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The Blitz

The Blitz, a contraction of the German word Blitzkrieg, was the sustained and intensive period of bombing of Britain, particularly London, from September 1940 through to May 1941 by the German Luftwaffe.

After the defeat of France, the Battle of Britain began in July of 1940. From July to September the Lufwaffe were pursuing a strategy of directly challenging the RAF in an attempt to gain 'air superiority'. On September 5 Hitler issued a directive stating a requirement ...for disruptive attacks on the population and air defences of major British cities, including London, by day and night. The Germans consequently modified their previous strategy which had involved attacking airfields. This practice was largely abandoned in favour of the bombing of London.

The first air raids on London were mainly aimed at the docklands in the East End of London. For several weeks the raids took place both by day and by night. Eventually the Germans switched to night time raids only because they were losing too many bombers during the day. Children were evacuated from the cities to the countryside where they were less likely to be bombed.

In November 1940 the Luftwaffe began bombing other towns and cities too, such as Manchester and Birmingham. They were major manufacturing areas, and the action was also aimed at causing fear among the workers. London continued to be bombed but the raids were less frequent.

By May 1941 Germany had launched the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) and raids on London became infrequent.

American radio journalist Edward R. Murrow was stationed in London at the time of the Blitz, and he provided live radio broadcasts to the United States as the bombings were taking place. This form of immediate live news broadcasting from a theater of war had never been experienced by radio audiences before, and Murrow's London broadcasts made him a radio celebrity, launching his distinguished career.

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