Kursk and Prokhorovka

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by vista52, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. Tiger AusFe

    Tiger AusFe Junior Member

    Before we begin, and please people be aware! I know that Kursk was a 2 pronged attack. Please do not think i am ignorant of this! secondly I know it failed. I even told you all why one pincer was able to advance further than the other! but this seems to be ignored by people only to willing to put forward thier idea and think I know very little of the subject. I am 41 and first read about the battle of Kursk when 10. So please, do nto think I am clueless!

    The Battle of Kursk, though undoubtedly a fierce encounter was far from being the one sided battle it is often prtrayed as, and was a lot closer than people think. There are many books printed on the subject and they vary in quality, ranging from the absurd claim that only two Tiger battalions were involved right up to the combat diaries of the units themselves. However, many are happy to quote verbatim the words of Rotmistrov that "The Tigers are Burning!" or the often quoted phrase "Death Ride of the Panzers!"
    There are 3 points I wish to raise about the Battle of Kursk that are often overlooked and or ignored for the convenience of carrying on the myth that it was a superb victory for the soviet union. Though one cannot dismiss the courage and tenacity shown by the Soviet and german soldiers it must not be forgotten that it was won at a cost.

    POINT 1: On the 5th of July 1943 the 505th Schwere Panzer Abteilung are ordered to attack across infantry positions near the Oka river toward Padolian and the hills south east of these positions. The assault reaches as far Butyrki where in a clash 42 T34's are destroyed. This leads to the collapse of the Soviet 15th Infantry division and Causes a Major Crises on the right wing of the Soviet 70th army, as the Soviets have nothing to plug the gap. Despite pleas, the 2nd panzer division held in reserve is not commited and this would have lead to the collapse of the entire soviet front. Instead the 2nd Panzer division is conmmited on the 6th of July, by which time the soviets have bought up reserves into new defensive positions. The window was open for 24 hours. The Germans missed out.

    Point 2:
    The battle of Prochorovka is often forgotten for what it actually was: a large Soviet Tank counter attack! The battle is in 2 parts:
    Part 1: 11th July: The attack is scheduled for 06:00 but due to heavy thunderstorms the ground is soaked and the attack id delayed until 10:45. 4 Tigers of the 1st SS Lieberstandarte attack the railway line Telerwino - Wesselyi, in further attack toward Prochorovka 28 anti-tank guns, and 6 artillery pices and 24 T34's are destroyed.
    Part 2: July 12th: Fierce Soviet tank counter attacks from Jamki, Prochorovka and Petrovka (On both sides of Kalinin) are pushed back. The Liberstandarte tanks and a Tiger company alone destroy 163 tanks.
    The battle of Prochorovka saw the 5th guards army suffer a shocking amount of casualties. the amount of tanks lost were in the region from 400 to 650. Recent serious study of the battle from all available records show the Germans had less tanks comitted than previously believed. Hausers II ss panzer korp was comprised of Lieberstandarte, Totenkopf and Das Riech. They had between them 250 tanks. 15 of these were Tigers. Meanwhile the Soviets had around 850 tanks. 500 of these were T34's. Rotmistrov claimed the Germans suffered the greatest casualties and that 70 Tigers were destroyed. The fact is that the 3 waffen ss units in the battle lost only 4 Tigers in the entire battle, and at the Battle of Prochorovka only 1 Tiger was destroyed. In this entire section of the Front only 43 Tigers were available. Indeed only 15 Tigers took part in this battle.

    13th July 1943: The attack toward Prochorovka continues but the Germans are unable to penetrate strong Soviet defensive positions. The Waffen SS withdraw, not because they have lost, but because Hitler orders them to. (Allied Landings in Scicilly on 10th of July) (Intersetsing Fact Stalin had been begging the allies to open up a 2nd front in Europe and churchill wanted to go in through Italy.....Scicilly was a stepping stone to this)

    Point 3: The soviets real strength lay in its very well prepared defensive positions and numerical superiority. East to west there were 160 kilometers of defence belts, anti tank ditches, mines, all based on the German "Pakfront" defence system. On the 13th of July Hitler told Manstien that he was calling of the attack. Manstien was furious he told Hitler he was in the process of destroying 2 Russian Tanks Guard armies and simply needed more time to do the Job. He showed Hitler how this was being acheived. Hitler, with his usual military knowledge told manstien no and to pull back to his starting positions.

    The rest they say is History.

    I do not want to appear to be sad that the Germans lost or that I wished the germans won. My wife is Israeli and my son is Half English and Half Israeli, so you can imagine what I think of Nazis.

    But every time I hear people waxing lyrical about the battle of kursk it galls me that they fail to see how close the battle was, or indeed they talk about the massive offensive it was, how the Germans put everything they could into the battle. The fact is, it was not as big as operation barborossa, nor was it as big as operation Blau (blue) it was a feeble attempt simply to destroy huge amounts of soviet equipment in the filed and buy some breathing space for the German armed forces. Guaderian asked Hitler why have an offensive at all, why not go ont he defensive to which Hitler replied, "Yes, I know....When I think about it my stomach turns over!"

    Next time you want to go into one about the battle of Kursk just be aware of those little extra facts.
  2. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer


    Monty Pythons favourite dish :D


    You don't say :lol:
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  4. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

  5. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Two more books for the One-Of-These-Days list. I am well aware of the quality of Mark Healy's work.

    I had declined to reply to that long-winded post above, and quite frankly I don't have the time right now, and I certainly don't relish the prospect of responding to every fan that crops up. That's why I stay with this forum and left all others, I'm sick of people with coloured views especially coloured red-white-black.

    In any case the post above reeks of the "looking at tree leaves while disregarding the forest" syndrome. Point 1: one battallion cracking up an entire front? Give me strength! What this and all other fellows overlook was that while Tigers managed to survive arguably well, the battle was absolute murder on less armoured elements, that is the PBI. No infantry no place to go for the tanks. But it's the panzers that are sexy, screw the rest!

    Quite frankly, I'm growing more and more disenchanted with all this. Even for my wargaming I'm turning more and more to Napoleonics and Ancients and putting my WW2 stuff on shelves. No ideology nor Übertroops when playing old Blücher against Maréchal Davout.
  6. L J

    L J Senior Member

    For those who like to see the destruction of a myth ,and have not much money :The Battle of Kursk:Myths and reality (M.Licari) :available on the web
    For the rich guys:Kursk,a statistical analysis (Zetterling and Frankson)
  7. cbiwv

    cbiwv Junior Member

    The Battle of Moscow was much more significant as was Operation Bagration for the obvious reason that it destroyed the entire Army Group Centre.
  8. L J

    L J Senior Member

    As AGC was still there in the spring,let's say that cbiwv is slightly exaggerating .
  9. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Kindly explain exactly how the Battle of Moscow - I expect you mean December 41 onwards - destroyed A.G.Centre.
  10. cbiwv

    cbiwv Junior Member

    Kindly explain exactly how the Battle of Moscow - I expect you mean December 41 onwards - destroyed A.G.Centre.

    You misunderstood. I meant the Battle of Moscow and Operation Bagration were more significant than Kursk. Sorry for the confusion. I could have worded it better.
  11. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Battle of Moscow - Germany was able to mount next year a very large operation that almost reached the Caspian oilfieds thereby incapacitating the URSS ability to resist.

    Operation Bagration - a very large operation against a dillapidated AG Centre - a shadow of its former self - performed in such assymetrical terms to be a guaranteed success.

    Regarding Kursk, during July and August 1943, 2.5 million Red Army troops stopped in its tracks a full-fledged German offensive for the first time at Kursk and (Glantz) "subsequently launched offensives by over 6 million Red Army soldiers against 2.5 million Germans along a front of over 1,500 miles and advanced toward the Dnepr River" recovering half of Ukraine, later on progressing to Southern Poland and Romanian borders.
  12. cbiwv

    cbiwv Junior Member

    Responses to your points

    1. Almost does not count.
    2. While it may have been a shadow of itself it was still a entire Army group. The Russians had suffered many losses themselves and was facing a professional army with mostly a conscripted one that was learning on the job.
    3.See point one. They had already stopped a full fledged offensive at the Battle of Moscow. Been there done that.
  13. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    All right.
  14. wangll

    wangll Banned

    EDIT: wangll has copy & pasted another member's post & added spam links.
  15. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Photos prove of the fate of the Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army @ Prokhorovka, which is perhaps also one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented battles of the Second World War. See: In Pursuit of Prokhorovka and a larger article (free to view): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/16161262.2019.1606545

    The larger article's Abstract:
    I am not an expert in this area, so add the links for others to dissect. The author has one footnote recommending several sources on the battle of Kursk.
    Gary Tankard likes this.

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