|July – August 1943|
Soviet Operation Kutuzov and Operation Rumyantsev July – August 1943 (River Mius Front not shown) Soviet Lower Dnieper Offensive August – December 1943 not shown
Operation Zitadelle was abandoned on July 13 1943 and the German forces fell back on the defensive. The deteriorating situation in Italy now claimed Hitler's attention, and he ordered SS-Obergruppenführer Paul Hausser´s II.SS-Panzerkorps out of the front line to hold itself in readiness for a transfer. In the end, however, only SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Leibstandarte was sent to help stabilize the situation caused by the deposal of Mussolini by the Badoglio Government and the Allied Landings in Sicily on July 10 1943, leaving SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Das Reich and Totenkopf to face the renewed Soviet onslaught. The next three months the German forces reeled back in disorder on all fronts despite desperate delaying actions by SS-Das Reich and Totenkopf and other crack units like SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Wiking and the Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland (Wehrmacht). Kharkov and Kiev both fell; but in November a fresh counteroffensive, spearheaded by the Waffen-SS divisions (including the Leibstandarte SS, hastily recalled from Italy), succeeded in checking the Soviet advance. A seesaw situation developed with both sides attempting to encircle isolated groups of their opponents, sometimes successfully, at other times vainly. Credit: Osprey Publishing. Image: Pd.