Nazis On the Attack: The Blitz

By: Nathan Chandler

At the beginning of Wolrd War II, what was 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.

Who called the ceaseless attacks "The Blitz"?

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.

When did the Blitz begin?

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.

Once the Blitz began, for how many consecutive nights did the Germans bomb London?

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.

How long did the Blitz last?

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.

How many British civilians died in The Blitz?

The Blitz wasn't just terrifying -- it was also deadly. About 43,000 British citizen died as a result of the massive bombing campaign.

Ultimately, what effect did The Blitz have on the ability of the British people to wage war against the Nazis?

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.

What happened during the very first attacks of the Blitz?

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.

How did the Germans alter their strategy to counter the effectiveness of British fighters?

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.

On the first day of the Blitz, how many German bombers attacked London?

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.

On the first day of the Blitz, how many British citizens were killed?

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.

How many citizens may have been wounded during The Blitz?

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.

What was a "blackout"?

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 anti-aircraft (AA) artillery was moderately effective against the first waves of the Blitz.

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.

How many homes were destroyed during The Blitz?

The Nazi bombs were effective in spreading fear and sadness. They destroyed around 1 million British homes during the onslaught.

About what percentage of British civilians stayed home during bombing raids?

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.

What areas served as vital communal shelters during air raids?

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.

The blackout rules for public lighting caused a surge in criminal activity.

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.

German bomber crews generally consisted of how many men?

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.

In 1940, British anti-aircraft artillery had a great impact on which group?

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.

As the Blitz began, the Germans saw civilians as legitimate targets.

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.

British psychiatric facilities were heavily used and created well-being and resolve among the populace during the Blitz.

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.

A Morrison shelter resembled what?

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.

How did the British try to divert German bombers from their targets?

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.

Why did the Blitz suddenly come to an end?

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.

As the Blitz wore on, how did the attacks affect the British public's desire for peace negotiations?

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.

How many German aircraft were shot down during the Blitz?

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.

In April 1942, why did the Germans abruptly restart the bombing raids?

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.

What was the purpose of the British "Blitz Scouts"?

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 British civilians, what was the most unpopular part of the Blitz and the war in general?

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.

Explore More Quizzes

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Frustrated by a lack of progress during the Battle of Britain, Hitler resorted to terror bombing. How much do you know about the Blitz?

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!