Gernikako Arbola: 'The Tree of Gernika'

Robin Evans focuses on the role of the Basques during the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath.

It was market day. The centre of the small mediaeval town was full of locals and people from the surrounding countryside. There was also a significant number of refugees there that day. The air attack began without warning at around 4.30 p.m. As the town had no defences, there were no sirens to signal the imminent danger. The planes flew in low and struck their first target, the bridge leading into the town. They returned again and again and they attacked, unleashing their fearsome cargo on the town centre and its civilian population. Fearing no opposition, the bombing continued; some planes fired indiscriminately into the crowds. The slaughter lasted for over three hours and by the end of the day over 1,600 people had been killed and hundreds more wounded.

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