[Cross-posted at Revise and Dissent.]
The German bombing of London and other British cities between September 1940 and May 1941 is referred to as "the Blitz", a contemporary term which, if not actually coined by the press, was certainly popularised by it. Blitz is short for blitzkrieg, German for "lightning war", which was the label given to the spectacularly mobile armoured offensives, strongly supported by tactical bombing, which led to the rapid conquests of Poland and France. Sometimes it is suggested that it was inappropriate or inaccurate to apply a word having to do with fast-paced ground combat, involving Panzers and Stukas, to a fundamentally different type of warfare, a strategic bombing campaign lasting nine months in which no territory was exchanged and no soldiers even saw each other. For example, after noting the popular origins of blitz, A. J. P. Taylor added as a footnote:
Popular parlance was, of course, wrong. 'Blitz' was lightning war. This was the opposite.1
The Wikipedia page on the Blitz says:
The German military doctrine of speed and surprise was described as Blitzkrieg, literally lightning war, from which the British use of blitz was derived. While German air-supported attacks on Poland, France, the Netherlands and other countries may be described as blitzkrieg, the prolonged strategic bombing of London did not fit the term.
I'd like to suggest here that while it's true that the Blitz wasn't a lightning war, nonetheless it was a blitzkrieg. Confused? Hopefully I can explain ...
Firstly, note that initially blitz and blitzkrieg were synonymous terms. So immediately after the first big raids on London on 7 September 1940, the Daily Express was already using the familiar term: 'Blitz bombing of London goes on all night'.2 But at the same time, the Spectator was calling it a blitzkrieg:
The full purpose of the Blitzkrieg may have been more fully revealed by the time these lines are read. Its immediate object no doubt is to break morale.3
(Blitzkrieg seems to have been more common at first, but after a month or so it was replaced by blitz.) I think this is significant, because it shows that the British didn't think of the Blitz as something fundamentally different from blitzkrieg. It was the blitzkrieg, as applied to the attempted conquest of Britain -- which, being separated from the Continent by the English Channel, obviously wasn't going to play out in exactly the same way as it did in Poland and the West.