Vladimir Putin: Dear veterans,
Comrades and friends,
We have gathered on this historic, legendary land to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk.
Kursk marks a turning point in the Great Patriotic War. Here in the summer of 1943, the Soviet army not only won a battle. It did not let the enemy take revenge for its major defeats outside Moscow and Stalingrad.
As a result of the Battle of Kursk, the course of the Great Patriotic War and the Second World War changed for good.
Events such are these are landmarks in our great history. They are a source of national pride and Russian patriotism. And in themselves, they are an example of military valour and service to the people.
In the Battle of Kursk, a very rare military strategy of premeditated defence was used. This strategy exhausted and wore out the strike groups of Hitler’s troops. And the move of our army to an organised, prepared, counter-offensive, which had been planned in advance, completed their final defeat. After the Battle of Kursk, right up until the end of the war, the Germans could never again move to a serious offensive.
The Nazis were not saved by their much-vaunted new technology, and they equipped their army excellently. They had fearsome machines – “tigers” and “panthers”, but these did not help. They did not help, just as the most elite of Hitler’s sub-units did not help. In the Battle of Kursk, they faced the strengthened spirit of our Armed Forces, and most importantly – the outstanding bravery of soldiers and officers. One hundred and eighty of these men were made heroes of the Soviet Union.
From here – from the Bryansk, Orlov, Kursk, Belgorod, Kharkov and Sumy lands – the enemy began to crawl back into his lair.
Almost two years of heavy war lay ahead, but our army was already advancing, towards Berlin. It liberated towns and villages, opened the gates of concentration camps, and brought life, freedom and hope.
It was with the Battle of Kursk that the liberation of all of Europe began.
Victory in the Battle of Kursk was not only ensured on the front line. The entire country prepared for it, the entire home front, working selflessly day and night. Today at the meeting with the veterans of the Battle of Kursk, we talked about those people who forged victory on the home front.
The people who lived in the battle front area made an invaluable contribution to the success of this historic battle. They built aerodromes and railways, built defence structures, and nursed wounded soldiers. They worked and lived truly heroically – under shelling and bombing.
Today there are many veterans in this hall. You passed through all the ordeals of the Battle of Kursk with dignity, through the entire terrible war. You defended the country, and saved it. You rebuilt it once more. You brought up children and grandchildren.
But most importantly, at all times, you have always loved the Motherland. You have saved it, defended it and brought it to its feet. And this is a great example for all the generations to come. It is an example that gives us strength and confidence in ourselves in the most difficult times.
I am truly happy that you, dear veterans, are still standing by us. And I thank you for this.
I thank you for the enormous work in preserving the glorious traditions of our history, for putting your hearts, and all your lives, into our future. I thank you for bringing up the younger generation.
Thank you for everything.