Coventry blitz: was destruction of medieval centre Hitler's revenge?

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Even its most ardent defenders would struggle to claim that Coventry is a beautiful city. Despite efforts in recent years to spruce the place up, it is still seen by many as an expanse of gloomy postwar concrete and tarmac.

Which is why, according to poet and writer Jackie Litherland, many people have forgotten the real reason why the Nazis launched their savage attack on the city at the start of the second world war. Litherland caused a flutter among historians todayafter claiming the city, and the country as a whole, had actually forgotten why Coventry was targeted.

The commonly-held view is that 500 Nazi planes wreaked havoc on Coventry because its factories churned out parts for warplanes and munitions. But Litherland, who saw the city burning as a girl, believes the real reason was to deliberately tear the heart out of a lovely medieval city and thus exact revenge after attacks by the RAF on Munich. Most experts disagree with the thesis; but some in the city are wondering if she may just be right.

The trigger for this re-examination of Coventry's wartime history was a BBC documentary Blitz: The Bombing of Coventry. The film told the story of the devastating attack in November 1940 through moving interviews with survivors, interspersed with analysis from experts.

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