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

The Blitz (shortened from the German word Blitzkrieg meaning lightning war) was a period of time when Germany carried out air raids on major cities in Britain.

The main reason for the Blitz was that Hitler wanted to invade.

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The Blitz began on the 7th September 1940 with London being the first city attacked. London was bombed for 56 consecutive nights after that. This was because London is a densely populated area & the Germans knew that it would cause destruction & upset on a huge scale.

In particular the bombers focused on the East End as it was home to docks and factories. Other places in London were also hit such as Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral. This would have made some people very distraught as these buildings were part of Britain’s history and what had been destroyed of them could not be replaced.

As well as London, towns in the south of England such as Southampton, Bristol and Portsmouth were targeted and attacked because of their dockyards. Without docks England would be unable to send or receive anything in ships overseas. This would have caused havoc with the economy, as vital resources would have been restricted.

Hitler also set out for infrastructure and factories to be bombed because if roads, railways, buildings and factories had been ruined. Britain’s industry would suffer immensely. Materials to make weapons and military vehicles would be scarce and s this would have a knock- on effect on Britain’s progress in the war.

Although a large number of cities by the coast were hit, the Midlands were also devastated, particularly Coventry in November 1940.

In the North West, Manchester was attacked heavily in December 1940, but it was Liverpool that was the victim of the biggest raid on a mainland city.

In conjunction with buildings being destroyed, Hitler also wanted the morale of the British to be shattered.

In September alone, over 40,000 people a week lost their homes, their heritage and their memories. 4500 people were killed in November and just in London 12,500 people dies in December.

Hitler wanted to crush the British drive so much that they would give up entirely and surrender. As an extract from Goebbels diary on the 1st November 1940 reads, ‘The Fuhrer intends to keep hammering the British until they break’.

The British civilians lived in fear that their towns would be bombed. At night the blackouts were put in place. Indoor lights, streetlights and headlights had to be off or covered so they could not be seen from above. This would make it more difficult for the planes overhead to locate their target.

At the worst, people had to resort to living in the underground railways which were packed and which were filthy. Another place people took shelter was churches as a first aider on the 14th September 1940 said, ‘ People felt that nowhere would be safer than under the protection of the church.

Hitler though that if the unemployed, homeless, withered people of Britain lost their spirit and faith in the Government, then they would turn there back on the British war effort and so Germany would win.

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