Part way through the Second World War Hitler occupied nearly all of Europe, including France. He decided to take Britain next. His first plan failed. So he resorted to the blitz. The blitz was the constant bombing of major cities in Britain, along with other targets such as food and railways. But this wasn’t Hitler’s ideal way to take Britain. But to understand why this and everything else previously occurred, we need to go back to the end of the First World War, when the allied countries, Italy, America, France, Britain and Belgium put together the treaty of Versailles.
This treaty blamed Germany for the war, and made them pay compensation to the allied countries for the cost and damages expenses of the war. Their army was reduced to 100,000 men and 10% of their land was taken away. Soon after the end of the war came the Wall Street crash, this came as a result of the treaty of Versailles. The German people were in a mess, as was their country. They were looking for a strong leader who felt the same way as they did, and would promise them improvement.
Hitler fitted the bill. In 1933 Hitler became the chancellor of Germany, and from then on he worked solely for war. He even went behind the backs of the allies to do so. He wanted to regain the land that had been taken from them, and he wanted to take extra to make room for his “perfect race. ” So, in short, he built an army and marched to war. Hitler developed a tactic known as ‘Blitzkrieg’ which means ‘lightning war’. This was a two way attack that surprised the enemy into submission.
He would bomb the city he was advancing on at the same time as advancing on foot, then moving onto the next target very quickly. This resulted in a large amount of Europe being taken very quickly with these tactics. But the beginning of the Second World War was only signalled when Hitler decided to invade Poland, as Poland was allied with both France and Britain. The rest of Europe soon fell to the Germans, and now only two countries remained to be taken; Britain and Russia. Hitler chose Britain, as he had already made an agreement with Russia that stated that they would not attack each other.
This meant that Hitler would only be attacking one country at once as Russia would not attack, just so long as he didn’t invade them. Hitler’s approach to invading Britain was slightly different to his approach with the rest of Europe, as the British channel separated Britain from him. So he decided to put into action ‘operation sea lion’. Operation sea lion required the Luftwaffe to bomb the British air bases, thereby gaining air superiority, and thus being able to cross the British channel safely. And so ‘The Battle of Britain’ began.
Over a period the Luftwaffe were defeated, due partly to the superiority of the British aircraft, such as the supermaire spitfire and the hawker hurricane. The invention of radar also played a big part, as it allowed British aircraft to see the Luftwaffe in advance. This forced Hitler to change his tactics and so he decided to use ‘the blitz’. On the 7th of September 1940 the continuous bombing of all major cities and some other targets began. On the first night alone over 2000 died or suffered from injuries.
By doing this, Hitler aimed to shock Britain into surrender, as he believed that Britain didn’t want a war. So his targets were designed to cause as much damage and unrest as possible, aiming for densely populated areas, such as cities, (but especially ones with ports) food supplies and factories. The blitz only stopped after the d-day landings, so Britain was bombed for 8 months. In which time many children had been evacuated, gas masks handed out, shelters had become many people’s second homes, and 40,000 men, women and children had died.
2 million were homeless. In bombing Britain, Hitler concentrated on several targets. A port, railways, food supplies, factories, etc. any city by the sea was heavily targeted, as they had every single one of the above. Coventry, Plymouth and Bristol were three heavily targeted cities. Coventry was bombed because it was the centre of Britain’s arms trade and machining industry. As it was quite a small city, the 450 German bombers in the raid caused enormous damage, totally demolishing the majority of the city centre.
554 people were killed and 865 were seriously injured. ‘30,000 fire bombs fell’ cut from the daily verald. This counter propaganda was released along with ‘RAF Strikes Berlin’ and ‘Coventry, Not a mortal blow’. 450 bombers, and yet the factories were back to full production in only 6 weeks. Several other major attacks on Coventry took place, such as the one on November 14 1940. On this day, the Luftwaffe had pulled all the stops out. The raid was made by 515 German bombers, two thirds from Luftwaffe 3 and the rest from the pathfinders of Kampfgruppe 100.
The attack, code-named Operation Moonlight Sonata, was intended to undermine Coventry’s ability to supply the Royal Air Force and the British Army by demolishing factories and industrial infrastructure, although it was clear that the damage to the city, including monuments and residential areas, would be considerable. The initial wave was of 13 specially modified Heinkel He 111 aircraft of Kampfgruppe 100, which were equipped with X-Geri?? t navigational devices, accurately dropping marker flares at 19:20.
The British and the Germans were fighting the Battle of the Beams and on this night the British failed to fully disrupt the X-Geri??t signals. However, the cathedral was heavily bombed, which enticed Britain to retaliate by bombing Berlin, a very historical city in Germany. Plymouth was one of the United Kingdom’s principal naval dockyards. The city was extensively blitzed during the Second World War, to the extent that approximately twice the amount of housing stock that existed prior to the war was destroyed during it (as a consequence of rebuilt houses being successively hit). Although the dockyards were the principal targets, civilian casualties were inevitably very high. The first bomb fell on the city on Saturday 6 July 1940 at Swilly, killing 3 people.
The last attack came on 30 April 1944. Altogether 1,172 people were killed and 3,269 people were injured – these figures do not include the many service casualties. At one point the population fell from 220,000, at the start of the conflict, to 127,000. Probably the worst single raid of the blitz was on a central area of the town called Portland Square. On the evening of the 22 April 1941 the communal air raid shelter took a direct hit, killing 70 people. As a result of one of the first raids, 26 people were killed, 60 houses demolished, 400 houses seriously damages and 2,000 slightly damaged.
The city’s electricity was restored in the afternoon, but gas was not available until 3 weeks later. After raids, locals teamed together and sang the national anthem as they dug out survivors. As this helped maintain and lift moral, it was strongly encouraged. On Monday 6th January meat rations were reduced from1s 10d to 1s 6d. Then on the Thursday of the same week, their majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Plymouth and toured the service establishments. Then, the very next day, Mr Winston Churchill visited Plymouth and Britain’s reconstruction chief recommended they ‘plan boldly, and plan now!
‘ To conclude, my answer to the question ‘why did Hitler bomb British cities? ‘ is Hitler bombed Britain to try and force them into surrender. Because he couldn’t risk sending his fleet across the British channel he tried to take out our air bases, but because he failed to gain air superiority he changed tackics. He was hoping that the British civilians could be so demoralised by the relentless dropping of bombs that they would force Churchill to surrender. But he failed. ‘What effect did the blitz have on Britain? ‘ In the summer of 1939, the British government were making plans.
Hitler was still making threats and war seemed imminent. And so they began to plan for the event of war, majoring on air defences. And so, when the attacks did come, the nation was prepared. Taking into account that aerial attacks would, undoubtedly kill many civilians, the government began to evacuate children out of the cities, thereby protecting the future generations. Many young children were evacuated prior to the first bombings. The government had portrayed the idea that when ‘your’ children arrived in the country they would be brought into loving homes and would be looked after as if they were ‘part of the family’.
They sent out propaganda films showing children running in and out of the woods and having school lessons on fields with butterflies. However, the real events were quite different. When the children arrived in the village they would be staying in, they would be lined up and hand picked. The larger, healthier children were picked first, leaving the scrawnier, dirtier children to be picked last. Many parents didn’t like the thought of their children going to stay with strangers, and in many cases, quite rightly so. Some children received regular beatings from their ‘new families’ and some were even sexually abused.
And so, when the parents began to get letters from their children, or in some cases no letters came, the parents began to call their children home, but by that time, some had already run away. However, after the first air raid, many parents saw the sense in evacuation and sent their children back into the countryside. The blitz had another major effect on Britain: the government foresaw that if the Germans bombed them, then they would easily find their targets, as they would be lit up like a spot light, so they introduced the blackouts. At first, everything was totally ‘blacked out’.
From street lamps to torches, everything was gone. However, this did cause a few problems, such as there was a large increase in the amount of Car crashes, so slits were introduces to help combat that. It worked too, as there were fewer crashes and the desired effect was still accomplished. The blackouts also had the effect of giving that illusion that the bombers were in the wrong place. In addition to getting rid of the lights in the cities, they also would place lots of lights on top of hills all around, giving the wrong impression again, and therefore minimise damage.
For 8 months the blackouts plunged Britain into darkness, and the near constant darkness didn’t help with moral. But is was necessary as it not only protected the cities, but airbases and in coastal regions a shore-side blackout of city lights would also help protect ships from being seen and attacked by enemy submarines farther out to sea. Overall, the blackouts played a vital part in keeping Britain in the war. War is notorious for causing civil panic, and as a result lower moral and more deaths. The government needed to educate.
That way, when first raids did come, the people didn’t simply run around like headless chickens, but they all knew exactly what they had to do, and proceeded to do it. To educate the people they introduced drills and news reels before films. The news reels acted as an education program, stating the procedure that would take place in the event of a raid. The drills were a practical procedure that everyone learnt. You were taught the different signals, stating the different type of raid (e. g. Gas, fire bomb, etc). These drills had a major effect in the long run, as they save many lives and helped to keep the country orderly when under attack.
Rationing was another dramatic change for Britain. At the beginning of World War II, the UK imported 55 million tons of foodstuffs per year (70%), including more than 50% of its meat, 70% of its cheese and sugar, nearly 80% of fruits and about 90% of cereals and fats. One of the principal strategies Germany used was to attack shipping bound for the UK, restricting British industry and potentially starving the nation into submission. In order to deal with the extreme shortages the Ministry of Food instituted a system of rationing. It was introduced on the 8th of January 1940, with bacon, butter and sugar being rationed.
Next then came meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, milk and canned fruit. Each person would register with their local shops, and was provided with a ration book containing coupons. The shopkeeper was then provided with enough food for his or her registered customers. When purchasing goods, the purchaser had to hand over the coupon as well as the money for the purchase. Strict rationing caused many people to buy food on the black market and thus having a negative effect on British society. Everyone was issued the same amount of food, (per person, so bigger families didn’t go without).
The typical weekly ration per person was… – Bacon 6oz – Cheese 4oz – Butter 4oz – Eggs 2 – Milk 1 pint – Tea 3oz – Sugar 12oz – Dried milk 4 pints – Dried eggs 12 per eight weeks – Sweets 3oz Food like bread, fish, fruit and vegetables were not rationed, but the queues were very long. Initially, this benefited the poorer families, as they were entitled to the same amount to food and therefore ended up eating more than they had done prior to the war. The way the government ensured that people got their fair share was to issue ‘ration books’.
Each was different, depending on you age, for instance, babies were blue, children’s green, and adults brown. The general public were also encouraged to convert their gardens into allotments, thus providing more food for each family. Clothes were also rationed from June 1941. Each person was issued with 66 coupons per year, with which they had to buy all their cloths. For example, a coat would cost 14 coupons and its money value. Petrol was very hard to come by, so most people cycled or walked, as fuel was used for emergency purposes or government needs.
As the war developed, almost everything was rationed. Towels, cutlery, furniture, sheets were all in short supply. In 1942, even soap was rationed. Without rationing, Britain would have almost certainly have fallen to Germany. It was only because everyone knew that they were getting the same amount of food as their neighbour that a civil revolt didn’t break out and Britain didn’t surrender. In the 20th centaury, many houses were small, and fairly basic. They weren’t very sturdy either. And if a raid came, and a bomb landed on your house, then you would be dead.
So, the British government commissioned air raid shelters to every home. At first the amount they needed to produce and the cost of them posed a major problem for the British government. They varied in size and shape depending on where you live. For instance, if you lived in a middle class area, and had a garden, then you would be commissioned an Anderson shelter. They undoubtedly saved many peoples lives, but they were dark, damp and cold, and often filled with water. Anderson shelters were issued free to all householders who earned less than i??
250 a year, and those with a higher income were charged i?? 7. 150,000 shelters of this type were distributed from February 1939 to the end of the blitz. However, an alternative occurred to the public, especially in the east end. The underground became the nightly refuge for 177,000 people. They were perfect, warm, dry, and they had electricity. However, the government said they were not to be used, but the public ignored them. Another type of shelter was the Morrison shelter. Morrison shelters were designed by John Baker and named after Herbert Morrison, the Minister of Home Security at the time.
It was the result of the realisation that due to the lack of house cellars it was necessary to develop an effective type of indoor shelter. The shelters came in assembly kits, to be bolted together inside the home. They were approximately 6 ft 6 in long, 4 ft wide and 2 ft 6 in high, had a solid 1/8 in steel plate “table” top, welded wire mesh sides, and a metal lath “mattress”- type floor. This meant that is was big enough for two adults and two children to sleep in, even if it wasn’t very comfortable. 500,000 Morrison’s had been distributed by the end of 1941, with an outbreak of war.