THE BATTLE OF KURSK – WORLD WAR TWO
4th – 20th July 1943
This was the largest tank battle of World War Two. It was fought between Germany and Russia and was a victory for Russia
Adolf Hitler wanted to defeat the Russian army in the East and thereby force a collapse of Russia’s alliance with France and Britain. By the summer of 1943 around two thirds of the German army was in Russia. However, the Germans had been pushed back by the advancing Russian troops. As the Russians advanced a bulge in the Russian line had occurred at Kursk. Hitler saw this as his chance to attack the Russians from behind and score a significant victory.
Erich von Manstein
Günther von Kluge
The Germans planned to attack the Russian troops in the bulge at Kursk from both the front and from behind. However, the Russians were aware that the Germans were planning an offensive and had moved man and machines into the area and were ready for the attack. The Germans attacked and although they made small gains the suffered heavy losses. The Russian anti-tank guns also destroyed large numbers of German tanks. On July 12th the largest ever tank battle, involving around 1,500 tanks, took place. The Germans were unable to withstand the Russian attack and by 19th July the Russians had made significant gains.
A strategic and decisive victory for Russia