Gernika, 1937
The Market Day Massacre

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Author: Xabier Irujo

Format: Cloth
Pages: 336
ISBN: 9780874179781
Published Date: 2015


On April 26, 1937, a massive aerial attack by German and Italian forces reduced the Basque city of Gernika to rubble and left more than sixteen hundred people dead. Although the assault was initiated as part of a terror bombing campaign by Francoists against Basque Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War, its main intent was to test the effectiveness of the rising German Luftwaffe’s new equipment and strategies.

To produce this detailed analysis of the political and military background of the attack and its subsequent international impact, Xabier Irujo examined archives and official government documents in several countries and conducted numerous interviews with Basques who survived. His account of the assault itself, based on eyewitness reports from both victims and attackers, vividly recalls the horror of that first example of the blitz bombing that served the Germans during the first years of World War II. He reveals the U.S. and British governments’ reaction to the bombing and also discusses efforts to prosecute the perpetrators for war crimes. Irujo relates the ways in which the massacre has been remembered and commemorated in Gernika and throughout the worldwide Basque diaspora.

Gernika, 1937: The Market Day Massacre is an important contribution to the history of the Spanish Civil War and to our understanding of the military strategies and decisions that shaped this war and would later be employed by the Nazis during World War II.

Author Bio
Xabier Irujo is associate professor and co-director at the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is the author of ten books and numerous scholarly articles, mostly focusing on aspects of genocide.
Reviews

"In Gernika, 1937: The Market Day Massacre, the historian Xabier Irujo reveals the hitherto unknown fact that the destruction of the historic Basque town of Guernica was planned by Nazi Minister Hermann Göring as a gift for Hitler’s birthday, April 20. Guernica, the parliamentary seat of Biscay province, had not as yet been dragged into the Spanish civil war and was without defenses. Logistical problems delayed Göring’s master plan. As a result, Hitler’s birthday treat had to be postponed until April 26.” —The New York Review

"Gernika, 1937: The Market Day Massacre is the most complete and detailed account of the event and its context, and will remain the authoritative history for a long time to come." —Ian Patterson, professor of English at Queens' College, Cambridge 

“This book raises a number of important questions relating to the circumstances surrounding the Gernika affair and the impact that modern warfare practices have had on ethical and humanitarian issues. His effort to remind us of the place Gernika holds in contemporary world affairs is also a welcome feature of the book.” —George Esenwein, author of The Spanish Civil War: A Modern Tragedy