Recently I came accross what seemed to be a new thesis about the battle of Prokhorovka. I read the book Kursk of the German author and historian Roman Töppel, who explains alongside other "new facts" that the battle was not a glorious defense for the Soviet army but was actually one for the Germans.
There are several elements given to back up this thesis:
- Opérative-level counter offensive on Orel forced the Germans to stop Citadel despite being victorious in the South
- The tactial display, especially the antitank obstacle, put Soviet armour in bad position against SS divisions
- German tanks were far superior to Soviet T34-76 at that time
So yes there are good reasons that made Prokhorovka a defeat. But the battle became glorious in Soviet and after Russian national history.
I understand of course that the Soviets under Stalin and after had the capability to modify history and hide their defeats. And apparently in the case of Prokhorovka Töppel explains that the modification was made by Soviet officers (Rotmistrov and Vatutin) willing to cover their errors and avoid death penalty from Stalin.
However the truth given by Roman Töppel seems very suspicious to me: he says that only four Panzer IV were lost against approximately 340 Soviet tanks. This gives a monstruous loss ratio of 1 to 85. If such a ratio is plausible on the left front of the battle were lied the antitank obstacle, on the right side the forest covered the ground so such uneven ratio is not plausible, bécasse the Soviet T-34 would have been able to engage German tanks at low distance.
I have searched other tank battles and could not find any with such ratios. The Israelis maximize to 1 to 9 ratio against the Egyptians, Rommel achieved 1 to 9 at Kasserine. But nowhere was seen a 1 to 85 ratio.
So my question is: even if the Soviets "lied" about the battle, to what extent the thesis that it was a crushing defeat is true? What was the true extent of German losses?
First answers give interesting elements:
- The Germans suffered more than 4 tank losses, and Tiger were amongst them as well as Panzer IV
- Soviet tanks, still, were high but the ratio comes to a 1 to 10, more "common" in lopsided tank battles