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Why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940-41?

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Introduction

Why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940-41? After the fall of France, as a prelude to Hitler's main ambition of destroying Russia, Hitler began to attack Britain. In order to do this, however, he had to destroy the RAF, in what was named 'Operation Sealion.' Hitler decided the most effective way to do this would be to destroy the fleet on the ground, so the Luftwaffe began to bomb ports, airfields and RADAR stations. However, on the 7th of September 1940, Hitler unexpectedly changed his tactics by ordering an end to daylight attacks on RAF airfields to night-time attacks on London. The reason cited for this sudden change is that Hitler wanted to incite fear in the minds of the British Isles. Eventually, the Germans believed, this would cause the people to revolt against the government for fear of their lives. Hitler attempted to achieve these aims through Luftwaffe bombing raids on civilian areas in London. This meant a huge number of casualties, something Hitler thought would break the British. It is hard to keep supporting the government when they brought you into a war where your home - and all your personal possessions were destroyed. ...read more.

Middle

In Coventry four thousand people were killed in the space of ten hours in a precision bombing attack. One-third of the city was damaged in the attack. Many people began what was known as 'trekking' in an attempt to avoid the danger. This entailed travelling to the countryside every night, sleeping rough, and then returning in the morning as normal when the skies were clear - a marked change from daily life before the war. Even those who chose to remain at home faced regular disruptions however, as they were visited by ARP (Air Raid Precaution) wardens, whose job was to inspect blackout, check every house for a 'safe room' (containing a pump and a bucket of sand as well as shelter and proper blackout), and co-ordinate response and rescue on affected households during the raids themselves. At first these wardens were treated as intruders, or 'nosy parkers,' but as the war went on they were accepted as a necessary part of the fight against Hitler. One in six were women, many of whom had to juggle their ARP responsibilities with household life - a time-consuming task indeed. ...read more.

Conclusion

- such as Source E on page 17 in the 'Britain in the Age of Total War 1939-45' book (an extract from a letter detailing aid from the WVS [Women's Voluntary Service]) - could be freely testified, any report containing news of losses, or indeed any negativity or cynicism would have been censored. It was believed that in doing so, mass hysteria on the streets of major towns and cities was being avoided. Other key areas included radio and cinema, both essential in maintaining morale. By 1945 more than ten million people owned a 'wireless' (radio). Reaching a wide audience was critical the government, especially as they had to counter broadcasts made by William Joyce aka 'Lord Haw Haw,' an American-born Nazi sympathiser whose show on Radio Hamburg mocked the British war effort. Before the main feature in cinemas, short Ministry of Information films were shown encouraging and advising people - 'Dig for Victory!' a famous example. In summary, the governments plan to hide the Blitz from the people had two fronts - an ironic reflection of the actual war situation. On one front, newspapers and other media were censored by the Ministry of Information, protecting the people from panic and despair, and on the other front releasing propaganda and counter-propaganda through radio and cinema, to keep morale at an optimum height. ...read more.

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