Class and Community in the Blitz, 1940–1

Geoffrey G. Field

in Blood, Sweat, and Toil

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604111
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731686 | DOI:
Class and Community in the Blitz, 1940–1

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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The chapter discusses German bombing of British cities September 1940 to May 1941. It analyses government plans to protect the civilian population and public responses to the raids both in London and provincial cities. In working-class neighbourhoods of London and elsewhere people often chose their own makeshift mass shelters, most famously the London Underground. These mass shelters, which developed a social life of their own, became the focal point of public debate about air-raid protection and sites of social exploration for journalists, photographers, artists, and writers—some of whom saw them as microcosms of democratic community and active citizenship. The chapter examines representations of the sheltering population by photographer Bill Brandt and artist Henry Moore and, compared to the public recrimination and class prejudice evident during the first evacuation, the emergence of more positive imagery about workers and the concept of a ‘people's war’.

Keywords: Blitz; mass shelters; Bill Brandt; Henry Moore shelter drawings; ‘trekking’; air raids; ‘people's war’

Chapter.  21564 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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