In his latest column for the Mail on Sunday, the commentator and Orwell Prize winner Peter Hitchens shares his thoughts on the Blitz — the Luftwaffe’s bombing campaign over London that commenced sixty years ago this month. His comments have special relevance given the previous posts on andrewcusack.com regarding the immorality of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombings, and likewise of the intentional and deliberate targeting of civilian non-combatants.
Bombing cities is just wrong – even when the planes are ours
Can we be straight about the Blitz, now that it is 70 years since it began?
Most of us have two absolutely clear reactions to it. The first is that dropping bombs on women and children in their homes is a wicked form of warfare.
The second is that – despite all the horrors of being bombed – the British people were not demoralised or blasted into defeatism, but worked all the harder for victory because it was the only way to get back at the enemy who dropped death on them from the sky.
Yet as soon as anyone suggests that we were wrong to bomb German women and children in their homes – as I firmly believe we were – they are shouted down by cries of ‘They asked for it!’.
Actually, they didn’t ask for it at all. The children, as always, had no say in the matter.
And the people who bravely voted against Hitler to the last lived in the poor urban areas which we deliberately bombed.
And when anyone argues – as I do – that the bombing of German civilians was also an ineffective way of fighting the war, doing surprisingly little damage to the Nazi war effort, they are shouted down by apologists who seem to think that Germans responded to bombing differently from British people.
It’s not true, and those who have studied the facts agree.
Yet I am absolutely in favour of a memorial, large and majestic, in a place where as many people as possible will see it, to the young men who nightly climbed into their bombers and flew over Germany.
They believed they were helping to destroy a great tyranny. They trusted their leaders.
That is why they set off, hearts in mouths, in the full knowledge that they probably wouldn’t come back, and that they were likely to die in a specially horrible fashion.
Not since the Somme in 1916 had so much steadfast valour and youth been squandered by old men who ought to have known better.
On the Bomber Command war memorial, alongside the shattering number of names and the chokingly sad ages at which they died, should be the words ‘Lions, led by Donkeys’.