Battle of Kursk

During the Second World War, from 5 July to 23 August 1943, the Battle of Kursk pitted German and Soviet forces on a vast salient (advance of a front line into the territory occupied by the opposing forces) of 23,000 km2 located in south-west Russia, on the border with Ukraine. It was the largest tank battle in history (2 million Soviet fighters on a 270 km long front). Despite having engaged the bulk and the finest of its available forces, the Wehrmacht came up against a solid, well-organized and stubborn Soviet defence that it was unable to break through despite the considerable scale of the means committed; it suffered heavy losses. The Red Army, despite far greater losses, had strategic reserves and launched two counter-offensives on either side of Kursk. These counter-attacks drove the Wehrmacht back to its starting lines and led to the liberation of two strategically important cities (Oryol and Kharkov). The outcome of this gigantic confrontation was later exaggerated by Soviet propaganda and undermined by Nazi propaganda. Finally, this battle marked the decline of Germany, confirmed by subsequent conflicts.

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