Virtually all modern nations offer a justifying reason why they're engaging in any war, if only to convince their own people that they're fighting on the side of right and justice.

What justification did Nazi Germany give for its 1940 attempt to conquer Britain (resulting in the Battle of Britain)?

I've Googled and read about the propaganda the Germans issued at the time - saying that the British were "bad" in various ways (oligarchy, mistreatment of their poor, insufficiently socialist, etc.), but I haven't been able to find anything specifically explaining the public justification Germany offered to explain its attempt to conquer Britain.

  • 10
    By the time that Germany was in a position to invade Britain, the two states were already at war. There was no additional need for justification other than to win. Aug 11, 2021 at 17:07
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    Why did they need to justify anything?
    – MCW
    Aug 11, 2021 at 20:49
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    Note that it was Britain that declared war on Germany in 1939.
    – Barry
    Aug 11, 2021 at 22:30
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    @nerdfever.com Germany had made peace offers and Britain had rejected them with lightning speed. (In fact, a broadcaster declared they rejected them without having been authorized to say so. Government was very worried about that.)
    – Mary
    Aug 12, 2021 at 1:24
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    @KillingTime I think the question is not about the legal reasons (yes, they were in the war already), but in justification to Germans - who had to suffer privations and risk lives in the name of the war. Even totalitarian regimes need justify themselves to their constituents, although to a lesser degree.
    – Roger V.
    Aug 12, 2021 at 13:39

3 Answers 3


The war with Great Britain was justified because when Hitler invaded Poland, Great Britain declared war. The invasion of Poland itself was justified by the "provocation" at Dantzig.

For specific operation "Sealion" and Battle of Britain, there were more justifications given to the public, especially German population:

  • Hitler proposed peace to Great Britain (at least with words) and Churchill refused
  • United Kingdom was still fighting so it needed to be neutralized, because there was the danger of a blockade

You only need a public justification to start a war. Or to continue a war after the other side offers a peace deal.

Nazi Germany had not (directly) started the war with Britain. Britain had declared war. And they were not offering peace either.

So the justifiction was easy: "Britain is an enemy that is attacking us. And they won't stop until we make them."

Granted, after the victory over France and with only Britain left in the war, it did not need much convincing either.

  • A regime which conducts mass genocide, and engages in many other war crimes, is unlikely to feel obliged to "justify" anything. - I would have thought. The general reasons for everything that Hitler did were clearly documented in Mein Kampf.
    – WS2
    Aug 15, 2021 at 23:42
  • @WS2 Unlikely or not, they did. Nobody really read Mein Kampf and the Nazis made sure that there wasn't enough hard evidence available to get the German populace rattled. There is a reason that the worst concentration camps are not on German soil. As far as famous "justifications" go, look no further than en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleiwitz_incident
    – nvoigt
    Aug 17, 2021 at 15:09

Technically, given that Britain had declared war on them and then rejected terms, Germany didn't have to give any reasons.

As for persuading the people to keep on fighting, they touted their prior victories, and derided British attempts to keep up morale by pointing out all the prior German victories had not actually subjected Britain. Furthermore, the anti-British propaganda got significantly more nasty in tone. The British in Nazi propaganda were plutocrats ("the Jew among the Aryans"), oppressors of their empire, and hypocrites. Der Fuchs von Glenarvon and My life for Ireland depicted them as oppressors of the Irish. Ohm Krüger depicted the Boer War as the horrors they inflicted on the Boers, in particular playing up the concentration camps.

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