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The British Home Front Essay

1573 words - 7 pages

How effective were the efforts of the British governments during World War II in mobilising and protecting their civilians
On September 1st1939 Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland and consequently the British and French declared war on Nazis; this was the beginning of the World War II. The lives of millions changed as total war swept the globe. Governments instantly realised that the only way to achieve victory would be to adapt their home policies to protect their civilians from the brutalities of war. The British government was one of those who were successful in changing their home policies to prevent starvation and malnutrition. They also exploited propaganda and distributed ...view middle of the document...

Lower class citizens - those who normally could ill afford certain foodstuffs - found the rations particularly beneficial. Other good were also in short supply; the availability of petrol, paper and clothes was also restricted as the British government tried to liberate resources that could be spent on the war effort.
Other concessions were made by the British people as they contributed to the war effort. Fashions changed as finer materials became scarce and many private gardens were transformed into mini-allotments, contributing to their countries ‘self-sufficiency’ aims. Many of these changes were encouraged by the British government through the use of propaganda. In short, the British government was successful in its attempts to reduce their reliance on imports; before the war Britain was importing 55 million tons of foodstuffs, a month after the war’s commencement this figured had dropped to almost 12 million tons. However, a black market developed and began to thrive as even the most patriotic citizen craved for luxuries which were denied to them. Bribes changed hands as the wealthy brought goods outright, bypassing the rationing system. Despite the government’s best attempts to crush the circulation of illegal goods - they issued fines and even prison sentences for more severe cases - the black market was ever present during this time of rationing.
Propaganda was utilised by the British government during the years of total war as they tried to shape the citizens moral, behaviour and to protect the citizens from the reality of war. The Ministry of Information and the Censorship Bureau monitored the media, only releasing news that would better the disposition of the citizens. For example, all press photos showing wounded soldiers, dead air raid victims, bomb-destroyed houses were banned yet stories of allied soldiers heroics featured heavily. Government campaigns were also instigated to encourage citizens to contribute to the war effort; slogans like ‘Dig for Victory’ were circulated by the Ministry of Agriculture as they tried to encourage self-sufficiency. Propaganda was also used to try and create patriotism within the empire; stirring and nationalistic speeches were often broadcasted by radio. In July 1940 metal collections were held supposedly to gather resources for the production of aircraft; in fact, hardly any metal collected was used to make planes, the government just wanted the public to feel that they were ‘doing their bit’. The government also distributed guidance for the people of Britain - publishing new recipes and giving advice on healthy eating - as they tried to keep the people of Britain content and well during the war. However, many citizens felt as though they were being ‘swamped’ by patriotic advice and campaigns; the government tried to combat this by releasing funny and witty posters and slogans. Despite this many of the campaigns were a success including the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign which exceeded all...

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