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Blitz source questions

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1. Study Source A. What can you learn from Source A about the response of the British people to the effects of the Blitz?

Source A’s tone and positive language clearly shows that the Blitz is an event to be celebrated. Words like “courage” and “determination” clearly show this. It emotive language shows it’s a book with stories that will “break your heart and make you smile.” But now having time pass, just gives the war more of a reason to be celebrated. This make people realise what they have experienced, and in result making people think that they are heroes and survivors. Still, you must remember that the publisher is trying to sell the book. However this is a blurb point to sell as a souvenir marking the 50th anniversary of the Blitz. This book had to be sold so it had to appeal to the British people. This book is trying to make the British people look courageous but it is neutral and does not show the other side of the story.

2. Study sources B and C. How useful are Sources B and C in helping you to understand the effects of the Blitz in people in Britain?

Source B shows a bombing as it shows a photograph of Catford Girls’ School hit by an air raid on the 20th January 1943. This picture shows different types of people working together, police, nurses and teachers this shows that they all want the same thing which is probably peace. The photo was censored because it was very upsetting to some people and gave a negative impression. From this source I can infer that even in 1943, 3 years after the blitz started, the government was still worried about the morale of the British people. But the photo gives us limited information on the scale and the impact of the Blitz. This picture is just a snapshot it is just showing us one scene with some people in it. We do not know how other parts of the country were affected.

Source C is a photo taken in 1940 so very early on in the bombing, and as this is early on in the bombing of course people would be enthusiastic. This picture gives a positive impression even in a time of misfortune. It is supposed to show the sense of community as it involves people of all ages in front of all their possessions. This photo is probably staged because everyone is looking at the camera and the photographer is in the perfect position in an unusual angle. This is useful for telling us that the government is concerned about the morale of the people as they would not have staged this if they were not.

3. Study Sources B, C and D. Does Source D support the evidence of Sources B and C about the damage done during the air raids?

All three sources show the impact of the Blitz source D shows us that there was damage done to the buildings, also B shows us about death and C shows us about homelessness. Sources D and C show people getting in with their life, it shows people sorting out their personal property and showing determination and courage.

Source D shows people arguing about what is theirs and it shows people alone and not in groups while Source B shows different types of people working together and emergency services are helping. They both show the damages which was done during the air raids.

Even thought the sources agree the sources do disagree with each other. Source D shows people arguing about their belongings, it seems to be a real scene and it shows the actual result of the raid and the destruction of the houses. This was released a lot later than when it was captured showing that the government did not want to make morale decrease. On the other hand C shows everyone one getting on and being happy. However, it also looks like it has been staged as everyone is looking at the camera. It does not show any real destruction it only infers it. This photograph was published straight away for propaganda.

4. Study Sources E, F and G. Use Sources E, F and G, and use your own knowledge, to explain why the government was concerned about the morale (spirit and attitude) of the British people in the autumn of 1940.

It was essential that the morale was high because of war effort. The government wanted the morale to be high otherwise they would lose control over the people. The government needed people to keep on working in factories for weapons for the war.

Source E shows us that many people wanted to leave London, particularly in East End. This infers that the people panicked at this time because they thought they were going to be attacked by the Germans. The government were worried that this panic would spread around the whole country.

The government did not want the country to panic. There were problems and people had decided to leave London every night to avoid the bombing. In 1940, after Dunkirk, there was a possibility that the Germans would invade, and the panic would not help the defence of the country.

Source F shows the King and Queen being booed by the people of East End of London. This shows that people were angry and there was low morale, it was bad for the government. But it still showed that people had not left those areas.

East End was one of the worst places that had been affected by the Blitz. Many of the East End workers worked in the docks so it was important that they kept working; this shows why the government were worried about morale in these areas. The government only showed images of heroism in the newspapers, any pictures showing panic or hysteria were removed, as they would lower the morale.

Source G shows us that attendance at work was crucial to the production of arms to fight for the war. The attendance remained high, but there was a lot of fear. Communities escaped into the countryside and returned back to go to work each day.

Kesselring, a German General, stated that the German aim in launching the Blitz was to slow down the industrial production and compress civilian morale prior to the invasion. If the government was to stop this from happening then it was vital that the incidents of panic and flight from London were stopped. Keeping morale was important in achieving this aim.

5. Study all the sources, and use your own knowledge. ‘The impression that the British faced the Blitz with courage and unity is a myth’. Use the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this statement.

This statement can be agreed and disagreed with, because the government prevented de-moralising images from being printed in the newspapers so the government showed other countries that Britain was doing great in the war. But the people still kept their commitment to work as they came back in the morning from the forests even though their homes were being bombed.

The government censored any pictures and information to keep the morale high. The pictures that showed high casualties, or serious damage were kept away from the public. Like Source B, which the censors banned, this showed the motives of the government. In addition government officials checked written documents, films and photographs to ensure that they did not contain information that the enemy might find useful.

On the other hand pictures of defiance and heroism were put on the front pages of the newspapers. Newspaper articles were also restricted. Any references to panic or hysteria were immediately removed.

Many people began ‘trekking’ to avoid further danger. This meant families moved out to the countryside every night and slept in fields to escape any further attacks. Source D shows us that men are fighting over personal items that show little unity. Source E shows the Government reports, which paints a picture about London in panic. Source F shows that the King and Queen were booed, this shows the bitterness at the East End. Source G shows us that there was widespread fear and people were ‘trekking’. Videos were also made to keep the nation informed as possible and radio was used increasingly for spreading information but also as a way to keeping up morale.

But there is evidence against this statement. Source A states that the people were courageous and determined, ‘unshakable determination’. Source B illustrates that emergency services were still working together in the terrible circumstances in 1943. Source C shows us that people were happy in the time they were in as they are smiling even though they are homeless. Source D tells us that people were still getting on with their lives after the destruction. Source G shows people, despite leaving the city at night, would return to work.

There was little loss of public order and industrial output remained high, for example the RAF received increasing number of aircraft to fight the Luftwaffe. The signs in shops which had been bombed still said ‘open as usual’, the only negative sources come from the start of the Blitz which shows that the war was getting better. The reaction of people in 1943 shows that people got used to the Blitz and faced it with courage.

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