The major cities of Britain were bombed because of many reasons. The Germans main aim was to lower the morale of the British population. They also wanted to disrupt the British transport and all of its major industries. Also Hitler bombed the British cities because of their failure at the battle of Britain. On August the 20th 1940 Hitler launched a massive air assault on the British and lost the direct air fight but because he had great pride in his air force he wasn’t going to give up that easily.
Initially it was quite easy for the Germans to whittle down the British fighter numbers as it only took them five minutes to fly across the channel to Britain but it took the RAF fifteen minutes to get up high enough to fight with the German planes. Then on august 13th 1940 “Eagle Day” fourteen hundred German plains flew over the channel in the biggest air attack ever on Britain. The Germans managed to take out forty-six British fighters in one raid.
Furthermore the British navy prevented a German invasion fleet from building up and no invasion could have proceeded with out air control over the British skies and the Germans never totally established this. This forced Hitler to concede on September 14th that the Germans were not in a superior enough position to invade and he delayed the invasion inevitably. Then the Germans changed their plan and started nighttime bombing raids on England. Germany had used similar tactic before during the Spanish Civil War. The Germans had intervened on the fascist side and bombed Guernica.
This convinced Hitler and many others in Europe that a civilian population could be bombed into submission or pressured into negotiating with the enemy. Hitler thought that if he kept up the bombing of Britain the government would be forced to surrender because of the pressure on the government by the public. On the first night of bombing London’s anti-aircraft defences fired 140,000 shells and none of them hit a German plane. Every night in the months to follow the Germans sent one hundred and sixty bombers to Britain. The Germans knew almost all British planes couldn’t fly at night so the Germans had practically no opposition.
This proved to Hitler that this plan was working so he continued with it. Because of this he started to get bolder with his air raids. So Hitler decided to bomb Britain during the day. This turned out to be a big mistake by the Germans as every RAF fighter plane was in the skies waiting for them. It was Hitler biggest air raid yet but with the fighters in the air London held the line. Hitler lost 59 planes on that attack, which meant he could not keep up daylight bombing with those kinds of losses. So the night time bombing raids began again.
These raids shattered the morale of the British public and this was Hitler main aim. This worked so well as in one raid on October the 15th 1940 four hundred bombers were sent to Britain and caused one thousand fires with four hundred killed and nine hundred injured. Hitler also wanted to disrupt the British industry and the Luftwaffe tried to hit certain targets, Britain’s major cities, docks, railway lines, power stations and weapons factories. This was not very successful due to technology which precluded precision bombing but hit the people living in the areas that were badly hit.
The German high commands disagreed with each other on the plan of attack and there was a lot of confusion among the German ranks. This is why the Germans didn’t even have a coherent invasion plan for Britain at the time, Britain was an island it would be very hard for the Germans to use their usual tactic as even if the did take out the British air force they didn’t have the necessary transport to move an army across to Britain. Britain also had large resources available to it from its shipping route from America so this was no easy task.
If Hitler wanted to attack Britain to surrender he should have continued with attacking the British airfields for a lot longer than he did. By defeating the royal Air Force he could have successfully prepared to invade. Based on this evidence I believe that even Hitler himself didn’t even have a very clear idea of what he wanted to do with Britain let alone his generals as the Germans changed their tactics too often when attacking Britain. 2. Describe the effects of the blitz on every day life in Britain?
The Blitz had many effects on people’s everyday life, but not everyone’s life was directly impacted as the Germans only bombed the major cities. The Blitz had very different effects on the different classes. On those that suffered during the blitz the main effects were to their homes, work and their morale. The Blitz affected all those that lived in the cities. The Germans were trying to defeat Britain by breaking the public’s morale and to make them lose all hope. This worked on some of the public e. g. in Liverpool where the leadership collapsed and the people wanted to get out of the war.
There was a huge amount of pressure on the Government. The Germans had London on its knees and was very close to breaking point. These bombs caused many people to lose their homes. One in every six Londoners was homeless, and there were a massive two and a quarter million people homeless in the whole of Britain because of the German bombings. The actual damage these bombs caused disrupted people’s life greatly, many people lost their jobs and if the train lines were hit many that had jobs couldn’t get to them. But it was even worse a night when the bombs fell, no-one could sleep during these nights of terror.
When the Germans started the Blitz they began bombing the ammunition factories and the food production facilities this practically stopped the distributation of food in some areas of London, like the East End that was very badly hit. Most factories go them selves up and running again within days of being hit but disruption to the production lines of the factories may have increased the amount of rationing on the British people. But not all of Britain felt this, only those that lived in the major cities and who couldn’t afford to buy protection of move out of town.
The bombs fell most heavily on places like the East End of London as it was near the docks so the bombs were not spread evenly across the city. This is why the experience of the Blitz mainly affected the lower class. The upper and middle class could pay to stay in basement clubs and be protected from the bombs. The evacuation was an affect on the whole of the British population and it is probably the only affect of the Blitz that affected every one as when there children were evacuated they were sent out into the country side to live with foster parents.
Many children were evacuated in anticipation of the Blitz but because of the long gap in between the evacuation and when the bombing started, many of the children were back in the cities by then. This caused many shelters and hospital beds to be used by children that shouldn’t have been there. About one million five hundred thousand people were evacuated in 1939. The evacuation mixed the upper and lower classes and the town’s people and the country folk, so every one was affected by the evacuation. There was much planning in the built up to the Blitz where the government issued shelters and build public ones as well.
The countries population were issued gas masks that they had to carry around with them constantly. This was a great nuisance to the British public. There was also a great difference between the classes for example after the bombings the poor and rich all had to work together to rebuild the neighbourhood. The black out was another major effect of the Blitz, because of the blackout the crime rate in London more than tripled. The black out affected not only the town people but also the countryside as every one had to follow the black out.
Also the amount of road casualties reached record-breaking heights. In conclusion the Blitz was a very different experience for the different classes. The Blitz also didn’t really do as much damage as it was predicted. There were only thirty thousand deaths whereas the government had gotten one million cardboard coffins ready for the deaths. The Blitz did affect most of the population but it only had very serious effects on relatively few. 3. In what ways did the British Government attempt to hide the effects of the blitz from the people of Britain?
The main aim of the Blitz was to lower morale Hitler was hoping that if he lowered the morale of the public enough they would force the government into surrendering. So the government took keeping up the morale of Britain a very serious task. There were two main methods the government used to raise morale. The first was propaganda by using things like newsreels, posters and films and also use of some campaigns to distract the public from the war. The second was the censorship of the newspapers and other Medias by the government. The government started to create the beginnings of the Blitz myth.
They did this by publishing stories of bravery and tried to give the image that “Britain could take it. ” One of these stories said after “Hitler night of terror” there was “only one person who was fed up. ” But this probably was not true, the German bombing damaged the British morale greatly but this shows how the government covered up the damage done. The real story was very different “There were no bread, no milk and no telephones. There is no humour or laughter. There was thus every excuse for people to be distressed. ” They controlled the BBC as well.
Using this control the government emphasised the success of the British air force and denounced the efforts of the Germans. So when the RAF took down 56 German planes the government would report that the British had just taken out over 100 German fighters. The government were controlling the news so much that the news papers were running out of stories to print that wouldn’t lower the morale. The government started to make up their own of bravery and heroism. The Ministry of Information created films telling people about the dangers of the war and told them what to do to remain safe.
Later on the government also tried to get this message across in posters and wireless broadcasts. They also created films of British soldiers fighting back the Germans even though they have impossible odds. There were many broadcasts during the day to the factories where ‘Music while you work’ was played for them as one worked says these helped a lot and that “boredom was our worst enemy. ” These music sessions helped the workers as their work was very tedious and many of them had twelve-hour shifts.
The government didn’t only just change stories to raise morale they actually prevented many of them from even being printed by censorship. One of these stories was the bombing of Ballam tube station where the bomb hit a water main and sixty-four people drowned. The government withheld this article as thousands of the public slept into the tube and the government felt that only mass panic would arise from this story. The photos of this disaster were only released well after the war. The government also prevent pictures of dead bodies being published. Also it stopped any article that it felt would lower British morale.
The government could do this because it had been given control of the censorship of every newspaper and all other publications. The government censored many depressing stories and one of the main censorship actions the government took over was the fall of the Liverpool leadership. In Liverpool morale had never been so low and after intensive bombings its leadership collapsed. The people in Liverpool wanted to get out of this was and they were ready to surrender but they couldn’t do anything. The government suppressed this story, as this would have defiantly lowered the morale of the rest of the country.
They also retained the story tell the public how over 100 people were killed when sheltering in Balham tube station as they feared this would cause wide spread panic as man people sheltered in the tubes. The Royal family and Churchill also went on daily visits to the bombsites during the day and spoke to people trying to raise morale; this helped raised the morale of people that were suffering from the bombings. This made people feel more connected with the King and Queen and realised how human they were and they came out of this in a good light.
Also the royals and Churchill stayed in London during the bombings and people respected them for that. Churchill also went to these places occasionally he wasn’t treated as well as the Royal family but he did raise morale with these trips and they were a success. As a distraction for the public the government also got them to give in their pots and pans and any scrap metal they have, they said to the public that this will help them build more air craft but really this metal was completely useless to them but they did it to make the public feel they are helping in the war effort and to stop them from thinking about the war.
I believe that the government were very successful in hiding the effects of the blitz from the public, as it is still a well-believed myth that Britain actually did “lick its wounds after Hitler’s night of terror” and that there were not serious damage to the British morale. They used all their power to accomplish this and the blitz myth was and still is believed by many people.