The Book Kursk The Greatest Battle

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Top Gun, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. Top Gun

    Top Gun New Member

    I am reading Lioyd Clark's book ' Kursk The Greatest Battle ' at the moment I am just about half way through it and it is a excellent book so far

    Have you read it if you have I would like to hear your thoughts and opinions on the book
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Top Gun

    Many books have been written about " The Greatest Battle " this week it's Kursk……there is little doubt that it was a terrifying battle and much was lost on

    both sides however I can name many battles which were equally terrifying such as Ortona - the four Battles of Cassino - the Gothic line - and that is just

    Italy……. no doubt the people in NWE and Burma can also add a few

  3. Top Gun

    Top Gun New Member

    On anther note if the Germans had won the battle of Kursk would they have won the war in Russia ? and if they had won the war in Russia would they have won WW 11 I guess they would have won World War 11 . But the massive defeat and damage that was inflicted on them at Kursk meant that they could not defeat the Russians
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Top Gun

    Happily we don't do " What if's on this forum " the Russians won at Kursk and assisted the allies to win WW2 in much the same way as the British 8th Army

    won at Tunisia

  5. steelers708

    steelers708 Junior Member

    The Germans were never going to win at Kursk and relatively speaking their losses were not that great.

    I have at least 6 books on Operation Citadel and all are excellent and cover the offensive in detail, as to this particular book it apparently spends the first half of the book recapping the previous 2 years and only gets on to Kursk on page 170, not exactly my idea of a detailed look at what was a very large battle so I cannot imagine I'd be buying it.
    L J and CL1 like this.
  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    thanks steelers708 I believe that was what Top Gun was after

  7. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    I started reading it a while ago... frankly the amount actually spent on Kursk seems rather short, my impression was such broad brush strokes that the background dominated later events.

    Although... you may notice the words started, it repeats a great deal which has been said better before due to a (far) too lengthy extended introduction. Indeed to get through this represented such drudgery that in the meantime I have polished off a great number of other books on the war, and still not been able to get back to finishing this.

    Better books out there, it is certainly not 'monumental' sadly. Far short of that.
    stolpi likes this.
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    The defeat at Kursk marked the end of the Wehrmacht as an offensive force.Any thought that German military might was superior on the battlefield was dismissed following the failure at Stalingrad.From then on it was a case of being forced back to the German took almost two years but it was two years that the Germans had to endure retreat on the Eastern Front.

    Moreover by the end of 1943,it was obvious that the regime, despite all the manpower it could muster from the like minded in the occupied countries,that Third Reich was running out of manpower.The Soviet Union had no such difficulty in maintaining manpower levels and had the added advantage that its war economy was sheltered behind the Urals plus added ready war materiel via the Western Allies Lend Lease

    Interesting information from a Harry Hinsley talk on "The Influence of Ultra in the Second world War" delivered on 19 October 1993 regarding Kursk.

    From the transcript of the talk.

    Question asked

    There was a programme recently on might say that a Russian counter-factural historian would say that if we did not have the Ultra which we got in various ways,then we wouldn't have been able to win the battle of Kursk and Hitler would have been able to carve up Russia.this is perhaps another case......

    Answer from Harry Hinsley

    Another case,Stalingrad of course is another one.Those two battles were crucial,especially Stalingrad.Again it wasn't only through us they were getting......we did give them the central facts in advance of Kursk.But as we know,we didn't know at the time,the single Russian agent in Bletchley was at that time(just that short period of time before and after Kursk in 1943) actually giving them decrypts through the Russian Embassy in London.So all sorts of complications about the story.He didn't know that they were getting the supply from London officially,and we didn't know that he was sending them the decrypts.
    Swiper likes this.
  9. L J

    L J Senior Member

    I have to disagree : Citadelle was an operation of minor importance :the war in the east was decided 2 years before : in the early summer of 1943.
  10. L J

    L J Senior Member

    I haven't read it, but my opinion about a book with as title "Kursk : the Greatest battle " is totally negative .The title is bringing us back in the prehistory of the history of the war in the east (1945-1965) .
  11. L J

    L J Senior Member

    This is not correct .
  12. steelers708

    steelers708 Junior Member

    I assume you mean in the early summer of 1941 i.e. the failure of Operation Barbarossa, as Zitadelle was in 1943. As to it being of minor importance, hindsight is a wonderful thing although I would disagree with you.
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I agree. You'd rather read Glantz's "The Battle of Kursk", which gives a balanced analysis of the operation. This battle merely confirmed the fact that Nazi Germany definitely had lost the initiative in the East by 1943.
  14. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    "This is not correct ."

    Agree! Hitler was never, ever, going to win WW2.

  15. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    Blood, Steel & Myth by George Nipe is one of the best books on Kursk although it only deals with the southern flank, and primarily with II SS-Panzerkorps, and I also enjoyed Mark Healy's 'Zitadelle'.

    Demolishing the Myth by Valeriy Zamulin is supposed to be another very good book on the Battle of Prokhorovka but I have yet to read that one so can not give an opinion.
  16. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Of course there has been an opinion passed that Hitler missed his chance to defeat Russia before Moscow in late has been said that Wehrmacht units got as far as being able to see the Moscow spires.

    Instead Hitler appeared to be content with the besieging of Leningrad in the north and was drawn into the attraction of taking Stalingrad,the city named after his political ideological foe.As regards the war economy and the acceptance that the Third Reich had an inherent background of inadequate level of oil stocks ( which was all too apparent from the early autumn of 1944) initiated the push Into the Caucasus with the intention of accessing the Baku oilfields....... another task imposed on the Wehrmacht which may have brought rewards if successful.

    With the Barbarossa operation,Hitler created an extremely wide north to south front for his military strength to cope with.His direction to his military leadership must have been confusing....he thought his experience in the Great War exceeded the experience and expertise of his professional military staffs...little wonder that he was referred to as one of the best generals that the Allies had.
    Ramiles likes this.
  17. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    From a German perspective I think that there was a quote something along the lines of "we just kept knocking them out as they came until we ran out of ammo and were overrun..."

    I think that at the very least negates this battle being "great"

    If however the Germans had won - would they have claimed this as the "Greatest German Battle" ?

    They do have rather a lot to choose from:

    For Russia:

    Google seems to put "Stalingrad" at the top.

    Kursk is sometimes called a "great tank battle" - but it was a bit of a turkey shoot, with the shooters being overrun.

    Does it take a brave general to order his men to advance into enemy fire? Especially if you have previously threatened to shoot them if they retreat?

    It was pretty gross though (GroB - which is German for Great) :

    With lamentable, and surely avoidable (?) casualties there.
  18. L J

    L J Senior Member

    Citadel (German name) was not a battle : it was an offensive of 3 weeks .

    It was also not a big tank battle (there were few of none ) in WWII,because German and Soviet tanks mostly did not fight against each other .

    The Germans committed some 570000 men (losses were 57000;compared to the 1.6 million losses of 1943,they were almost insignifiant) and some 1700 tanks (some 170 were lost) .
  19. L J

    L J Senior Member

    IMO Nipe is to much following the myth created and spreaded after the war by the German generals .
  20. steelers708

    steelers708 Junior Member

    I have the following books on Kursk and i would recommend the first 6 without hesitation.

    Operation Citadel: South v. 1: A Text and Photo Album Hardcover by Jean Restayn & Nicole Restayn

    Operation Citadel: North v. 2: A Text and Photo Album Hardcover by Jean Restayn & Nicole Restayn

    Blood, Steel, Myth: The II.SS-Panzer-Korps and the Road to Prochorowka Hardcover by Jr. George M. Nipe

    Demolishing the Myth. The Tank Battle at Prokhorovka, Kursk, July 1943: An Operational Narrative Hardcover – Illustrated by Valeriy Zamulin

    The Battle of Kursk (Modern War Studies) Hardcover by David M. Glantz & Jonathan M. House

    Thunder at Prokhorovka. A Combat History of Operation Citadel, Kursk, July 1943 Hardcover by David Schranck

    Kursk: The German View Hardcover by Steven H. Newton

    Kursk: The Vital 24 Hours Hardcover by Will Fowler

    Kursk 1943: The tide turns in the East (Campaign) Paperback by Mark Healy

    Regarding Blood, Steel & Myth it is based on Heer and Waffen SS combat and intelligence reports as well as the recollection of veterans and covers the offensive day by day, in no way does spread the post war 'we could have won' story other than to mention that Manstein believed that the battle had just reached the decisive stage when Hitler called it off, but it then goes on to mention that Hoth for example wasn't as optimistic as Manstein.

    As to it being great or greatest I don't ever recall any German generals referring to it as either, although I may be wrong.

    Publishers need to sell books and sticking 'the greatest' somewhere in the title helps draw interest to it and presumably sales I think it is a post war thing to refer to Kursk as the great/est tank battle, and that is down to the fact that in the 60's, 70's and 80's every book on Kursk relied on and quoted Soviet accounts which hyped the number of vehicles involved and German losses and lessened their own losses. those authors who looked at German war time records ignored all the German reports regarding the number of tanks and types available and their losses as they didn't believe them, after all the Germans had lost the war and thus were hiding their true losses. That is why the 'myths' surrounding Kursk prevailed for the best part of 50 years until authors started taking German records seriously and then of course authors like Glantz got access to the soviet records and finally the truth started to come out.

    Hopefully the story of the 'death ride of the 4th PzArmee' from my childhood and teenage years is finally being laid to rest along with all the other myths surrounding Kursk.
    Heimbrent, stolpi and Owen like this.

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