6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Operational Coverage and Analysis,
This review is from: Decision in the Ukraine, Summer 1943 (Hardcover)
In the introduction, a capsule summary of the key events of the war before the Battle of Kursk is given and includes Barbarossa, Stalingrad, the Soviet offensive after Stalingrad in AGS sector and the retaking of Kharkov by Manstein in Feb, Mar 1943. Still in summary but with a greater level of detail, the author describes Kursk. At this juncture, Mr Nipe goes to great length to discuss the tank battles near Prochorovka as well as the false propaganda and exaggerations of German losses that have surfaced over the years about that fateful July 12th. The author provides statistics of the losses of that fateful day but as he concludes this Kursk summary, he simply states that even if you didn't have the correct casualty figures, all you would need to know that the Soviet numbers were high was a knowledge of the level of resistance and destruction the 2nd SS PzC (minus LAH) levied on the 1st Tank Army, the 5th GTA and others at the Mius River and at the Merla / Merchik Rivers. Once you read this book you will understand the capability the German panzer corps still had during the last half of July and all of August.
He also brings up a key issue that is rarely mentioned in other books. By July 9th, it was obvious that 3rd PzC was too far behind to assist 2nd SS PzC in attacking Prokhorovka by attacking 5th GTA. Why didn't Manstein commit the 24th PzC which was in reserve to help speed up the advance of Kemp's forces. With the slow progress the Germans were making, it seemed an appropriate response. The author is on a mission to strike down fallacy and to promote the truth. It was a very interesting, worthwhile commentary.
In mid July, after the Allies landed on Sicily and Citadel was becoming too costly, Hitler calls off his offensive. This is when the author leaves summary mode and begins a detailed study and analysis of the next six weeks of battle when the Soviets launched their own offensives to the south of the Kursk salient. The battle action begins in mid July in the Mius River area when Tolbukhin's Southern Front launches a diversionary attack against 6th Army to draw German forces away from Kursk. The subsequent German counterattack to regain lost ground of the newly formed Soviet bridgehead was especially revealing and costly. At the beginning of August a major Soviet offensive begins north of the Merla-Merchik Rivers area, west of Belgorod and Kharkov and will last to the end of August. In both campaigns, the 2nd SS PzC was used to try to stop the assault. In the later assault, these mobile forces would be up against the Soviet 6th Guard Army, and the reformed 1st Tank Army and the 5th Guard Tank Army.
The daily coverage of the tactical engagements, which is from the German perspective, is excellent. For the German side the level of detail is usually at the division level while the Soviets are presented at either Army, Corps or Division level. Sometimes Mr Nipe doesn't provide Soviet designation on every occurrence of an engagement and will force the reader to remember the previous entry of said engagement. This is not bad for the previous entry is usually quite close and not hard to find if a refresher is needed. The accompanying analysis is also very good and will appeal to many of the readers.
With sector coverage so good for the month of August, this book is the ideal supplement to David Glantz's "The Battle of Kursk" or Mark Healy's "Zitadelle". Neither book has anywhere near the coverage or analysis of this book for August. Between these three books plus Didier Lodieu's book on 3rd PzC, you will have exemplary coverage of this key offensive and Soviet counter offensive to the south of Kursk.
To greatly add to the story, there were 29 maps. The maps were simple but effective and were spread out throughout the book and were aligned with the narrative, making it easier to follow the action along the key rivers, fortified hills, towns, villages and ravines. Some of the key battle sites were Dmitrievka, Kuibyshevo, Stepanovka, Saur Mogilsky, Hill 213, Akhtyrka, Kotelva, Trostyanets, Bogodukhov. The key rivers included Donets, Psel, Mius, Merla, Merchik and Vorskla. In addition to the useful maps, there was an impressive gallery of 75 photos of German officers, equipment and battle scenes.
Without many first hand experiences, some may think this book dry but for those interested in the operational aspects of this time and sector along with insightful appraisal, this book will be highly valued for its high level of detail, analysis and truthfulness. The narrative is also German-centric which may disappoint some but with so little material available on the Soviet offensive post Citadel, this is still an important work that should be studied by WWII buffs for it shows that the German war machine south of Belgorod was not wiped out in Citadel as some claim and was able to repulse a much superior Soviet force in the Mius, Merla River sectors.
The author includes an Appendix which has an abbreviated Order of Battle as well as other statistics. The OB could've been more complete but it was still useful. The author delivers analysis throughout the book but his final chapter of conclusions and observations is especially helpful. Though arguable the author makes the case that Manstein was right to want to keep 4th PzA and III PzC together to complete and destroy the huge pocket south of Prokhorovka. It would have given 6th Army a better chance of holding the Mius bridgehead in August.
There is also a Notes section, a Bibliography but no Index. Though using some secondary sources and interviews, much of the material came from primary sources like the National Archives in Washington DC.
For those who are trying to piece together the operational events of the war, this book is invaluable for its detail of the last half of July and August 1943 is most intriguing and fills in an important piece of the puzzle that other books miss. Its highly recommended for serious students as is his other book, "The Last Victory in Russia" which covers the German retaking of Kharkov in March 1943.