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Armeeabteilung Kempf unit marking Unternehmen Zitadelle

Unit marking.

German Army Detachment Kempf (ARMEE-ABTEILUNG "KEMPF") was a Wehrmacht army-sized formation on the Eastern Front during World War II. Part of Army Group South, Detachment Kempf saw action during Operation Citadel (Zitadelle), the German attempt to cut off the Kursk salient and crush the large part of the Russian army. Otherwise known as the Battle of Kursk (5–23 July 1943), this action amounted to the largest set-piece battle in World War II

Operational historyEdit

The detachment was originally formed on 1 February 1943 as Armee-Abteilung Lanz, lead by Hubert Lanz. On 21 February 1943 Lanz was replaced by Werner Kempf and the detachment was renamed to reflect this change. In February–March that year, The detachment fought in the Third Battle of Kharkov.[1]

When the Germans planned a summer offensive near Kursk, the detachment was involved on the southern flank of the gigantic salient around Kursk, where its units formed the eastern half of a two-pronged armored attack. Beginning on the night of 4/5 July 1943, III Panzerkorps, Kempf Army's primary attack formation, spearheaded the thrust east of Belgorod, with XI. Armeekorps and XLII Armeekorps guarding its flanks. Originally, Kempf Army had orders to push east and block Soviet reinforcements from reaching vital areas of the German attack at the south end of the Kursk salient, but late on 8 July Field Marshal von Manstein redirected Detachment Kempf northward in order to assist another unit [2]. By the middle of July it had become clear to German military commanders on the Eastern Front that Operation Citadel would not succeed. Although Army Detachment Kempf's central armored corps, III Panzerkorps, was experiencing comparative successes, the overall situation on both the southern and northern faces of the salient was one of stalemate. For a force such as the Wehrmacht, which excelled in Blitzkrieg-style attacks that relied on speed rather than numerical superiority, this was not a tenable situation. However, to the Soviets, who enjoyed numerical and material superiority, this was ideal. Days after the German armored thrusts into the southern flank of the Kursk salient ground to a halt before fierce resistance, the Red Army launched a massive counteroffensive. Reinforced Soviet forces succeeded in pushing the Germans back to and beyond their starting points for Operation Citadel. Army Detachment Kempf retreated with the rest of Army Group South.

After the faillure of Zitadelle Kempf was made a scapegoat and retired on 17 August 1943. He was replaced by Otto Wöhler on August 16 and six days later, the detachment was designated as the 8th Army.

Army Detachment Kempf Order of Battle for Operation Citadel [3]

  • III Panzer Corps: 6th, 7th, & 19th Panzer Divisions, 168th Infantry Division
  • XI Army Corps: 106th, 198th, 320th Infantry Divisions
  • XLII Army Corps: 39th, 161st, 282nd Infantry Divisions



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