Panzers in the East (2) : Decline and Defeat 1943-1945 (Armor At War 7016)
By Robert Michulec
Publisher: Concord Publications 1999 72 Pages
PDF 33 MB
Hitler failed to secure the Kursk Salient with Operation "Zitadelle" in the early summer of 1943. Beginning in July of that year and continuing through the remainder of the war, the German Army in the East would be almost constantly on the defensive.
Following the struggle for Kursk, the Russians launched a massive counter-offensive. Its first success was the recapture of Kharkov in August. By September the Eastern Front stretched south from a point west of Leningrad, down the Dnieper River, and ending at the Black Sea. During combat near Smolensk in the north-central sector of the Front, the Germans were able to effectively employ their assault guns to slow the Russian advance, inflicting heavy losses on the communist forces. Nevertheless, Smolensk fell on 25th September. In late autumn, the Russians pursued the retreating Germans across the Dnieper. Sharp fighting near Zhitomir allowed the Russians to establish a strong presence west of the river. In November the Germans were driven from Zhitomir and Kiev in the southern part of the Eastern Front.
During the second half of 1943 alone, the Panzerwaffe lost 3,092 tanks and 1,194 StuGs and Panzerjdgers — losses that were higher than for the whole of 1941! Units armed with heavily armored self-propelled guns (mainly the StuG units) lost three times more vehicles than during all of 1942. Almost all of these losses were inflicted by the Soviets.
In January 1944 the Russians opened the Leningrad offensive at the northernmost tip of the Eastern Front. By the end of the month, the city was recaptured and the siege that had plagued the city for 900 days was lifted. In April the Russian spring offensive in the south forced the Germans out of the Ukraine.
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