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When France fell to the German army in June 1940, Hitler had hopes that peace could be secured with Britain, since his chief ambition was always to destroy Communism in Russia, not conquer Britain. As it was the British decided to carry on the fight, more or less alone. Hitler then decided that since peace feelers had not created the desired effect on Britain, perhaps a bombing campaign would. Thus the bombing, or 'blitz' (German for lighting) began shortly after the fall of France. It continued with varying degrees of intensity until the fall of 1940. Raids continued into 1941 but were eventually cancelled since the resources were needed elsewhere. There was also a 'mini' blitz in 1943, when Hitler ordered his forces to bomb England in retaliation for the repeated terror bombing of German civilians. By this time Allied forces were overwhelming and the German air forces were decimated. Generally the attacks by the German V weapons that started in June 1944 are not considered part of the blitz, but some may decide otherwise. These attacks continued almost up to the end of the war. A few interesting points to make: 1) Losses - Despite some fictional history to the contrary the British air forces in 1940 did not 'slaughter' their German counterparts. Generally when over middle ground, such as the English Channel, the German fighters had much high kills than the British. Over London itself, with German fighters stretched to the maximum range, the British did better. 2) Radar - Sometimes it is assumed that British radar was a 'secret' weapon. However German commanders were well aware of radar. In fact, it was independently developed in Germany at about the same time as in England. 3) Terror bombing - Somewhat controversial, but my understanding is that the British were taking a real beating in mid 1940, with German forces destroying large areas of industrial and storage facilities in England. Churchill decided to manuever Hitler out of his advantage by attacking German civilians. This was done to great and bloody effect. Hitler, as Churchill had surmised, then called off the highly effective industrial bombing of England and went after civilian targets. Not only was this a mistake in that it allowed England breathing room, it was a publicity disaster for Germany. England played it for all it was worth in the American papers. 4) Civilian dead - From all causes, bombing, V weapons, fires, etc. about 50,000 English civilians were killed in the various German attacks. It is interesting that English leadership assumed in advance that the casualties from a bombing campaign would be much high. In planning for such an attack 2,000,000 caskets were ordered up to speed the burial of the expected dead.

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2005-09-30 17:55:26
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Q: What was the Blitz and when did it occur?
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