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Blitz And Its Effect On British National Identity

3157 words - 13 pages

Angus Calder called the "myth of the blitz--one of which the people, improvising bravely and brilliantly fought of the German Luftwaffe" .The "people's war" has become the signifying concept for the Second World War (WW). During the Luftwaffe, or what is more commonly known as The Blitz (the bombing of London), civilians became combatants on the front line. The entire citizenry and resources of the nation were mobilized for a war in which over 67,500 civilians were killed . When it first gained currency in 1940 the phrase was political and strategic as well as descriptive. Probably coined by Tom Wintringham, an ex-Communist, Spanish Civil War veteran, the naming of a 'people's war' did battle for a people's peace when shared sacrifice would lead to equality of entitlement. However, the 'people's war' was hijacked for cosier purposes, propagandizing a war in which everyone was 'taking it' together, a unified nation at one in a common purpose. The effect of The Blitz was best summarized by an American columnist who wrote: "Hitler was doing what centuries of English history had not yet accomplished. He is breaking down the class structure of England. " In what is to follow, I will reason that the bombing of London had changed British national identity by adopting a modern liberal ideology of citizenship. A citizen is a citizen regardless of whatever else he or she might be. Therefore all citizens, in theory, have the same entitlements and obligations . Being a 'good citizen' has to do with actively expressing a commitment to the nation by voluntarily fulfilling obligations and willingly contributing to the welfare of the community. I will go about this by arguing how the installation of perseverance, class equality and introduction of the welfare state were all consequences of The Blitz that changed British identity forever. This is reaction contrasts of the reaction following WW 1 in which the inter war years harvested "a distaste for and an embarrassment about the 'romantic languages of national pride' that produced a realignment of sexual identities and a redefinition of Englishness" .Between the years 1920 and 1940 the British populace was still recovering from the horrors witnessed during the First WW, establishing an 'anti-heroic' mood during the interwar years. The British became more homely and the domestic sphere became the heart of the nation as they tried to bring back their once was Victorian utopia. Hitler had recognized the wide spread "domestication of masculinity" and believed that the Luftwaffe (the German air force) would pound Britain into submission through material destruction and the depletion of personal morale. The Night Blitz, though described as an assault on economic targets, was primarily an attempt to erode the morale of civilians through the destruction of areas where they lived and worked . In this although it failed, the battle which extended from September 1940 for some eight months until May 1941, had done quite the...

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