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Why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940-1941?

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History Assessment - The Blitz Why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940-1941? In July 1940 the German airforce began its mass bomber attacks on British radar stations, aircraft factories and fighter airfields. During the next three months the Royal Air Force lost 792 planes and over 500 pilots were killed. This period became known as the Battle of Britain. When it was obvious that the Battle of Britain was lost and that Operation Sea-Lion would have to be called off, the Luftwaffe changed its tactics. The daylight bombing raids were abandoned in favour of terror raids on the main English cities at night. On the 7th September 1940 the German airforce changed its strategy and began to concentrate on bombing London. These raids, which lasted from September 1940 until the early summer of 1941, are usually known as the Blitz. Hitler changed his tactics for many reasons firstly Hitler hoped that these raids would break the will of the British civilian population and cause them to call upon their leaders to make peace with Germany. Hitler had used this tactic in Europe already. The blitzkrieg 'lightning war' technique was a new and dynamic approach to war. Its use of speed and shock tactics enabled it to be used to great effect against Poland, which was completely devastated by it. This new warfare had also been successful in Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Czechoslovakia. ...read more.


Everyone, however young, had to have a gas mask and 38 million gas masks were issued. They had to be taken everywhere. Their smell of rubber and disinfectant made many people sick. Leaflets were sent out to every house to explain what to do in a gas attack. The government did it's best to counter the effects of the Blitz. At the very beginning of the war thousands of city children were sent off as 'evacuees' to the safety of the countryside; often to new and very different surroundings and homes than those they had known in the slum areas of large towns and cities. Their teachers went with them to help them settle in. Most evacuees were treated with kindness by the country people that threw their homes open to them. Heavy bombing was expected in Britain's large industrial centres and it happened. The main targets outside the capital were Liverpool, Birmingham, Plymouth, Bristol, Glasgow, Southampton, Coventry, Hull, Portsmouth, Manchester, Belfast, Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham and Cardiff. To counter this air raid shelters were put up in city streets and the government supplied thousands of Anderson shelters for people to put up in their gardens. Londoners found safety by sleeping every night on the platforms of the underground railway stations, while other people simply moved their bedding under the stairs in their own houses, where they were relatively well protected from all but a direct hit. ...read more.


It was impossible to walk down any city street in Britain without being constantly reminded in various different ways that the country was at war. The propaganda campaign to say that the damage was not as serious as it seemed was also a tactic that the Germans used at home in Germany and the government needed to counter this German propaganda with their own. Keeping up morale was the most important aspect of government censorship. Movies and songs were made to inspire people and were a very valid part of the propaganda campaign against Germany. Radio, film and posters were everywhere and reminded people constantly of Hitler's threat to their country and what it stood for. This helped to maintain public morale and encouraged patriotism. As did Churchill and the Royal Family by going on walkabouts encouraging the people to keep helping the war effort, which kept spirits up. Target: Key Features Level 1: Simple statements supported by some knowledge, eg newspaper articles, photographs (1-5) Level 2: Developed statements supported by relevant knowledge, eg the use of censorship, photographs could not be published, articles were written by the government etc. (6-10) Level 3: Developed explanation supported by selected knowledge, eg showing understanding of the role of the censor and the Ministry of Information, use of newsreel and accounts of the number of German aircraft shot down. (11-15) Level 4: Sustained argument supported by precisely selected knowledge, eg understands the overall aim of the in applying censorship, need to maintain public morale, counter German propaganda, use of posters, film, the radio the press etc. ...read more.

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