“Kursk is a horrifying whirlpool” as stated by the German High Command at that time.
Yet here is a true story about humanity amidst this whirlpool:
Kursk: The Greatest Battle
By Lloyd Clark, p. 328-339
“Having been bombed by the Stukas flying in appalling conditions, blasted by the division's artillery and probed by Mark IVs, Panthers and Tigers supported by infantry and assault guns, the defenders had to be cleared from every last building. Rushed into the line the previous evening, a soaked Igor Panesenko fought with his section in a ruined house:
The forward positions eventually began to crack and were destroyed by tanks and infantry. We fought from house to house and room to room . . . As anti-tank guns were quickly destroyed by the armours’ guns, the tanks were assailed by teams which used magnetic mines and Molotov cocktails. The supporting German infantry kept most away . . . [and we] took up a position in an upstairs room with half a floor and no roof. I was a good shot and managed to cause some trouble for the enemy as they stopped to check their position . . . I linked up with another couple of men and tried to stop the enemy from climbing up the stairs to us. There was some hand-to-hand fighting and I grappled with a chap who grabbed my rifle. His teeth were clenched and I could smell his breath as he shouted at me. Then he let go and ran around a corner. A grenade! There was an explosion which threw me to the floor. I came to seconds later with a large German standing over me.
For all the barbarity of the Eastern Front and the ferocity that morning in Verkhopenye, Panesenko was helped to his feet by the man whom he had been fighting just seconds before: ‘It reminded me of a football match before the war’ he continues,’where an opponent helps you up after a hard tackle! . . . It was extraordinary, because we had seen what the Germans were capable of. Here I was being let out into the street by a man who had been trying to kill me moments before. He took me to a line of other prisoners. As he left - I’ll never forget this - he looked at me, nodded and smiled. There was a recognition in that brief gesture that we were a part of something bigger than both of us and that we needed to retain our humanity.’