Kursk 1943 Last German Offensive in the East
Ian Baxter is a military historian who specializes in German twentieth-century military history. He has written more than forty books and over 100 articles about the World War II era. He has reviewed numerous military studies for publication and supplied thousands of photographs and important documents to various publishers and film production companies worldwide.
The Author is an avid collector of WW2 photographs. His previous books in this Series include Hitler’s Boy Soldiers, Nazi Concentration Camp Commandants, German Army on the Eastern Front – The Advance, German Army on the Eastern Front – The Retreat, The Crushing of Army Group (North), and the SS Waffen Division series including SS Leibstandarte Division and SS Totenkopf Division At War. He lives near Chelmsford, Essex.
The Publication (from the website).
This highly illustrated record reveals in detail the largest tank battle of World War Two, the battle of Kursk.
In the summer of 1943, the German-launched Operation Zitadelle (Citadel), aimed at cutting off a large number of Soviet forces in the Kursk salient. This offensive resulted in the battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle of World War II.
Kursk quickly became a fierce contest of attrition, as Wehrmacht and elite Waffen-SS Panzer-Divisions with their powerful Tiger and Panther tanks unsuccessfully tried to hammer their way through the intricate lines of strong Soviet defensive positions. What followed was unabated fighting for two weeks as German units were slowly and systematically ground down in a series of brutal armored battles.
During this ferocious fighting the Red Army savagely contested every foot of ground, finally ending German invincibility forever. For the first time in its short history, the blitzkrieg concept had failed. The reverberations caused by the defeat at Kursk were immense, and never again did the German war machine go on the offensive in the East. Stiff defensive action was now the stratagem placed upon the dwindling Panzerwaffe right to the gates of Berlin.
With comprehensive captions and text, Kursk 1943 tells the story of this dramatic battle using rare and unpublished photographs, maps, and highly detailed artist profiles. The book reveals the events leading up to the battle in the first half of 1943, and the buildup of forces by both sides before their climatic showdown at Kursk.
Timeline of Events
This two-page chapter offers the chronology of events from May until July 15, 1943. The German plan was to pinch off the Kursk Salient, surrounding the five Soviet armies and destroying them. The Russians used May and June to prepare their massive defenses, while the Germans planned and trained their forces for the attack. The July 5 start of the German attack is quickly bogged down by minefields, strong resistance, and mechanical breakdowns of equipment.
After 10 days of grueling battles the Germans are on the defensive and began their withdrawal. Day-by-day this was a monumental battle of historical significance. A major turning point in the war.
Prelude to Disaster
The battle of Kursk became the largest tank battle of World War II. The Soviet Army contested every foot of ground to end the myth of German invincibility once and for all, and they were successful.
This chapter addresses the earlier battle of Stalingrad and its effects of the opposing forces. The Russians were determined to drive the Germans from Ukraine forever. The German defense was tenacious, resulting in few gains by the Russians. Eventually the Russian offensive bogged down forming the Kursk salient.
The Opposing Forces
Here the author discusses the condition of the German army in early 1943, the small arms weapons used, with much of this section dedicated to the discussion of the various uniforms provided to the soldiers, tankers, and other armored crews.
Soviet Preparations for Battle
The Russians had information on the planned German Kursk offensive from various spy sources and began their in-depth defensive preparations. With this information in hand the Russians prepared the largest concentration of strength ever seen on the Eastern front. This section offers information on the Soviet soldiers' weapons and uniforms.
German Preparations for Battle
The Germans had 780.000 troops for the offensive. Included were 10,000 vehicles and mortars, and 2,900 tanks prepared for battle. The un-proven Panther tank was to be used for the first time in this action. Several excellent images of troops and vehicles in preparation are included herein.
Army Group Center
This group consisted of 335,000 troops, supported by 45 Tigers and 83 Ferdinand tank destroyers. Images and background of the various German commanders is covered here. The battle begins here and it is of monumental proportions. Both sides throw all of their might into the action. There is not great detail provided for the battle, but rather a broad overview of what happened.
Army Group South
This section details the operations of Army Group South. It becomes a major battle of attrition for both sides. The Germans were just worn down by the Russian defenses. Major losses occurred on both sides. The German offensive is ground to a halt.
The Soviets had become a juggernaut the Germans could not hold back. This is the beginning of the end for German major offensive operations in the East. They are on the defensive from here on out. The losses on both sides were monumental. While the Russians seemed to have an endless supply of manpower and weapons, the Germans were hard-pressed to replace their losses.
Several resources for additional reading are included here.
This book is historically informative. The many images bring home the preparation and the consequences of this battle. Blitzkrieg has failed. Modelers of German and Russian military vehicles will find the many images of the vehicles and troops involved beneficial. Tigers, Panthers, Pz.Kpfw Mk IV, Marders, Ferdinands, and T-34's are included in the black-and -white images, as well as the color plates. Lots of details can be seen in the pictures. The author also included a narrative for each picture that addresses many details that may not immediately be noticed by the reader.
This publication is highly recommended for the Military history buff. My thanks to Casemate Publications and IMPS/USA for the opportunity to review this publication. Well worth the time to read every line.