Baedeker Blitz

The Baedeker Blitz or Baedeker raids were a series of attacks by the Luftwaffe on English cities during the Second World War.

The raids were planned in response to a devastating increase in the effectiveness of the Royal Air Force's (RAF) bombing offensive, starting with the bombing of Lübeck in March 1942. The aim was to begin a tit-for-tat exchange with the hope of forcing the RAF to reduce their actions. To increase the effect on civilian life, targets were chosen for their cultural and historical significance, rather than for any military value.

The main set of raids began late April 1942, and ended by the end of May, though towns and cities continued to be targeted for their cultural value for the next two years.

By any measure, the attempt was an abject failure. In the time following the original Blitz, a little over a year earlier, the RAF had dramatically improved its night fighter capability and introduced the AMES Type 7 radar specifically for the night fighting role. Losses to the Luftwaffe's bomber force were unsustainable, and for a variety of reasons the damage to the targeted cities was minimal compared to the German bombing campaign of 1940–41, or to the contemporaneous Allied campaign against Germany. Nevertheless, the raids resulted in over 1,600 civilian deaths and tens of thousands of damaged homes.

Background

By the winter of 1941/1942 both the British and German strategic bombing campaigns had reached a low ebb. The German offensive, a nine-month period of night bombing known as the Blitz, which had left London and many other British cities heavily damaged, had come to an end in May 1941, when the Luftwaffe had switched its resources to the invasion of the Soviet Union. Thereafter it had confined itself to hit-and-run raids on British coastal towns. Meanwhile, the RAF's night bombing offensive had been shown to be largely ineffective, as revealed by the Butt report in August 1941, and by Christmas the offensive had largely petered out.[1][2]

When it resumed in March 1942 with the bombing of Lübeck, there was a marked change in effectiveness. New heavy bombers (the Stirling and Halifax, followed by the Manchester and Lancaster), improved navigation (with aids such as Gee and Oboe), new leadership (with the appointment of AVM Harris) and new tactics (the bomber stream, use of incendiaries, and focusing on a single target) all contributed. Not least of these was the switch to area bombing. Prior to this the RAF had attempted to make precision attacks, aiming at individual factories, power stations, even post offices, in multiple strikes across the country; this had been costly and ineffective. In March 1942, and following the Luftwaffe's example they began concentrating a single blow against an area where several worthwhile targets existed, not least the homes and morale of the civilian population living there. These changes resulted in the destruction of Lübeck, and came as a profound shock to the German leadership and population.[3][4]

Other Languages
Esperanto: Baedeker Blitz
italiano: Baedeker Blitz
עברית: בליץ בדקר