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Hitler's Propaganda Pilgrimage

The Return to Flanders
he controversy surrounding Hitler’s two visits to the Great War battlefields of
northern France and Flanders has endured for over 70 years. The first visit took
place on 1 June 1940, at the time of his visit the battle for France was continuing
and the British were still fighting on the perimeter at Dunkirk only 40 miles away. Hitler,
as supreme commander, made a routine visit to the Headquarters of von Richenau’s 6th
Army at Wevelgem, but the staff officers struggling with the logistics of the ongoing battle
for Dunkirk must have been surprised to be required to suddenly make arrangements for
the Führer to drive in a great loop through what was still a warzone. The sole purpose of
the trip was to allow Hitler to visit some obscure towns and villages which no longer had
strategic value in June 1940. The 1 June visit was unexpected and unnecessary, the
circular trip was a frustrating diversion at a time when there were much more pressing
calls on Hitler who, as supreme commander, was much in demand elsewhere especially
with an undefeated French army still in the field.