*** World War II air campaign -- Battle of Britain - Hitler orders a change in tactics

World War II Battle of Britain--Hitler Orders a Change in Tactics (Sepember 4-5, 1940)

RAF retalitory raid on Berlin
Figure 1.--Hitler had accurately assessed the British public opinion and the mentality of Preime-Minmiter Chamberlain who he referred to as a 'worm'. After only 6-months he essenti tore of the Munich Agreement and invaded Czechoslovakia (March 1939). Brirush pubkic iopinion turned on a dime. Chamberlain still had not given up on negotiating with Hitler, but was firced to declare war when Hitler invaded Poland (September 1939). Finally when Churchill was appointed prime-minister, the Btitish had a prime-minister determined to make war without reservation. And unlike Hitler he would be with the people when the bombs started falling. The same was true of the King and Queen. Here Queen Elizabeth, who always dressed up, visits a bombed out area of London. The uniformed wioman is a member of the Women's Volunteer Service which came to the aid of bomb victims. The visits from Churchill and the Royal family would create a bond with British people though the darkest period of the War. And support for the War would continue even as London burned--not what Hitler expected. And unlike NAZI Germany, the German people, maintained a free press throughout the War.

Hitler growing inpatient with the air battle and troubled by the losses of planes and crews was furious when the RAF bombed Berlin after an errant bombing of Berlin. Up until now, the Luftwaffe has primrily attcked militry targets hich included port cities. A strong believer in terror tactics, Huitler was outraged that the British should dare to stage such on Germany, especially Berlin. There is no evidence that he was moved by the suffering iof the n=mnomb victioms. Unlike Chutrchill, he never appered in bombed out areas and comdenserating with the bombed out public. Goebbel;s pleaded with him gto ciome/ He refyused. We are not entirely sure why, but believe he saw it as showing a sign of weakness while his war policy was to project NAZI Germany as an all-powerful conquering force. He was particularly outraged that Churchill would do this at a time that he had not yet unleased the Luftwaffe on London and British civilians. He was also outraged that the British had not resonded to what he saw as his 'generous' peace initatives. He did not understand that after Munich, he had cut out any possibility of peace with Britain short of military victory. Hitler speaking to a crowd of cheering supporters at the the Berlin Sports Palace threatened "I shall wipe out their cities." (September 4). ("Ich werde ihre Städte ausradieren.") Churchill took note and commented in his memoirs, "He tried his best.". 【Churchill, Finest, p, 432.】 Hitler called the British 'night gangsters' referring to Bomber Command's night time raids. He decided ton fundamentlly change his tactics. He was beginning go understand tht there would be no British Vichy and military victory was the only option. Strategic boning doctrine ws not well establoished at the time. Falling backion his predatory nature, he still believed that no country could hold up aganist the Lugtwaffe and terror bombing. He ordered an immediate change in Luftwaffe tactics. Rather than completing its offensive against the RAF infrastructure in southeastern England, Hitler ordered a 'Blitz' on British cities--vegence attacks. Some authors do not think the British bombing of Berlin was all that was involved here and that German plans were to bomb London once the air war was won and as part of the Sea Lion operations. 【Overy】 Göring was disturbed because the RAF resistance was making him look bad in front of Hitler. and Hitler's favor was essentil for any NAZI leader. He had promissed a swift victory to his Führer. Luftwaffe intelligence had seriously underestimated RAF fighter strength. Thus Göring believed that the British would be unable to resist much longer. For the new phase of the battle, the Luftwaffe Commander brought his personal train to Pas-de-Calais to take charge from his field commanders. 【Gilbert, p. 339.】 Göring was a fighter ace in World War I and Hitler had made him the Commander of the Luftwaffe. He had none of the training or technical capabilities of the highly professional Luftwaffe command. The day after his Berlin Sports Palace speech, Hitler ordered a new Luftwaffe offensive without limits on civilian casualties and especially targeting London and its people.


Churchill, Winston. Their Finest Hour (Houghton Mifflin: Boston, 1949), 751p.

Gilbert, Martin. A History of the Twentieth Century Vol. 2 1933-54 (William Morrow and Company, Inc.: New York, 1998), 1050p.

Overy, Richard.


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Created: 1:57 PM 10/18/2023
Last updated: 1:57 PM 10/18/2023