Order of the Day
Addressed to Army-Generals Rokossovsky and Yatutin and Colonel-General Popov
July 24, 1943
YESTERDAY, on July 23, as the result of the successful operations of our troops, the complete liquidation of the German July offensive was accomplished in the areas south of Orel and north of Byelgorod in the direction of Kursk.
On the morning of July 5 the German-fascist troops, with large forces of tanks and infantry, supported by large air forces, passed to the offensive in the Orel-Kursk and Byelgorod-Kursk directions. The Germans hurled into attack against our troops their main forces, concentrated in the areas of Orel and Byelgorod.
As is now clear, the German Command sent into action: in the Orel-Kursk direction—seven tank, two motorized and eleven infantry divisions; and in the Byelgorod-Kursk direction—ten tank, one motorized and seven infantry divisions. Thus altogether the enemy hurled into attack seventeen tank, three motorized and eighteen German infantry divisions.
Concentrating these forces on narrow sectors of the front, the German Command reckoned, by concentric blows from the north and from the south in the general direction towards Kursk, on piercing our defences, and on encircling and wiping out our troops stationed along the arc of the Kursk salient.
This new German offensive did not take our troops unawares. They were prepared not only to repulse the German offensive, but also to deal mighty counter-blows. At the cost of tremendous losses in man-power and equipment, the enemy succeeded in driving a wedge into our defences to a depth of about nine kilometres (six miles) in the Orel-Kursk direction and of 15 to 35 kilometres (10 to 22 miles) in the Byelgorod-Kursk direction.
In fierce engagements our troops wore down and bled white the picked German divisions, and followed this up by violent counterblows by which they not only hurled back the enemy and completely restored the position they had occupied before July 5, but also broke through the enemy’s defences and advanced 15 to 25 kilometres (10 to 16 miles) towards Orel.
The battles fought for the liquidation of the German offensive have demonstrated the high military skill of our troops. Unprecedented examples of stubbornness, steadfastness and heroism have been displayed by the men and commanders of all arms, including artillery and mortar gunners, tankmen and airmen.
Thus the German plan for a summer offensive can be considered as having failed completely. Thus the legend that in a summer offensive the Germans are always successful, and that the Soviet troops are compelled to retreat, is refuted.
In the fighting for the liquidation of the German offensive, the troops of Lt.-Gen. Pukhov, Lt.-Gen. Galinin, Lt.-Gen. of Tank Forces Rodin, Lt.-Gen. Romanenko, Lt.-Gen. Kolpakchi, Lt.-Gen. Chistyakov, Lt.-Gen. of Tank Forces Katukov, Lt.-Gen. of Tank Forces Rotmistrov, Lt.-Gen. Zhadov, Lt.-Gen. Shumilov, Lt.-Gen. Kryuchenkin, and airmen of air formations under Col.-Gen. of Aviation Golovanov, Lt.-Gen. of Aviation Krasovsky, Lt.-Gen. of Aviation Rudenko and Lt.-Gen. of Aviation Naumenko, particularly distinguished themselves.
During the engagements from July 5-23, the enemy suffered the following losses: Officers and men killed, over 70,000; tanks destroyed or disabled, 2,900; self-propelling guns, 195; field guns, 844; planes destroyed, 1,392; and motor vehicles, over 5,000.
I congratulate you and the troops under your command on the successful liquidation of the German summer offensive. I express my gratitude to all men, commanders and political workers of the troops under your command for their excellent operations.
Immortal glory to the heroes who fell in the fight for the freedom and honour of our Motherland!
(Signed) J. Stalin
Marshal of the Soviet Union