World Battlefronts: Strange Truce

Two French Red Cross workers cycled along the causeway that leads across the marshes outside Dunkirk. They passed safely through the German lines, pedaled through no man's land to the British lines. There they delivered a message from the German garrison commander. He wanted a truce to permit evacuation of Dunkirk's 20,000 civilians before the final battle, in which the city was certain to be destroyed.

The British and Canadian commanders balanced the civilians' lives against the loss of time in capturing Dunkirk and putting it to Allied use as a supply port. The...

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