Conceptual Overview: This lesson will introduce the subject of the “blitz,” or the Blitzkrieg tactics used during WWII. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the actual experience of the Blitzkrieg tactics used on Britain by Nazi Germany. Students will be able to understand how the Blitz played a role in the US joining the Allies in WWII. The lesson will depend on the use of group work, role play and discussion.
I, II, III, VIII, IX, X
Era 8, Standard 3
3. Materials Required:
Handout on Blitzkrieg, copy of slide show with images and sounds from the Blitz
Modifications for Diverse Learning Needs: Class D: This lesson will engage students who may be bored or disengaged with “normal” classroom activities. Students will be required to participate and will need to get up and move and contribute to the lesson. The hearing impaired student will be engaged through the use of pictures and role play and will have an aide to help her communicate. I will be observant of those students I am suspicious of and will confiscate any illegal materials I see them in possession of.
Part II: Heart of the Lesson
Objectives: At the completion of this lesson, students will be able to verbally describe what the experience of the blitzkrieg bombings on London were like as well as be able to explain what the blitzkrieg campaign was.
Body of the lesson:
Introductory activity: Students will move into groups in order to read over a brief explanation of what the Blitzkrieg was and what life was like for those who lived in Europe at the time. Students will take turns reading this handout paragraph by paragraph. (See attached). (10 min)
Procedure: Students will have five minutes to move desks into an impromptu “bomb shelter” under which they will sit together (cramped and uncomfortable) while they view a short film about the Blitz used by the US during WWII in order to win support for the war effort. (http://youtube.com/watch?v=8mXGy38xL5U) After the film, students will view images of the destruction that the bombs caused to London buildings and homes and listen to sounds effects of the bombs. They will listen to personal accounts of those who lived through the blitz. (25 min)
Assessment Plan: Assess students’ knowledge through class discussion, their use of relevant questions and ability to express the information provided in the handout.
Concluding Activity: Ask students if they think that Blitzkrieg tactics are still being used today. Some believe that tactics used in the War in Iraq were based off of Germany’s tactics in WWII. Do the students agree with this? Why or why not?
Homework: Students will continue to work on questions for Hiroshima hot seat.
What was the Blitz? Handout
Images of the Blitz (part of slide show presentation)
Personal Accounts of Blitz
What was the Blitz?
The heavy and frequent bombing attacks on London and other cities was known as the 'Blitz'. Night after night, from September 1940 until May 1941, German bombers attacked British cities, ports and industrial areas.
I was four years old at the outbreak of World War 2. I have no story to tell, just a collection of disjointed memories. I am now 68 years young, but these few strangely treasured memories are impossible to forget; just like my National service number. My earliest recollection is being in Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in war torn London at the height of the German ‘Blitzkrieg’, or the ‘Blitz’ as we came to know it. London was literally on fire and the air raid sirens would sound frequently with each wave of enemy bombers dropping their deadly load upon the inhabitants. As children of such a tender age we were largely ignorant of any danger and knew little fear. We were frequently wheeled down to the basement when the bombs started dropping closer. I recall the day when my mother came to take me home. There was no hospital transport available, but they lent us a red blanket for my mother to carry me in. In the street fires were burning and there was rubble everywhere. We hadn’t gone far when yet another siren sounded, announcing yet more bombs on the way. Somebody shouted at my mother to get into the shelter, which I now believe was an underground station. I have no idea how we got home. I probably slept through the noise!
Underground stations were used to accommodate ‘bombed out’ people who had lost their homes. I saw long lines of bunks along the station where they lived and slept.
The windows of the trains and buses were covered in sticky tape in case they shattered. There were posters urging the population to ‘Dig for victory’. Parks and lawns were ploughed up to plant potato and other crops. Food was very short. Other posters warned about giving out any information, as spies or enemy agents could be listening at any time, any place. ‘Careless talk costs lives’ one poster read. ‘Walls have ears’ and I remember another poster with picture of a ‘Butterfly bomb’ which looked like a toy and came down by parachute. Any child picking it up would have an arm blown off! It was like a land mine apparently.
We lived at Potters Bar at the time, which is now a part of north London. My father was not at home very much. He was an electronic expert and not in the military. He was called away on a reserved occupation, but my mother told me later that he was unable to talk about it. The house was nearly always filled with strangers coming and going, especially if near neighbours were ‘bombed out’. My father had built an Anderson shelter in our garden, but if there was a sudden air raid there was not always time to get to it. On one such occasion there was a crowd of us indoors. I was thrilled because my Uncle Lester was on leave from the R.A.F and Uncle George who fought Rommel as a ‘Desert Rat’ and also on leave. My cousin Kenny was living with us and being two or three years older than me was a bit of a wag. I can remember the laughter and good spirits. My Aunty Molly was cooking a meal for everybody and was just about to dish up when the siren went — another air raid! “That bloody Hitler” she exclaimed and was promptly rebuked by my Uncle for swearing in front of the children. For years afterwards I thought that ‘Hitler’ was the swear word! At this moment Kenny, in mock terror grabbed my Aunt Peggy’s sewing machine cover and put it over his head and immediately got his ears stuck. Our laughter increased at his antics but quickly subsided when the bombs started to drop. Three houses two streets away were demolished we discovered next morning. All the families were killed.
"They came just after dark... "
Ernie Pyle was one of World War Two's most popular correspondents. His journalism was characterized by a focus on the common soldier interspersed with sympathy, sensitivity and humor. He witnessed the war in Europe from the Battle of Britain through the invasion of France. In 1945 he accepted assignment to the Pacific Theater and was killed during the battle for Okinawa. Here, he describes a night raid on London in 1940:
"It was a night when London was ringed and stabbed with fire.
They came just after dark, and somehow you could sense from the quick, bitter firing of the guns that there was to be no monkey business this night.
Shortly after the sirens wailed you could hear the Germans grinding overhead. In my room, with its black curtains drawn across the windows, you could feel the shake from the guns. You could hear the boom, crump, crump, crump, of heavy bombs at their work of tearing buildings apart. They were not too far away.
Half an hour after the firing started I gathered a couple of friends and went to a high, darkened balcony that gave us a view of a third of the entire circle of London. As we stepped out onto the balcony a vast inner excitement came over all of us-an excitement that had neither fear nor horror in it, because it was too full of awe.
You have all seen big fires, but I doubt if you have ever seen the whole horizon of a city lined with great fires - scores of them, perhaps hundreds.
There was something inspiring just in the awful savagery of it.
The closest fires were near enough for us to hear the crackling flames and the yells of firemen. Little fires grew into big ones even as we watched. Big ones died down under the firemen's valor, only to break out again later.
About every two minutes a new wave of planes would be over. The motors seemed to grind rather than roar, and to have an angry pulsation, like a bee buzzing in blind fury.
The guns did not make a constant overwhelming din as in those terrible days of September. They were intermittent - sometimes a few seconds apart, sometimes a minute or more. Their sound was sharp, near by; and soft and muffled, far away. They were everywhere over London.
Into the dark shadowed spaces below us, while we watched, whole batches of incendiary bombs fell. We saw two dozen go off in two seconds. They flashed terrifically, then quickly simmered down to pin points of dazzling white, burning ferociously. These white pin points would go out one by one, as the unseen heroes of the moment smothered them with sand. But also, while we watched, other pin points would burn on, and soon a yellow flame would leap up from the white center. They had done their work - another building was on fire.
The greatest of all the fires was directly in front of us. Flames seemed to whip hundreds of feet into the air. Pinkish-white smoke ballooned upward in a great cloud, and out of this cloud there gradually took shape - so faintly at first that we weren't sure we saw correctly - the gigantic dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.
St. Paul's was surrounded by fire, but it came through. It stood there in its enormous proportions - growing slowly clearer and clearer, the way objects take shape at dawn. It was like a picture of some miraculous figure that appears before peace-hungry soldiers on a battlefield.
The streets below us were semi-illuminated from the glow. Immediately above the fires the sky was red and angry, and overhead, making a ceiling in the vast heavens, there was a cloud of smoke all in pink. Up in that pink shrouding there were tiny, brilliant specks of flashing light-antiaircraft shells bursting. After the flash you could hear the sound.
Up there, too, the barrage balloons were standing out as clearly as if it were daytime, but now they were pink instead of silver. And now and then through a hole in that pink shroud there twinkled incongruously a permanent, genuine star - the old - fashioned kind that has always been there.
Below us the Thames grew lighter, and all around below were the shadows - the dark shadows of buildings and bridges that formed the base of this dreadful masterpiece.
Later on I borrowed a tin hat and went out among the fires. That was exciting too; but the thing I shall always remember above all the other things in my life is the monstrous loveliness of that one single view of London on a holiday night - London stabbed with great fires, shaken by explosions, its dark regions along the Thames sparkling with the pin points of white-hot bombs, all of it roofed over with a ceiling of pink that held bursting shells, balloons, flares and the grind of vicious engines. And in yourself the excitement and anticipation and wonder in your soul that this could be happening at all.
These things all went together to make the most hateful, most beautiful single scene I have ever known."