In the summer of 1943 the German army stood poised for a major offensive. The attack was aimed at the Kursk salient, which the Germans intended to isolate, trapping large numbers of Russian troops and paving the way for the decisive campaign to knock the Soviet Union out of the war. By the time of the attack, the Russians had turned the salient into a mass of defensive positions. In the following decisive clash, the Soviets bled Germany's vital Panzer forces white and finally took the initiative. The counter-offensive which followed began an advance that would end in the ruins of Berlin.