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Thread: Battle of Dunkirk

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    Quote Originally Posted by SaxonPagan View Post
    He'd have had far more chance of a peace agreement if the British Army had been destroyed.
    And an even better one with 300,000 British soldiers sitting in POW camps...
    Most people think as they are trained to think, and most people make a majority.

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    True, Huginn, but I don't think that surrender en masse was an option once Operation Dynamo had been launched.

    Like I said, at least 40.000 British prisoners were taken and all the BEF's heavy equipment was lost so it was already a resounding German victory.

    I also happen to think that the British & French between them put up one hell of a fight to defend the Channel ports and the German infantry would have been struggling to break through the Dunkirk perimeter anyway within the time allowed (..and given that they had to focus their efforts on other places as well, such as Arras).

    BTW, did you know that at Arras the Brits unleashed their new 'Matilda' tanks and the Wehrmacht/SS divisions who faced them saw their shells just bouncing off the armour It was a short-lived victory but the BEF even smashed through the Totenkopf lines at one point, who were Hitler's élite troops. My point here is that the Wehrmacht still didn't know exactly what it was up against at this early stage of the war (they only invaded France 11 days previously, on May 10th!) so there was genuine apprehension as news filtered back to Hitler about Allied weaponry.

    I think Hitler (and Rundstedt, who had actually suggested the halt - Hitler just rubber-stamped it) had every right to be cautious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SaxonPagan View Post
    Highly doubtful.

    Goering intended to 'annihilate' the BEF, which alone contradicts the above.

    The exposed troops on the beach were attacked, mainly by Stukas, so why would this have happened if humanitarianism had been the objective? Death by tank or airplane doesn't really make much difference.
    Where'd you read that?

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    The belief that Hitler let the B.E.F. escape on purpose is outdated and the arguments for it are weaker than for that other explanation of Hitler halting the panzers because of the the terrain around Dunkirk due to his own WW1 experience and the many canals. The most convincing reason however is the power struggle between Hitler and his generals, the answer lies in politics: Hitler strengthened his own position by making his generals fall in line by forcing them to stand down against their own wishes and hence showing them who is in charge.
    "If we were going to stand in darkness, best we stand in a darkness we had made ourselves.” ― Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet

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    Where'd you read that?
    Many different sources over the years - it's pretty much beyond doubt!

    Just taking David Irving's account here (because he's one of the more credible WW2 historians) ...

    (Göring) bragged to Hitler that his bombers would set those ports ablaze, then wipe out the enemy troops based in northern France. VIII Air Corps commander Richthofen noted Göring's orders in his diary: "Destroy the British in the pocket".

    "The air-force", wrote General Franz Halder, "is to finish off the encircled army". "Our air-force" announced Göring, beaming, to his deputy, "is to mop up the British. I've persuaded the Fuehrer to hold the army back". The halt order was controversial but it made sense to the generals at the time. There was a belief that the campaign was all but over; there was no question of 'going easy' on the British. "The Fuehrer wants us to give them a lesson they'll never forget", Göring told Milch.

    [...]

    He flew back to Hitler's HQ to report on the 'mopping up' at Dunkirk. "Only fishing boats are coming over for the British", he scoffed. "Let's hope the Tommies can swim!" As he left France on May 30 and returned to Potsdam, he was unaware that 300.000 British and French troops were slipping away from the beaches of Dunkirk.
    (Göring, page 290)

    My maternal grandfather was on the Dunkirk beaches. He told me all about the Stukas. He always attributed his deafness in later years to the infernal din of the bombs that crashed into the town of Dunkirk during the evacuation. He said that once he'd reached the beach the sand deadened the impact a bit and, although a more dangerous place, it somehow seemed a lot calmer there.

    Another thing which occurs to me is that there had been previous halts in the German advance so there was nothing particularly special about that fateful one on the 24th (apart from its consequences).

    On the 15th, for example, Guderian had already been told to stop the tanks by his superior Kleist but he disobeyed, and then resigned as a result. He was reinstated but there was a 24-hour rest ordered shortly afterwards (..on the 17th? I forget the exact date ) during which Guderian was allowed to continue his own advance 'for reconnaissance purposes'

    The important detail here though is that the generals were already wary of advancing too far too quickly and Hitler was going frantic, so the Halt Order (as it became known) just 10 kms from Dunkirk fits into this overall pattern, rather than being a one-off 'favour' that AH granted the British.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SaxonPagan View Post
    I also happen to think that the British & French between them put up one hell of a fight to defend the Channel ports
    And the Belgians, SP! The Battle of the Lys in the last week of May, in which the Belgian army stood alone and stood firm for a precious few days after the British decision to evacuate and with the French covering the British retreat in the west, was the high light of the entire "Campaign of 18 Days" as we call it in Flanders, from a Belgian perspective. Little attention is given to the Battle of the Lys by international authors however. It is only mentioned in passing but in the context of Operation Dynamo it does deserve more attention.

    and the German infantry would have been struggling to break through the Dunkirk perimeter anyway within the time allowed (..and given that they had to focus their efforts on other places as well, such as Arras).
    The Brits would've put up a desperate fight with their backs against the wall, but the Germans only had to take a small trip of land, the dunes, to force the decision - while the Brits were sabotaging their own hardware and everything they could not take back to blighty! The Germans don't even have to fully succeed, just being there and fighting in the Dunes while having a bird's eye view of the beaches will make evacuation impossible. There's little doubt in my mind the Wehrmacht could've largely derailed the Miracle of Dunkirk.

    BTW, did you know that at Arras the Brits unleashed their new 'Matilda' tanks and the Wehrmacht/SS divisions who faced them saw their shells just bouncing off the armour It was a short-lived victory but the BEF even smashed through the Totenkopf lines at one point, who were Hitler's élite troops. My point here is that the Wehrmacht still didn't know exactly what it was up against at this early stage of the war (they only invaded France 11 days previously, on May 10th!) so there was genuine apprehension as news filtered back to Hitler about Allied weaponry.
    It's not so much the quality of these tanks which made the difference, as French and British armor the Germans could not penetrate was abandoned all the time for lack of fuel and logistical issues and neutralized that way, through a war of movement. At Arras too the British armored thrusts eventually either ran into effective anti-tank screens (Rommel's ad hoc defense, relying on the experience of the Spanish Civil War, when the 88 A.A. guns took on the role of A.T. guns) or became isolated in the middle of nowhere, eventually having to retreat. Several Matilda Mark IIs were knocked out during that battle. But you're right to bring up the Battle of Arras, it is crucial for the operations in and around Dunkirk. It slowed down the Germans by making them very weary about a potential counter offensive, linking up the allied northern and southern fronts in a Stalingradish fashion. Fearing disaster, the Germans slowed down their advance to allow the infantry to link up with the mobile divisions after the Battle of Arras. Rommel contributed to this development too by exaggerating the number of divisions involved in attacking his front at Arras, saying he had encountered five divisions. It did contribute to unnecessary paranoia amongst the German leadership.

    I think Hitler (and Rundstedt, who had actually suggested the halt - Hitler just rubber-stamped it) had every right to be cautious.
    Yes, because elements of the Wehrmacht were spread out all across the French battle space between Sedan-Abbeville, the Meuse and the Channel Coast, and hence the flanks of the spearhead were very vulnerable - it's only logical to protect your flanks in normal circumstances - but it was still a miscalculation since the allies were completely incapable of launching a real counterattack of their own involving even a single full division on short notice, never mind two. Guderian understood this, he knew the Wehrmacht was not in danger of being enveloped itself on the Channel Coast. In the end there was no need to be this cautious. Yet I'm saying that with the benefit of hindsight because at the time it wasn't as clear as it is today and most Germans too were surprised about their own success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terminus
    Where'd you read that?
    Göring's intervention is part of the official narrative, he did claim the Luftwaffe could prevent the B.E.F.'s evacuation.
    "If we were going to stand in darkness, best we stand in a darkness we had made ourselves.” ― Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet

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    Quote Originally Posted by SaxonPagan View Post
    Many different sources over the years - it's pretty much beyond doubt!
    Please, cite some.

    Quote Originally Posted by SaxonPagan View Post
    Just taking David Irving's account here (because he's one of the more credible WW2 historians) ...
    1. David Irving, despite his interviews and reliance on primary/secondary sources, is still a historian. All historians represent a modern priest caste for the secular minded. Whatever his intentions were, Irving still works from within the framework of history, a severely disadvantageous position to take against abusers of history. The Old Testament is a gigantic falsification of history. It suffices to argue that history itself is a fiction construct not worth salvaging. We should toss out all history books and focus on a man's character.
    2. Hitler's subordinates were often fond of making claims that he endorsed their positions and of taking responsibility for decisions ordered by Hitler himself. Goebbels made it pretty clear that Hitler didn't want to damage Athens or Rome, considering them his Meccas. How much more for Britain! He made it crystal clear in his private conversations that he wanted Britain to retain it's world empire.

    Quote Originally Posted by SaxonPagan View Post
    My maternal grandfather was on the Dunkirk beaches. He told me all about the Stukas. He always attributed his deafness in later years to the infernal din of the bombs that crashed into the town of Dunkirk during the evacuation. He said that once he'd reached the beach the sand deadened the impact a bit and, although a more dangerous place, it somehow seemed a lot calmer there.
    Fascinating testimony.

    Quote Originally Posted by SaxonPagan View Post
    Another thing which occurs to me is that there had been previous halts in the German advance so there was nothing particularly special about that fateful one on the 24th (apart from its consequences).

    On the 15th, for example, Guderian had already been told to stop the tanks by his superior Kleist but he disobeyed, and then resigned as a result. He was reinstated but there was a 24-hour rest ordered shortly afterwards (..on the 17th? I forget the exact date ) during which Guderian was allowed to continue his own advance 'for reconnaissance purposes'

    The important detail here though is that the generals were already wary of advancing too far too quickly and Hitler was going frantic, so the Halt Order (as it became known) just 10 kms from Dunkirk fits into this overall pattern, rather than being a one-off 'favour' that AH granted the British.
    I'll accept that's plausible.

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    Please, cite some.
    Terminus, I'm not sure what you want me to cite

    Do you mean some more sources (in addition to the one from David Irving) about Göring's intention to destroy the BEF?

    Assuming this to be the case, here is one from the 'controversial' Landser series that was banned due to - among other things - being too pro-German, with many of the contributors themselves having served in the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe or Kriegsmarine ...



    It clearly states that the 'Liquidierung' of the BEF forces was the Luftwaffe's main objective.


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    Quote Originally Posted by SaxonPagan View Post
    Terminus, I'm not sure what you want me to cite

    Do you mean some more sources (in addition to the one from David Irving) about Göring's intention to destroy the BEF?

    Assuming this to be the case, here is one from the 'controversial' Landser series that was banned due to - among other things - being too pro-German, with many of the contributors themselves having served in the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe or Kriegsmarine ...

    It clearly states that the 'Liquidierung' of the BEF forces was the Luftwaffe's main objective.
    Yes, something like that.

    Point taken, thanks.

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    I think stopping the evacuation combined with ramping up the U boat campaign might have brought England to the peace table and that would have also kept America out of the war.
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

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