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In what ways did the British government attempt to hide the effects of the Blitz from the people of Britain?

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Introduction

In what ways did the British government attempt to hide the effects of the Blitz from the people of Britain? When war broke out in 1939, there was an air of reluctance among the British people. The horror of the First World War was fresh in people's minds and many did not want to experience that again. The government recognised the need to keep up morale, because if it were destroyed then the war would be lost, and designated a department, the Ministry of Information, for the production of propaganda and the organisation of censorship. When the Blitz started in 1940, the government thought it especially important to safeguard the public spirit due to the damaging effects of civilian bombings, both physical and psychological. They used a variety of tools to accomplish this, such as radio broadcasts, newsreels, and poster campaigns. However, it was not a simple matter of hiding information from the public. ...read more.

Middle

The government felt a need to censor images which were particularly distressing or which showed the country not coping well with disaster. A photograph of the bombed playground of Catford Girls' School is an example of an image that was not shown to the public. Dead bodies in bags are seen strewn all over the ground. Photographs of this nature were unlikely to have been approved for publication because actual, rather than implied, death is clearly shown. This might have disturbed people, especially those who had not had a personal experience of sufferings of this magnitude. Actually to see a picture of the dead bodies of children just casually lying around is far more depressing than an impersonal, relatively meaningless list of casualty figures. Also, the viewing of images showing despair or intense grief was restricted. The government wanted to put across the message that Britain was coping well and pulling together; being psychologically unaffected. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is no mention of the terrified residents of Coventry trekking out every night and sleeping in the fields or the vast, fearful crowds gathering to force the government to open the Tube stations as shelters. Also, if the message of the propaganda had been that Britain was barely affected at all then the anger of the people who knew otherwise would have been aroused and little notice would have been taken of the material. The films were made more plausible by the showing of some measure of destruction and this actually helped to disguise the real situation because people would have seen little reason to question the image of unity and perseverance conveyed. The British government tried to hide the effects of the Blitz by these means to preserve the morale of the people. They knew that a nation without patriotic resilience could not sustain the multi-faceted war effort at home and so through radio broadcasts, newsreels and poster campaigns sought to manage the public perception of and reaction to the Blitz. ...read more.

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