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Tags "Dunkirk" , war movies , World War II history

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Old 11th April 2017, 08:52 PM   #1
Ranb
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Dunkirk evacuation

I was reading about the movie Dunkirk at the IMDB here; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/trivia
One of the trivia items reads;
Quote:
The evacuation is often seen as a terrible defeat for the British as it resulted in them continuing a war that destroyed their empire and turned the UK into an American satellite.
What does this mean? What if the British army been destroyed on the beach by the Germans. Would this have kept them out of the war with Germany taking over Europe and possibly Asia while allowing the British Empire to continue to exist as it did before?

What am I missing from this line of reasoning?

Ranb
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Old 11th April 2017, 08:59 PM   #2
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Beats the hell out of me. My MIL was a WRAF during the war, and she still thinks it was a victory.

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Old 11th April 2017, 09:07 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
I was reading about the movie Dunkirk at the IMDB here; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/trivia
One of the trivia items reads;

What does this mean? What if the British army been destroyed on the beach by the Germans. Would this have kept them out of the war with Germany taking over Europe and possibly Asia while allowing the British Empire to continue to exist as it did before?

What am I missing from this line of reasoning?

Ranb
Somebody had the chance to insert a little of their own propaganda into the IMDB.

Not much different than certain folks that assert that America went off the deep end in 1776 and had we stayed as a colony we wouldn't have all these terrible American habits.
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Old 11th April 2017, 09:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
I was reading about the movie Dunkirk at the IMDB here; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/trivia
One of the trivia items reads;

What does this mean? What if the British army been destroyed on the beach by the Germans. Would this have kept them out of the war with Germany taking over Europe and possibly Asia while allowing the British Empire to continue to exist as it did before?

What am I missing from this line of reasoning?

Ranb
In England it's seen as a remarkable achievement (the "Little ships" and "Dunkirk spirit") and was a rallying cry, perhaps akin to "remember the Alamo!".
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Old 11th April 2017, 10:27 PM   #5
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It was a British victory by any measure.
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Old 11th April 2017, 10:37 PM   #6
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Though I never even looked at it until the thread here about its' closing, it's too bad they shut down their forum.

I'd bet a fair amount that there were at least a couple threads asking the author to explain that comment.
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Old 11th April 2017, 11:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
It was a British victory by any measure.
If anything it was an allied "victory" (it was a defeat, a retreat, but one where the army forces could be saved for a later battle) where they cooperated to get the evacuation done. Part of the reason why it went so smoothly was Hitler ordering a stop to gather the troop, and part of the delaying action by what was left of the french troops (hadn't they fought until 31st May in the battle of Lille, the German would have fallen on Dunkirk much sooner).
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Old 12th April 2017, 03:52 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
It was a British victory by any measure.
I like Spike Milligan's recounting of the comment on it by one of the evacuated soldiers:

"It was a **** up, son. A highly successful **** up."

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Old 12th April 2017, 09:05 AM   #9
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OTOH, I've seen arguments that England was the only true loser of the war as a whole. This is based on post-war economies and political developments.

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Old 12th April 2017, 09:08 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
If anything it was an allied "victory" (it was a defeat, a retreat, but one where the army forces could be saved for a later battle) where they cooperated to get the evacuation done. Part of the reason why it went so smoothly was Hitler ordering a stop to gather the troop, and part of the delaying action by what was left of the french troops (hadn't they fought until 31st May in the battle of Lille, the German would have fallen on Dunkirk much sooner).
Yes, I think this is good analysis.

I've always found it somewhat strange that it was celebrated. It obviously paved the way for resistance and ultimately, victory, but it was survival, not conquest.

I suppose it's a bit like the Alamo in the US: represents resilience in the face of overwhelming odds and allowed for larger victory.

As to the OP, very strange. Hard to make sense of that line.

I've read somewhat convincing arguments that Britain should have stayed out of WWI - Germany wins quickly, some sort of negotiated arrangement on the Continent is livable, you avoid the horrors of WWII. But I can't really see a coherent argument for sitting out WWII.

Last edited by TraneWreck; 12th April 2017 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 12th April 2017, 09:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by TraneWreck View Post

I've read somewhat convincing arguments that Britain should have stayed out of WWI - Germany wins quickly, some sort of negotiated arrangement on the Continent is livable, you avoid the horrors of WWII. But I can't really see a coherent argument for sitting out WWII.

Even staying out of WW1 is a stretch... Imperial Germany wasn't as bad as Nazi Germany but it was still definitely the 'bad' guy in WW1. If Britain had abstained from fighting, leading to a German victory, then Britain would have been in a very parlous spot.
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Old 12th April 2017, 09:32 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Even staying out of WW1 is a stretch... Imperial Germany wasn't as bad as Nazi Germany but it was still definitely the 'bad' guy in WW1. If Britain had abstained from fighting, leading to a German victory, then Britain would have been in a very parlous spot.
Sure. It's an argument that only makes sense knowing what was to come.

You could have coexisted with Imperial Germany, and avoiding most of WWI is a benefit in its own right, but the real value lies in no Hitler, no Holocaust, arguably no Soviet Union....
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Old 12th April 2017, 09:34 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post

What am I missing from this line of reasoning?
The joke.
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Old 12th April 2017, 10:11 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by TraneWreck View Post
Yes, I think this is good analysis.

I've always found it somewhat strange that it was celebrated. It obviously paved the way for resistance and ultimately, victory, but it was survival, not conquest.

I suppose it's a bit like the Alamo in the US: represents resilience in the face of overwhelming odds and allowed for larger victory.

As to the OP, very strange. Hard to make sense of that line.

I've read somewhat convincing arguments that Britain should have stayed out of WWI - Germany wins quickly, some sort of negotiated arrangement on the Continent is livable, you avoid the horrors of WWII. But I can't really see a coherent argument for sitting out WWII.
But, without time travel and manipulation of various adjustments we will never really know what would have worked best.
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Old 12th April 2017, 10:14 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
But, without time travel and manipulation of various adjustments we will never really know what would have worked best.
Indeed. Still interesting to consider.
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Old 12th April 2017, 10:30 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
I was reading about the movie Dunkirk at the IMDB here; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/trivia
One of the trivia items reads;

What does this mean? What if the British army been destroyed on the beach by the Germans. Would this have kept them out of the war with Germany taking over Europe and possibly Asia while allowing the British Empire to continue to exist as it did before?

What am I missing from this line of reasoning?

Ranb
I suspect the line of reasoning is that if the BEF had been destroyed on the beach the British could not have continued the fight and would have been forced to sue for peace. This would have left them in a better economic circumstance and probably with most of the empire intact. By 1945 Britain was bankrupt from the cost of the war.
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Old 12th April 2017, 10:33 AM   #17
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You know, now that I think about it, I have seen some arguments that if Britain and the US never involved themselves in Europe in WWII, Hitler and Stalin would have ground each other into dust, anyway.

I'm not convinced. I don't see a scenario where Germany doesn't make life very difficult for Britain.
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Old 12th April 2017, 11:06 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
I was reading about the movie Dunkirk at the IMDB here; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/trivia
One of the trivia items reads;

What does this mean? What if the British army been destroyed on the beach by the Germans. Would this have kept them out of the war with Germany taking over Europe and possibly Asia while allowing the British Empire to continue to exist as it did before?

What am I missing from this line of reasoning?

Ranb
Originally Posted by TraneWreck View Post
Yes, I think this is good analysis.

I've always found it somewhat strange that it was celebrated. It obviously paved the way for resistance and ultimately, victory, but it was survival, not conquest.

I suppose it's a bit like the Alamo in the US: represents resilience in the face of overwhelming odds and allowed for larger victory.

As to the OP, very strange. Hard to make sense of that line.

I've read somewhat convincing arguments that Britain should have stayed out of WWI - Germany wins quickly, some sort of negotiated arrangement on the Continent is livable, you avoid the horrors of WWII. But I can't really see a coherent argument for sitting out WWII.
Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
I suspect the line of reasoning is that if the BEF had been destroyed on the beach the British could not have continued the fight and would have been forced to sue for peace. This would have left them in a better economic circumstance and probably with most of the empire intact. By 1945 Britain was bankrupt from the cost of the war.
Originally Posted by TraneWreck View Post
You know, now that I think about it, I have seen some arguments that if Britain and the US never involved themselves in Europe in WWII, Hitler and Stalin would have ground each other into dust, anyway.

I'm not convinced. I don't see a scenario where Germany doesn't make life very difficult for Britain.
Yeah- I think the text quoted in the OP probably just came from a Nazi apologist wanting to make an indirect argument in favor of Nazi victory. That's just a hunch on my part, though.
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Old 12th April 2017, 11:40 AM   #19
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I think that there no better analysis of the meaning of Dunkirk than that provided by Churchill himself in his "We shall fight them on the beaches" speech. He does a very cold and analytical analysis of the actual events, expresses relief that so much of the expeditionary force was rescued, yet is forthright as to wars not being won by retreats and that the events in Continental Europe that required the retreat were indeed a serious military defeat. And then, of course, he spoke of the future with a mix of how difficult it would be, but in confidence of the Allies ultimate success.
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Old 12th April 2017, 11:43 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
Yeah- I think the text quoted in the OP probably just came from a Nazi apologist wanting to make an indirect argument in favor of Nazi victory. That's just a hunch on my part, though.
I agree. The idea that Britain, once defeated militarily, would have benefited from a forced incorporation under the Nazis, is a fascist fantasy.
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Old 12th April 2017, 01:12 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
It was a British victory by any measure.
Dunkirk? Come on. It was a defeat, but with the effects somewhat diminished by the bold and daring rescue mission.

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Old 12th April 2017, 01:43 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by TraneWreck View Post
Yes, I think this is good analysis.

I've always found it somewhat strange that it was celebrated. It obviously paved the way for resistance and ultimately, victory, but it was survival, not conquest.

I suppose it's a bit like the Alamo in the US: represents resilience in the face of overwhelming odds and allowed for larger victory.

As to the OP, very strange. Hard to make sense of that line.

I've read somewhat convincing arguments that Britain should have stayed out of WWI - Germany wins quickly, some sort of negotiated arrangement on the Continent is livable, you avoid the horrors of WWII. But I can't really see a coherent argument for sitting out WWII.
Heroic defeats are often as or more celebrated victories. The Battle of Thermoplylae has spawned more fiction than the Battle of Salamis which was a Greek victory and probably more important in the long run.

Also, saying Dunkirk was a British Victory is as silly as the quote in OP. It was a valiant defeat and fighting retreat that allowed the Brits to keep fighting sure, but not a victory.
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Old 13th April 2017, 01:07 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by TraneWreck View Post
You could have coexisted with Imperial Germany, and avoiding most of WWI is a benefit in its own right, but the real value lies in no Hitler, no Holocaust, arguably no Soviet Union....
Not convinced.
British diplomacy was pretty much based on not letting a single power in Europe become dominant. A dominant Germany, with a now crippled France and Russia, would have meant a Germany that could now face outwards, which was one of their stated intentions. One of the reasons they were building a big fleet.

Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
Also, saying Dunkirk was a British Victory is as silly as the quote in OP. It was a valiant defeat and fighting retreat that allowed the Brits to keep fighting sure, but not a victory.
Quite.
It was a case of avoiding a catastrophe.
But the post-Dunkirk propaganda has has stuck in the national consciousness.
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Old 13th April 2017, 03:08 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
I was reading about the movie Dunkirk at the IMDB here; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/trivia
One of the trivia items reads;

What does this mean? What if the British army been destroyed on the beach by the Germans. Would this have kept them out of the war with Germany taking over Europe and possibly Asia while allowing the British Empire to continue to exist as it did before?

What am I missing from this line of reasoning?

Ranb
The argument runs that Britain bankrupted itself economically, had to hand over massively valuable technologies (cavity magnetron, jet engines) for a pittance and that the US used it's aid to undermine the British Empire. Had Britain come to reasonable terms after the fall of France it could have been spared all of that.

It's complete ********* of course, because it assumes that Hitler would honour whatever deal he made. In the long term if Germany wins in the east the UK becomes a vassal state of Nazi Germany. If Germany loses then Britain faces a communist Europe and who knows what happens then?
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Old 13th April 2017, 03:22 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
Heroic defeats are often as or more celebrated victories. The Battle of Thermoplylae has spawned more fiction than the Battle of Salamis which was a Greek victory and probably more important in the long run.
Quite true, the charge of the light brigade is famous, the charge of the heavy brigade all but forgotten even though they happened on the very same day.

Quote:
Also, saying Dunkirk was a British Victory is as silly as the quote in OP. It was a valiant defeat and fighting retreat that allowed the Brits to keep fighting sure, but not a victory.
It was the idea of the 'Dunkirk spirit' that really took hold, the story of the 'little ships' and the sense that the nation came together to make a stand.
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Old 13th April 2017, 05:40 AM   #26
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It may be nitpickery, but it is the sort of nitpickery that matters in keeping morale and winning at politics.

The Battle of France was a loss for the British. The Battle of Dunkirk was a victory, not a defeat. Its objective was to save the expeditionary force, and that objective was achieved.
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Old 13th April 2017, 05:47 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Garrette View Post
The Battle of Dunkirk was a victory, not a defeat. Its objective was to save the expeditionary force, and that objective was achieved.
I would say that it was neither a victory nor a defeat, as it wasn't strictly speaking a battle.

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Old 13th April 2017, 05:47 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Garrette View Post
It may be nitpickery, but it is the sort of nitpickery that matters in keeping morale and winning at politics.

The Battle of France was a loss for the British. The Battle of Dunkirk was a victory, not a defeat. Its objective was to save the expeditionary force, and that objective was achieved.
That is, they saved the men. All the material had to be left behind on the continent.
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Old 13th April 2017, 05:50 AM   #29
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It was the pursuit after the battle.
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Old 13th April 2017, 05:52 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
That is, they saved the men. All the material had to be left behind on the continent.
Bearing in mind the quality of a lot of the BEF's equipment, it may well have turned out to be less of a loss than it seemed at the time.

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Old 13th April 2017, 06:25 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
Not convinced.
British diplomacy was pretty much based on not letting a single power in Europe become dominant. A dominant Germany, with a now crippled France and Russia, would have meant a Germany that could now face outwards, which was one of their stated intentions. One of the reasons they were building a big fleet.
Fair, for sure, it is imagineering.

As a counterpoint, imagine how much damage an aggressive Imperial Germany could do and still fall short of Hitler + Stalin.
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Old 13th April 2017, 08:23 PM   #32
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Tactical defeat strategic victory
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Old 20th April 2017, 07:45 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Bearing in mind the quality of a lot of the BEF's equipment, it may well have turned out to be less of a loss than it seemed at the time.
Indeed. How much of it was re-used by the Germans? They barely used the many Enfield rifles they captured. British tanks? The Czechs made better ones. Brit trucks? I'm biased, having watched my brother scrape his knuckles raw wrenching a TR-4, but really? Mules and horses start every morning. Also unlike the German brands of the time.
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Old 20th April 2017, 09:54 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
Indeed. How much of it was re-used by the Germans? They barely used the many Enfield rifles they captured. British tanks? The Czechs made better ones. Brit trucks? I'm biased, having watched my brother scrape his knuckles raw wrenching a TR-4, but really? Mules and horses start every morning. Also unlike the German brands of the time.
The only exception might be Matilda II.
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Old 21st April 2017, 12:46 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Klimax View Post
The only exception might be Matilda II.
Apart from the speed.
The Germans went for speed over armour/hitting power at that point, so the Matilda would have been viewed as too slow.
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Old 21st April 2017, 01:08 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
Indeed. How much of it was re-used by the Germans? Brit trucks? I'm biased, having watched my brother scrape his knuckles raw wrenching a TR-4, but really?
Especially after the retreating British started the engines, drained the oil, and let them run until they seized up.
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Old 21st April 2017, 02:29 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
Apart from the speed.
The Germans went for speed over armour/hitting power at that point, so the Matilda would have been viewed as too slow.
They liked them enough in North Africa to try to use them. With "interesting" results...

BTW: Matilda also could use Little John Adapter. That's worth something.
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Old 21st April 2017, 02:44 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
I was reading about the movie Dunkirk at the IMDB here; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/trivia
One of the trivia items reads;

What does this mean? What if the British army been destroyed on the beach by the Germans. Would this have kept them out of the war with Germany taking over Europe and possibly Asia while allowing the British Empire to continue to exist as it did before?

What am I missing from this line of reasoning?

Ranb
Presumably UK would be able to get an acceptable peace deal with Germany at that point. Hitler wasn't keen on fighting UK, his real goal was Russia and he was aware Kriegsmarine was no match for the Royal navy, so it is possible UK would not suffer terribly from the peace. It would have to forego the Versailles peace treaty and what that offered, but this happened anyway. It would be dealt a major blow to prestige, but it would retain much more hard power. Prestige didn't save the empire, but hard power might have.
A German victory in Russia would overextend the fledgling empire to the point it wouldn't be a threat to UK for a long time. Russia is too large and had a too large population to easily control or cull, it would be a generation before Germany would be able to get more resources from Russia than it put in in terms of manpower and blood.

Without fighting a war in Europe it is possible it would be either better able to resist Japan or maybe would've been able to stay out of that war altogether. It is possible - by not means certain, but possible - it would be able to hold on to it's maritime empire for considerably longer than it did in this scenario.

I'm not saying that the above would be a good turn of events, indeed it would be horrible, but this is the line of reasoning they're following, I think.

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Last edited by McHrozni; 21st April 2017 at 02:47 AM.
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Old 21st April 2017, 04:39 AM   #39
Craig B
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Originally Posted by McHrozni View Post
Presumably UK would be able to get an acceptable peace deal with Germany at that point.
Was Hitler capable of such restraint by that point? If he had been, he would have treated France with greater consideration when it capitulated. But instead he plundered that rich country mercilessly and imposed on it his insane racial obsessions.
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Old 21st April 2017, 08:37 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Was Hitler capable of such restraint by that point? If he had been, he would have treated France with greater consideration when it capitulated. But instead he plundered that rich country mercilessly and imposed on it his insane racial obsessions.
Hitler saw the British as natural allies. I believe this was because he considered them as racial cousins to the Germans.

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