The Baedeker blitz: How a tourist guidebook inspired Nazi bombing raids on Britain | History | News

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Seventy-five years ago Adolf Hitler launched a plan to destroy Britain’s historic sights

As the tide of the Second World War slowly began to turn against Germany the frustrated Führer was out for revenge, ordering his air force to attack cultural targets and civilian centres. 

Henchman Joseph Goebbels recalled that Hitler told him: “There is no other way of bringing the English to their senses. They belong to a class of human beings with whom you can only talk after you have first knocked out their teeth.” 

Dubbed the Baedeker raids, after the popular travel guides, the aim was to reduce the beautiful cities of York, Norwich, Exeter, Canterbury and Bath to ashes. 

Nazi propagandist Baron Gustav Braun von Sturm proudly boasted: “We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker guide.” 

Often overshadowed by the Blitz on cities such as London and Coventry in 1940-41, the anniversary of the Baedeker raids of April 1942 will be marked this month in a series of events and services recalling the brave Britons who died. 

But while Hitler’s bid to destroy our heritage left many lives and buildings wrecked – it would not crush the resolve of the nation to fight on and ultimately ended in failure. 


We shall go out and bomb every building…

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