The moment that made me

Beneath blossoming maple trees Hitler listened to his deputy’s idea over porridge, muesli and apple tea. The two former fellow comrades trusted each other blindly. Hitler felt he was on the same wavelength with “Möring”, in a way that he wasn’t with the Pervitinated generals. For him, the “National Socialist Luftwaffe” was philosophically superior to the “Prussian Army”.
So he agreed with his Reich Marshal’s haphazard suggestion
 and used this opportunity to eliminate the army supreme command as panned and impose his “Führer principle.” That morning he flew to Charleville, to the headquarters of Army Group A. At 12.45 an order was issued which still puzzles historians today. It is the ominous Dunkirk “Halt Order”, which cannot be explained rationally.
When the British notices that German tanks were stopping,
 they could hardly believe their luck. An unparalleled evacuation situation began straight away, and everyone hurried towards Dunkirk.
[…]
 Over 340,000 British, French and Belgian soldiers escaped in this way.

Norman Ohler
Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany

My paternal grandfather was among the 340,000+ evacuated that day.

To be honest, I’m not usually attracted to non-fiction accounts of the Second World War, or any war. Military history just doesn’t float my boat.

I understand Dunkirk is well-trodden territory as far as scholarly analysis and popular culture goes. There’s a Hollywood movie of the same name coming out later this year, no?

I did know my Welsh grandfather fought with the Allies at Dunkirk. And if I ever mentioned this fact to anyone who knew about these things, the response was usually pretty edifying, even if I didn’t understand what it meant. I knew there was a long walk to freedom involved (such that his socks had to be surgically removed).

My grandfather started working in the coal mines on his fourteenth birthday. It says something that he joined up to fight in the War because it seemed like an attractive alternative. He had a wicked sense of humour to the end. Like many returned servicemen, he grandfather survived against the odds and lived with the consequences every day. He was a loving, gentle man and I adored him. Still do.

Anyway, for some reason, reviews of Blitzed piqued my interest, so I decided to go with it.

All in all, it’s a book I’d recommend. It’s a cracking read (no pun intended) though does tend to get a bit caught up in its own sensationalism. The author is diligent, however, in ensuring that none of the architects of the Third Reich can shirk responsibility for their crimes against humanity on account of being drug-dependent.

But I have to say, when I came across the paragraph quoted above, I was stunned.

I mean. It’s not every day that you read about a situation so extraordinary and unlikely, so far-reaching yet so far from where you are… something that is still widely debated and, if this book is anything to go by, catalysed by methamphetamines… and realise that if that hadn’t happened, you wouldn’t be here today.