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The Blitz

1940–41 German bombing of Britain during WWII / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom, in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and originated from the term Blitzkrieg, the German word meaning 'lightning war'.[4]

Quick facts: The Blitz, Date, Location, Result, Belligeren...
The Blitz
Part of the Strategic bombing campaign and Battle of Britain of World War II
Heinkel_He_111_over_Wapping%2C_East_London.jpg
A Heinkel He 111 bomber over the Surrey Commercial Docks in South London and Wapping and the Isle of Dogs in the East End of London on 7 September 1940
Date7 September 1940 – 11 May 1941 (1940-09-07 1941-05-11)
(8 months, 5 days)
Location
United Kingdom
Result German strategic failure
Belligerents
Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Casualties and losses
~40,000[1]–43,000 civilians killed[2]
~46,000–139,000 injured[2]
Two million houses damaged or destroyed (60 percent of these in London)
Unknown
3,363 aircrew
2,265 aircraft (summer 1940 – May 1941)[3]
Close

The Germans conducted mass air attacks against industrial targets, towns, and cities, beginning with raids on London towards the end of the Battle of Britain in 1940 (a battle for daylight air superiority between the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force over the United Kingdom). By September 1940, the Luftwaffe had lost the Battle of Britain and the German air fleets (Luftflotten) were ordered to attack London, to draw RAF Fighter Command into a battle of annihilation.[5][6] Adolf Hitler and Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, ordered the new policy on 6 September 1940. From 7 September 1940, London was systematically bombed by the Luftwaffe for 56 of the following 57 days and nights.[7][8] Notable attacks included a large daylight attack against London on 15 September, a large raid on 29 December 1940 against London resulting in a firestorm known as the Second Great Fire of London[9] and a large raid on the night of 10–11 May 1941.

The Luftwaffe gradually decreased daylight operations in favour of night attacks to evade attacks by the RAF, and the Blitz became a night bombing campaign after October 1940. The Luftwaffe attacked the main Atlantic seaport of Liverpool in the Liverpool Blitz. The North Sea port of Hull, a convenient and easily found target or secondary target for bombers unable to locate their primary targets, suffered the Hull Blitz. The port cities of Bristol, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Southampton, Sunderland, Swansea, Belfast, and Glasgow were also bombed, as were the industrial centres of Birmingham, Coventry, Manchester, and Sheffield. More than 40,000 civilians were killed by Luftwaffe bombing during the war, almost half of them in the capital, where more than a million houses were destroyed or damaged.[1]

In early July 1940, the German High Command began planning Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.[10] Bombing failed to demoralise the British into surrender or do much damage to the war economy; eight months of bombing never seriously hampered British war production, which continued to increase.[11][12] The greatest effect was to force the British to disperse the production of aircraft and spare parts.[13] British wartime studies concluded that most cities took 10 to 15 days to recover when hit severely, but some, such as Birmingham, took three months.[13]

The German air offensive failed because the Luftwaffe High Command (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, OKL) did not develop a methodical strategy for destroying British war industry. Poor intelligence about British industry and economic efficiency led to OKL concentrating on tactics rather than strategy. The bombing effort was diluted by attacks against several sets of industries instead of constant pressure on the most vital.[13][14]

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