The battle was the final strategic offensive that the Germans were able to launch on the Eastern Front.
Because the Allied invasion of Sicily had begun, Adolf Hitler was forced to have troops training in France diverted to meet the Allied threat in the Mediterranean, rather than use them as a strategic reserve for the Eastern Front. Hitler canceled the offensive at Kursk after only a week, in part to divert forces to Italy. Germany's extensive losses of men and tanks ensured that the victorious Soviet Red Army enjoyed the strategic initiative for the remainder of the war.
The Germans hoped to weaken the Soviet offensive potential for the summer of 1943 by cutting off the forces that they anticipated would be in the Kursk salient. The Kursk salient or bulge was 250 kilometres (160 mi) long from north to south and 160 kilometres (99 mi) from east to west. The plan envisioned an envelopment by a pair of pincers breaking through the northern and southern flanks of the salient.
Hitler believed that a victory here would reassert German strength and improve his prestige with his allies, who were considering withdrawing from the war.