Without a Citadel
The Battle of Kursk may not be as significant a German
defeat as Stalingrad, but it was extremely important nonetheless.
It destroyed thousands of German tanks for little purpose, shattered a
number of German divisions and ensured that the Germans could not hope to match
the soviets as they advanced westwards.
Let’s imagine that Adolf follows his gut and cancels the attack. The Germans don’t launch the attack, but remain in their lines. How long would it be before the soviets realise the attack has been cancelled? Probably not long (Ultra + spies) and then they need to strike west if the Germans will not hit first. Let’s have a soviet offensive against the Germans three weeks after OTL Kursk.
The soviets would not have the advantages they’d have a
year later against Army Group Centre. They’d
be closer to parity in tank numbers with the Germans, the Germans would have had
an extra month to iron out the bugs in the new tank designs and Stalin would not
quite have realised that he was no good as an army commander.
Unless Hitler does something really stupid, the Germans will smash the
soviet attack, causing a very high death toll and probably knock the soviets
back a few miles. Manstian would
launch counterattacks, but would bump into the very hard soviet defence lines
and probably gain little ground.
Therefore, at the end of 1943, the soviets have gained very
little new ground, while the allies will have secured Sicily and (maybe) south
Italy. Hitler would have extra
resources to send to Italy, so the allies would probably not have a secure
foothold and would indeed be at great risk of being pushed out of Italy.
Does this avert D-Day? Ike
would want it to go ahead as planned, but Churchill would want Italy secured
first, and the allies might fall out over supplying the Italian Front.
The soviets position is considerably worse in this TL than
OTL. They’ve lost several million
men for very little territory, which ends the possibility of further offensives.
They need to rebuild as quickly as possible, which means that the Red
Army will not improve for at least another year.
Historically, at this point (or thereabouts), the Germans began
experimenting with limited forces from Russia and the subject regions.
In this timeline, the Germans have a considerably larger base of men to
draw on. That means that the
Germans will also be getting stronger.
Economically, the Germans will also be improving.
They’ll have more time to improve the Panther and Tiger tanks, as well
as more grounds to build aircraft. That
gives them a better chance of dimmishing the allied air offensive, which makes
them stronger as time goes by.
The allies will probably launch D-Day or something similar
in late 1944. This would be a more
American effort with only token British participation (Brits needed in Italy).
The Germans would be tougher and the Americans less experienced.
(I flip a coin – German victory.)
The Germans drive the Americans back into the sea.
Now what? Assuming
that the allies cannot launch a repeat attempt in 1944, the Germans will have an
extra nine months to exploit their occupied regions and concentrated on the
eastern front. Stalin’s losses
will head upwards and he’ll at least consider the possibility of a separate
peace, leaving the Germans with Poland, the Baltics and parts of the occupied
USSR. That betrayal means that the
allies would have to make peace soon as well – or go nuclear.