70 years ago today, the battle between German and Soviet forces on the Eastern front, known as The Battle of Kursk, came to an end.
In the largest World War II tank battle, German forces attempted to close in and cut off the Soviet troops near Kursk. After the humiliating German defeat at Stalingrad, Field Marshall Erich von Manstein believed that this operation would improve the morale of German troops.
The Soviet troops, however, had knowledge of the German army’s plan through British intelligence intercepts. Knowing that the attack would fall on Kursk, the soviets built several defensive lines, ready to stop the German tank offense in its tracks.
On the first day of the battle, the German troops only advanced up to 30 miles. In the attempt to break through the Soviet defense, they lost most of their tanks. Once the German troops had weakened, the Soviet army was able to take the offensive and defeat the German forces.
In the book Erich von Manstein: Hitler’s Master Strategist, author Benoit Lemay writes:
The result of the battle of Kursk was an undeniable success for the Red Army. In a week-and-a-half of ferocious combat, the Germans suffered more than 40,000 casualties. Among the ranks of the two armies commanded by Manstein, the losses rose to 20,720 men, among whom 3, 330 were dead. On the Soviet Side, the number of prisoners rose to 34,000 and deaths to 17,000, so that, assuming twice as many wounded as dead, the enemy lost approximately 85,000 men. Most important, for the first time in the war, the Red Army had been able to withstand a full-strength, good-weather offensive by the Germans.
To learn more about one of the most significant battles on the Eastern Front, make sure to check out these following titles: