Manchester Metropolitan University

Dunkirk: Victory or Defeat?

June 3rd 1940 was the last night of evacuations of Allied forces from Dunkirk.  Patrick Wilson assesses the importance of Operation Dynamo.

‘So long as the English tongue survives, the word Dunkirk will be spoken with reverence. In that harbour, such a hell on earth as never blazed before, at the end of a lost battle, the rags and blemishes that had hidden the soul of democracy fell away. There, beaten but unconquered, in shining splendour, she faced the enemy, this shining thing in the souls of free men, which Hitler cannot command. It is in the great tradition of democracy. It is a future. It is victory.

New York Times, 1 June 1940

‘For us Germans the word “Dunkirchen” will stand for all time for victory in the greatest battle of annihilation in history. But, for the British and French who were there, it will remind them for the rest of their lives of a defeat that was heavier than any army had ever suffered before.’

Der Adler, 5 June 1940

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