Title: Zitadelle – The German Offensive Against the Kursk Salient 4-17 July 1943
Author: Healy, Mark
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publication Date: 2010
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 399 pages
Comments: Few battles attract such interest as does the Battle of Kursk. Operation Zitadelle – the code name given by Hitler to the Wehrmacht’s last offensive on the Eastern Front in July 1943 – has acquired an almost mythic status as one of the greatest clashes of armour in the history of warfare.
For so long depicted as the battle which saw ‘the swan song of the German tank arm’ due to the huge tank losses experienced by the Germans in the face of massive Soviet defences, the emergence of new information has shown the reality to have been anything but. Indeed, total German ‘write-offs’ during the offensive were surprisingly low, with those of the Red Army being very high. And yet, for all the resources devoted to this operation by the Germans, Zitadelle was an abysmal failure. The Germans were not outfought by the Red Army at Kursk, yet they lost.
In Zitadelle, Mark Healy shows how the Germans were out-witted by commanders of outstanding quality who were able to deploy the Soviet Union’s superiority in manpower and armour effectively and in such a way as to negate the continuing battlefield proficiency of the German Army – and especially of their tank arm – the Wehrmacht’s best sword in its war on the Eastern front. Zitadelle, although focusing essentially on the German operation, will nonetheless demonstrate how the Red Army had emerged by the summer of 1943 as a ‘new’ force, and one very different from that ravaged by the Wehrmacht in the terrible summer of two years before. It was enough for one of the senior German commanders at Kursk to say of the performance of the Red Army after Zitadelle had failed, that ‘it is no longer an army of peasants. They have learnt the art of war from us’.
Within two years of this last, supreme effort by the Germans to stabilise the eastern front before the onset of Allied landings in Europe, Germany was a defeated and the Red Army had propelled Soviet power to the heart of Europe.