10 Facts About the Blitz and the Bombing of Germany | History Hit

10 Facts About the Blitz and the Bombing of Germany

Simon Parkin

05 Sep 2021
Men from the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps clear debris in Coventry two days after the severe German air raids on the night of 14-15 November 1940.
Image Credit: Lieutenant E A Taylor / Public Domain

September 1940 marked a shift in Germany’s aerial war against Britain. What was based on tactical strikes against airfields and radar stations in order to prepare for an invasion changed to wide-scale bombing of London with the aim of forcing surrender.

The extent of destruction wrought by Germany’s bombs no doubt inspired reprisals later in the war, such intense bombing raids carried out by the British and Allied forces on civilian targets in Germany.

Here are 10 facts about both the German Blitzkrieg and the Allied bombing of Germany.

1. 55,000 British civilian casualties were sustained through German bombing before the end of 1940

This included 23,000 deaths.

2. London was bombed for 57 consecutive nights from 7 September 1940

Harrington Square, Mornington Crescent, in the aftermath of a German bombing raid on London in the first days of the Blitz, 9th September 1940. The bus was empty at the time, but eleven people were killed in the houses.

Image Credit: H. F. Davis / Public Domain

3. At this time, as many as 180,000 people per night sheltered within the London underground system

An Air raid shelter in a London Underground station in London during the Blitz.

Image Credit: US Government / Public Domain

4. The rubble from bombed cities was used to lay runways for the RAF across the south and east of England

On the 73rd anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden, Dan Snow accompanies British veteran Victor Gregg, a POW in Dresden during the raid, as he returns to the city for a historic meeting with Irene Uhlendorf, who was just 4 years old on the night of the bombing. Together they are able to talk about the horrors of that night and the effect that it has had on the rest of their lives.
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5. Total civilian deaths during the Blitz were around 40,000

Extensive bomb and blast damage to Hallam Street and Duchess Street during the Blitz, Westminster, London 1940

Image Credit: City of Westminster Archives / Public Domain

The Blitz effectively ended when Operation Sealion was abandoned in May 1941. By the end of the war about 60,000 British civilians had died through German bombing.

6. The first British air raid on a concentrated civilian population was over Mannheim on 16 December 1940

The ruins of the Alte Nationalthrater in Mannheim, 1945.

Image Credit: Public Domain

7. The RAF’s first 1000-bomber air raid was conducted on 30 May 1942 over Cologne

The Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) stands seemingly undamaged (although having been directly hit several times and damaged severely) while entire area surrounding it is completely devastated. April 1945.

Image Credit: U.S. Department of Defense Archives / CC

Although only 380 died, the historic city was devastated.

8. Single Allied bombing operations over Hamburg and Dresden in July 1943 and February 1945 killed 40,000 and 25,000 civilians, respectively

Hundreds of thousands more were made refugees.

On 13 February 1945 Dresden, known as the ‘jewel box’ because of its stunning architecture, was obliterated by British and American bombers. Was it a war crime? Was it necessary? Why did it happen? Sinclair McKay tells the story behind one of the Second World War's most controversial moments.
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9. Berlin lost around 60,000 of its population to Allied bombing by the end of the war

wreckage of the Anhalter Station near the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.

Image Credit: Bundesarchiv / CC

10. Overall, German civilian deaths totalled as many as 600,000

Bodies awaiting cremation after the bombing of Dresden.

Image Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-08778-0001 / Hahn / CC-BY-SA 3.0


Simon Parkin