On This Day, July 12, 1943 – Soviets Stop Nazi Advance at Kursk

Kursk

1943 – One of the greatest clashes of armor in military history takes place as the German offensive against the Russian fortification at Kursk, a Russian railway and industrial center, is stopped in a devastating battle, marking the turning point in the Eastern front in the Russians’ favor.

The Germans had been driven from Kursk, a key communications center between north and south, back in February. By March, the Russians had created a salient, a defensive fortification, just west of Kursk in order to prevent another attempt by the Germans to advance farther south in Russia. In June, the German invaders launched an air attack against Kursk; on the ground, Operation Cottbus was launched, ostensibly dedicated to destroying Russian partisan activity, but in reality resulting in the wholesale slaughter of Russian civilians, among whom Soviet partisan fighters had been hiding. The Russians responded with air raids against German troop formations.

By July, Hitler realized that the breaking of the Russian resistance at Kursk was essential to pursuing his aims in Soviet Russia and the defense of Greater Germany, that is, German-occupied territory outside prewar German borders. “This day, you are to take part in an offensive of such importance that the whole future of the war may depend on its outcome,” Hitler announced to his soldiers on July 4. But on July 5, the Russians pulled the rug out from under Hitler’s offensive by launching their own artillery bombardment. The Germans counterattacked, and the largest tank battle in history began: Between the two assailants, 6,000 tanks were deployed.

On July 12, 900 Russian tanks clashed with 900 German (including their superior Tiger tanks) at Prokhorovka — the Battle of Kursk’s most serious engagement. When it was all over, 300 German tanks, and even more Russian ones, were strewn over the battlefield. “The earth was black and scorched with tanks like burning torches,” reported one Russian officer. But the Russians had stopped the German advance dead in its tracks. The advantage had passed to the East. The Germans’ stay in Soviet territory was coming to an end.


1096 – Crusaders under Peter the Hermit reached Sofia, Bulgaria. There they met their Byzantine escort, which brought them safely the rest of the way to Constantinople. by August 1.

1543 – England’s King Henry VIII married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr.

1690 – Protestant forces led by William of Orange defeated the Roman Catholic army of James II.

1691 – William III defeated the allied Irish and French armies at the Battle of Aughrim, Ireland.

1790 – The French Assembly approved a Civil Constitution providing for the election of priests and bishops.

1862 – The U.S. Congress authorized the Medal of Honor.

1864 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln witnessed the battle where Union forces repelled Jubal Early’s army on the outskirts of Washington, DC.

1870 – The first rotary can opener with a cutting wheel was patented by William W. Lyman.

1912 – The first foreign-made film to premiere in America, “Queen Elizabeth“, was shown.

1931 – A major league baseball record for doubles was set as the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs combined for a total of 23.

1933 – A minimum wage of 40 cents an hour was established in the U.S.

1941 – Moscow was bombed by the German Luftwaffe for the first time.

1946 – “The Adventures of Sam Spade” was heard on ABC radio for the first time.


1954 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a highway modernization program, with costs to be shared by federal and state governments.


1957 – The U.S. surgeon general, Leroy E. Burney, reported that there was a direct link between smoking and lung cancer.

1960 – Manufacturing began for the Etch A Sketch®.

1974 – John Ehrlichman, a former aide to U.S. President Nixon, and three others were convicted of conspiring to violate the civil rights of Daniel Ellsberg’s former psychiatrist.

1982 – “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” broke all box-office records by surpassing the $100-million mark of ticket sales in the first 31 days of its opening.

1982 – The last of the distinctive-looking Checker taxicabs rolled off the assembly line in Kalamazoo, MI.

1984 – Democratic presidential candidate Walter F. Mondale named U.S. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York to be his running mate. Ferraro was the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket.

1990 – Russian republic President Boris N. Yeltsin announced his resignation from the the Soviet Communist Party.

2000 – Russia launched the Zvezda after two years of delays. The module was built to be the living quarters for the International Space Station (ISS.)

 

Source: On-This-Day.com; History.com