Home Russia-Ukraine War Moscow’s Lies about Kursk Tank Battle in 1943: Russia’s Humiliation at Prokhorovka

Moscow’s Lies about Kursk Tank Battle in 1943: Russia’s Humiliation at Prokhorovka

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“For decades, Russians have seen no reason to doubt Soviet military historians, who portrayed the Battle of Prokhorovka on 12 July 1943 as a turning point, where the Red Army seized the initiative, then rolled back the Nazi armor, – states the BBC article, – … But recently a British historian, Ben Wheatley, analyzed German Luftwaffe aerial photos of the Prokhorovka battlefield, taken on 14-16 July, when the area was still in German hands. The photos were found in the US National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Wheatley’s assessment, backed by a detailed study of battle reports and historical archives, is that on 12 July the Germans lost just five Panzer IV tanks at Prokhorovka, but decimated “kamikaze” Soviet tank formations, turning more than 200 Soviet tanks into smoldering wrecks… Dozens of Soviet T-34 tanks tumbled into an anti-tank ditch 4.5m (15ft) deep, dug by Soviet infantry, and when the Red Army realized its mistake other T-34s started queuing up to cross a bridge. German tanks were easily able to pick them off at the bridge.

Wheatley and a German military historian, Karl-Heinz Frieser, were cited in a feature in the German daily Die Welt, which hit a Russian raw nerve.

The writer, Sven Felix Kellerhoff, argued that the evidence of Soviet humiliation at Prokhorovka was so convincing that Russia ought to tear down its memorial there, which celebrates the heroism of Soviet tank crews on 12 July.

…there is no doubt that Soviet forces suffered heavily at Prokhorovka, even though they were making progress in other sectors of the Kursk front. Military historian Alexei Isayev told BBC Russian that Soviet losses at Prokhorovka tallied with Wheatley’s assessment. Soviet accounts spoke of 237 Soviet tanks destroyed, along with 14 self-propelled guns, Isayev said. But he also said the Germans could have withdrawn their own damaged tanks from the battlefield after 12 July but before the aerial photos were taken. In that case, they would not show up on the photos studied by Wheatley.

Wheatley’s research suggests that, on 12 July, in the area covered by aerial photos the Germans had a maximum of 27 tanks either destroyed or damaged.

War photographer Anatoly Yegorov was in the thick of the fighting at Kursk. His nephew Mikhail Yegorov spoke to the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets, recalling what Anatoly told him about his work there.

“Most of those photos were not published. ‘Do you know why no panoramic photos of the Prokhorovka battlefield were ever shown in our country?’ my uncle asked me. ‘Because for every burning Tiger there were 10 of our smashed-up T-34s! How could you publish such photos in the papers?’

How many tanks did the Prokhorovka Battle involve? Ben Wheatley’s report provides the answer: “On the morning of 12 July,… 672 Soviet fighting vehicles were effectively engaged that day in action against the 200 tanks, assault guns, and tank destroyers of divisions Leibstandarte and Das Reich.” 

German journalist of Die Welt, Sven Felix Kelleroff who was quoted earlier suggesting that the Prokhorovka Battle Monument should have been demolished immediately, states the reason: “Prokhorovka had neither a Soviet victory nor even a grand tank battle.” 

What was the largest tank battle of WW2 and how many tanks did it involve? >

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