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A Political Perspective

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1 A Political Perspective
The Battle of Britain A Political Perspective By Rebecca Stevens

2 Adolf Hitler, German Politician
After WW1, Germany was forced to give up all its land and was banned from having armed forces. The country was impoverished and debt ridden. At this time, Adolf Hitler, was the leader of the National Socialist German Worker's Party (Nazi). In 1933, in the midst of the depression, Hitler's Nazi party won the most seats in the Reichstag (parliament). Shortly after the election, the Nazis set the Reichstag building afire and blamed it on the communists. The communists were expelled from parliament, and the remaining deputies granted Hitler dictatorial powers.

3 Hitler immediately eliminated his political opponents and began stockpiling weapons. Hitler had long argued that the future of the German race could only be guaranteed by taking over large parts of Eastern Europe and settling them with Germans. The Second World War was started by Germany in an unprovoked attack on Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany after Hitler had refused to abort his invasion of Poland.

4 Allies and the Axis The war was fought between two major alliances: the Axis (Hitler) and the Allies THE AXIS Italy Japan Germany

5 THE ALLIES India Yugoslavia Lithuania Denmark USSR Latvia Belgium The
Netherlands South Africa Poland New Zealand Australia Estonia Norway United Kingdom Greece China Malta United States France Canada Czechoslovakia Brazil

6 The Battle of Britain In 1940, Adolf Hitler turned his attention to invading Great Britain. He had conquered all of Europe, Britain would be the last to fall. The plan was to allow the German air force, the Luftwaffe, to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force (RAF), before a planned sea and airborne invasion of Britain. He believed this would be an easy task as the Luftwaffe had twice as many planes. What he had not considered was the determination of the newly elected prime minister, Winston Churchill, or the patriotism and fighting spirit of the British people and their allies.

7 Sir Winston Churchill Some consider Sir Winston Churchill one of the greatest politicians of the 21st Century (Daniel Nader, Harvard University). The historian, Michael Beschloss, believes that were it not for Churchill, western civilisation of which Australia is one, would not exist as we know it . Instead we would be living in a totalitarian state where our every action and behaviour would be scrutinised. Sir Winston Churchill ( ) became prime minister of Great Britain in 1940, shortly before the Battle of Britain. He rallied the British people during World War II and led his country from the brink of defeat to victory. To many people in Britain Churchill’s stand against Nazism and all it stood for, summarised why the war was being fought. His speeches have become part of legend. He said to the men from Fighter Command who took on the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, "Never in the field of human conflict, was so much owed to so few.“

8 A personal history of Winston Churchill’s influence
Both my grandparents on my mother’s side were born shortly before the Battle of Britain and believe that it was through the actions and words of the ‘British Bulldog’ (a nickname given to Churchill due to his determination and fighting spirit) that the allies were able to defeat the Germans. My grandmother claims that Churchill was able to instil this patriotism and determination into the British people and enable them to keep going during these hard times. She and her twin brother, mother and grandmother were evacuated from London during the Battle of Britain whilst her father (my great grandfather) stayed and fought with the Royal Artillery, shooting down the planes that came over London. Though many of the women and children were evacuated during this time, many more stayed and stoically kept working, often having to walk to work avoiding unexploded bombs and craters that used to be homes, schools roads etc. My great grandad (my grandad’s dad) spent much of this time at work, 12 hour shifts were the norm, as he was involved in making the fuel tanks for the spitfire engines, a vital role to ensure a successful outcome to the battle of Britain. As a child, my grandparents worshiped Sir Winston Churchill. He was seen as a saviour and the ultimate role model for the allies. As an adult, my grandmother attended his funeral along with many thousands of other grateful Britons. Interview with Gillian Westcott (grandmother)

9 The Few The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. Extract from speech made by Winston Churchill 1940

10 The Few This famous quote by Winston Churchill is now forever embedded in history and the pilots of the Battle of Britain forever referred to as ‘The Few.’ men from fourteen nations, fought to save Britain including 35 Australians. Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne

11 The Australian ‘Few’ Australians can be proud knowing that they helped defend Britain during the battle. One well-known Australian pilot was Flight Lieutenant Pat Hughes of Cooma from New South Wales. Like many brave pilots, he lost his life on the 7th of September while intercepting a large group of Dornier bombers and Messerschmitt fighters over Kent. During the Battle of Britain thirty five Australians flew combat operations. Of these 35 pilots, 10 were killed.

12 Battle of Britain Timeline
On 10 July, 1940, the Luftwaffe made their first bomber attack on British ships in the Channel. During August German bombers began striking cities and civilian targets, marking the beginning of what became known as The Blitz. In August, 1940 the German air force began its mass bomber attacks on British airfields, harbours, aircraft factories and radar stations. August 13th "Eagle Day". The Luftwaffe launched its offensive against Britain, with 1,485 sorties. The Germans lost 45 'planes and the RAF lost 13. August 15th-a day of intense attacks. The Luftwaffe launched a total of 1,790 sorties and lost 75 planes. The RAF lost 34. August 17th The Germans established an 'operational area' around Britain. In it, any ship was to be sunk without warning. August 25th The RAF launched its first raid on Berlin. September 7th- Some 300 German bombers, escorted by 600 fighters, attacked London. . The Blitz - From September 7th the city of London was heavily bombed. Hitler hoped to destroy the morale of the British people but due to Churchill’s leadership this was not to be. With the failure of daylight bombing raids Hitler began a series of nightly bombing raids on London and other important industrial cities

13 Timeline continued... The turning point in the Battle of Britain came on Sunday 15 September On that morning, British coastal radar stations picked up dense formations of German bombers and fighter escorts racing across the English Channel. RAF Fighter Command managed to get 24 fighter squadrons to intercept them – the maximum force of 300 Hurricanes and Spitfires that it could get across southern England. Throughout the day, the skies over Britain were filled with hundreds of British and German aircraft locked in fierce aerial combat. The RAF suffered heavily throughout the campaign, but on 15 September 1940 the tide turned against the Luftwaffe. Goering's sudden change of tactics, from striking RAF airfields to bombing British cities, gave Fighter Command the brief respite it needed to reinforce squadrons with aircrew and to replace lost aircraft. Goering's change of strategy was a fatal error of judgement that gave the RAF the edge it required to deliver the Luftwaffe a fatal blow. Unable to rid the skies of the RAF, while faced with mounting losses that of extremely heavy aerial combat and was chosen as the day on which to remember the significance could not be replaced, the German invasion was cancelled and the Battle of Britain was won. 31 October 1940, is generally considered to be the end of the Battle of Britain, after the RAF caused considerable damage to the Luftwaffe. 1,547 allied aircraft were lost during the Battle of Britain. During July, August and September the Royal Air Force lost 792 planes and over 500 pilots were killed.

14 Maps showing attacks

15 So how did the Battle of Britain change Australian attitudes and experiences?
The immediate effects include the loss of the pilots resulting in grieving families and friends On a positive note the experiences of this battle benefitted how future Australian pilots fought air battles The battle further strengthened the relationship between Britain and Australia Winning this battle gave all allied nations, including Australia, hope that they could defeat Adolf Hitler and the Nazis

16 Bibliography Author Title of Entry URL (location) Date Updated
Mandy Barrow The Battle of Britain 2010 - Adolf Hitler German Politician The Few 2007 Adolf Hitler 12 November 2010 Anniversary talks 15 September 1940, Battle of Britain Why Study Winston Churchill? John Setear Sir Winston Churchill 11/10/2000 Chris Trueman


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