The Battle of Kursk

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Danmark, May 20, 2004.

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  1. Danmark

    Danmark Junior Member

    The Battle of Kursk was the crucial point in the Russian campiagns planned by Germany. This battle decided the fate of Nazi Germany.
     
  2. CROONAERT

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    Originally posted by Danmark@May 19 2004, 08:24 PM
    This battle decided the fate of Nazi Germany.
    I think that there are many "if only"'s about WW2 and many single days that could have the claim of deciding the fate of Nazi Germany.

    Personally, I think that the 24 hour period that the German Panzers stopped ,on Hitler's orders, during the Battle of France in 1940, there by giving the BEF extra time to escape is one. Another is the day that the specific bombing of airfields changed to a policy of attacking cities in Britain (when the RAF could possibly have only fought the Battle of Britain for approx. 3 more days). Both of these contributed to the failure to carry out "Operation Sealion" which would have stopped a war on two fronts and denied the "springboard" for D-Day.

    Another day is the day that the Italians called for assistance in the Med, delaying "Barbarrossa" and condemning the German Army to a Russian winter war.

    All these examples, if they hadn't happened, would (possibly) have stopped Kursk even taking place.

    There are many more "if"s, these are just some.

    B.
     
  3. Thomas McCall

    Thomas McCall Senior Member

    The reason for the late invasion of the Soviet Union can not wholly be blamed on the Italians call for assistance, it took longer than expected to draw the Panzer divisions from France and then concerntrating the forces all along the border. Whilst there were problems with the other axis countries mobilizing such as Romania.

    I have a limited knowledge on the battle of Kursk but I think that was just one of the final nails in the coffin on the Eastern Front for Germany. The amount of men, tanks and planes Germany lost in the battle of Stalingrad, Operation Winter Storm and Operation Little Saturn hit them so hard that they never fully recovered from the blow.
     
  4. Friedrich H

    Friedrich H Senior Member

    This battle decided the fate of Nazi Germany.

    It was not the turning point of the war at all.

    After the failure of 'Barbarossa' it was clear that Germany wouldn't be able to beat the Soviet Union.

    After Stalingrad it was clear that the Soviet Union would defeat Germany.

    STALINGRAD WAS THE TURNING POINT OF THE WAR IN EUROPE.

    Personally, I think that the 24 hour period that the German Panzers stopped ,on Hitler's orders, during the Battle of France in 1940, there by giving the BEF extra time to escape is one. Another is the day that the specific bombing of airfields changed to a policy of attacking cities in Britain (when the RAF could possibly have only fought the Battle of Britain for approx. 3 more days). Both of these contributed to the failure to carry out "Operation Sealion" which would have stopped a war on two fronts and denied the "springboard" for D-Day.

    This Dunkirk stuff actually didn't affect the war that much. Why, I'll explain it in the next lines.

    The Battle of Britain stuff. Germany COULD NOT invade Great Britain, so the result of the air battle is irrelevant.

    And the Dunkirk, therefore having troops available, plus a base for D-day and a second front is also irrelevant. The only way Germany could neutralise this and even defeat Great Britain was in the Atlantic and she almost did.

    The second front just speeded things up.

    Another day is the day that the Italians called for assistance in the Med, delaying "Barbarrossa" and condemning the German Army to a Russian winter war.

    This is also false. The German campaign in the Balcans had nothing to do with 'Barbarossa' being retarded. The snow melted very late in 1941 —mid May 1941— and the ground didn't dry up until early June. And the Wehrmacht took a very, very long time to equip its motorised and armoured divisions with motor vehicles for the invasion, taken from civil service everywhere in occupied Europe. The ammount of German forces used in the Balcans was also insignificant in comparisson with the rest of the forces used for 'Barbarossa'.

    Germany got stucked into a winter war because of lack of strategic view on the German side, incompetence on the part of the supreme leadership of the armed forces, logistical chaos and Russian stiff resistance.
     
  5. Danmark

    Danmark Junior Member

    Ah, yes Stalingrad was the turning point of the war in the eyes of the German High Command, but Hitler did not think that. In Hitler thought that if he re-organized his units in Russia then he could launch another offensive into the Motherland.
    The battle of Kursk was the largest tank battle in history and terrible defeat for Germany. The retreating Waffen-SS Units fled to Germany, letting the Russians follow them almost without any major conflicts.
    The Battle of Kursk opened up the back door to Germany for the Russians.


    Another big "If Only" was that Hitler ordered the invasion of Russia, he should have concentrated his units for Operation Sealion or for a better African Campaign.
     
  6. CROONAERT

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    Originally posted by Friedrich H@May 20 2004, 02:44 PM
    Germany COULD NOT invade Great Britain, so the result of the air battle is irrelevant.


    Why?

    B.

    (I'll put down my reasons for the significance (in another speculative "if" scenario) of Sealion's non-show later)
     
  7. Danmark

    Danmark Junior Member

    At first the German High Command thought that they wouldn't be able to invade England because of the RAF, so they started the Battle of Britian. The Germans were going to try to beat the RAF so they could launch Operation Sealion without heavy losses from the RAF. At first the Germans were targetting British military bases then they got into the Total War side of bombing, including civilian targets and morale targets. If only the Germans stuck with the military bases they could have won the Battle of Britian.
     
  8. Thomas McCall

    Thomas McCall Senior Member

    I don't agree that by winning the battle of Kursk the Russian's had oppened a back door to Europe.

    The Soviet army through weight of numbers alone could have simply beaten the Germany army back albeit with serious losses for the Russians. The German high command knew after Stalingrad that from now on they would be fighting for survival alone in Russia.
     
  9. Friedrich H

    Friedrich H Senior Member

    The battle of Kursk was the largest tank battle in history and terrible defeat for Germany. The retreating Waffen-SS Units fled to Germany, letting the Russians follow them almost without any major conflicts.

    The battle of Kursk itself was not a tremendous defeat. Many men and equipment was lost and the initiative passed to the Red Army. But the true defeat was that after Kursk, the SOviet summer offensive began and during the rest of 1943 it bled the Germans and kicked them out of the Ukraine and caused them hundreds of thousands of casualties.

    The Battle of Kursk opened up the back door to Germany for the Russians.

    No, 'Operation Bagration' did. After it, there wasn't almost any available soldier between the Vistula and Berlin, and Hitler knew it.

    he should have concentrated his units for Operation Sealion or for a better African Campaign.

    Nor any of these was possible because the tremendous weakness of the Kriegsmarine.

    Why 'Seelöwe' was impossible?

    First, the Luftwaffe was designed for attrition battles far away from its bases; there were not adequate industrial programmes to produce more aircraft not programmes for pilot-replacement. Therefore, they couldn't ultimately defeat the RAF.

    Second, the Kriegsmarine was immensely inferior to the RN. No troops could have crossed the Channel.

    Third, D-day to succeed recquired 5.000 ships, 16.000 aeroplanes, 200.000 men, adequate weather, perfectly designed logistic system and two years of planning, two years of amphibious experiences and two years of training and of gathering matériel.

    In Autumn 1940 the German Luftwaffe was incapable of defeating the RAF and thus clearing the Channel of the RN. The German Army had no experience in amphibious landings, no deatiled plans, no reconaissence. The German Kriegsmarine had no ships to support the invasion nor landing crafts to make 10 divisions land and didn't have any naval power to support that force once on land. The Channel weather too would have made impossible successful landing and successful logistic support of an invasion.

    The same thing happens with the Mediterranean. There was no way Germany could send to North Africa more than 10 divisions and sopport them adequately.

    The Soviet army through weight of numbers alone could have simply beaten the Germany army back albeit with serious losses for the Russians.

    This is true, but it is often forgotten that the Red Army was also almost always one step ahead of the Germans strategically, tactically and technologically. It was not only numbers what gave the USSR the victory, but a master performance on operations.
     
  10. Thomas McCall

    Thomas McCall Senior Member

    The Soviet Union had some exellent commanders such as Rokovossky, Chuikov and of course Marshal Georgy Zhukov and there is no doubt that Operation Uranus and Little Saturn took many months of planning and it's exacution was exellent.

    But the German High Command did not hold the Sovirt Army and it's officers much regard and the High Command had written off that such an ambitious operation as Uranus could ever have been planned, therefore yes the Russians were good tactically but the Germans underestimated their opponents and neglected to set up proper defenses and not send the Italians and Romanians any aid who were on their flanks and the subject of Operation Uranus.
     
  11. Dpalme01

    Dpalme01 Member

    Originally posted by Danmark@May 20 2004, 01:24 AM
    This battle decided the fate of Nazi Germany.
    Do you really think that there is any one place that can be defined as the turning point of the war? I personally think that it was more of a gradual process. Kursk is definitely a major battle and the war may have been lost if it the Russians had lost Kursk. But Kursk relied on other battles to make it a success. There could be many other turning points in the war such as America joining the war. With America joining, alot of German troops were drawn to the western front in Italy and France because the germans knew an invasion was very possible. Those German troops probably could have stopped the Russians or at least slowed them down alot. If the Russians had lost in Kursk, The western Allies still could have invaded Europe.
     
  12. strangelove

    strangelove Junior Member

    Originally posted by Danmark@May 20 2004, 01:24 AM
    The Battle of Kursk was the crucial point in the Russian campiagns planned by Germany. This battle decided the fate of Nazi Germany.
    if there was a battle that decided the fate of nazi germany, it was a battle of britain. hitler knew that if he don't defeat britons, he will have small chances to win the war.
     
  13. Dpalme01

    Dpalme01 Member

    I agree with you on the point that Hitler couldn't win the war without taking Britain but I don't think hitler would have been able to take Britain even if he did have air superiority. The allies had figuered out the enigma code and the british probably would have sent alot of their navy around the English chanel. Their navy was still strong although spread out.
     
  14. BlackSeptember1918

    BlackSeptember1918 Junior Member

    It's such a huge campaign that to list turning points in a paragraph or two is near impossible , but here's my 2 bob's worth anyway .
    The sidestep on the drive to Moscow in 1941 ....if the Central Army group had kept to their direction and arrived before winter then they may have had the chance to take Stalin out ( who was not going to leave the capital ) , this might have changed everything . It's a big call in hindsight , weather they would have had the means to take the city in time anyway . This also leads to the total different war aims of the Axis powers . If the Russians didn't feel confident to bring there reserves to the capital from the Asian side of Russia ( in fear of a possible Japanese invasion ) then maybe the Winter Offensive of 41 may have not been quite so effective . Even a minor operation by the Japanese may have been enough ? .
    The drive to the South in 42 was correct as the Russians believed the next Summer offensive by the Germans would be against Moscow and accordingly strengthend this front . The splitting of the Army Group South and sending armour and men to the oilfields in the Caucusaus was one terrible idea . Then ofcourse there was Hitler's fascination with the city of the same name as the Soviet leader . There wasn't the troops and more importantly , the armour to bypass Stalingrad and take the Volga by useing the Blitzkrieg tactics that had worked so well in the passed , but they should never have got involved in a war of attrition that has it's strategic thinking rooted more in the Great War .
    Finally getting on to Kursk . It was an operation to pinch out a salient and shortening of lines , then hopefully to see opportunities of further advances . So in reality it was not so much of an offensive plan with any great goals , but more of what it possible right now . The German Army commanders favoured standing on the defensive . This is even more of an admission of impending deafeat , but could well have saved armour and troops for the battles to come , and was a much more realistic plan . Kursk was never going to be a war winning battle for the Germans . The what if's are that maybe a stronger Liebstandarte not smashed in Kursk and the battles leading from it may have had even more of a say around Caen during the Overlord landings ?? . But thats just guessing .
    I find it hard to praise the Russian Commanders too much for there brilliant tactical thinking . If they had been scrutinized as Western Commanders have done during both world wars then they would be held up by many as worse war criminals than Haig and Nivelle . There total lack of regard for the lives of their men only worked because of there regime and there manpower .
    On the other subject being brooched here . The importance of Britain not being defeated before looking East to Russia . It's a very valid point and you guy's have listed the naval and air issues . I guess my thoughts are , that if things had gone according to plan then a surviving Britain would have had no say in the Eastern outcome . The plan was for the Russians to be defeated no later than the end of 1942 . This would have then allowed Britain to be starved into capitulation . The first mistake in my mind was to go West after Poland . Hitler still thought in terms of how to win the last war . The defeat of France was not as great a victory as it would have been 20 years before , and gave the Germans a false sense of security . I am inclined to believe that if Hitler had not struck out West then there may have never been an attack comming from this direction ..at least not until the Eastern campaign had shown itself to be a failure . Hitler's comment about " kicking the door in and the whole rotten house with fall in " smacks of his thinking of the war the Russians were during the First war . There is a reason why the French built the Maginot line , and it wasn't with an offesive stategy in mind .
    Anyway guy's , thats just my 2 bob's worth .
    Phil .
    Sorry about the long winded reply ..as it is , it still isn't 1% of my thoughts ..it's a complex subject isn't it .
    Phil.
     
  15. Thomas McCall

    Thomas McCall Senior Member

    Even if Stalin had been captured or killed I believe the Soviets would have kept up the fight witha leader like Beria. Even if the Red Army retreated all the way to the Urals the Soviet Union would win in the end, as they had such a large country and a massive industrial base with the Gulag camp system.
    I don't agree that Hitler was obssessed with Stalingrad before the battle began. The need for oil was acute for Germany and the High Command knew that not capturing the caucasian oil fields intact was of the utmost importance to get oil for the Mobile and Panzer Divisions.
     
  16. BlackSeptember1918

    BlackSeptember1918 Junior Member

    Your totally right that the German high command knew the oil fields were the most important target . But ofcourse it wasn't them that altered Operation Blue to include a frontal assault on Stalingrad . That was Hitler's idea . The Command disagreed with his descision . Only a Commander like Hitler would commit his forces to a frontal assault of Staligrad that was going to be a battle of attrition that would make Verdun look like a walk in the park . To me it is simple to see that this was a bone that he wasn't going to let go of . When the drive South had failed to encircle Timoshenko's retreating troops , then the obvious thing to do was to wait on the Volga for the certain counter offensive , not bleed your forces away for a few insignificant miles in Stalingrad . I guess it comes down to each individuals readings and evaluation of Hitler's mentality ...for me this is the obvious conclusion.
    The other point is the capture of Moscow and the elimination of Stalin . Well in hindsight most historian's and enthusiast's would agree in the end with your statement , but if we are just to say " Germany never had a chance to win the Great Patriotic War "...well then why is there any point in talking about turning points ? . Instead of just looking at the situations from a now perspective , I like to look at them from a perspective of when they happened ...with this in mind , I don't believe we can say for sure what would have been the result if Moscow had been taken and Stalin killed in 41 .
    If we are just going to coin the campaign on a whole , then I only really have one possibility of a German victory , and that would be by actually making the war one of liberation of the people of the Soviet . If the Germans had been able to retain support for there invasion , then just maybe the Soviet Army would have collapsed . This ofcourse can't be seriously looked at for obvious reasons .
    None of this really has anything to do with Kursk ofcourse , and I apologise for getting so far of track , but Kursk was only ever really a battle offensive of a beaten Army , even if some of them had not really realised or come to terms with that yet .
    Phil.
     

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  17. Thomas McCall

    Thomas McCall Senior Member

    This might interest you, in Andrew Robert's new book 'What might have been?' historians discuss amongst other thing what might have happened if Stalin had left Moscow in 1941, the outcome the book gives is that Zhukov would have retreated and abandoned Moscow.
    The stress of war and the Red Army's retreat would have killed Stalin with Molotov taking over and taking the glory for the defeat of the 'facist beast in the Great Patriotic war' as Zhukov would counter attack with 400,000 infantry 1,000 T-34 tanks and 1,000 new planes driving the Whermacht from Moscow.
    It's a very good book but do you think this scenario is a plausible one?
     
  18. BlackSeptember1918

    BlackSeptember1918 Junior Member

    Thomas
    I haven't read this book , but I've heard of it .
    To be honest mate , I always believe that when people think about different scenario's regarding history , they generally have no chance of adding in all the things that would change ..because of THEIR changes ...if you know what I mean .
    I wonder to myself weather Zhukov would have been given the opportunity to counterattack if Moscow had been abandoned ?. I'm no so sure Stalin ( who i presume is not dead straight away ? ) would accept this abandoning of Moscow . As it was Stalin betrayed Zhukov after the war .
    It seems to me ( and I may well be wrong ) that the historian's are adding a little of Napoleon's 1815 winter retreat into their story . It may well have worked to evacuate Moscow then ....but would it work again , in different circumstances ?.
    The extra armour and infantry that the historian's add into the bargain would be very helpful , but it is how they would be used that I would like to ask ? . If it was to frontally assault Moscow , then you have a Stalingrad in reverse I would have thought ?. If it was to drive either side of Moscow and encircle the occupating forces in Moscow ( which seems like a better idea to me ? ) then it would hinge on a definate breakthrough on each side of Moscow ...or you may find that one of the pincers could be counter attacked themselves from the flanks ..as sort of happened at Cambrai in 1917 with the Brits .
    The extra aircraft ..well at this stage of the war I would have thought the Jagdwaffe pilots would have just said thanks very much ..as they added to their scores .
    Bottom line is Thomas ....I don't know mate . Could be a very plausible scenario ...my gut feeling is that it isn't ...But I just read what I can and try to make my own judgements ..same as you .
    Glad you are enjoying the book .
    Cheers mate .
    Phil.
     
  19. BlackSeptember1918

    BlackSeptember1918 Junior Member

    oops , that should read 1812
     

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