The people who forget their past have no future. So once said the Greek philosopher Plato. In the middle of the last century, "fifteen sister republics" united by "Great Russia" inflicted a crushing defeat on the plague of mankind - fascism. A brutal battle was marked by a series of victories of the Red Army, which can be called the key. The theme of this article is one of the decisive battles of the Second World War - the Kursk Doug, one of the fateful battles, which marked the final mastery of our strategic grand initiative by our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Since that time, German occupiers have been smashed on all frontiers. A purposeful movement of the fronts to the West began. Since that time, the fascists have forgotten what it means to "go to the East".
The Kursk confrontation took place on 05/05/1943 - August 23, 1943 on the primordially Russian land, over which the great prince Alexander Nevsky once held his shield. His prophetic warning to the Western conquerors (who came to us with a sword) of the imminent death from the onslaught of the Russian sword that met them, which once had the power. It is characteristic that the Kursk Doug was somewhat like the battle given by Prince Alexander of Teutonic knights on Lake Peipsi on April 5, Of course, the arming of the armies, the scale and time of these two battles are incommensurable. But the scenario of both battles is somewhat similar to something: the Germans tried to break through the center the battle order of the Russians, but were crushed by the offensive actions of the flanks.
If, however, it is pragmatic to try to say how unique the Kursk Bulge is, the short presentation will be as follows: unprecedented in history (before and after) operational-tactical density per 1 km of the front.
Disposition of the battle
The offensive of the Red Army after the Battle of Stalingrad from November 1942 to March 1943 was marked by the defeat of about 100 divisions of the enemy, thrown from the North Caucasus, the Don, and the Volga. But by virtue of the losses suffered by our side towards the beginning of the spring of 1943, the front has stabilized. On the map of the fighting along the center of the front line with the Germans, towards the Hitlerite army, there was a ledge, which the military gave the name of the Kurskaya Duga. The 1943 Spring brought a lull to the front: no one was advancing, both sides forcefully accumulated forces to again seize the strategic initiative.
Preparation of fascist Germany
After the Stalingrad defeat, Hitler announced a mobilization, as a result of which the Wehrmacht grew, more than offset the losses suffered. "Under the gun" was 9.5 million people (including 2.3 million reservists). 75% of the most capable combat troops (5.3 million people) were on the Soviet-German front.
The Führer wanted to intercept the strategic initiative in the war. The turning point, in his opinion, was to occur precisely on the part of the front where the Kurskaya Duga is located. To carry out the plan, the Wehrmacht headquarters developed the strategic operation "Citadel". The plan envisaged drawing strikes to the Kursk (from the north - from the district of Orel, from the south - from the city of Belgorod). In this way the troops of the Voronezh and Central Fronts got into the "cauldron".
Under this operation, 50 divisions were concentrated on this sector of the front. 16 tank and motorized, a total of 0.9 million selected, fully manned troops; 2,7 thousand tanks; 2,5 thousand aircraft; 10 thousand mortars and guns.
In this group, the transition to new armaments was mainly carried out: the Panther and Tiger tanks, the Ferdinand assault guns.
The position of the Soviet command
When preparing Soviet troops for the battle, it is necessary to pay tribute to the generalship talent of Deputy Supreme Commander G. Zhukov. Together with the chief of the General Staff, AM Vasilevsky, he reported to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief JV Stalin the assumption that the Kursk Duga would become the main future battle site, and also predicted the approximate strength of the advancing enemy grouping.
On the front line, the fascists were opposed by Voronezh (commander - General Vatutin NF) and the Central Front (commander - General Rokossovsky KK) totaling 1.34 million people. On their armament there were 19 thousand mortars and guns; 3,4 thousand tanks; 2,5 thousand aircraft. (As we see, the advantage was on their side). Secretly from the enemy behind the listed fronts there was a reserve Steppe front (commander IS Konev). It consisted of a tank, aviation and five combined arms armies, supplemented by separate corps.
The control and coordination of the activities of this grouping were carried out personally by GK Zhukov and AM Vasilevsky.
Tactical plan of battle
The idea of Marshal Zhukov assumed that the battle on the Kursk Duga would have two phases. The first is defensive, the second - offensive.
A deep-seated bridgehead (300 km deep) was equipped. The total length of its trenches was approximately equal to the distance "Moscow - Vladivostok". It provided for 8 powerful lines of defense. The purpose of such defense was to weaken the enemy as much as possible, to deprive him of the initiative, making it as easy as possible for the advancing. In the second, offensive phase of the battle, two offensive operations were planned. First: Operation Kutuzov with the aim of eliminating the fascist group and liberating the city of Orel. The second: "General of the Rumyantsev" for the destruction of the Belgorod-Kharkov group of invaders.
Thus, with the actual advantage of the Red Army, the battle on the Kursk Doug took place from the Soviet side "from defense". For offensive operations, as tactics teach, it took two to three times the number of troops required.
It so happened that the time of the onset of the fascist troops became known in advance. On the eve of the German sappers began to make passes in the minefields. Soviet front-line intelligence engaged in a battle with them and took prisoners. From the "languages" it became known the time of the offensive: 3-00 05/07/1943.
The reaction was operative and adequate: In 2-20 of 05.07.1943, Marshal Rokossovsky KK (commander of the Central Front), with the approval of Deputy Supreme Commander-in-Chief GK Zhukov, a preemptive powerful shelling was carried out by front artillery forces. This was an innovation in the tactics of fighting. The invaders fired a hundred Katyushas, 600 guns, and 460 mortars. For the fascists, this was a complete surprise, they suffered losses.
Only in 4-30, regrouping, they were able to hold their artillery preparation, and at 5-30 go on the offensive. The battle on the Kursk Dug began.
The beginning of the battle
Of course, not everyone could have foreseen our commanders. In particular, the General Staff and the Stavka were expecting the main blow from the Nazis in the southern direction, to the city of Orel (which was defended by the Central Front, the commander was General Vatutin NF). In reality, however, the battle on the Kursk Dug from the side of the German troops was accentuated on the Voronezh Front, from the north. Two battalions of heavy tanks, eight tank divisions, a division of assault guns, one motorized division moved to the troops of General Vatutin Nikolai Fedorovich. In the first phase of the battle, the first hot spot was the village of Cherkasskoe (actually wiped off the face of the earth), where two Soviet infantry divisions held back the advance of five enemy divisions during the day.
Tactics of the German offensive
This Great War is glorious in military art. Kursk Duga fully demonstrated the confrontation between the two strategies. What did the German offensive look like? Ahead of the attack, heavy equipment moved: 15-20 Tiger tanks and self-propelled Ferdinand guns. After them followed from fifty to hundreds of medium-sized Pantera tanks, accompanied by infantry. Thrown back, they regrouped and repeated the attack. Attacks resembled the sea tides that followed one another.
We will follow the advice of the well-known military historian, Marshal of the Soviet Union, Professor Zakharov Matvey Vasilievich, we will not idealize our defenses of the 1943 model, we will state objectively.
We have to talk about the German tactics of conducting tank combat. The Kursk Duga (it should be admitted) demonstrated the art of Colonel General German Goth, he "jewelry", if one can say so about tanks, introduced his 4th army into battle. Moreover, our 40th Army with 237 tanks, most equipped with artillery (35.4 units per 1 km), under the command of General Kirill Semenovich Moskalenko was much to the left, i.e. Not at work. Counteracting General Goth, the 6th Guards Army (commander IM Chistyakov) had a gun density of 1 km - 24.4 with 135 tanks. Mainly for the 6th Army, far from being the most powerful, was the blow of Army Group "South", commanded by the most gifted strategist of the Wehrmacht, Erich von Manstein. (By the way, this man was one of the few who constantly argued on the issues of strategy and tactics with Adolf Hitler, for which in fact, in 1944, he was retired).
The tank battle near Prokhorovka
In the current difficult situation, in order to liquidate the breakthrough, the Red Army entered into battle strategic reserves: the 5th Guards Tank Army (the commander of the Rotmistrov PA) and the 5th Guards Army (Army Commander Zhadov AS)
The possibility of a flank attack by the Soviet tank army in the vicinity of the village of Prokhorovka was previously considered by the German General Staff. Therefore, the direction of the strike by the "Dead Head" and "Leibstandart" divisions was changed to 90 0 - for a head-on collision with the army of General Rotmistrov Pavel Alekseevich.
Tanks on the Kursk Bulge: from the German side, 700 combat vehicles went into battle, from ours - 850. An impressive and terrible picture. As eyewitnesses recall, the roar was such that the blood flowed from the ears. Shoot at point-blank range, from which the towers rolled off. Going to the enemy from the rear, tried to fire on the tanks, from which the tanks flared torches. Tankmen were as if in prostration - while alive, it was necessary to fight. Retreat, it was impossible to hide.
The Red Army in the battle of Prokhorovka, showing heroism, still suffered great losses, rather than German. Technique 18 and 29 tank corps was destroyed by seventy percent.
If we talk about the losses of the fronts in the Battle of Kursk, then Voronezh, Steppe and Central Fronts lost 177.8 thousand people, of whom more than 70 thousand were killed. The Voronezh front turned out to be "hacked" to the full depth. According to historians, the Germans lost a little more than 20% of our losses.
The second stage of the operation
Deepened by 35 km and suffered significant losses, the Germans realized that they would not be able to retain the bridgehead, and on 16.07.1943 they began to delay the troops. The Voronezh and Steppe fronts moved into a positional offensive and rebuilt the front line. The General Staff and the General Headquarters (we must pay tribute to) subtly caught the "moment of truth" and put reserves into action.
Unexpectedly for the Germans, the "fresh" Bryansk Front on 08/03/1943 was launched into an offensive reinforced from the flanks by the forces of the Steppe and Central Fronts. 05.08.1943 after stubborn fighting, the Bryansk Front was liberated in Orel, and in Steppe, Belgorod. The liberation of the city of Kharkov on August 23, 1943, the operation Kurskaya Duga was completed. The map of this battle includes the defensive phase (05-23.07.1943); Orel operation ("Kutuzov") 12.07-18.08.1943; Belgorod-Kharkov operation ("General of the Rumyantsev") 03-23.08.1943.
After the victory of the Red Army over the Wehrmacht in the Battle of Kursk, the strategic initiative finally passed to the Red Army. Therefore, this battle is called a turning point in the Great Patriotic War.
Of course, it was unreasonable to attack the enemy in the first phase of the operation (if in defense we suffered losses of one to five, whatever they were in the offensive ?!). At the same time, Soviet soldiers displayed real heroism on this battlefield. 100 000 people were awarded orders and medals, and 180 of them were awarded the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union.