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Stalingrad vs Kursk. Which was larger?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by DangerousBob, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. DangerousBob

    DangerousBob New Member

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    I was talking with my old man the other day about the battle of Kursk. He asked me a simple question.

    "So Kursk was a larger battle then Stalingrad?"

    I had never really thought about it. I replied hesitantly that Stalingrad was larger. But now I am having second thoughts.

    Ok WW2 buffs. Which is it?
     
  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    What do you mean with larger ?

    more men involved ?

    more casualties ?
     
  3. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    Stalingrad was between August 1942 - February 1943. It extended longer , involved not only numerous army groups and fronts from both sides (German Army Groups A and B , Soviet Stalingrad , Caucaus , Lower Don Fronts etc ) it ended destruction of one German Army complately and one partially , involved entire Russian civilian population west of Volga. So Stalingrad was larger. Kursk was the greatest tank batle agreed. But it was much more localized , there no urban warfare if we do not count recapture of Kharkov in August 1943 by Red Army. It was between 10-26th July ( or 20th August if again Kharkov offensive was included ) Tank casaulties were heavy but manpower loss on both sides were much lighter. Though Kursk victory pulled initiative from German hands and gave it to Soviet Union irreversibly. So Stalingrad was larger in casaulties and manpower involved but in strategic terms Kursk was as important as Stalingrad if not more.
     
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  4. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Depends if you include the battles in the Caucausus as part or not of Stalingrad
     
  5. arca

    arca Member

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    Hello everyone
    IMO Stalingrad is more important battle than Kursk. Before Stalingrad there was year and a half of war in which period Red army just didn't know how to fight Germans and lost almost every engagement. Notable exception to this rule beeing battle for Moscow,but this wasn't normal situation. Germans overextended their supply routes and were rendered imobile and later frozen by the weather.By simply ignoring all this in their 'ziegeuphoria' they gave Red army a chance to wear them down with heroic resistance and to sweep tham away with masterfully assembled and camouflaged reserves.Even though the inner overwhelming superiority of the Wermacht at that time did not allow for desintegration of army group center or even destruction of completely surounded units,through skilled use of tehnical superiority,mobility,good defensive tactics, counterattacks,arial resupply and destruction of many russian fast moving forces triing to achive deep envelopments. The latter were themselves very inept in conducting prolonged offensive operations,matters of resuply and combined arms cooperation.
    At Stalingrad Soviets showed for the first time to themselves,to the Nazis and to the world that they've learned rules of modern engagement,though this school was paid in blood of many millions.First they stopped single largest and probably best german army in whole Wermacht in the ruined city.They did it despite beeing outnumbered,outgunned,and without major weather or supply problems for the Germans.This was achieved through new revolutionary tactics in urban warfare,skillfull use of limited resources and excellent leadership.Again Soviets excelled at 'maskirovka' (whole concept of camouflage,secrecy,deception of the enemy etc. purpoused to acumulate forces secretly and decive the enemy about operation plans) and gathered two whole fronts for counter offensive.This time they showed skilfull execution of large envelopment manoeuvre, sufficinet resuplly organisation, and later withstoud breakthrough attempts by relieve forces and destroied this great german army(while a year earlier they couldn't destroy few encirceled divisions at Kholm or Demiansk). These offensives continued rolling the entire german front back into Ukraine,for hundreds of miles,demonstrating that Red army is even capable of long range,mobile strategic offensive in all it's complexity.
    At Kursk some 4 months after this offensive reached it's limit, Germans were allready facing a formidable oponent, adept in modern warfere,well equiped and very sadly for the Nazis well informed.Again Red army maskirovka measures prevented the Wermacht to be equaly well informed, and lured them into the battle on the field they chose. Hitler on the other hand did comprehensible move and attacked first, triing to get initiative back, because if on defence he was bound to lose considering soviet potential to generate forces and learn and western Allies getting upper hand in the west.This attack of course resulted in great german defeat and 'swan song of german armour'.Battle of Kursk and subsequent offensives finally shifted the iniciative firmly to the Soviets. After Kursk Germans could no longer avoid defeat.
    IMO Stalingrad is more important because -it was won in desperet time agains seemingly invincible enemy - Red army showed they learned how to fight modern,mobile, combined arms war -boost to the Nation's morale as a whole couldn't be over emphasised -danger of losing the war was finally removed, for after Stalingrad Germans couldn't win any more,but Soviets could perhaps still fail to achieve clear victory.
     
  6. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    "The red army just didn't know how to fight the Germans and lost almost every engagement " : something new . Haha

    "The red army lured the Germans in the battle they choose" : something new .Haha .

    "Citadel was the swanesong of the German armour" : something old and wrong .Haha

    "Moscow was not the normal situation" : and,the normal situation was ?
     
  7. arca

    arca Member

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    Hi LJAd, glad to see you in a good mood.Laughing is good ;)

    If we could return to the subject,
    I fully stand behing my claims that before Stalingrad Soviets lost almost every battle (except Moscow and few more notable exceptions like Rostov or Tikhvin), but these exceptions weren't really the result of Red army fighting skill, but total detachment of german high command from actual situation on the field and consequently forcing their forces into totally untenable and overextended positions in very unfavourable conditions(weather,transport system etc). I by no way claim that Soviets deserve no credit for these victories, but those were result of their fantastic ability to generate new units,militarisation of society,maskirovka, and inner russian courage and toughness, rather than red army's mastery of rules of modern warfere. Those principles were first graduated at Stalingrad- first time German army was stopped without help of the elements, overextension of the enemy,lack of enemy infatry or some other serious disadvantage of the enemy.This time they did it through their fighting skills, and against superior enemy.- second, and more important, they demonstrated capacity for prolonged offensive which doesn't fail immediately or as soon as enemy overcomes the effect of surprise (IMO resupply issues stand here as paramount problem) .This is also the reason why soviet historians refer to the period begining on 19. of November 1942 'The second phase of the war'.
    Red army lured the Wermacht at Kursk in a sense that they managed to do biggest defense preparations in history of warfere and still not alarm the enemy of this or of their knowledge of enemy intensions.Or if enemy wasn't blind to all this , the scale of preparations was minimizes in his eyes. To achieve this, massive reshuffling of the forces was beeing used, false radio signals, strict camuflage and night work, radio silence,hundreds of dummy bases,airfields and depos and scores of dummy troops ,tanks, planes etc.
    Claim about swansong was said by marshal Konev and even though I don't belive Kursk ment the end for panzer truppen on eastern front, I highly value the opinion of experienced commander who actually fought this armour back to Berlin. Maybe he allowed himself a small metaphore or exaggeration, but that claim means he felt those panzers never again posed a serious threat as they surely did to that point (and also at Kursk itself).
     
  8. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    We have to disagree ,because you are talking about a war which did not happen : a Desert Storm avant la lettre,while WWII was essentially a modernized WWI .,decided by artillery,aircraft,infantry,mobile forces,and,last : tanks .

    I refer you also to K.Reinhardt (Die Wende vor Moskau) where he is saying that the failure of Typhoon,before the winter,was ,essentially,caused by the continuous resistance of the Red Army . (P 180).

    The Germans knew that the longer the war the stronger would become the SU and the weaker Germanu. That's why they staked everything on a short campaign which would be decided by a few weeks fighting on the border .

    As we know,they failed,and the rest is history .

    About the tank losses of Citadelle : they were marginal ::252 tanks and StuG,on a total of 1636 tanks,539 StuG and 90 Ferdinand Tank Destroyers which were committed (= a total of 2265) .And,these losses were replaced quickly : at the end of 1943,there were more panzers and StuG in the East,than at the start of Citadelle .
     
  9. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The equipment was easily replaced, but as with the Luftwaffe a lot of experienced crews and officers were killed. Its also hard to say for sure what is a loss and what is not. Many tanks were damaged and fixed several times, I wonder how many tanks that were only damaged were abandoned during the retreat and thus not counted in the combat losses. I ask because the tanks corps were not as effective afterwards.
     
  10. green slime

    green slime Member

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    In early May, Hitler called together his senior officers and advisors to Munich for a meeting. Hitler spoke for about 45 minutes on the current situation and the plans for the offensive. Model then spoke, and produced reconnaissance photos revealing some of the extensive preparations the Soviets had made in preparation for the attack. A number of options were put forth for comment: going on the offensive immediately with the forces at hand, delaying the offensive further to await the arrival of new and better tanks, radically revising the operation or cancelling it all together. Von Manstein spoke against the offensive, but not forcefully. Albert Speer spoke of the difficulties of rebuilding the armoured formations and the limitations of German industry to replace losses. Guderian argued strongly against the operation, stating "the attack was pointless."

    Following this meeting, Guderian continued to voice his concerns over an operation that would likely degrade the panzer forces that he had been attempting to rebuild. He believed that the offensive, as planned, was a misuse of the panzer forces, as it violated two of the three tenets he had laid out as the essential elements for a successful panzer attack. In Guderian's opinion, the limited German resources in men and materiel should be conserved as they would be needed for the pending defence of Western Europe. In a meeting with Hitler, on 10 May, he asked: "Is it really necessary to attack Kursk, and indeed in the east this year at all? Do you think anyone even knows where Kursk is? The entire world doesn't care if we capture Kursk or not. What is the reason that is forcing us to attack this year on Kursk, or even more, on the Eastern Front?" Hitler replied: "I know. The thought of it turns my stomach." Guderian concluded, "In that case your reaction to the problem is the correct one. Leave it alone."

    Receiving reports of powerful Soviet concentrations behind the Kursk area, Hitler delayed the offensive again to allow for more equipment to reach the front. With pessimism for Citadel increasing with each delay, in June, Alfred Jodl, the Chief of Staff at OKW, instructed the armed forces propaganda office to portray the operation as a limited counteroffensive when the offensive finally did get underway.

    The battle of Kursk is a gigantic blunder.

    "Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt."

    “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”

    “Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:
    1 He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
    2 He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
    3 He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
    4 He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
    5 He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.”

    -Sun Tzu
     
  11. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    This was also the case for the Soviets
     
  12. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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  13. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    How was Guderian wrong??
     
  14. ptimms

    ptimms Member

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    About the tank losses of Citadelle : they were marginal ::252 tanks and StuG,on a total of 1636 tanks,539 StuG and 90 Ferdinand Tank Destroyers which were committed (= a total of 2265) .And,these losses were replaced quickly : at the end of 1943,there were more panzers and StuG in the East,than at the start of Citadelle .

    I agree tank losses weren't crippling but according to Jentz the other statement is innaccurate.

    On the 30th June 43 he has about 2,600 Tanks on the East Front of which 2,300 are operational. On 31st of December 43 its 2,053 of which only 1,043 are available for operational.

    Also German losses in the Soviet counter offensive after Zitadelle are high as many damaged tanks were lost as they could not be recovered.
     
  15. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Without the mobile divisions,the East front would collaps. And,the western front also woud collaps if the mobile divisions were committed in the East in 1944.

    Thus,the only solution was to execute as soon as possible an offensive in the East with limited aims,and than to concentrate the mobile divisions in the West .But first,the Soviet offensive capacity had to be maimed,curtailed.
     
  16. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    And how well did that go for the Germans. Plus it was not just the tanks, Germany did not have the manpower needed for an elastic defense even if Hitler was willing. The tanks in the southern thrust did have success, but the infantry units could not keep up requiring the tanks to cover their own flanks. Manstein may have been able to chew up more tank units, which would not prevent the Soviets from building more and he was only one sector. Meanwhile AGC was being overwhelmed and what was to prevent to Soviets from collapsing Mansteins flanks?? Germany was never capable of fighting the kind of war they had gotten into
     
  17. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Following the graphicks in Germany and WWII,there were at the end of 1943 more tanks AND StuG in the east than at the start of Citadelle.
     
  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    May sound a simple question but I think we must consider the fact that both were just a part of a bigger plan and just one offensive of a number of operations. Zhukov´s main aim in 1942 was to destroy Army group Center and in 1943 Kursk was just to wear down the German offensive forces, after which the Soviet army would attack with huge reserves and pincer movements from both sides of Kursk, destroying if I get correct, most of AGC and all of AGS. In numbers and planning and goal of operation I feel the Kursk operation in whole was bigger although Zhukov´s aim never was a small one.
     
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  19. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Total tank losses for Citadelle(write-of) were : 202 tanks,31 AG and 19 TD.

    Human losses : 54.182 (KIA: 9063;WIA 43159,MIA 1960) while the total German losses on the Eastern Front in the second half of 1943 were 894.750 men:the Citadele losses were 6 %.
     
  20. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The tank and AG losses for 1943 in the East were 7096 (TD and SP A/T guns not incuded),while it was 234 for Citadelle: some 3 %..An other source gives for tanks only in the second half of 1943 a figure of 3179: 202 tanks for Citadele is some 6 %.Thus marginal .
     

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