"CITADEL" - The Battle of Kursk
A documentary about the Battle of the Kursk Salient, the decisive battle of the Second World War.
After capturing Stalingrad (Feb 1943), the Red Army launched an offensive on the Eastern Front. The Germans, in response, ordered the strategic retreat of their troops from the Caucasus to prevent their encirclement by the Red Army. After some very bloody fighting, the line stabilised running north-south through the centre of Poland and the Ukraine. The new line contained a large salient, more than 150 km deep, centred around a town named Kursk in the Ukraine.
On March 13th 1943, Hitler ordered his generals to pinch the salient and encircle the soviet troops contained inside it. However, the Soviet Union learned of the German plans through espionage and the British enigma program. A delay in the production of the new German Panther tanks motivated Hitler to delay the offensive, allowing the Soviets enough time to move large numbers of infantry, armour and artillery into the salient and prepare fortified positions.
Months later when the Germans attacked, their spearheads drove straight into ambushes and were completely wiped out. During the two week battle the German army lost a little over of 1,600 tanks, almost all of their armour on the eastern front.
The loss of all their armour meant that the Germans no longer had the ability to launch offensive actions on the eastern front. (Imagine two armies engaged in trench warfare in which one side has tanks and the other does not. This is the position Hitler was in from August 1943 forward). For the remainder of the war the Russians held the initiative on the front whilst German industry tried desperately to make up their losses and failed.