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Britain In theAge of Total War, 1939-1945 - why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940-1941?

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Introduction

BRITAIN IN THE AGE OF TOTAL WAR, 1939-1945 1. WHY WERE THE MAJOR CITIES OF BRITAIN BOMBED BY THE GERMANS IN 1940-1941? There were a number of reasons why the Germans bombed Britain during 1940-1941, some people believe it is the German belief that air power can force an enemy to surrender because it frightens the locals and so they ask for their side to admit defeat. Another reason is the fighter squadrons sent out by Hitler were dispatched to test the German pilots in other words Hitler wanted to see what they were like in battle. One of the major things leading up to the bombing of the major cities of Britain was the bombing of Guernica in 1937. This was during the Spanish civil war and the tactic of bombing cities although not new had precedence. This tactic was used so effectively in Guernica where all the civilians' fled in mad panic and surrendered Hitler thought it would work over Britain. The success of the German Condor Legion made Hitler believe that similar tactic could be used to coerce Britain into also surrendering. Another example of bombing before that of the major cities of Britain is in Warsaw, September-October 1939. This bombing was carried out by Germany and so now Hitler had lots of evidence to prove it worked. The Polish surrendered. In May 1940 the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands was flattened completely by the Luftwaffe in one night. It was ironic that during the day before the King and Queen of Holland had surrendered and Hitler hadn't heard so he went ahead and wasted his aircraft etc bombing a city that had already surrendered to him. ...read more.

Middle

only give a pinpoint of light at the base of each post, * Traffic lights were to be masked to only give a cross of colour, * Cars had to drive with a mask over their headlights, * Torches had to be pointed down at the pavement and the glass was to be covered with two layers of tissue, * Smoking in the street was banned, * Railway carriages were blacked out, * Buses were to be blacked out but this meant dishonest people could pay with foreign coins. Gas masks may have been a good idea but they caused lots of problems for the civilians who had to wear them. The gas masks issued were horrible smelly things with a small glass window that quickly steamed up. The bottom of the mask filled up with saliva and sweat and the silly cardboard boxes they were issued in soon fell apart. Schools held gas mask tests to check they were working, the children were sent to an air raid shelter which was then filled with tear gas, this was a nasty way to find out your gas mask had a leak. Children had a hard time in the Blitz there were special rules made up by the government to give advice to parents: children should: * Be sent to school at the proper time, * Be encouraged to "enjoy" their lessons, * Get long hours of sleep, * Given plenty to do, * Not be allowed to get over-excited, * Understand that "No" means, "No." Evacuation was also a reality for most children, as the British expected their cities to be bombed the government decided that children, and pregnant woman or those with young children should be moved to the country. ...read more.

Conclusion

The government also prevented the publishing of other photographs that might have affected the morale of civilians. Dead bodies were never shown, nor where photo's of people complaining. Stories and interviews with people who were disheartened or downhearted were never published in newspapers. The government was able to do this because it had complete control over the newspapers and other media areas. It also controlled the news broadcasts of the BBC, and it made sure all official reports exaggerated the success of the RAF and played down the effects of German action. It also belittled the RAF's losses and embellished the losses of the Germans. The government also endeavoured to create the impression that Britain could take the effects of the Blitz for the USA. US newsreels showed the people of Britain getting on with their lives after being bombed. The government also tried to quash the truth about the effects of bombing during the war as part of a larger attempt to control the news. Censorship was good as it kept the morale of the civilians up but it could also have negative effects. If there was no news in the newspapers people might well listen to the gossip and begin to believe the situation to be worse than it was. So government propaganda fell into two categories: * Stories and photographs were censored so that the British people were prevented from hearing the worst effects about the bombing, * At the same time, stories were invented which described British heroism in the face of German attacks. The government worked hard to emphasise the gallant elements of the Blitz so that the papers were full of men rescuing others of surviving in bombed houses. LIBERTY KATHRO 23RD OCTOBER 2003 1 ...read more.

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