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The Dunkirk Disaster

There are already thousands of Alternate Histories in which the British army is destroyed or captured leaving Dunkirk, sometimes allowing the Germans to successfully invade Britain or forcing the British to make peace.  I wondered about a different variant on that theme. 

First, lets clear up a couple of myths.  Firstly, the French army at Dunkirk had not been completely defeated.  Those men fought bravely to hold the perimeter while large amounts of the British boarded boats and left France behind.  Secondly, the terrain of Dunkirk was not suitable for Panzers.  I donít say that the Panzers could not have taken the town; I say that they would have been severely mauled, just as some of Rommelís panzers in Africa were at the first battle of Tobruk. 

The French wanted the British to assist them in holding the town and its environs.  Lets assume that, instead of a retreat, Churchill insists on a gallant gesture and orders the British and French army to dig in round the town.  As there was something like a three-mile perimeter, its possible to base some RAF squadrons at Dunkirk, although Churchill is canny enough to insist that they are prepared to fly to Britain at a moments notice. 

The existence of the dug-in forces come to the attention of the Germans and they take action.  They push together two panzer divisions and some infantry, with air support, and attack from the east.  They get pushed back with heavy casualties, which is a boost to allied morale.  Hitler is not amused.

The Germans really have two choices here.  They can launch another attack with proper support, or they can lay siege to Dunkirk and continue pressing west.  Hitler becomes obsessed with Dunkirk and orders the German army to prepare to attack again. 

Meanwhile, the British and French are preparing to meet the next blow.  Anti-aircraft guns and ammunition are shipped into Dunkirk, while the French work on re-establishing defensive lines in the south of France.  Paris is abandoned in good order and the French have time to mass their remaining tanks and aircraft. 

On 1st June, the Germans launch a full-scale attack against dug-in British and French troops.  Itís a meatgrinder, the Germans are fighting a battle thatís against their doctrine and historical experience (think Verdun on a smaller scale), while this is the sort of battle that the British and French trained to fight.  After a week of fighting, the Germans have secured air-control, but the allied AA guns are being used properly and the German bombers are very easy to hit in a dive.  As the weather gets worse, the Allies are able to turn that to their advantage.

The German morale is suffering, while the British and French morale is increasing.  The leaders of their nations, however, are grimly aware that Britain is bleeding away its troops in a futile battle, while the French are preparing more southern defense lines.  Incidentally, the battle has convinced Mussolini not to declare war.

After two weeks, the end is in sight for Dunkirk, but the Germans have suffered reverses elsewhere.  The French tanks have been pushing at German forces and the masses of French troops that the Germans did not have time to put in camps are forming into a resistance movement as the German advance slows. 

As the cream of the German army fades, Stalin starts getting tougher with the German supplies.  The Germans have been getting raw materials from the USSR practically for free, now Stalin starts asking for access to the German tank designs.  The Germans comply, although Stalin thinks that heís being cheated, as the most advanced German tank is no match for the T-34.  (This happened in OTL.)

The Germans suspect that they are on the ropes, although they still have a good chance of winning.  The German General staff believes that Hitler has gone mad, but they donít want a repeat of the disaster of 1919, when Germany was forced to bear all the blame for the war.  However, in mid-June, Hitler is assinated, with Goring as his nominal successor. 

Goring opens peace talks with the allies and orders a pullback to the 1914 borders of Germany, although they continue to occupy Belgium and Holland.  He demands that the allies begin peace talks and works hard to push the French and British apart.  This works to some degree and relations sour.

The real motive behind the peace talks is simple:  Stalin has been building up in the Cascaous for a probable advance into Iran or Turkey.  This worries the British as they have a commitment to defend Turkey from anyone, worse, a soviet push into Iran would be almost unstoppable.  They have a good motive to make peace.

The peace treaty is signed in July.  The Germans keep Alsace-Lorraine from the French.  They also receive back German East Africa and the Belgian Congo.   Holland and Belgium become German satellites.  Norway is released, while Denmark is directly annexed, while Iceland and Greenland become British.  The Dutch Far Eastern territories become German, but the US reacts against this and Hitler weasels out by selling them to Japan.  Roosevelt works on building up the US military so that the US voice has to be heard about the world.

With the peace in Europe, Stalin slows down the build-up in Russia.  He does not want a major war yet with anyone.  He works on absorbing his new territories, while planning to attack Japan next year. 

Germany expels most of the Jews and other undesirables.  Goring knows how close Germany came to defeat and does not want to give the outside world any excuse for causing trouble.  Many of the Jews go to Palestine until the British refuse to take any more.  Italy takes in the rest and uses them to colonise Libya. 

All of the powers are weakened by the war.  Japan continues to attempt to subdue china, but also builds up in Manchuria for a possible war of revenge against the USSR.