Dunkirk's Mysterious Missing Germans

In a Q&A interview with Bloomberg.com's James Gibney, Museum Senior Historian Robert M. Citino provides some of the military background that the Christopher Nolan blockbuster leaves out. 

A scene from ‘Dunkirk’ WARNER BROS. PICTURES

An excerpt: 

JG: What does the German decision to halt at Dunkirk tell us about what you've called "the curious command hierarchy and decision-making mechanisms of the Third Reich"?

RC: Many students of World War II still hold to a myth of German efficiency, the notion that the Wehrmacht command was infallible. The Germans had a tradition of allowing commanders a great deal of latitude while on campaign, allowing them to seize opportunities that might otherwise be lost. That tradition was responsible for a great deal of their success. But often, German commanders worked at cross-purposes with one another, requiring a strong hand on the rudder, if you will. Virtually every "blunder" attributed to Hitler in World War II originated in a conflict within the German officer corps that only Hitler had the authority to sort out.

Read the complete interview here



Robert Citino, PhD

Robert Citino, PhD, is the Samuel Zemurray Stone Senior Historian in the Jenny Craig Institute for the Study of War and Democracy. Dr. Ci...
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