Battle Of Kursk In Pictures: Part 2

Continued from Battle Of Kursk In Pictures: Part 1

A barefoot German gunner rests near his light antitank guns.


The battlefield in Kursk was filled with many hundreds of burnt tanks and crashed aircraft, and so many dead soldiers. The difference was that while the Russians suffered heavy losses but could continue as planned and shift from defense to a large counter attack in a wide front, the German army in the East just lost the core of its remaining force.

In the summer of 1941 the German army attacked Russia and was stopped only near Moscow.

In the summer of 1942 the German army attacked in South Russia and reached the Volga river at Stalingrad before it was stopped, and lost the strategic initiative to the recovering Russian army.

In the summer of 1943, in the battle of Kursk, the much weaker German army broke its fist and lost its best remaining units in its attempt to regain the initiative in one last major attack, for which the Russians were fully prepared.

After the battle of Kursk, the war in the eastern front was a long Russian advance, in which the Russian army returned to all the territory it lost to the Germans, conquered all of Eastern Europe, and reached all the way to Germany and to Berlin and won the war. The Germans could no longer attack or stop the Russian advance, and were just pushed back in a long retreat.

Source: 2worldwar2

The T-III and T-IV (PzKpfw III and PzKpfw IV) 9th Army preparing for another attack on the Soviet positions.


The campaign was a decisive Soviet success. For the first time, a major German offensive had been stopped before achieving a breakthrough. The Germans, despite using more technologically advanced armor than in previous years, were unable to break through the in-depth defenses of the Red Army, and were surprised by the significant operational reserves of the Red Army. This was an outcome that few had predicted, and it changed the pattern of operations on the Eastern Front. The victory had not been cheap; the Red Army, although preventing the Germans from achieving their goals, lost considerably more men and matériel than the Wehrmacht.

Heinz Guderian wrote in his diary:

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 Russians 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.

From this point on, a new pattern emerged. The initiative had firmly passed to the Red Army, while the Germans spent the rest of the war reacting rather than attacking. A new front had opened in Italy, diverting some of Germany's resources and attention. Both sides had their losses, but only the Soviets had the manpower and the industrial production to recover fully. The Germans never regained the initiative after Kursk and never again launched a major offensive in the East.

The loss convinced Hitler of the incompetence of his General Staff. His interference in military matters progressively increased, so that by the end of the war he was involved in tactical decisions. The German Army went from loss to loss as Hitler attempted personally to micromanage the day-to-day operations of what soon became a three-front war. The opposite was true for Stalin. After seeing Stavka's planning justified on the battlefield, he trusted his advisors more, and stepped back from operational planning, only rarely overruling military decisions. The Red Army gained more freedom and became more and more fluid as the war continued.

Tanks T-IV (PzKpfw IV) moving to the battlefield. In the summer of 1943 obsolete tanks such as T-III and T-IV still formed the backbone of German armored forces, especially in the northern sector of the front.
Soviet snipers lie in camouflaged trenches and waiting for the kill. The Red Army had a lot of snipers, who were often ex-hunters.
German machine-gunners move to new positions

Artillery fire by Russians on German positions. The multiple barrel launchers were useful when firing on a large area
A German soldier, taking advantage of the lull, writes letters. Note that the position is well concealed. The machine-gun in the foreground is of Czech make
Destroyed German tanks
The Russians used American made Sherman tanks
British Tank Matilda, received several hits from enemy tanks. "Matilda" was too slow and poorly armed to resist the latest models of German tanks.

A German unit fires mortar
This "Tiger" belongs to the SS Division "Das Reich. The German "Tigers" were to play a major role in the clash of armored vehicles, which would determine the outcome of the battle of Kursk. Hitler thought so. He was wrong.
German Nebelwerfer being loaded with 300 mm shells to fire on Russians
A Russian fighter pilot goin on bombing mission. The Luftwaffe initially had a slight edge but Russian air force soon had the upper hand
A Russian tank crew takes orders
Distribution of letters and newspapers for the Soviet soldiers. In the center of the photograph - the son of the regiment.
Between July 10 and July 12 the German advance in the west and southwest of Prokhorovka forced the Soviet command to send forces from the Steppe Front under General Konev to defend the city.
Waffen SS men pose for a photograph as they prepare for battle

The commander of the Steppe Front I. Konev C (right) and Chief of Staff Mikhail Zakharov. 1943







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