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A letter written by Yuri Petrenko
Kharkov August 22, 1943
The deeper into the city we go the worse it gets. Despite the mighty blows struck by our incessant artillery barrages, the Germans manage to ambush us from around every corner. Every inch of ground we take is paid for with the blood of our comrades. Luckily Boris, Miesha and Vassili have been spared such a fate. We have been through much together. Our forces are finally nearing the main square and with the armor support still intact. Good thing, we will need those tanks. I can only imagine what awaits us at the train station.
[In the Heart of Kharkov]
[August 22, 1943]
Russian soldiers exit a building.
Antonov: Advance! Move forward! Take the square! Attack! Attack!
Russian Soldier: Look out!
They push forward and take the initial area. Russian tanks smash through destroyed portions of a wall.
Antonov: Hold up! Flank right! The square is not secure!
The soldiers go right through a destroyed building and take cover behind a wall.
Antonov: We need engineers to blow through that rubble, so our tanks can proceed. Yuri, you come with me - Miesha's got the radio.
Yuri and Antonov change cover.
Antonov: Ready? To that first tank, stick with me. Go!
The two run to a destroyed tank.
Antonov: Yuri, I need you to cover me while I move to that tank over there, now!
Antonov runs to the tank.
Antonov: Ok Yuri, your turn! Come join me, I'll cover you!
Yuri runs to the tank.
Antonov: We're almost there! We have to get into that building! Together - go!
The two run up to a building with Russian soldiers inside.
Antonov: Miesha, call for engineers at once!
Korolov: Right away, comrade sergeant!
He gets on the radio.
Korolov: We need engineers! In the southeast corner of the square!
Antonov: Yuri, cover the engineers until they set their charges. We cannot advance unless they are successful.
Yuri takes a scoped Mosin-Nagant and covers the Russian engineers from the building.
Antonov: Dammit Yuri, do you think they grow on trees? Miesha!
Korolov: I know, I know.
He gets on the radio.
Korolov: I hate to tell you this... don't yell at me! Yell at the Germans! We're doing the best we can!
The soldiers continue covering the engineers. They eventually destroy the rubble.
Korolov: Finally! We were running out of engineers.
Antonov: Stop your chatter! Let's move!
They go into the square and stop for a moment.
Antonov: Nice work. We have to get moving before they counterattack. We'll flank them through the factory. We need to take and hold the train station.
Korolov: Incoming bombers!
Antonov: German flak gun, over there! We can use it to shoot down their own planes!
Yuri gets on a flak gun and shoots down a few bombers that fly overhead the square.
Antonov: Yes, comrade, yes!
He takes out the remaining bombers and the group moves out into a building. German snipers fire from a destroyed attic.
Antonov: Heads up! Take them down!
They clear the building and jump down to the train station.
Korolov: Keep fighting, reinforcements are on their way! Secure this station and victory is ours! Our forces will be here shortly, we have to control the tracks.
Whenever enemy stukas fly overhead.
Russian Soldier: Stukas! Get down!
When enemy tanks rolls in.
Antonov: Enemy tank!
Korolov: Use the 88!
Yuri gets on the flak gun and fights off the incoming tanks. He destroys all the tanks and after 2 minutes of intense fighting, the Russian reinforcements arrive.
A train rolls into the train station, slamming a destroyed train out of the way. The armor and infantry reinforcements rush towards the German soldiers at the other side of the train station as the Germans flee in disarray. A commissar and a soldier with a Red Army Flag run along the top of the train. The soldier waves the flag and the commissar uses a megaphone.
Commissar: Comrades, today you have achieved great glory! Because of your courage and strength, the German army has been driven back and the city of Kharkov is once again ours! From this day forward we shall not take another step back until this war is won! Fight on!
The reinforcements charge on into the forest behind the train station. Russian planes fly overhead into the forest. A montage of the places Yuri has fought plays, and then a document is shown, as the sound of gunfire continues in the distance.
Battle of Kursk
In an effort to reaffirm the military might of the Third Reich after the devestating defeat at Stalingrad, the Wehrmacht planned a daring offensive against the Kursk salient, an exposed bulge in the center of Soviet lines. Due to bad weather, the German attack, codenamed "Operation Citadel", was postponed until July, 1943. This delay gave the Soviets time to prepare a formidable defensive network consisting of miles of trenches and barbed wire as well as hundreds of thousands of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines. The battle of Kursk was to be the last major German offensive on the Eastern Front. Over a period of eight days, the battle raged on, culminating in what would prove to be the largest tank battle in history. After this battle, German armies in the east were in continuous retreat until the war's end.