10. The False Narrative of a Benign Fuhrer
In 1940, The Battle of France ended in a humiliating defeat – more of a debacle, actually – for the Western Powers. In just six weeks, the Germans did what they had been unable to do in four years during World War I, by routing the British and French armies, and forcing France to surrender. By late May, the rampaging Germans had pushed the remnants of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) into an ever shrinking pocket surrounding the port of Dunkirk, and seemed on the verge of annihilating the defenders.
Then, seemingly inexplicably, with a decisive victory over the British in his grasp, Hitler ordered his panzers to halt, and left the task of reducing the surrounded forces to the Luftwaffe. The British took advantage of the breather, and managed to pull off a miraculous evacuation. That gave birth to a false narrative to explain what came to be known as “The Miracle of Dunkirk”. In it, Hitler’s halt decision was depicted as a gesture of goodwill, by which he deliberately allowed the British, whom he admired, to escape. As seen below, it is as false as false gets.