headlong into 1.3 million Russians with their 3,600 tanks, 2,400 aircraft, and some 20,000 pieces of artillery.

    This was to be the single largest battle in all of human history.

    For more than a week, without pause, the battle raged on with the Germans making little forward progress but suffering tremendous losses in both men and materiel.

    The new Panther tanks turned out to not only be present in insufficient numbers to make a difference but also to be a disappointment as far as their performance was concerned.

    Further, the defensive preparations the Soviets had made proved to be too much for the German army to overcome. The extensive minefields had proved devastating, and the Russian infantry quickly developed means of dispatching the new German tanks when they strayed too far from their infantry cover.

    Then, far away from the battle, the Allies landed in Sicily.

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    Frustrated with the lack of progress, and desiring to reinforce the Italian peninsula against allied attack, on 13 July, when the battle was at its climax, Hitler ordered that Operation Citadel be discontinued and the redeployment of critical reserves.

    With the German’s in retreat Marshal ZHUKOV ordered a pursuing counter-offensive.

    For ten more days the Soviets hammered the fleeing German forces without pause.

    On into August the Soviets pursued the Germans, liberating the cities of Orel (once a city of a 100,000, now only rubble) and Belgorod.

    All told, the Soviets had lost some quarter of a million soldiers killed in action. But the German army would never again regain the initiative in the East and Marshal ZHUKOV would eventually drive them all the way back to Berlin, defeating the Nazis totally.



    “The Russian command knew that by winning the battle of Kursk Russia had, in effect, won the war.”

    -Alexander Werth

    “If the battle of Stalingrad foreshadowed the decline of the German Fascist army, the battle of Kursk confronted it with disaster.”

    -Stalin
     
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  2. Comrade
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    Comrade Senior Member

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    Nice to see a good WWII post, thanks Zhukov.
     

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