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On This Day… The Baedeker Blitz

Written by: George Chittenden : 31 Oct 2019

It was on this day, 31st Oct back in 1942 when the Luftwaffe delivered the ultimate Halloween fright attacking the British City of Canterbury in a daring daylight raid which killed 33 people and left 54 seriously injured. So why Canterbury? Well the nine-month period of night bombing known as the Blitz, which had devastated London and many other British cities, had come to an end in May 1941. Hitler having given up on his invasion plan of Great Britain was concentrating on the invasion of the Soviet Union.

The City of Canterbury

The City of Canterbury

The RAF whose night bombing offensive had been pretty ineffective in the year of 1941, had stepped up a gear. On March 28th/29th 1942 the RAF bombed Lübeck which infuriated Hitler, and his anger increased when the RAF bombed historic monuments in Rostock. To Hitler it was an attack on their history and culture, and in a speech on the 26th April 1942 Hitler warned that reprisal attacks were on their way.

The Baedeker Guide

The Baedeker Guide

Now it was Germany’s turn to attack Britain’s history and culture. The main attack on Canterbury took place on June 1st 1942, shortly after the Cologne bombing when German planes dropped 130 high explosives and 3,600 fire bombs on the city. So where does the term "Baedeker" come from? Well Baedeker was a travel writer who had produced a travel guide to Great Britain. These retaliatory raids on Britain and its history and culture became known as the Baedeker Raids because of a comment made by Baron Gustav Braun von Stumm, a spokesman for the German Foreign Office who said "We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker Guide." at a press conference.

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