German Heinkel 111 bombers fly over British territory during the Battle of Britain
80 years ago, on July 10, 1940, the Battle of Britain began, an attempt by the Third Reich to suppress England with an air war, to force London to come to an agreement with Berlin.
The British Empire is an example to follow
The British withstood the German air onslaught in the summer and fall of 1940. England lost about 20 thousand people, over 1 thousand aircraft, but it survived. The main reason: Hitler did not want to seriously beat the British. The Fuhrer hoped for peace and even an alliance with Britain. The Germans hoped that after the collapse of the Anglo-French alliance in London, that part of the British elite (including representatives of the upper aristocracy and the royal house) would come to power, which would agree to an agreement with Berlin: in exchange for the preservation of the British colonial empire and the opportunity to profit from French colonies, the British recognize the victory of Germany in Europe and will not interfere in the war with the Russians.
Hitler and many other representatives of the German elite and ideologues greatly admired Britain and copied it. After all, it was Britain that created the world colonial (slave-owning) empire. It was the British who were the authors of the theory of racism, social Darwinism and eugenics. They were the first to create concentration camps, divided people into “superior” and “inferior” races, used the methods of terror, genocide, the principle of “divide, play and rule” in the management of “inferior” peoples and tribes. The model of British colonization in India, where several tens of thousands of “white masters” held in subjection hundreds of millions of aborigines, Hitler considered ideal. The same model was planned to be distributed in the East, in Russia.
Hitler saw in the British the Germans – the “superior race” who must be forced to return to the “Aryan community”. The Fuhrer did not want to destroy the British Empire, this would only strengthen America – the den of plutocrats and money-lenders. In addition, Berlin knew that London, prior to the outbreak of World War II, actively helped the Reich to restore its industrial and military potential.
Berlin wanted to see a partner in Britain. Create an axis Berlin – London – Rome – Tokyo. The union of these empires could be strengthened due to the collapse and development of Russia, could create a counterbalance to the financial, industrial and naval power of the United States. After the First World War, the contradictions between the United States and Britain intensified. Washington was aiming for the role of a senior partner, and London resisted as best it could. Berlin was well aware of this. They also knew that Britain had never recovered from the terrible losses of the First World War. The English nation has been drained of blood and no longer wants a repetition of the terrible meat grinder. In England, the ideas of pacifism were not long ago popular. Society will be in a panic from the threat of war on the islands, the prospect of air strikes on large cities.
Thus, Hitler hoped to the last to come to an agreement with the British that supporters of an alliance with Germany would overthrow Churchill’s government. To the “second Munich”. After that, the Reich could calmly fight the Russians. And Japan will launch an invasion of the Far East. The USSR will collapse in 1941. The German Empire would not have to worry about the second front, the fight in the Atlantic and for Britain.
Briefing of the pilots of the German Ju-87 dive bombers before a combat mission
Why England didn’t surrender
The British are still proud that in the summer and autumn of 1940, when neither Russia nor the United States entered the war, they fought the Nazis alone and survived. True, upon careful study of the facts, it turns out that the Reich did not fight in full force against England. At the very beginning of the war, the Luftwaffe was ordered not to attack the ships of the British fleet in the harbors. Although strikes on British naval bases and the navy were quite a logical step. The German fleet was small, the Wehrmacht was preparing to land in Norway. Germany needed to clear the sea of the enemy fleet. But Hitler forbade the bombing of the British naval bases. Obviously he didn’t want to anger English society. The attacks on the ports could cause great casualties among the civilian population. Apparently, the Fuhrer still counted on peace with Britain and he needed the fleet of the former mistress of the seas.
Further, during the French campaign, the Germans utterly defeated the allies, pressed down their grouping in the Dunkirk area. German tanks could arrange a grandiose meat grinder, destroy or capture an enemy group (Hitler’s “Stop Order”. Why did German tanks not crush the British army “). However, they did not. The British were allowed to go to their islands. Obviously, Hitler did not want to create a carnage, making the British mortal enemies.
After Dunkirk, the British Isles were weakened for some time in terms of defenses. The expeditionary army, taken out of Dunkirk, has lost its heavy weapons and equipment, and is demoralized. It took time to recover. Militia units are hastily formed on the islands. They have outdated weapons and poor training. The situation in the country is on the verge of panic. The British were mortally afraid of the German landing in the south of the island. The most successful moment for the landing of the German airborne army. The British fleet can be protected by minefields. The Germans had excellent magnetic mines. Throw all aircraft into battle. This will lead to heavy losses for the British Navy. However, the Germans take a break.
Instead, the Nazis began an air war in July 1940. The Battle of Britain is not a full-scale operation, but a limited, small-force operation. The stake was placed on the destruction of the British Air Force in continuous battles. Like, when the enemy runs out of pilots and aircraft, Britain will surrender. At the same time, the Germans did not strain at all. In England they don’t talk about it, but the Germans did not fight seriously during this period. The German economy, including the occupied countries, unlike the British, was not mobilized. In the Reich, there was even a decline in the production of bombers and fighters in the midst of the Battle of Britain. During this operation, Germany produced an average of 178 aircraft, and Britain – over 470. At the same time, the industrial potential of Germany alone was approximately twice that of England. For example, in 1944 the German industry produced 24 thousand fighters (an average of 2 thousand per month). As a result, in August 1940, Goering’s fleet of fighters was 69% of the number that was available three months earlier.
It is strange that the Luftwaffe did not think about strengthening the cover of their bombers by equipping the fighters with outboard tanks. For some reason, the Germans did not begin to deploy an additional network of airfields in Northern France, Belgium and Holland. The German command sprayed inadequate bomber forces in the operation. As a result, the Germans were unable to crush Britain by the fall. An angry Hitler ordered the terrorist bombing of London. They had no particular military significance, only strengthened the will of the British to resist and caused large losses of the Air Force.
It is also strange that the Germans, rational and very skillful in the military craft, did not deploy an underwater war simultaneously with the air war. After all, Britain and its industry, the population were critically dependent on the supply of resources and food. On September 1, 1940, Germany had 57 submarines, exactly the same as a year ago! That is, the production of submarines has not been strengthened. Only a few submarines were stationed in Britain. In addition, the German Navy was blind: because of the position of Goering, the fleet was deprived of reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft. Only in the summer of 1941, the submarine war against England was intensified. Another “strange war”: when the German Air Force is active, the German fleet is almost inactive; when the naval war intensifies, the air onslaught stops, the Luftwaffe is aimed at Russia.
Passers-by on the street of Coventry destroyed by German bombs
What would Hitler do if he really wanted to crush England?
Had the Fuehrer wished to really break the back of the British Empire in the summer of 1940, he would have had every opportunity to do so. The industry of the Reich, France and other subordinate countries would be mobilized to urgently reinforce the Air Force and Navy. The construction of fighters, bombers, the creation of long-range strategic aviation, the construction of submarines, destroyers, minesweepers, light cruisers, etc. The strikes had to be delivered in several directions at once. An air war would be full-fledged: with powerful strikes on the main ports, industrial facilities (especially aviation and aircraft engine plants), energy and transport infrastructure (bridges, railway junctions, stations, tunnels, etc.). In the air, with the rapid build-up of combat vehicles, it was possible to arrange a full-fledged battle. To kill the British fighter squadrons so that the rate of production of fighters at British factories is inferior to the rate of their destruction.
Air attacks would be complemented by a full-fledged naval blockade with attacks by submarine and surface raiders to cut off Britain from the supply of raw materials and fuel for industry and the armed forces, food for the population. If Hitler had planned to fight England in earnest, he would have strengthened the air fleet (including strategic aviation); would bet on building up the navy, primarily underwater and light; would have blocked the British ports with mines, as the Nazis later did with the Russians, in the Black Sea. The final is a strategic amphibious operation.
Also, the Reich could deliver powerful blows to the British colonial empire. Capture Gibraltar, send a full-fledged army (and not Rommel’s two divisions) to help Italy in North Africa, and the other to the Middle East. That is, to establish full control over the Mediterranean Sea, to make it the German-Italian sea. Occupy Egypt and the Suez Canal, all of North Africa. Support anti-British sentiment in Iraq. Establish control over Turkey. The oil of the Middle East ended up in the hands of Hitler. Target Persia and India, relying on anti-British nationalist forces. Everything posed a threat to the collapse of the British Empire. The Fuehrer would give England check and checkmate. But Hitler did not do this.
Thus, the Fuhrer began an air war with the expectation of a future peace and even an alliance with England. Therefore, the Nazis did not hit the vital centers of England, but the psyche of society. In London, only the workers’ suburbs were smashed, the rich areas were not touched. Coventry was a small town with light industry. Hitler hoped to the last that Churchill’s cabinet would collapse, and supporters of reconciliation with the Third Reich would come to power. Hence the mysterious flight to England of one of the leaders of the Nazis, Hess, in May 1941. Interestingly, after the Hess mission, Germany calmly, without fear for the rear, attacks Russia. Indeed, in 1941-1943. The Reich was not prevented from fighting the USSR. All British operations were in auxiliary theaters and directions that did not threaten Germany.
Firefighters extinguish a fire in a destroyed building on Oxford Street in London
Fatal mistake of the Fuhrer
It seemed that England had no other choice but to find a common language with Hitler. France, the main ally on the continent (like the others), bat. The Vichy regime is hostile. The USSR, unlike tsarist Russia, was not going to shed blood for the interests of Britain. Moreover, Moscow has concluded a non-aggression pact with Berlin. Germany for some time had a quiet rear from the Russians. The United States remains neutral. In the British elite itself there are supporters of an agreement with the Reich. Therefore, Hitler had every reason to believe that London would make peace with Berlin. And then a powerful European Union (the prototype of the European Union) will be created, headed by the Germans – the Germans and the British. On the one hand, the resources of the colonies of Britain and its navy, on the other – the powerful industry and the army of the Reich. Such an alliance could well become a counterweight to the USSR (Hitler planned to crush the Russians soon) and the United States.
The Fuehrer expected London to take steps towards peace soon. Therefore, the economy of Germany, like that of the entire controlled Europe, did not strain. The war in the West, according to Hitler, was successfully completed. This was Hitler’s fatal strategic mistake. He did not take into account that circles came to power in London that did not want cooperation and alliance with Germany. London and Washington created Project Hitler to strike at the USSR and destroy Europe. Germany had to crush the Russians, then collapse itself under the blows of the Anglo-Americans. Defeated Russia, Germany (along with all of Europe) and Japan were to become the basis for a new world. The Moor has done his job, the Moor can leave. Therefore, Hitler was given to understand that there would be no second front in the West while he was fighting the Russians. As a result, Germany’s campaign to the East became fatal.
Commander of the 2nd Luftwaffe Air Fleet Field Marshal Albert Kesselring during a meeting with the pilots of the 76th Squadron of heavy fighters. In the background is a Bf.110C-1 Messerschmitt fighter.
A pair of British Hurricane fighters at low level flight over their airfield