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Why did the Germans allow the defeated British forces to escape from Dunkirk in the Battle of France?


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2011-06-09 20:18:41
2011-06-09 20:18:41

Before answering this question, one must look first at why Germany and England were at war at the time. After the end of WW1, both Germany and Prussia (a close German ally with German speaking people) lost large amounts of resource rich territory to other countries, including Poland, France, Denmark, Belgium and Czechoslovakia. After Germany rearmed and recovered somewhat from the economic woes following WW1, they began the process of regaining lost territory and uniting all German people once again into the nation of Germany. This included annexing territory that was occupied by German people, including the nation of Austria, Prussia and the territory lost after WW1 to France, Denmark, Belgium and Czechoslovakia.

Once this started taking place, England begins to deploy its British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France to prepare for a future coordinated attack on Germany with Russia. At this point, the last portion of German land that had not been reacquired was in Poland. The land was West Prussia, Posen and Upper Silesia. The Poles refused to give the German land and population back to Germany, largely because England and France both promised Poland that they would immediately come to her defense in the event of a German attempt to retake the now Polish controlled territory. Germany declares war, and retakes its lost territory. Shortly after the German declaration of war, Russia attacks Poland and wipes out the remainder of the country to eliminate Poland as an obstacle for the expected future Russian attack on Germany.

England and France then declared war on Germany, as part of their promise to come to Poland's defense if it came to war over Poland's theft of German territory. This starts what is known as 'The Phony War' where war was declared, but neither side was really acting as though there was a war. Germany did not wish for war against England, France or the United States. As a result, they tried to negotiate a peace with England. The English leaders, war mongers like Churchill in particular, were not interested. Rather, they wanted to execute their planned war against Germany and their plan was right on schedule. The only thing they needed at this point was for Russia to get its forces modernized and in place.

At this phase in the conflict, England convinces Norwegian government to cut off German supplies of vital Swedish iron ore. This action resulted in a German invasion of Norway. The English and French land troops in Norway to oppose the Germans, but it is only a token defense that is unable to stop the invasion. Norway capitulated in 65 days with some of their political leaders fleeing to England in fear of retribution from the Germans for their hostile actions.

At this point, it is clear to everyone that England is preparing for an invasion of Germany. At this point the BEF had accumulated the following forces in France, and were adding more daily. 316,000 infantry, including 10 infantry divisions, three corps, the 1st Army Tank Brigade, 25,000 support vehicles, an RAF attachment of 500 combat aircraft, the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Brigade, the RAF Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF), and the 5th Infantry Royal Artillery division. (Clearly a large scale deployment.)

Germany cannot afford a two front war, and attacks France in an effort to eliminate the Western front before the Russians are in position to attack on the Eastern front. Germany is forced to attack France, through Belgium due to the Maginot line. The battle is over very quickly, with the French and English forces still trying to fight in a WW1 style, while Germany is using mobile warfare. The English are in full retreat to Dunkirk in order to escape.

Make no mistake, Germany could have easily crushed the remaining BEF forces. The BEF was in complete disarray with long columns of troops fleeing toward Dunkirk. The Germans had complete air superiority, and the English had no answer for the German armor and mechanized infantry tactics. While militarily it seems like a smart move for them to completely destroy the BEF, politically it would have been a disaster. (

Now, everyone knows that Germany allowed the BEF to escape and many people speculate why. The easy answer is also the most logical. Germany allowed the BEF to escape at Dunkirk intentionally. There are two possible causes for this decision, and probably both are true. One is that the Germans were indirectly given assurances by the English that they would cease the war against Germany if the remainder of the BEF was allowed to flee to England. The other is that the Germans believed that destroying the BEF completely would cause irreparable damage to relations with England and the United States. Germany realized that they likely could not win a conflict with all of the major world powers, and thus needed to establish a lasting peace if at all possible. Regardless or which, or both are true... Germany wanted peace with England, and wanted the Western war to cease. England however, clearly wanted war and knew it was only a matter of time before the Russians got involved, so maintaining a status of war was their ultimate decision ultimately resulting in WW2, Germany's defeat and the takeover of communism in most of Eastern Europe and most of Asia.


Related Questions

On the contrary, it was a Nazi victory. The British retreated.


the french and British soldiers defeated the Germans

Dunkirk was the retreat of the British Expeditionary force from France, it did not directly start the Battle of Britain.Dunkirk was the retreat of the British Expeditionary force from France, it did not directly start the Battle of Britain.

were the Germans defeated in a major battle for the first time in the war?

The Battle of Dunkirk was part of the Battle of France operation and responsible for the defense and evacuation of French and British forces to Britain in May and June, 1940. The situation seemed dire when the Germans, after crossing the channel went north, a decision that could have trapped French and British soldiers before they could be evacuated to Britain. However, the Germans halted the advance on Dunkirk, deciding instead to consolidate forces. This action enabled the evacuation to complete successfully.

The Battle of Dunkirk was a battle in World War II between Allies and Germany. The Germans flanked the Allied forces, and to capture the ports and trap the British and French forces before they could evacuate to Britain. The Battle ended with over 330,000 Allied troops being evacuated.

the British expeditionary fores, Germans, the RAF (royal air fores),the royal navy, and 900 normal people (because they asked to by the British government)

No, Britain were fighting against Germany. The battle of Dunkirk was actually a British and French retreat.

to help France from being defeated in ww2 by hitlar

The battle of Dunkirk was a success because the British government was only expecting to rescue 50,000 troops, instead the rescued 340,000.

None, really. They were in Dunkirk, obviously, but they were attempting to retreat back across the English Channel after the Germans had penned them in on the coast.There weren't any other nations of significance involved, and the British weren't trying to defend the area, they were attempting to vacate it.

Dunkirk did not lead to the Battle of Britain. Dunkirk was an evacuation operation for the British Army. The Battle of Britain was a fight for survival of the Royal Air Force when the Luftwaffe tried to destroy all their air bases.

A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defense and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 24 May - 4 June 1940.

It was fought at Dunkirk on the coast of France to evacuate British and Allied forces and get them back to Britain.

The battle of Dunkirk was potentially a miracle but down sides to it make it seem liek a disaster, There was thousands of punds worth of weponary and battle waepons that could;NT be reproduced in time for the british srmy to fight the Germans, so i think that it was a disaster but the fact that 330,000 lives were saved is infact a miracle!

This is known as the battle of Dunkirk. The British and French troops retreating towards Dunkirk in 1940 were rescued by a float of British ships.

The battle of Dunkirk took place on a beach in Dunkirk, France during WW2. The Battle of Dunkirk, the battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany

El Alamein in which the british defeated rommel and the germans. The victory paved the way for an allied invasion of italy.

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