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Published on Jan 5, 2008
The Blitz was the sustained bombing of the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany between 7 September 1940 and 10 May 1941, in World War II. While the "Blitz" hit many towns and cities across the UK, it began with the bombing of London for 57 nights in a row. By the end of May 1941, over 43,000 civilians had been killed and more than a million houses destroyed or damaged.
London was not the only city to suffer extensive bombing during the Blitz. Birmingham, Coventry, Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull, Manchester, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Southampton were all among the cities to suffer similarly heavy air raids and high numbers of casualties.
The German military doctrine of speed and surprise was described as Blitzkrieg, literally lightning war, from which the British use of Blitz was derived. While German air-supported attacks on Poland, France, the Netherlands and other countries may be described as Blitzkrieg, the prolonged strategic bombing of London did not fit the term.
While the Germans never again managed to bomb Britain on such a large scale, they carried out smaller attacks throughout the war, taking the civilian death toll to 51,509 from bombing. In 1944, the development of pilotless V-1 flying bombs and V-2 rockets briefly enabled Germany to again attack London with weapons launched from the European continent. In total the V weapons killed 8,938 civilians in Britain.