It is said that history belongs to the victors. In the example of World War II, obviously the victors were the Allied forces of Great Britain, America, the Soviet Union, Canada and other countries that contributed fighting forces.
Of all the many battles fought during those terrible years from 1939 until the Germans surrendered in 1945, perhaps no battle is debated more by historians that the Battle of Kursk, or Operation Citadel, as Hitler named it.
This was his plan to invade, capture and conquer the Soviet Union. The fighting here began in July, 1943, and was all over less than two weeks later. By then the German forces were in tatters, retreating after sustaining heavy losses, and Hitler’s dream of seizing Russia had gone up in smoke.
Hitler put everything his armed forces had into this operation. Two million fighting men; 6,000 tanks, and 4,000 planes. It’s almost difficult to fathom how he lost considering the sheer numbers he put to the fight. This in spite of his defeat at Stalingrad in 1942 and 1943.
But lose he did. German forces were no match for the Soviet armies and huge geography of the country.
Most significantly, historians say, is that the Germans could not take Prochorovka, one of the first locations troops attempted to seize. From there, it was one defeat after another for Hitler’s operation, and on July 13th, the Nazi leader abandoned his attempts to win his Russian adversaries.
It had been a short time since Operation Citadel was launched, but the German retreat was stunning, and absolute, on the eastern front in 1943.