8

The Russian Steamroller: from Kursk to Berlin

1. Germany after Stalingrad

We had left the Eastern Front in the winter of 1943 (Chapter 4) with the German disaster at Stalingrad and the gaping hole in the German frontline following the defeat of their Italian and Hungarian allies. If the Soviet offensive could manage to take the city Rostov on the Don (some 120 miles to the south-west of Stalingrad), the German troops located to the south would be surrounded, forming a massive pocket of a million men, which would leave the Stalingrad catastrophe in the realms of folk tale.

With this in mind, Stalin threw his reserves, consisting of eight armies, into the attack. At stake was the chance of annihilating the invading army (as had happened to the ...

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