Bombing Raids In Hamburg In Book 1984

In George Orwell’s novel 1984, war is in everyday life. In 1939 Hamburg, Germany was bombed by the British Royal Airforce killing thousands, and in response Germany bombed London. Winston Smith, the main character in the novel, has memories and experiences of war which reflect reality. The bombing of Hamburg affected the writing of 1984 because the weekly bombing of London is a response Germany, contradicts the slogan “war is peace”, and shows how the government can decide on everyone’s fate.

The bombing of Hamburg can be considered close enough to Japan’s Hiroshima. The joint British-American bombers raided Hamburg, Germany with a plan to destroy the heavily industrial city. The operation was given the name Gomorrah like the biblical city that was consumed by fire by the judgment of God. The British Royal Airforce executed a raid more comparable with what happened in Nagasaki (Watson). Bombing went on for eight days and seven nights with 2,326 tonnes being dropped. The city burst into flames with 1500 F heat. The heat from the fire and warm weather mixed creating a tornado of fire which caused the streets to melt (Bombing of Hamburg). Ten square miles of the city was gone with 42,600 dead and 900,000 that fled leaving rats and flies as lords of the city (Philpot).

Smith cannot remember a time that the country was not at war, but there was clearly a time of peace because his first memory was an air raid. Smith’s second encounter is while he’s walking through the poorest section of Airstrip One. The proles seemed to possess an instinct which told them a rocket was coming even though the rockets supposedly traveled faster than sound (1984 84). In 1984, twenty to thirty bombs fall on London each week. In reality the Nazi bombers had bombing raids in an operation called Blitz. The Blitz lasted from September 1940 to May 1941 with raids causing destruction on the daily (Gilbert). The bombing of Hamburg is contradicting to the slogan “War is Peace” because after Hamburg was bombed, Germany bombed London in response not creating peace but more destruction.

The government in 1984 can do whatever it wants just like the governments during World War II. The Chief British Bomber Command, Air Chief Marshal Arthur T. Harris and the British government were the main decision makers on weather raiding Hamburg was necessary for the war. The Ruhr offered a dozen easy-to-hit cities that compromised major checkpoints in the German war economy (Grimsley). Even though the British knew how important the industrial cities were to the Ruhr, they still bombed major ones like Hamburg. This shows how the government can do whatever it pleases even if it does jeopardize the people.

The bombing of Hamburg affected the novel 1984 because the weekly bombings of London is a response from Germany because the bombings Winston Smith lives through is a reflection on reality.  

07 July 2022
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