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

Authors Avatar

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.  At one point, it appeared his plan was working, as some people fled the city by night, only to return the next morning to work. This did not cause the British people to succumb, however – in fact it did quite the opposite. Many were even more determined to win the war after going through the atrocities of the Blitz.

        Apart from bombing civilian areas, the Luftwaffe also targeted industrial areas of Britain – factories, train lines etc. The reasoning behind this was that if Britain’s infrastructure was ruined, Britain could not maintain the war effort. It was this combination of fear and destruction of infrastructure that the Nazis hoped Britain’s government would succumb to, and surrender.

Join now!

        In summary, the reason the Germans bombed British cities was to put pressure on the people – psychologically reducing their resistance as a prelude to invasion. This was achieved through brute force – an attempt to pound the Brits into submission by breaking the British will. This damage to morale was intended to make the people put pressure on the Government, and cause them to surrender.


The whole reason the Germans wanted Britain to surrender was so they could concentrate their attack on Russia, and achieve one of Hitler’s overriding aims: get some ‘breathing space’ for the German ...

This is a preview of the whole essay