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The Blitz - Total War.

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Coursework unit 2: Total war The major cities of Britain were targeted by the Luftwaffe in 1940-41 for several reasons. At first the Luftwaffe bombed Britain's fighter bases, armaments factories at Silverton and the London docks in an attempt to slow down production of weapons. By doing this Britain's air defence was weakened and meant that it would be easier for the Germans to invade. On 7th September 1940 the Luftwaffe changed the focus of their attack from industrial and military targets to the residential areas of major cities. The 'Blitz' lasted until the summer of 1941. During this time 43000 people were killed in air raids across Britain. The reason for attacking civilian targets was primarily to break their morale and also to a lesser extent to destroy transport and industry. By breaking the morale of the British people the Germans hoped that the population would put pressure on the government to surrender. Failing that, Hitler hoped that they would riot and overthrow the government, however, Hitler underestimated the spirit and determination of the British people. The Germans attempted to break the British morale with continuous raids during September 1940 when the Luftwaffe dropped, on average, 250 tonnes of bombs on London each night. Another tactic that Germany used to a lesser extent between 1942-43, to break the British people's morale, was the 'Baedeker Raids'. ...read more.


The East End was one of the areas of London that was affected most as it is in the inner city and near the London docklands, which were also badly hit. The morale was especially low in the East End as the residents had very little money and possessions and many of them lost it all. Many children were sent to the country by their parents to be safe from the bombing. During the Blitz every night all sources of light had to be put out so that the bombers had trouble finding targets. In some areas after bad attacks crime levels rose sharply. This happened in Portsmouth after an attack on a naval base situated there on 10th January 1941. Police found it extremely difficult to control the crime. After that attack morale in Portsmouth was very low. In some areas, such as Coventry, one of the most devastated cities in Britain the residents and workers tried to carry on living life as normally as possible. In some cases, if necessary work in factories carried on under open skies. This kind of optimism was encouraged by the government and they produced large amounts of propaganda to encourage unity and high spirits. They also encouraged civilians to grow their own food in a 'Dig For Victory' campaign so that Britain could become as self sufficient as possible. ...read more.


Photographs of the heroism and bravery of the emergency services were printed on front pages to lift the spirits of the British people and to assure them that they were trying very hard to rescue civilians. The Government tried to hide the effects of the Blitz by the use of positive propaganda, which took the focus off the negative effects of the bombing. The Ministry of Education released documentaries and films showing places in Britain and the positive attitude of British people during the war. A film maker named Humphrey Jennings was employed by the Ministry of Information to produce films advising people about the regulations and films that would inspire people to want to continue fighting. Some films described what life would be like when war was won to overcome the demorilising effects of continued bombing. The BBC also broadcast entertainment programmes to maintain morale. Comedy programmes such as 'It's that man again' made fun of Hitler and the Germans. Comedians and singers were also very important in trying to maintain morale and many made their reputations during the war. Some German Radio could also be picked up in Britain so the government also had to counter the propaganda which was received through German radio. Poster campaigns such as 'Dig For Victory' encouraged people to grow there own food and get into to the 'spirit of the blitz'.O The propaganda campaign kept people informed about the war and also encouraged people to help the war effort. ...read more.

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