Five Best: Contrarian Books on Dunkirk

Blitzkrieg in Their Own Words

Edited by Heinz Guderian (1942, translated by Alan Bance in 2005)

1. This collection of firsthand accounts by veterans of the 1939-40 Blitzkrieg campaigns delivers insights from two generations. Here are Wehrmacht soldiers conscripted by Hitler’s Third Reich, fighting alongside older, pre-1933 Reichswehr soldiers. Both were united in their belief that they fought to right the wrongs of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Their reminiscences exude pride at having achieved in weeks what their fathers failed to accomplish in years. They remember the remorseless pace of the German advance on Dunkirk, the abandoned vehicles, the broken weapons and, not least, the “bodies of fallen enemies.” These eyewitness testimonies are significant since few panzer crewmen and infantry combat soldiers would survive subsequent campaigns, particularly those fought in Europe and the Mediterranean. They matter, too, because personal accounts by Germans about the battles of Calais and Boulogne are rare. Dust and exhaustion permeate these stories. Despite the gushy National Socialist rhetoric, telling expressions of opinion emerge—a kind that speaks eloquently for the thoughts and feelings of one small unit of Germans around the Dunkirk perimeter.

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