The German Luftwaffe bombs Guernica

April 26, 1937 Guernica

On 26 April 1937, German bombers of the Condor Legion, together with the Italian Air Force, bombed the Spanish town of Guernica. Hundreds of civilians were killed, and large parts of the town were destroyed. Worldwide, the bombardment had a great impact.

A civil war had been raging in Spain since 17 July 1936. On that day, a group of nationalist army officers, the later dictator Francisco Franco among them, staged a coup against the republican government. They were supported by rightwing and conservative groups. Leftwing parties such as the communists and anarchists stood by the government. 

Both sides received support from abroad. The republicans received moral support from Europe and America and weapons and troops from the Soviet Union. The nationalists were supported by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. After three years, on 1 April 1939, the fighting ended in a victory for Franco.

The bombardment of Guernica was the first action of the modern German army. In May 1939, the Condor Legion was given a warm welcome when they returned to Hamburg and Berlin after Franco's victory.