Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Guardian's Original Article About Gernika

The English newspaper The Guardian has published the original article regarding the bombing of Gernika:

Town of ten thousand in ruins

28 April 1937

Guernica, a town of some 10,000 inhabitants, was yesterday reduced to a mass of burning ruins by countless numbers of German "planes which kept up a continuous bombing for three and a half hours".

The full story of yesterday's massacre is not yet known, but what details there are are horrible enough. It is now disclosed that the rebel planes bombed and set fire to isolated farmhouses for a distance of five miles around Guernica. Even flocks of sheep were machine-gunned.

In Guernica itself it is not known how many hundreds of people have been killed; it may indeed never be known. The town is in ruins. The buildings left standing can be counted almost on the fingers of one hand. The convent of Santa Clara, which was being used as a hospital, was destroyed, with many of its inmates. Another small hospital, with 42 beds, was completely wiped out together with its 42 wounded occupants.

The raid occurred on market-day when the town was full of peasants who had come in to sell their produce. Many of the people who raced desperately for the open fields were systematically pursued and machine-gunned from the air by swooping fighters.

The survivors spent a night of horror sleeping where and if they could, awaiting with resignation their evacuation to-day. Since early this morning the roads leading to the rear have been thronged with long streams of peasants whose possessions are dumped on oxcarts. Today I visited what remains of the town. I was taken to the entrance of a street like a furnace which no one had been able to approach since the raid. I was shown a bomb shelter in which over fifty women and children were trapped and burned alive. Everywhere is a chaos of charred beams, twisted girders, broken masonry, and smouldering ashes, with forlorn groups of inhabitants wandering in search of missing relatives. I picked up one incendiary shell which failed to explode. It was made of aluminium, weighed nearly two pounds, and was liberally stamped with German eagles.

When I visited the town again this afternoon it was still burning. Most of the streets in the centre were impassable, so that it is still unknown how many victims there are. The bodies of the few dead yet recovered are horribly mutilated. Thousands of homeless people have been evacuated with efficiency by the Basque authorities and are now at Bilbao. Their arrival may increase the difficulties of food supply in this city.

A town of ten thousand inhabitants on market day with visitors from all the little towns in the area reduced to smoking rubble and today the Spaniards and even some members of the Basque government insist that only a few dozen were killed.

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