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WW II: Behind Closed Doors

Stalin, the Nazis and the West

The Battle of Kursk

The Germans launched another huge armored offensive with nearly three thousand tanks and assault guns, including the powerful new Panther tanks. Kursk was an epic encounter. More than two and a half million troops fought across an area nearly the size of Belgium. Up to this point, the Soviets had never defeated a German summer offensive, but at Kursk, thanks to better equipment, advance knowledge of the German plans, and improved battlefield tactics, the Red Army prevailed.

It wasn’t until then that we truly understood how strong the Russians were. One didn’t want to believe it before but now the pessimistic view was the war was lost – it was over.

– Alfred Rubbel, 503rd Heavy Panzer Division, German Army

As at Stalingrad, the Soviets won the Kursk battle, but at a massive cost—nearly two hundred thousand Red Army troops were killed.

If they [the Western Allies] had opened the Second Front in 1943 the Kursk battle might have been avoided. Our losses might well have been less. For the sake of justice they should have opened the Second Front at least a little earlier.

– Mikhail Borisov, 2nd Tank Corps, Red Army