Frustrated by a lack of progress during the Battle of Britain, Hitler resorted to terror bombing. How much do you know about the Blitz?
As the Nazis crunched their way across Europe during the beginning of World War II, they initiated a heavy aerial bombardment of Britain. German bombers dropped untold scores of bombs on Britain in the hopes of pounding the country into submission.
The British media helped to coin the term, "The Blitz," and it stuck. The Blitz will forever be associated with the Nazi war machine … and the efforts of common people to fight it.
World War II began in September 1939. As the Germans fought their way eastward, they took up the strategy of bombing London and other populated areas in Britain. The bombing campaign started in earnest in October 1940.
For 57 days, or nearly two solid months, the Germans attacked London every single night. The idea was to demoralize the population to the point that the British government would have no choice but to capitulate.
The heaviest of the attacks lasted for about nine agonizing and terrifying months. British air raid sirens continually warned citizens that Nazi planes were approaching to unleash another round of horror and misery.
The Blitz wasn't just terrifying -- it was also deadly. About 43,000 British citizen died as a result of the massive bombing campaign.
In the end, The Blitz didn't do much to hamper the British war effort. It didn't damage the country's economy, and it galvanized the British against the Nazi regime.
In the fall of 1940, fighter planes of the Royal Air Force were not to be trifled with. They decimated German bombers and caused the Nazis tremendous suffering.
British fighter pilots couldn't see the German bombers at night. So the Nazis altered their tactics and turned the Blitz into a primarily nighttime attack, which was much more effective and minimized German losses.
In just one day, roughly 300 German bombers unleashed their deadly loads on London. Sadly, for British citizens, this was only the beginning of nine very long months.
The Germans actually weren't targeting civilians on the first day of bombing, but between off-target bombs and resulting fires, civilians bore the brunt of the suffering. About 448 of them died on that single day.
The number of wounded is hard for historians to tabulate. But on the low end, at least 50,000 citizens were wounded. The real number, however, could be as high as 140,000.
The British government began blackouts, or the minimizing of light output, during the war. The idea was to make it harder for the Germans to identify and destroy specific targets.
British AA guns had no real system for tracking targets, meaning tens of thousands of rounds simply made pointless holes in the sky. The British adopted new radar technology, though, and their defenses steadily improved.
The Nazi bombs were effective in spreading fear and sadness. They destroyed around 1 million British homes during the onslaught.
Historians estimate that about 60 percent of civilians simply sought shelter at home during the raids, which became rather routine after some time had passed. As the Blitz dragged on, fewer and fewer people ran for public shelters when the air raid sirens sounded.
The London Underground, the city's subway system, became an important source of shelter during night raids. As the Blitz dragged on, though, fewer and fewer people sought shelter in the Underground.
Government officials feared that criminals would take advantage of blackouts, which meant that both public and private areas had very little light at night. In reality, the blackouts didn't result in any increase in crime rate.
Most German bombers had four or five men onboard. This number was key, because for every bomber that was shot down, the Nazis had to somehow find more airmen to carry out raids.
Many British AA guns fired their rounds … which then exploded and sent shrapnel into populated areas below, meanwhile having almost no impact on German bombers. Fortunately, AA technology rapidly improved.
The Germans actually weren't really targeting civilians at the beginning of the attacks. But as the raids continued and the Germans' losses mounting, they essentially attacked all targets, including civilians, whenever the opportunity arose.
It's just a few bombs, so who needs therapy? The British surprised much of the world by nonchalantly absorbing the worst the Germans could dish out -- a fact that enraged Hitler and his allies.
As the raids dragged on, the British government distributed Morrison shelters, which looked like reinforced cages. The shelters went over beds to protect citizens while they slept, and they were very effective in buildings that only partially collapsed.
The British tried all sorts of ideas to trick the Germans. They set diversionary fires and blew up bombs to draw them away from real targets. They even constructed fake landing strips and set up fake lighting meant to fool the Germans into thinking their bombs were hitting their marks.
In May 1941, Hitler became obsessed with Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. He was also frustrated by the inability of the German air force to bring the British to the negotiating table.
In early 1940, nearly one-third of the British population wanted peace negotiations. As the Blitz continued and morale soared, they decided that the Nazis were anything but unbeatable.
Unswerving British resolve (and quickly improving defensive capabilities) drove back the German air force time and again. The Germans lost nearly 2,300 planes during the Blitz.
The British air force was gathering strength, conducting offensive bombing campaigns against German targets. In response, the Germans started bombing British cities again in the hopes of forcing them to stop their sorties against Nazi targets.
The Blitz Scouts were people who helped guide firefighting teams to the places they were needed. The scouts also played a vital role in cleaning up the city once the bombers were gone.
For years, the British government enforced blackouts, meaning that once the sun set, there was no real light by which to conduct daily affairs. Civilians grew to loathe blackouts, one of the hardest aspects of the war.