The Battle for Dunkirk is usually understood as a historic event, as a result of which the combined forces of Britain and France managed to avoid large losses of lethal battle with the Nazis on the English Channel, especially near Dunkirk.

It is still not clear what was driving Hitler during the decision to retreat his army from the most likely winning situation. During the Dunkirk evacuation, it was possible to save 338 thousand people and keep the combat-ready army.


The Second World War left behind many mysteries and riddles, the answers to which have not been received so far. One of the controversial questions remains the so-called Dunkirk miracle, which historians have been arguing about for over seven decades.

After the German attack on Poland on September 1, 1939, Great Britain and France, by their allied commitments, declared war on the Third Reich. In response to the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Britain sent troops to defend France. After the Germans advanced into Belgium and the Netherlands in May 1940, the Allies made an almost fatal mistake.

The so-called Maginot Line almost entirely fortified the French-German border, but the Ardennes Forest only protected its northern section. The Allies assumed that it was too dense and did not require serious protection, but the German troops managed to pave the way through the thicket.

As a result, the Germans found themselves in the rear of the Allies, forcing them to move to Belgium, where they encountered even more enemy soldiers. The only option was to retreat to the coastal Dunkirk city, from where the troops could be evacuated to England. By the morning of May 21, German tanks turning north had reached the salty waters of the English Channel.

The British expeditionary corps, three French armies, and the remains of Belgian forces were surrounded on a small stretch of the northern coast of France. In the afternoon, in the Arras area, the British counterattacked advancing elite German units, trying to stop their advance.

They even managed to throw units of the 4th Wehrmacht army back a few kilometers, but by evening, with the support of the assault aircraft, the Germans were able to regain their positions. The moment when the Germans surrounded most of the British and French united armies could be a turning point for the whole war.

Nevertheless, Adolf Hitler ordered his troops to stop, and the Allies were given extra time. The reasons that led Hitler to halt the successful attack of his forces on Dunkirk story remains unclear. The English officers were inclined to consider it a miracle, the German officers – the worst mistake in the whole war.

Some researchers believe that Hitler did not want to turn the British against himself too much, hoping for a peace agreement in anticipation of an attack on the Soviet Union; others say that it suddenly played out the most common humanity, and he decided not to arrange a bloody meat grinder. Naval ships, passenger ferries, fishing boats, private yachts, and boats were brought in to evacuate the military.

The rescue operation was voluntarily joined by a handful of civilians who went to the aid of the Channel Strait separating Britain and France. As a result, in nine days, the resulting fleet, which was covered by British planes from the air, was able to take out most of the military. The Sea Bridge operated from May 26 to June 4, 1940.

During this time, over 338 thousand people were evacuated from Dunkirk beach, of which more than 337 thousand reached the English coast. Almost the whole expeditionary corps of Great Britain, more than 90 thousand French soldiers, as well as Belgians and soldiers of other countries of the allied coalition, were saved.

Also, it is essential to note that the British managed to maintain a combat-ready army, which made it possible to continue the war. The evacuation operation raised morale in Britain, which was of great importance for further events.