After the Battle of Kursk, Hitler called back a lot of his forces to defend against the British and American invasion. My question is how much of his forces did he call back from the Eastern front?

  • 4
    Christo, some much smarter and more capable than I have tried to track units from one front to another, and generally come to believe that the German army did not weaken the Eastern Front to meet the Western Allies. The closest the Germans came was to form new units from recruits, wounded.and sick returning to duty,etc, and send these units to the West. Some of these returning soldiers may have previously served in the East.. The Soviet Union was Germany's most significant threat, and the German High Command understood that. Occupation forces may have been weakened but not the Front itself.
    – J. Taylor
    Jun 23, 2019 at 22:30
  • Maybe this question can be more specific. Basically for two things, one is to delimitate the time window of the question (campaings of Sicily, Salerno, Cassino). And the second is the surrender of Italy, because that forced Germany to divert forces to occupy Italy and the Balkans.
    – Santiago
    Jun 25, 2019 at 21:32
  • 1
    Welcome to History:SE. Could you edit your question to clarify what you've looked into already, complete with links and references, and context if applicable? In particular, please let us know what you find missing or unclear about the Wikipedia entry on the topic, if one exists. This allows those who might want to answer to do so without needing to redo the work you've already done. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask.
    – MCW
    Nov 22, 2019 at 14:20

2 Answers 2


Germans gradually diverted more and more units to the West

To understand what was happening, we first must discuss the German replacement system, which was mostly based on replacement battalions ( Feldersatz-Bataillon). The idea was that each Wehrmacht and Waffen SS division would have a replacement battalion (sometimes some other formation) back home in Germany. This battalion would train replacements for the division at the front, and wounded soldiers returning from convalescence would also join it before returning to combat units. Sufficient to say that even in 1941 this system started to break up, i.e. replacement battalions could not cope with the huge casualties in campaign against the Soviet Union. Therefore, often whole remnants of division would be pulled back and reconstituted, while leaving only small Kampfgruppe at the front (or none at all). One example would be the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf which suffered heavy losses in 1941 and 1942, so it had to be pulled back leaving a battalion sized Kampfgruppe in Demyansk pocket.

Therefore, as a rule, Germans would not recall fully manned and equipped divisions from the Eastern to the Western front. Usually, these were shattered formations that needed to be rebuild and then instead of going back to the East, they were sent to the West. One example would be the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. After failure at Kursk and Allied landings in Sicily, LSSAH was moved immediately to Italy, but it left its heavy equipment to sister SS divisions to replenish losses. In Italy it participated in some anti-partisan operations, but mostly trained and received new equipment, before being shipped back to the East in late 1943, where again sustained significant losses, left Kampfgruppe and moved to France where it prepared for Allied landings. Other example would be the 1st Fallschirm-Panzer Division Hermann Göring, which was first earmarked for return to the Eastern front while reforming as a Panzer division, but it was diverted to Italy in 1943 while reforming as a Panzer division, and finally arriving on Eastern front in the Summer of 1944.

Anyway, as Allied invasion drew nearer, Germans redirected more and more units to France where those units replenished losses, trained and awaited the start of the action. Depending if you believe pro-Soviet or pro-Western sources, between 20-30% of German land forces was deployed in France. The majority still remained in the East until the end of the war, but from the second half of 1943, Soviets did feel certain relief as increasing number of German divisions was not going back to the East.


Welcome on history stackexchange.

From Kursk: The answer is none. When the Allies attacked Sicily, the battle of Kursk was involving all the resources the Axis has put near the front. The Soviets then counterattacked, putting even more pressure.

From the eastern front: Some units were moved from the eastern front, but they came late for Sicily.

What came un Italia? The bulk of forces arriving to the Italian front came from the occupied territories, especially where a lot of troops were fighting guerrillas. It means that some Axis troops left Yougoslavia, but also White Russia, which can be considered as the rear of the Eastern front.

  • 3
    This accurately answers the wording of the question, but I suspect the question author might have been interested in after-effects of the Normandy invasion, rather than Italy. Could that be added to the answer?
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 23, 2019 at 16:40
  • @TED, do you mean that adding the answer to "how many troops did the Germans sent back from the eastern front when the Allies landed in Normandy?" :) Jun 23, 2019 at 19:03
  • 1
    Yes. Not sure its required. I already upvoted. But I'm kind of curious, and it might actually be what the OQ wanted to know.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 23, 2019 at 21:40
  • Thank, I like your suggestion I was just asking because I was not sure to understand it well Jun 24, 2019 at 19:17
  • The battle of Kursk ended in August 1943. The Normandy invasion was June 1944. Unless the Germans had either much better foresight or much worse railroad than I imagine, I don't see how the question could be related to the Normandy landings.
    – C Monsour
    Jun 25, 2019 at 0:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.