The fall of France: Hitler’s greatest gamble

Laurence Rees, a former BBC filmmaker who specialises in the Second World War, considers why the German drive into France in 1940 was such a risk and why it stopped short at Dunkirk

Calculated risk: Adolf Hitler makes plans at his headquarters in Bruly-de-Peche, Ardennes, Belgium. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the May 2010 issue of BBC History Magazine 

Adolf Hitler was one of the greatest risk takers in history. As he told Hermann Göring, just before the Second World War began: “I always go for broke!” So, in a lifetime of living on the edge, what do you think was the single greatest gamble Adolf Hitler ever took?

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