London and the Blitz

04/24/2012 at 3:49 pm

During the Second World War, Germany conducted a Blitzkrieg against the United Kingdom, which is more commonly referred to as “the Blitz” (German for lightning war). The Blitz lasted from  September 1940 to March 1945, with the most intensive period taking place from  September 1940 to May 1941. In London alone, between 15,000 and 30,000 people were killed and between 1 and 3.5 million homes were destroyed. Since the Blitz’s goal was to  demoralize  the English into submission, the Germans specifically targeted churches, museums, and other public institutions.

The people of London did their best to stave off the  destruction caused by the nightly bombings. Ordinary citizens joined forces with firefighters and police officers to protect their City. Their most famous success story occurred on the night of December 29, 1940 when  St. Paul’s  Cathedral  was saved from destruction.

These bas-reliefs  can be found on the Battle of  Britain  Monument located on the Victoria Embankment

Walking around London one finds many reminders of the Blitz. As can be seen in the following photographs, some of the damage was left as a reminder of what occurred during the War. These pockmarked buildings and monuments tell a tale akin to New York City’s own pockmarked Morgan Bank Building at 23 Wall Street.

The facade of the Victoria and Albert Museum

London bears many scars from the Blitz the most fascinating of which grace some of  its churches. Many of London’s churches were damaged during the Blitz including nineteen of  the area’s fifty-one Christopher Wren designed churches. Some were restored to their condition before the War, while others were left in their ruined state as testimony to the the destruction brought about by the Blitz. A handful of these former churches can be found throughout London, where only their towers (and occasionally a wall) remain.

St Augustine, Watling Street

Christ Church Greyfriars (also known as Christ Church Newgate)

St Alban, Wood Street

St Olave, Old Jewry

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