But how do we know the German offensive was the psychological turning point, and not Stalingrad or the post-Kursk offensives in the summer of '43? Why Kursk and not the surrender of North Africa, the surrender of Italy, and Allied troops setting foot on the European continent in the fall of '43?
Even if the Germans had won a victory at Kursk (and what does victory mean in the Kursk context? X number of Soviet prisoners?), would the initiative have shifted in the summer of '43 anyway as the Soviets amassed breakthrough forces at some weak point in the German lines, and the Second Front was beginning to emerge?
Stalingrad was the psychological turning point. After that the Russians knew that they would not in the end lose. As to Kursk, there have been editions of GGWITE in which
it is possible for the Germans to win the Kursk battle, in the sense that the first turn can be polished to a perfection that puts the Soviets in a real dilemma and results
in the loss of a few Armies worth of surrounded infantry and the capture of Kursk or at least of its suburbs and its rail net radiating West.
And in the game, so what? The Soviets gain the upper hand shortly anyhow.
In the real world, even a strategic minor victory of that sort was never in the cards. If one weighs the Soviet resources, and the limited fuel reserves of the Axis, it is
a forced conclusion that the Axis could at the very outside never have done more than pocket an infantry army around Lgov or Sumy, and chew up Soviet tank armies somewhat more thoroughly than they actually did.
The battle of Kursk was an artificial contest in a way. The Soviets drew the Germans in by feigning weakness. There were armies behind armies in reserve. Reserves that were historically committed to diversionary offensivesafter Kursk had been decided, but before it had entirely run its course, could have been instead diverted to the battle had things gone badly for the Soviets.