Bombing of Durango
The Bombing of Durango took place on 31 March, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...



On 31 March of 1937, the Nationalist forces
National Faction (Spanish Civil War)
The National faction also known as Nationalists or Nationals , was a major faction in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. It was composed of a variety of political groups opposed to the Second Spanish Republic, including the Falange, the CEDA, and two rival monarchist claimants: the Alfonsists...

, led by Emilio Mola
Emilio Mola
Emilio Mola y Vidal, 1st Duke of Mola, Grandee of Spain was a Spanish Nationalist commander during the Spanish Civil War. He is best-known for having coined the term "fifth column".-Early life:...

, started the offensive
Biscay Campaign
The Biscay Campaign was an offensive of the Spanish Civil War which lasted from 31 March to 1 July 1937. 50,000 men of the Eusko Gudarostea met 65,000 men of the insurgent forces....

 against the Republican
Second Spanish Republic
The Second Spanish Republic was the government of Spain between April 14 1931, and its destruction by a military rebellion, led by General Francisco Franco....

 held, Vizcaya
Vizcaya may refer to:* Biscay, a Basque region and a province of Spain ** Biscay , related senses** Vizcaya ** Vizcaya Bridge, a transporter bridge in Biscay...

 Province. Mola said that: "I have decided to terminate rapidly the war in the north: those not guilty of assassinations and who surrender their arms will have their lives and property spared. But, if summision is not inmediate , I will raze all Vizcaya to the ground, beginning with the industries of war". The same day the Nationalist bombed the towns of Durango and Elorrio.

The bombing

Durango a town of 10,000 inhabitants was a road and railway junction between Bilbao and the front. It had no air defenses or any form of military presence. On 31 March, heavy bombers (german Ju-52 and italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.81
Savoia-Marchetti SM.81
The Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 Pipistrello was a three-engine bomber/transport aircraft serving in the Italian Regia Aeronautica during World War II...

) from the Condor Legion
Condor Legion
The Condor Legion was a unit composed of volunteers from the German Air Force and from the German Army which served with the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War of July 1936 to March 1939. The Condor Legion developed methods of terror bombing which were used widely in the Second World War...

and the Aviazione Legionaria
Aviazione Legionaria
The Legionary Air Force was an expeditionary corps from the Italian Royal Air Force. It was set up in 1936 and sent to provide logistical and tactical support to Francisco Franco's Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War, alongside its German equivalent, the Condor Legion, and the Italian ground...

bombed the town in relays. Two churchs were bombed during the celebration of mass, killing 14 nuns and the officiated priest. Furthermore, Heinkel He 51
Heinkel He 51
-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Donald, David, ed. Warplanes of the Luftwaffe. London: Aerospace, 1994. ISBN 1-874023-56-5.* Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. "The Cadre Creator...Heinkel's Last Fighting Biplane". Air Enthusiast No. 36, May-August 1988. pp. 11–24. ISSN 0143-5450.*...

 fighters strafed fleeing civilians. Altogether, around 250 civilians (Thomas:248; Beevor:250 and Preston: 258) died in the attack. Durango became the first defenseless European city bombed, twenty days before the town of Guernica
Bombing of Guernica
The bombing of Guernica was an aerial attack on the Basque town of Guernica, Spain, causing widespread destruction and civilian deaths, during the Spanish Civil War...



On 28 April, Durango fell to the nationalists. The nationalists never acknowledged their guilt in the death of civilians. They said that the priest and the nuns were killed and burned by the reds. Queipo de llano said that: "our planes bombed military objectives in Durango, and later communists and socialists locked up the priests and nuns, shooting without pity and burning the churches".
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