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 by air war, to force London to agree to Berlin.
The British Empire - an example to follow
The British withstood the air pressure of Germany in the summer and autumn of 1940. England lost about 20 thousand people, more than 1 thousand aircraft, but survived. The main reason: Hitler did not want to seriously beat the British. The Führer hoped for peace and even an alliance with Britain. The Germans expected that after the collapse of the Anglo-French alliance in London, that part of the British elite (including representatives of the highest aristocracy and the royal house) would come to power that would conspire with Berlin: in exchange for preserving the British colonial empire and the opportunity to profit at the expense of The British colonies of 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 ideologists greatly admired Britain and copied it. After all, it was Britain that created the world colonial (slaveholding) 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, to divide people into "higher" and "lower" races, to use the methods of terror, genocide, the principle of "divide, play and conquer" in the management of "inferior" peoples and tribes. Hitler considered the model of British colonization in India, where several tens of thousands of "white masters" kept hundreds of millions of Aborigines in obedience, ideal. The same model was planned to be distributed in the East, in Russia.
Hitler saw in the British the Germans - the "higher race", which must be forced to return to the "Aryan community." The Fuhrer did not want to destroy the British Empire, it would only strengthen America - the den of the plutocrats and financiers-usurers. In addition, Berlin knew that London, before the outbreak of World War II, had actively helped the Reich restore industrial and military potential.
In Berlin, they wanted to see a partner in Britain. Create 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 marine power of the United States. After World War I, the contradictions between the United States and England intensified. Washington was aiming for the role of senior partner, and London, as he could, rested. Berlin knew this well. They also knew that Britain had never recovered from the terrible losses of the First World War. The English nation was bloodless and no longer wished to repeat 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 in large cities.
Thus, Hitler hoped until the very last to agree with the British that supporters of the alliance with Germany would overthrow the Churchill government. On the “second Munich”. After that, the Reich could calmly fight with the Russians. And Japan will begin the invasion of the Far East. The USSR will collapse in 1941. The German Empire would not have to worry about a second front, the struggle on the Atlantic and for Britain.
Briefing pilots of German dive bombers Yu-87 before a combat mission
Why England did not give up
The British are still proud that in the summer and fall of 1940, when neither Russia nor the United States entered the war, they alone fought against the Nazis and survived. True, with a careful study of the facts, it turns out that the Reich did not fight at full strength against England. At the very beginning of the war, the Luftwaffe received an order not to attack British ships fleet in the harbors. Although the attacks on the British naval bases and navy were 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 British naval bases. Obviously, he did not want to anger English society. Port attacks could cause large casualties among civilians. Apparently, the Fuhrer was still counting on peace with Britain and he needed a fleet of the former mistress of the seas.
Further, during the French campaign, the Germans utterly defeated the allies, pressed their group in the Dunkirk area. Germanic Tanks could arrange a grandiose meat grinder, destroy or capture the enemy group (Hitler's “Stop Order”. Why didn’t German tanks crush the British army?) However, they did not. The British were allowed to clear their islands. Obviously, Hitler did not want to arrange a massacre, making the British mortal enemies.
After Dunkirk, the British Isles were weakened for some time in terms of defense. The expeditionary army exported from Dunkirk, lost its heavy weapons and equipment, is demoralized. It took time to restore it. Militia units are hastily forming on the islands. They have outdated weapons, poor training. The situation in the country is on the verge of panic. The British were mortally afraid of the Germans landing in the south of the island. The most successful moment for the landing of the German landing army. From the British fleet can be closed by minefields. The Germans had excellent magnetic mines. Throw the whole battle Aviation. This will lead to heavy losses of the British Navy. However, the Germans take a break.
Instead, the Nazis in July 1940 start an air war. The battle for Britain is not a full-blown, but a limited operation by small forces. The bet was made on the destruction of the British Air Force in continuous battles. Like, when the enemy runs out of pilots and planes, then Britain will capitulate. At the same time, the Germans did not bother at all. In England they don’t talk about this, but the Germans didn’t fight seriously in this period. The German economy, including the occupied countries, unlike the English, was not mobilized. In Reich, there was even a decrease in the release of bombers and fighters in the midst of the Battle of Britain. During this operation, Germany produced an average of 178 aircraft, and Britain - more than 470. At the same time, the industrial potential of Germany alone was approximately twice that of English. For example, in 1944, German industry produced 24 thousand fighters (an average of 2 thousand per month). As a result, in August 1940, the Goering fighter fleet accounted for 69% of the amount that was available three months earlier.
It is strange that the Luftwaffe did not think about strengthening the cover of their bombers, equipping fighters with hanging tanks. For some reason, the Germans did not begin to deploy an additional network of airfields in northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The German command sprayed insufficient bomber forces in the operation. As a result, the Germans could not break Britain by the fall. Annoyed, Hitler ordered the start of the terrorist bombing of London. They did not have special military significance, they only strengthened the British will to resist and caused great losses to the Air Force.
It is also strange that the Germans, rational and very skilled in military craft, did not deploy an underwater war at the same time as 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. Britain had only a few submarines at its positions. In addition, the German Navy was blind: due to Goering's position, the fleet was deprived of reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft. Only in the summer of 1941 was the submarine war against England intensified. Another “strange war”: when the German Air Force is active, the German fleet is almost inactive; when the sea war intensifies - the air attack 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?
If the Fuhrer wished in the summer of 1940 to really break the back of the British Empire, he would have every opportunity to do so. The industry of the Reich, France and other subordinate countries would be mobilized for the urgent strengthening of 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. Attacks had to be fired in several directions at once. The air war would be full-fledged: with powerful strikes at major ports, industrial facilities (especially aircraft and aircraft engine plants), energy and transport infrastructure (bridges, railway junctions, stations, tunnels, etc.). In the air, with the rapid buildup of the construction of military vehicles, it was possible to arrange a full-fledged battle. To interrupt the British fighter squadrons so that the rate of release of fighters in British factories is inferior to the pace of their destruction.
Attacks from the air would be supplemented by a full-fledged naval blockade with attacks by submarine and surface raiders in order 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 seriously, he would have strengthened the air fleet (including strategic aviation); would bet on building up the navy, primarily underwater and light; it would have blocked the English ports with mines, as the Nazis did later with the Russians in the Black Sea. The finale is a strategic landing operation.
Also, the Reich could inflict powerful blows on the British colonial empire. Capture Gibraltar, send a full-fledged army (and not two Rommel divisions) to help Italy in North Africa, 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. Middle East oil was in Hitler’s hands. Target Persia and India, relying on anti-British nationalist forces. Everything posed a threat to the collapse of the British Empire. The Führer would have put England checkmate. But Hitler did not do this.
Thus, the Führer launched an air war in the hope of a future world and even an alliance with England. Therefore, the Nazis did not hit the vital centers of England, but in the psyche of society. In London, only the working suburbs were smashed, the rich did not touch the area. Coventry was a small city with a light industry. Hitler hoped until the very end that Churchill’s office would collapse and that supporters of reconciliation with the Third Reich would come to power. Hence the mysterious flight to England of one of the Nazi leaders, 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 areas that did not threaten Germany.
Firefighters extinguish a fire in a ruined building on Oxford Street in London
Fatal error 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 others), is a bit. Vichy mode is hostile. The USSR, unlike tsarist Russia, did not intend to shed blood for the interests of Britain. Moreover, Moscow concluded a non-aggression agreement with Berlin. Germany for some time had a quiet rear from the Russians. The United States remains neutral. In the English elite 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 - Germans and British. On the one hand, the resources of the colonies of Britain and its fleet, on the other - a 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 USA.
The Führer was expecting that London would soon take steps to peace. Therefore, the economy of Germany, as well as the whole of Europe under control, 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 do not want cooperation and an alliance with Germany. London and Washington created the Hitler project to strike at the USSR and destroy Europe. Germany was supposed to crush the Russians, then collapse itself under the blows of the Anglo-Americans. The defeated Russia, Germany (with it all of Europe) and Japan were to become the basis for a new world. The Moor has done his job; the Moor may leave. Therefore, Hitler was made clear that there would be no second front in the West while he was at war with the Russians. As a result, the German campaign to the East became fatal.
The commander of the 2nd Luftwaffe Air Fleet, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, during a meeting with pilots of the 76th squadron of heavy fighters. In the background is a fighter Bf.110C-1 Messerschmitt
A pair of British Hurricane fighter jets flying over their airfield