2:03 AM · Mar 31, 2020
Since we’re all talking about the ‘Blitz Spirit’, and how we should act like Londoners in WW2, here’s something that never makes it into the official story.
Remember those iconic photos of working-class Londoners sheltering in tube stations? Well, that wasn’t meant to happen >
The government did not build the recommended municipal shelters, preferring to leave that to private companies + individuals. When the bombs first fell, the underground was barricaded. The fear was that once the working class went underground, they would never come up again >
The hardest hit areas were poor, immigrant and and working-class communities in the East End, who had nowhere to go. Meanwhile, large clubs and hotels were digging out private shelters.
In 1940, activists led the people of Stepney to storm the Savoy shelter during an air raid.
Finally, one night in September 1940, with the flimsy, unhygienic East End shelters overflowing, hundreds of people stormed Liverpool Street and ‘broke open’ the underground.
The police tried to stop them. But the need for shelter was too great.
Local communist parties led many of these actions. By the time the government officially changed its position and ‘allowed’ working-class Londoners to take shelter in the underground, almost 200,000 were already doing so.
People who had been abandoned by their government, in fear of their lives, did what they had to- and what should have been done from the start- to take care of each other.
Eventually it was adopted into the propaganda effort, and became part of the official mythos of the Blitz.
More here: https://www.communist-party.org.uk/39-history/1056-70-years-on-the-true-story-of-the-blitz.html