It is often argued that the Hitler regime was profoundly influenced by the ‘stab-in-the-back’ myth generated by the German collapse in 1918. In World War II the anxiety that the home front might collapse was fuelled by the escalating bomber offensive and the widespread popular belief that urban communities would not be able to withstand the bombing. For the regime, the urban working-class and the Jews were perceived as the greatest potential threat. Issues of race and labour came to play a major part in planning civil defence and coping with the aftermath of bomb attack. For the Allies, the German working class was also regarded as the ‘weak link’ and so working class residential districts became the principal RAF targets. A battle ensued between the two sides over the ‘morale’ of the German workforce.
Richard Overy is Professor of History at Exeter University. His research interests include the Hitler and Stalin dictatorships, the Second World War and air power in the twentieth century. He has published widely, most recently: The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945 (Allen Lane, 2013) and the Third Reich: A Chronicle (Quercus, 2010). In 2001 Professor Overy was awarded the Samuel Elliot Morison Prize of the Society for Military History for his contribution to the history of warfare.