On the 22nd of June 2023 we published on these pages a commemorative re-issue of the Danish underground publication “2 Years”, marking the 80th anniversary of its initial publication in Denmark in that turbulent year of 1943. The events depicted in the book end just before the Battle of Kursk – or the “Kursk Arch”, as it is better known in Russia – unfurled and drove the final nail into the German-Nazi coffin.
It would have been interesting to be an observer as to how the German media presented the Kursk Battle – just like with the preceding 2 years, it is sure to have provided ample parallels to the current battle against Nazism in Ukraine.
Not having such a chance, let us simply commemorate the 80th anniversary of that monumental battle that lasted between the 5th of July and the 23rd of August 1943. Below is a partial re-blog of an article published at SouthFront on this occasion:
Written by Dr. Leon Tressell
German Leopard tanks have been destroyed in Ukraine’s ongoing summer offensive in combat with Russia forces. There is a delicious sense of irony that this is happening on the 80th anniversary of the largest tank battle in history at Kursk in July 1943. Just as in 1943 these much hyped ‘wunderwaffe’ have failed to break Russian defences much to the chagrin of the collective West.
Following the calamitous defeat at Stalingrad in early February the German Wehrmacht faced a series of Red Army offensives which were designed to bring about the destruction of Army Group Centre and Army Group South as well as the lifting of the siege of Leningrad. These simultaneous assaults on all three German army groups, across a thousand mile front, envisaged the liberation of Ukraine the second largest republic in the USSR. These over ambitious attacks tore great holes in the German front lines as the Red Army advanced 150 miles westward. The German armies which had threatened Moscow during 1941-1942 had been driven westward removing the threat to the capital of the USSR. The offensives in the south led to the capture of major cities in Eastern Ukraine such as Kharkov, the fourth largest city in the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, in the north the southern shore of lake Ladoga was swept clean of German units and a land corridor was established between the starving inhabitants of Leningrad and the rest of the country.
As the Wehrmacht was being mauled all along the entire front Field Marshall Manstein, commander of Army Group South, observed how the Red Army had over extended itself with its over ambitious offensives and launched a series of counter attacks which led to the recapture of Kharkov. The Red Army’s attempt to liberate the Donbass and reach the Dneiper river had been frustrated. Once the spring thaw (Rasputitsa) had set in a large salient, about half the size of England, jutted into the German front. At the centre of this salient lay the city of Kursk.
Unable to move in the spring mud the Wehrmacht and Red Army set about refitting experienced units and training new formations for the battles to come that summer.
During this period the Hitler and Stalin together with their generals pondered their next moves.
German plans for summer offensive 1943
The Wehrmacht was in bad shape after its disastrous loss of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad and the loss of several Axis armies. All told it has lost nearly a million men while the Red Army kept growing in size. Besides the terrible loss in manpower the Luftwaffe had taken very heavy losses and the armoured forces of the Wehrmacht had also been savaged. The German army had been forced to retreat 435 miles across a 750 mile front.
Hitler and his general staff realised that the Wehrmacht did not have the strength to launch wide scale offensives like it had done in the summers of 1941 and 1942. The German army, which was a shadow of its former self, only had enough strength to launch an attack across a very limited front which greatly restricted Hitler’s options for the summer of 1943.