April 24, 2015

1943. Hitler's Plans for the Battle of Kursk

Theories on Operation Citadel

The original broadcast transcript did not survive, so the text is transcribed from the audio.
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

July 11, 1943

...The slaughter was terrific. However, the Germans have not eased any pressure on the Russian position. Fighting is still bitter. The situation on the Belgorod sector, where yesterday it appeared that the Nazis might be approaching a breakthrough, is no better today.

While Hitler is pounding away trying to close those military pincers on Kursk, there naturally has been conjecture here as to just what the German command has in mind in launching this kind of attack. The Germans concentrated many thousands of tanks in the region of Oryol and Belgorod with the obvious intent of biting off some ten thousand square miles of the Kursk salient. That strategy is obvious.

But what are the ultimate plans of the Nazi command? Naturally, no one here knows, but at least three theories have developed, and I thought you might be interested in them. But let me remind you they are pure conjecture.

One theory is that Hitler's intuition has gone into reverse, and this latest (?) Moscow from the south, then swinging northward for another encirclement move in an attempt to attack Moscow from the (?). You remember the German armies were trying just that maneuver on a larger scale last year, but were stopped at Stalingrad just as they were supposed to swing north for the encirclement of Moscow.

Another theory says that the Germans intend to strike eastward in the direction of Voronezh in an effort to engage the Red Army reserves so as to so weaken Russia's military power that Hitler can then turn to the defense of his European fortress for safety.

The third theory is that this present attack is the beginning of an all-out attack on the Soviet Union, with Hitler ignoring the impending second front and setting out once and for all in an attempt to defeat the Red Army. In this event, he would depend on his European defenses to protect his rear.

There you have them, for what they're worth. Only time will tell if any one of them is correct.

I return you now to CBS in New York.