The blitz was obviously a time of great hardship for most British citizens. The constant poundings of major cities within England were enough to deter any country. Most people have an idea of the blitz to be a time of people coming together and showing the nations true personality, but this is not the whole story of the Blitz, as you will see in the text that follows.
1. Why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940-41?
It is clear that there were many reasons for the bombings of major cities within Britain. I will try to explain as many of them as I can now. One obvious reason was that Hitler’s growing ambition meant that it was inevitable for Britain to become victim to his brutal racemes. Hitler made is clear that he wanted to control the whole of Europe and so after capturing the majority of the countries within Europe, Britain was next on the list. With his good tactical knowledge, in war matters, he recognised that the way to gain control of Britain was by wiping out the major cities. This would leave Britain industrially and economically paralysed, forcing Britain to surrender.
Another clear reason why the Germans bombed the major cities of Britain was to try and damage the morale of people. It is blatantly obvious that most people live in cities and so by targeting cities the largest percentage of people living in Britain would also be affected. The Germans were clever and recognised that without the people of Britain backing the fight against themselves, Britain would not be a force in terms of resisting the constant bombardment of major cities. It would be foolish for Germany to start bombing the British countryside as not many people live here, this the main reason why people were evacuated to the countryside from major cities to ensure safety from the intense bombings carried out by Germans.
Germany knew, just like any other European country, that Britain was one of the strongest forces in Europe. Recognising this Hitler knew that if he could just gain control of Britain then the remainders of his plans would be relatively easy. Britain had a huge reputation of being resistant and being, near on, impossible to break down. One of the main reasons for this was the location of Britain.
Foot soldiers could not be introduced into Britain because Britain as a separate island from the rest of Europe. So tactics that were used in the war previous could not be put into action, meaning Hitler had to take another approach. The approach Hitler took was, really, the only one that he could. That approach was inevitably the bombing of major cities.
Another reason for the bombing of major cities was that Germans did not have radar technology, unlike the British. You make think, ‘why does this mean that major cities of Britain bombed.’ Well it is quite simple. Without radar technology the Germans could not lock on the specific targets, for example a factory. So in order for bombings to be successful, they had to just ‘Blitz’ the major cities, which meant that factories etc would be inevitably hit. Obviously the added bonus for Germans would be that destruction would be huge because rather than just hitting one structure and causing little turmoil, there was devastating destruction.
By bombing major cities the Germans would ensure that many buildings would be hit i.e. schools, factories, government buildings etc. The sheer destruction on schools can be seen in source b. By targeting buildings like schools the Germans could ensure that normal life could not be carried out for the British people. People would be killed, children could not resume school, and well-structured buildings would be demolished. The buildings within cities are of the most importance to their country. Hitler knew this and so this is another reason why he decided to bomb major British cities.
Another reason I feel why the Germans decided to bomb major cities was to try to put a stop to the British army building more tanks and adding more resources to their already awesome army. If they could limit the amount of armour, artillery and weapons being made they would have a better chance of bringing Britain to its knees and surrendering. It is a known fact that all the materials and factories used to make these various components were found in the major cities of Britain.
The Germans would of bombed British cities in order to send a message out to all other countries, Germany created mass destruction and turmoil. Germany would have hoped that all the destruction made by their ‘bombings’ would come to the attention to British people and the rest of the world. It would show that the Germans are no force to reckon with, and pump dear into Britain and other countries.
All in all the main reason for the Germans to bomb Britain’s major cities was to try and conquer the whole of Europe. Meaning Germany was the biggest and strongest force in the entire world.
2. Describe the effects of the Blitz on everyday life in Britain.
The Blitz carried out by the Germans had a huge affects on everyday life in Britain. It basically disrupted everything that people previously did. To answer this question, at times, I will refer to the sources given.
From source B you can see that a school has been wiped out. This would affect everyday life immensely for British people. Schools all over major cities were becoming victim to the same punishment, this kind of destruction means that pupils cannot carry on with their studies and achieve good education. School is a place where children and parents commute and socialise without these schools a large chunk of socialising and chatting to friends is gone. This may seem a relatively small effect but it disrupts proceedings in everyday life.
The blitz would also put many people out of jobs. I will again refer to the school that has been demolished. There would have been several teachers working in the schools, their jobs now gone, meaning no income at all. This could lead to all sorts of problems i.e. loss of house, unable to provide for family etc. Other jobs such as factory workers and shopkeepers would also become uncommon because their places of work would possibly be wiped out.
The loss of these jobs would lead to other effects on everyday life. People would not be able to go to the local shop, as they would have usually, to buy items because it would of possibly been bombed. The loss of food shops would mean less food. People had to ‘ration’ their food. This meaning that everyone would have the same amount of food as everyone else. This leads to hunger and low morale.
The bombings overnight would result in many people having to spend the night in a shelter or in some cases, the underground. In order for people to remain safe they had to go underground, this as you can imagine is very uncomfortable. Large families may find themselves in an underground shelter with little space and very little food. This would be a greatly uncomfortable to people and disrupted many families sleeping arrangements etc. Again this would lead to low morale.
The bombings meant that money within British people became scarcer and so them everyday luxuries that people enjoy could not be bought as money that was spare had to be saved or spent on essentials. With the added point of jobs being lost due to premises being demolished, money was not available to many people within Britain.
Evacuation was one of the main disruptions to everyday life to people in Britain during the Blitz. There were many different groups of people evacuated, these include: Schoolchildren, Mothers and children, pregnant women, Blind and disabled people, Teachers. As you can see from the list there was a huge amount of people moved resulting in huge amounts of disruptions. These people would have to leave their, in some cases, life long homes and move to the country where they would feel totally alien and see out the Blitz. This would obviously cause huge disruption, as families would be split up and belongings moved to a new address.
Children would be asked to carry out salvage operations, to conjure up any waste materials that could be repaired. This would sometimes be carried out in school time as so again the pupils’ education may have been disrupted. The reason for the salvaging would be to encourage people to make do with resources instead of wasting money.
Every day life was hugely affected by the fact that many young people had to go away and prepare for military service. This would mean for many people going in the army being separated from their family, home and friends. Going in the army is a massive step and is a very scary prospect for many people.
After the nightly raids there would be huge cleaning up procedures, many would have to salvage what they could form their homes. This would take the place of doing everyday things like going to work etc. It was essential that these cleaning procedures were carried out however and the government expected these to be done ahead of any other ‘normal’ tasks. Again this point adds to the disruption of everyday life.
The blitz basically disrupted every aspect of everyday life for British people and the effects were devastating. People’s jobs, money and whole way of life were transformed to accommodate for the Blitz. It affected every person in Britain, not just a certain group i.e. the rich, poor, middle class, working, unemployed etc.
3. In what ways did the British government attempt to hide the effects of the Blitz from the people in Britain?
The war was obviously a very important time for the British government. They had to make sure that morale and spirit did not dip, in order to do this there were several tactics they needed to employ. Many people, even up to this day, believe that the British saw the war as a coming together and a time of unity but as you will see the true story is a very different picture.
One way in which the British government tried to hide the effects of the Blitz from the people in Britain was by propaganda. The government recognised that they could not let the people of Britain see the catastrophic effects of the war and so at any cost hide the true results of the war.
The government would not allow any photographs to be published in local newspapers etc. You may find this hard to believe because of the sheer numbers of photographs shown in the newspapers at the time of the blitz, but most of these pictures would have been of the British people as a whole or of material that the British people would find encouraging. By doing this kind of thing the government would hide the fact that terrible things were happening and bring across the picture that the only thing the blitz was doing was bringing people closer together.
Evidence to back up this theory can be found in source B. The picture shows a school that has been hit by the German bombs and dead bodies lie in body bags. This obviously would not be shown when considering the government did not want to send any negative messages out to the British people. The photograph was eventually published in 1943 at which time there was little relevance to the Blitz.
There was obviously the opposite of these pictures etc going out in local newspapers. The government needed to keep the British morale high and so to do this pictures that would bring a smile to British people were published instead. For example Source C shows a photograph published on 15 September 1940. The picture shows people that are still in good spirit even though a very dangerous bombing had wiped away their houses. A caption that reads, ‘during the raids on London last night some north London houses were bombed. Their houses wrecked but the tenants of the buildings still showed the British grit’, this adds to the point of the government trying to boost morale.
Of course the British government would try to, as often as they could, send these messages to Hitler back in Germany. If they could show these pictures to him then it might deter the Germans in their attacks as it shows they are not getting anywhere in relevance to making the British surrender.
Another way of trying to hide the effects of blitz from the British was to release any articles etc that the people in Britain find demoralising. Instead the government encouraged articles such as Source G. This article explains how the morale of the British is not in decline but it is as strong as ever. The title of the book just shows the attitude of the British government exactly. ‘Don’t you know there’s a war on?’ this is the message that the British government would like to send to Germany as if to say we are not affected by the bombings in fact we don’t even realise there is a war on! Obviously the true story was very different from this.
In all the British government would not allow any information like death rates, damage, amount of bombs being dropped, food shortages etc to reach the British people as they knew it would demoralise them. So in stead the government decided to emit messages that would only boost spirit amongst the people.