I disagree to an extent with the statement that Britain faced the Blitz without courage and unity because Britain did remain generally strong and unified as Britain managed to survive the Blitz and continue working even after the Blitz. However, a large amount of the media shown during the Blitz was propaganda which raises a question about how did the public really feel during the Blitz and whether they actually felt unified. The statement can also be compared to Angus Calder’s theory where he believed that the unification of Britain during the Blitz was a myth.
During World War II, the government set up the Ministry of Information to firstly, censor all newspapers and radios and secondly, to produce propaganda to help ‘boost public morale’. These were shown on the radio, in newsreels in the cinema, on posters, in newspapers and in magazines. Examples of this are shown in Sources B and C. In Source B, the image shows an air raid of a Girls School in the East End near the end of the height of the Blitz in 1943.
This image was censored which shows how the government was trying to “hide the truth” in order to keep morale high as the image is very negative as it shows how innocent civilians were killed due to total warfare. The government was so worried about morale becoming low as there was a possibility of “shelter mentality” developing among the working class and also Hitler’s main aim of the Blitz was to break British morale therefore through censorship and propaganda, the government could control what was shown through the media and therefore keep morale high.
Also, in source F, it shows just how concerned the government was of morale being low, especially in Ealing which was near where Source B was. He also talks about “everyone” being worried, which supports Calder’s theory. Harold Nicolson, the writer of the source, had connections with many members of the government and so this makes what he writes more believable and accurate as it was a firsthand account. In Source C, we see a photograph which had been published during the height of the blitz.
It shows injured civilians but they are carrying on. It is a very positive image and the people are seen to be having “blitz spirit”, this purpose of the image would’ve been to help keep Britain unified during the Blitz. This image proves how the government influenced on what was shown; we don’t actually know whether or not the people photographed felt positive or whether they had been asked to smile therefore it was a propaganda picture and because it was published, many people would’ve seen it.
This would have influenced the way people felt about the Blitz as it would have left a positive impact on the reader. Source C also could suggest whether “Blitz Spirit” even exist due to the propaganda and therefore supports the statement. Another source which agrees with the statement is Source E. It shows how some people would run “madly” to the shelters and it was written in autumn 1940 which was during the height of the Blitz.
It was written by the Ministry of Information which shows how seriously they took the problem of panic and worry in the country but we know that the instances of panic and despair did not spread throughout the whole population (partly due to censorship and propaganda). This supports the statement as it shows how there was a negative feeling of the war but we do not know whether or not this was the case everywhere or just in the East End as this was where the report was based on.
In Source A, we read about the publisher’s description of a book written about the Blitz. It is an extremely positive description which talks about how unified Britain become because of the Blitz and how there was “unshakeable determination” during the Blitz which therefore completely disagrees with the statement and Calder’s theory. Another source which disagrees with the statement is Source B as it shows how people were there to help “clean up the mess” left because of the bombing even after the height of the Blitz.
This shows us how there was unity in Britain and therefore disagrees with the statement. Source D shows us the level of destruction left behind due to the bombing but we can see that people did survive the bombings in the picture. Source D was not censored, so that shows us that people were aware of the level of damage left behind and that not all the images were censored. During the Blitz, “trekking” developed as many people were so terrified that they fled the city each night, sleeping with relatives or in farmer’s barns or even camping in open fields.
However, we know that most people came back the next day for work which shows how the Blitz did not affect the industry as people still believed they had to turn up for work, there was still good attendance and production during the Blitz. Source G was written in 1988 which shows there was a good historical overview and also talks about “trekking”, it proves to us how the government managed to successfully sustain the morale, even if it was at times low, and avoid lack of workers in the factories which the government believed to be a problem.
The source therefore disagrees with the statement as Britain managed to continue the industrial production up. To conclude, I agree with Calder in the sense that our understanding of the Blitz is largely based on propaganda. However, I disagree with Calder and the statement as Britain managed to survive the Blitz and go on to rebuild the damage, also during the Blitz Britain managed to continue working in factories which proves there had to be some element of unification during the Blitz.