Republican Party, Vladimir Putin, ‘Dunkirk’: Your Wednesday Briefing

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The Los Angeles Times

Back Story

The World War II evacuation of troops from the French port city of Dunkirk remains a symbol of solidarity in Europe but is perhaps less known elsewhere. That is likely to change this month with the release of Christopher Nolan’s film “Dunkirk.”

German forces had surrounded more than 300,000 Allied troops in the city in the spring of 1940. The troops were trapped on beaches north of its port, with the English Channel at their backs.


British troops leaving Dunkirk, France, in 1940.

Associated Press

Shallow water prevented large navy vessels from coming to shore, but smaller private boats, affectionately called “the little ships of England,” came to the rescue.

“I wanted to do something that frightened me a bit,” Mr. Nolan told The Times about telling a moment of history.

Days after the evacuation, Winston Churchill, the British prime minister, warned Parliament that “wars are not won by evacuations.” But he ended his address with one of his most recognizable and inspiring quotes:

“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.”

Palko Karasz contributed reporting.


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