The evacuation from Dunkirk on the French coast was hailed in Britain as an extraordinary achievement and the ‘little ships of Dunkirk’ swiftly entered the mythology of wartime brave deeds.
British soldiers wade out to a waiting destroyer off Dunkirk during the evacuation.
Troops evacuated from Dunkirk on a destroyer about to berth at Dover, 31 May 1940.
Troops evacuated from Dunkirk enjoying tea and other refreshments at Addison Road station in London, 31 May 1940.
Some of the 'little ships' used during the evacuation of Dunkirk being towed back along the River Thames past Tower Bridge, 9 June 1940.
German forces moved into Dunkirk hours after the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force. Here German officers inspect a memorial on the sea front at Dunkirk.
When this photograph was taken, the German capital Berlin was the scene of a ferocious final battle. Although this picture suggests friendship between the United States and Russia, the post-war world would be shaped by their confrontation during the Cold War.
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The Second World War in Europe engulfed the people of many countries. Appallingly destructive, the war witnessed devastating battles and an unprecedented industrial genocide. Its repercussions continue to be felt today.
By 1941, German forces had conquered Poland, swept across western and southern Europe, and invaded the Soviet Union. Societies across Europe struggled to adapt to German occupation; people were forced to make hard choices between active resistance, acquiescence, or collaboration. Nazi racial theories brought about systematic genocide while millions endured brutal forced labour.
From 1942 to 1943, the tide of battle changed decisively. A resurgent Soviet Army exhausted Axis forces on the Eastern Front and Allied armies invaded Italy. Allied aircraft bombarded German cities with ever greater intensity. In summer 1944 Allied forces invaded France, and a Soviet offensive devoured Eastern Europe. In May 1945 the Red Army captured Berlin and Germany surrendered. From the war emerged a new political order, dividing Europe between Soviet and Western influence. Germany would be partitioned by its conquerors, not to be reunified until 1989.