Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

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Doug Nash
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Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Doug Nash » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:04 am

I just finished proofreading the final version of George Nipe Jr.'s Blood, Steel, & Myth: The II. SS Panzer Corps and the Road to Prochorowka about the Battle of Kursk in the south, due to be published in May of this year by RZM Imports. It's a good read, very well researched and will be extremely controversial - so I thought I'd give you a head's up so that you'll have some insight to it when it explodes on the scene. Bottom line - the gigantic tank battle of Prokohorovka, the climactic event of the Battle of Kursk, never happened. So the current episode of great tank battles about Prokhorovka running on the History & Military cable channels (which show hundreds of T-34s mixing it up with hundreds of Tigers and Panthers) only serves to perpetuate the myth - stay tuned for more info as the book approaches its official release date!
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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Stephan H. » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:48 pm

Thanks for that teaser, Doug. It will be interesting to see how Nipe's book compares with Valeriy Zamulin's DEMOLISHING THE MYTH. THE TANK BATTLE AT PROKHOROVKA, KURSK, JULY 1943: AN OPERATIONAL NARRATIVE when it is released in June.

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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Doug Nash » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:30 pm

I haven't seen Zamulin's book, but according to one person who's had access to the manuscript, it doesn't do much with German sources, so it apparently examines the battle from the Soviet perspective - what conclusions he draws, I couldn't say.
But I do know that George Nipe extensively references the original Army Group South, Fourth Panzer Army, Army Detachment Kempf, XLVIII & III Panzer Corps, & II SS Panzer Corps records, to include morning, mid-day & evening situation reports, the daily commander's commentary, radio messages & KTBs with various Anlagen, to include daily tank strengths, casualty reports, consumption of ammunition reports, and the various spot reports that arrived throughout each day of combat. I've used these same kinds of reports myself, and have found that the officers submitting them (or writing them) was doing his very best to capture the actual situation as best he could - and of course, some things are quite factual - either you have 15 tanks operational or not; how many units of ammunition you have on hand; how many killed and wounded suffered each day and so on.
But the point is not that Nipe used these reports; it's that for the past 65 years, the mainstream respectable & well-known historians never bothered to use them at all, satisfying themselves instead with the official Soviet version of how the events unfolded - a version that was never military in nature, but always political. That's not to say that there weren't accurate Soviet reports of the battle - there were - but most of these were for internal consumption by the Red Army itself and never intended for public release.
But like I said, Nipe's book will be extremely controversial and I hope that when any of you do manage to get your hands on a copy, you'll approach it with an open mind & a disposition to question the "popular" version of the battle which has indeed assumed mythical status.
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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Rotanhäntäpistin » Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:11 pm

It should be added that there will be, probably this year, the magnum Kursk book from the pen of Chris Lawrence of the Dupuy Institute. I can't disclose details yet (as I don't know them all) but it will be a very detailed one and Lawrence has been able to use some Russian primary documents as well (not those general staff studies but real primary docs).

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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Doug Nash » Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:23 pm

Excellent! Well, after reading nothing but recycled sludge (beginning with Martin Caidin's horrifically bad "The Tigers Are Burning") for the past 40 years, it's about time Kursk began receiving the serious scholarly attention it deserves! (excluding David Glantz's book about Kursk, which was actually pretty good but again focused mainly on the Soviet perspective).
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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by krichter33 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:02 pm

I've been looking on Amazon everyday for when this book is finally released, I can't wait! Nipe, Nash, Hargreaves, and Yerger, are my favorite military authors. Excellent!!!
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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Marc Rikmenspoel » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:37 pm

I'm sure this will be a good read when the time comes, thanks for the head's up! We know something happened on the LAH front on July 13, 1943. Hans Schmidt was wounded commanding 13./SS-PGR 2, and Werner Wolff then replaced him, and won the RK for repelling a Soviet tank attack. Meanwhile, Rudolf von Ribbentrop also won the RK for thwarting a Soviet tank attack about the same time.

About those daily tank strength reports and similar records, I'm sure you guys know to take those with the proverbial grain of salt. Just consider the situation of the Hohenstaufen Division before Arnhem, for an example of how those tended to be fudged in various ways. Rolf Hinze makes the point in To the Bitter End that the successful Lauban counterattack of March 1945 could only be undertaken because the attacking units had off-the-books black stocks of fuel and munitions. I'm sure there's many more examples to be discovered, I suggested to a publisher I know that this would be a good topic for someone (not me) to investigate.

As to the Chris Lawrence Kursk book, the publisher told me a bit about it. Apparently, it will be a massive and massively-detailed book. Between these various works, the myth of Kursk should be demolished once and for all. (the next myth I want to see fall involves the fighting around Vitebsk during the winter of 1943-44; Glantz has intended to write a book about this campaign, but seems fully involved in other projects at the moment)

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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Doug Nash » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:06 am

Marc,
You're absolutely right about that - and as the war became more desperate, the incentive to "fudge" the actual situation increased. Take your example about the fuel situation in Lauban - if the unit had extra fuel on hand and reported it as such, two things could have happened - either it would have been taken away and given to another unit that needed it more or the unit hoarding fuel would have been given even bigger objectives to carry out, since they had more means by which to do so. However, at Kursk, Germany still did not feel itself beaten and the attacking Panzer Korps were lavishly provided nearly all categories of supply - food, ammunition, fuel, engineer material, medical items and so on. Their biggest obstacle to getting these to the front-line units, to my surprise, was the mud - I didn't know it, but it rained nearly every day during the Kursk offensive, turning the roads into quagmires & slowing the movement of everything down, which of course had the effect of limiting the offensive capability of the spearhead units. So the attacking units had every incentive to report their actual situation, a) because they were professional soldiers (especially the general staff trained officers) and that's what professional soldiers do and b) because the chain of command needed to know what was going on so they could make adjustments accordingly and c) because the units themselves had every expectation of getting what they needed and finally d) they thought they were winning and gave it their 100% effort, holding nothing back.
Fast forward to the fall of 1944 and winter 1944/45 and fudging the facts may on occasion have been in a unit's self interest, though in the long run it was self defeating because if one unit held back something that other units needed, then the entire effort in a particular sector might fail because that one unit that didn't get what they needed failed at a critical time due to the lack of that particular item. Anyway, my two cents...
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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by hucks216 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:41 am

Can you tell me please how this book differs from Mark Healy's excellent Zitadelle that was released a few years ago (in hardback) and already dispelled the myth of Prokhorovkha and German tank strength/losses? Does it go into greater depth (I haven't read any of Nipe's work before)?

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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Doug Nash » Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:38 am

Yes, it goes into much more detail than Healy's book, which I'm familar with. Unfortunately, I can't divulge this yet for obvious reasons (it's not gone to print yet but will next week) but I was amazed at how much labor Nipe put into his research. Another thing, which is a bonus, is that RZM has thrown in hundreds of high-definition photos (for which they've become famous) as well as dozens of extremely well executed maps.
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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:28 pm

Just to add to the glut of imminent Kursk material, Sandhurst lecturer Lloyd Clark also has a book on the subject out this summer (there's a US version, entitled Battle of the Tanks out in the autumn).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0755 ... d_i=468294

There's also a memoir which has been floating around in German for a couple of years:

http://www.amazon.de/Die-H%C3%B6lle-Kur ... 932381432/

Not read it (Kursk isn't really one of my battles) but reviews are generally good, with a few misgivings (mainly about the author's style of writing).
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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by B Hellqvist » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:08 pm

Then there's Kursk 1943: A Statistical Analysis by Zetterling and Frankson, which was published in 2001. It exploded a few myths, not least the Soviet claims. They have written a book which deals with the battle in a more traditional way (written in a more flowing style), but it hasn't been published in English yet.

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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Doug Nash » Sun Apr 24, 2011 4:23 pm

I have to admit I haven't seen that book yet, but I'm admirer of Zetterling and Frankson's work. But what irritates me is that the information that we're talking about here in this thread has been available for quite some time, if only researchers & writers would take the time to look for it. A few have - but the mainstream of military historians prefer the myth, it seems. I have posed this very question to some of the resident historians of a much-respected military educational institution here in the US and so far, without reading this book (which to be fair, isn't out yet), they are extremely skeptical that anything other than the "Popular" mythologized version of Kursk could even be remotely possible. And these are guys with PhDs in military history - but who look down upon the new crop of historians who use the internet for research (gasp! horrors!) and who like to use to the original source documents. Very odd and perplexing to me, to say the least.
Now, if you look at the History Channel, there is a program going through rotation about famous tank battles and they had the one on Kursk out the other day - they use CGI graphics & lots of animation, with interviews with a few living veterans (who were privates or junior lieutenants at the time) to add street cred to the account. But the animation shows the old story - hundreds of T-34s charging towards hundreds of SS Tigers and Panthers & colliding with them, shooting them at point blank range & etc. All totally fabricated yet this is a television channel that purportedly seeks to present the truth to the general viewing public. Yegads! Do we have our work cut out for us, or what?
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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Charles Trang » Mon Apr 25, 2011 3:53 am

I am a great fan of George Nipe as his works are always well documented and well-argued. I can't wait to read this book. Just a few words however concerning the Prochorowka battle. For people who can read French, my book on the Leibstandarte (1943 - 1945) had already given detailed facts about the battle in that area. In the evening of 11th July, SS-Pz.Rgt.1 "LSSAH" (the single German tank regiment involved in the battle around Prochorowka) fielded only 4 PzKpfw.II, 5 PzKpfw.III, 47 PzKpfw.IV and 4 PzKpfw.VI "Tiger" which were combat-ready. In the morning of 12th July, Martin Gross's II./SS-Pz.Rgt.1 had only 33 PzKpfw.IV to face the Russian onslaught. By the end of the day, only one Tiger had been lost (and not a single Panther as II.SS-Pz.Korps had no such tanks). The number of total losses concerning PzKpfw.IVs is not given in the II.SS-Pz.Korps KTB. 48 men were killed among the whole division and this number has to be compared with the 97 soldiers killed during the first day of the battle, on 5th July 1943. My conclusion on this battle was that the Russian claims had been erroneously taken for good after the war. I give these few details not as a boast but just to show that there is also life (and researchers) outside the English speaking world just to react to your sensational announcement. Not all writers have been mistaken by the reading of "The Great Patriotic War" concerning this peculiar battle !

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Re: Explosive New Book about Kursk Coming out in May

Post by Rotanhäntäpistin » Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:06 am

Not directly related to the Kursk topic but mr. Trang's comments on the fact that there are capable authors outside the English language circle is on the point indeed. I was instantly reminded that when a British publisher launched a series that was supposed to cover the entire history of aviation (the series was not finished as apparently the publisher (Putnam) went into decay due to some decisions by the parent company) the authors assembled for the task were only British or American! No French, German, Russian, Japanese etc. authors present...

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