26th April 1937: Guernica and the Condor Legion make the news
The 26th April 1937 saw Hitler’s Condor Legion bomb the Northern Spanish Basque town of Guernica. It was seen as a proving ground for the Nazi party’s new Luftwaffe and much experience was to be garnered from the Spanish Civil War. The Condor Legion was led by Oberstleutnant Wolfram Freiherr Von Richthofen(The Red Baron’s cousin) and under Nationalist control. Guernica was behind the front lines and was a town of about 7000 population. The bombing was in waves and exact casualty reports are unknown, but probably numbered around 1000. The Legion was a mix of Fighters and Medium Bombers, all names we know: 109s(B not Es), HE 51s (biplanes), DO 17s, JU52s and HE111s. There were also some Italian Fiat Fighters and the versatile SM79.
The outcome of the bombing was to demoralise the townsfolk and lead to its falling to Franco’s Nationalists on the 29th April.
This bombing raid was to be a preview of what was to happen between 39-45 to larger cities like Warsaw, London,Berlin, Dresden and finally Tokyo.