Britain's hasty retreat from Dunkirk between 29 May and 4 June 1940 left approximately 34,000 British soldiers in German hands as prisoners of war (POWs). With the prolongation of the war, Whitehall came under growing public pressure to seek an exchange of long-term POJVs. As late as April 1944, London proposed to Berlin a mutual exchange. Almost a year passed before the Germans responded by suggesting an exchange of 25,000 men. Wary of the repatriation of combat-fit German prisoners and concluding that only a few American POWs were actually to benefit, the Americans opposed such an exchange.
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