1943 Russia

Kursk, Turning Point in the East

        The highlight of 1943 on the Russian Front was the Battle of Kursk in July.  The Germans planned a large summer offensive, called Operation Zitadelle (Citadel), designed to cut off a large Russian salient where they felt the Russians were assembling a large attack of their own.  Fifteen divisions from Army Group Center would attack in the north, including six panzer divisions, while eighteen divisions from Army Group South attacked in the south, also including six panzer divisions.  These two pincers would meet in the middle and a large group of Russians would be captured, just like the large successes of 1941.  Unfortunately for the Germans, several things went wrong with the plan, partly caused by their own mistakes. The offensive was delayed for months because Hitler wanted to get large numbers of his two new tanks, the Tiger and Panther, into action.  That gave the Russians, who had been warned, probably by British Intelligence, time to prepare.  They sewed minefields and installed anti-tank guns and artillery in a deep defensive zone across the neck of the salient.  They withdrew their armored forces out of harm's way and put them in position for a massive counter attack.  This caused the German attacks, when they came, to grind to a halt well short of their linkup.

        As the advances faltered, the Russians finally launched their counterattack on July 12 although Hitler had already ordered a halt to the operation on July 13 due to the Allied landings on Sicily.  The Russian counterattack crashed into the German panzer divisions in the largest tank battle of the war with over 6000 tanks involved for both sides.  By the time the intense four week battle had ended, the Russians had their first major summer victory over the Germans and the War in the East tilted in their favor as the Germans scrambled to recover from their second major defeat in less than a year.  The Russians now had the strategic initiative and did not surrender it for the rest of the war.

Below are German forces involved at Kursk

Army Group Center


        XX Army Corps

                45th Infantry

                72nd Infantry

                137th Infantry

                251st Infantry

        XXIII Army Corps

                4th Panzer  

                12th Panzer

                78th Sturm

                216th Infantry

                383rd Infantry

        XLI Panzer Corps

                18th Panzer

                86th Infantry

                292nd Infantry

        XLVI Panzer Corps

                7th Infantry

                31st Infantry

                102nd Infantry

                258th Infantry

        XLVII Panzer Corps

                2nd Panzer

                9th Panzer

                20th Panzer

                6th Infantry




Army Group South


        II SS Panzer Corps

                1st SS LSSAH

                2nd SS Das Reich

                3rd SS Totenkopt

        III Panzer Corps

                6th Panzer

                7th Panzer

                19th Panzer

                168th Infantry

        XI Army Corps

                106th Infantry

                320th Infantry

        XLII Army Corps

                39th Infantry

                161st Infantry

                282nd Infantry

        XLVIII Panzer Corps

                3rd Panzer

                11th Panzer

                167th Infantry


        LII Army Corps

               Corps Troops

               57th Infantry

               255th Infantry

               332nd Infantry


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