39. The Birth of a Myth
In late May of 1940, Hitler ordered his panzer formations, some of them just a few miles from the disorganized British milling about the beaches of Dunkirk, to halt for 48 hours in order to rest and refit. German generals loudly protested, but to no avail, and what happened next proved them right: the British made use of the letup to organize a defense, that eventually allowed them to evacuate about 338,000 Allied soldiers to safety.
Credible mainstream historians give short shrift to the fanciful notion of a merciful Fuhrer letting the British go as a sporting or good will gesture: there is zero evidence to support the assertion. However, crackpot revisionists have embraced the notion that Hitler had allowed the British to escape so he could look like a magnanimous gentleman, and thus draw Britain into peace negotiations.