Der Blitzkrieg is German for the ‘Lightning War’ or also known as the Blitz. During the Second World War, the period between September 7th 1940 to May 11th 1941, left London and other major cities in Great Britain devastated by the German Luftwaffe. The Blitz was a strategic manoeuvre from the Germans to weaken Great Britain and to destroy their aerial capabilities, in preparation of either a surrender from Great Britain or for an eventual invasion by the Germans. Of course, neither surrender nor invasion occurred.
The years prior to the Second World War, the top brass of military and government strategy in Great Britain trembled at the notion of an offensive strike by the German Air Force, particularly upon London. Sir Basil Liddell Hart, was the prominent military journalist, historian and strategist of the day. His predictions were that within the first week of the Blitz, London would experience a quarter of a million deaths and injuries. (1) In addition to the views of Basil Liddell Hart, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was extremely pessimistic and fearful of the structural damage and social collapse that would take place.
Winston Churchill (L), Basil Liddell Hart (R)
An excerpt of Winston Churchill, addressing The House of Commons on July 30th 1934, indicates the severity Britain’s circumstance: “With our enormous Metropolis here, the greatest target in the world, a kind of tremendous fat cow, a valuable fat cow tied up to attract the beasts of prey, we are in a position in which we have never been before, and in which no other country in the world is at the present time. Let us remember this: Our weakness does not only involve ourselves; our weakness involves also the stability of Europe.” (2)
Churchill continued, and voiced his fear that three to four million citizens would succumb to a ‘panic flight’ away from the city of London, fleeing to rural areas of Britain. ‘Vast mass of human beings’, ‘without shelter, food, sanitation and special provision for the maintenance of order’, ‘large-scale hysteria and mental breakdown’. (3)
(1) Malcolm Gladwell, David & Goliath, Chapter 5, Page 128.
(2) Mr. Churchill, Armaments, HC Deb 30 July 1934 vol 292 cc2368, 2nd Paragraph.
(3) Robert Mackay, Half the battle Civilian morale In Britain during the Second World War, Part 1 War Imaged, Page 21.