"From the Blitz: The British under Attack" written by Juliet Gardner

Representation one: ‘From the Blitz: The British under Attack written by Juliet Gardner, published in 2010’ and representation two: ‘ From the Home Front: The British and the Second World War written by Arthur Marwick, published in 1976’, are both extracts from history textbooks that both exploit the reactions of civilians towards the Second World War.

Even though both historians wrote their sources in different time periods, they share a few similarities, such as; they are both secondary sources as they were written after the war - "From the Blitz: The British under Attack" written by Juliet Gardner introduction. They both state how looting took place, for example, representation one the subtitle states ‘Looting and murder – the darker side of the Blitz Spirit’ this shows that many people took this tragedy as an opportunity to grab goods from dead people, even to the extent of ‘cutting off the fingers with a penknife’ in order to quickly get away. This was stated to be the ‘shameful opposite of the Blitz Spirit’, and in representation two ‘the amount of petty looting was fairly widespread’ due to the fact that not only were there ‘opportunists’ picking their way through people’s pockets but also voluntary workers such as Air raid wardens.

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Secondly, looting also took place within shops as Gardner reported that a London trader ‘lost more through looting than by bomb damage’. This was not shocking though as many looters were ‘bomb-chasers’ who would ‘rush to the target area and smash up shop windows and steal things while bombs fell and while official attention was distracted’, this was a common case during the Blitz in which Marwick portrayed a typical soldier standing guard outside a shop to guard it’s goods in order to stop looters picking them off the streets.

Additionally, propaganda and censorship took place through both representations as Marwick dedicates a whole paragraph on how ‘the myth makers, the propagandists, the photographers, the camera men, the editors, the journalists’ are the ones that ‘were responsible for creating images and stereotypes of the Blitz Spirit’. Gardner also claims that due to the terrors the civilians have face, the outbreak of murder and looting has increased therefore ‘little was reported about it at the time’ as it was reported in both representations that it would ‘damage the nation’s morale’.

However, on the other hand there were some differences between the two representations as Marwick states ‘the British people were not all heroes’ due to ‘they were ordinary human beings’ because ‘their reactions to the dangers and hardships of total war provide a genuine basis for the stereotypical images of the ‘Blitz Spirit’ this is also backed up with the fact that many of those who looted were voluntary workers who tended to use the excuse that the goods taken are ‘some kind of reward for the dangerous rescue work undertaken’.

Furthermore, Gardner mentions in her representation that it was not only looting that took place but also ‘false claims for the loss of ration books or IP cards’, this was commonly used throughout the blitz as many people utilised the bomb damage of housing an excuse to take more than they should.

Finally, Gardner gives an insight of the type of illegal-activity that took place under the protection of the black-out, for example ‘a murder was passed of as a death in an air raid’ and other events that took place throughout the blitz were committed by people that were ‘previously honest citizens’ tells us that this period consisted of a lot of stress and temptation for those who had virtually lost everything.

Overall, these representations differ from each other a lot as the views of the historians are both different. Representation one by Gardner is ideally to debunk the idea of the ‘Blitz Spirit’ claiming the majority of it was a myth, whereas, Marwick gives a balanced view where the ‘Blitz Spirit’ existed through the exaggeration of the media’s input.

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