Author: Martin Nevshemal
Operation Citadel, the twin-pronged summer offensive of 1943, was the final throw of the dice for Hitler and his Ostheer, and its complete defeat spelled the end of German ambitions in the East. The Kursk battle is the subject of dozens of books, almost all of them focusing on the southern shoulder of the offensive and the subsequent clash of armor at Prokhorovka. Compared to the dynamic main act in the south, the northern prong is often viewed as a sideshow, yet the offensive here was crucial to the success of Operation Citadel. Incredibly, this fascinating engagement has not been analyzed in detail
The German plan was simple: crack open the Soviet defensive line, seize Ponyri Station which sat astride the best navigable route through gully-riven terrain and then feed through four fresh panzer divisions for the final push to Kursk and a link-up with forces from the southern axis. Infantry units, supported by a formidable array of armor, including the latest weapons devised by the German armaments industry, were ordered to take Ponyri on Day 1 of the offensive, but their Soviet opponents were ready and waiting for them in three thick defensive lines. Vicious fighting in forests and on mine-riddled plains slowed the German advance and dramatically upset their timetable. Struggling through one resistance line after another, the forces of XXXXI. Panzerkorps eventually seized Ponyri Station at great cost but then faced furious Soviet counterattacks.
In this Campaign Study, the unforgiving fighting on the axis of advance of XXXXI. Panzerkorps towards Ponyri Station is followed day-by-day, each text page being coupled with a contemporary map, satellite image or aerial photo presented in a large landscape format that enables the action to be followed as never before. The narrative, compiled from original German war records and Russians reports, is interspersed throughout with riveting first-hand accounts.