This weekend I saw the movie Dunkirk. In case you haven’t heard, it depicts the 1940 evacuation of British soldiers from the beach at Dunkirk in France as Nazi troops overran the area. The Nazis attempted to block the evacuation every way they could. Eventually, more than 300,000 men were rescued, but 68,000 were killed, wounded, missing, or captured.
The movie depicts the battle with continuous, terrifying action.
Because so many warships and other vessels were sunk or damaged and the evacuation was so desperate, Britain pressed 850 small civilian craft, such as yachts and motorboats, to help. The movie focuses on the attempt of one soldier to get to safety in Britain, one small craft that comes to the rescue, and two Spitfire airplane pilots fighting to protect the ships.
We see no Nazis in the movie, just the death and destruction they cause. But Nazis are in the news these days, and it may be a good time to remember, as the movie does, what Prime Minister Winston Churchill had to say after Dunkirk:
“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”
— Sue Burke