Episode 13- Gernika: The Massacre in Context

Episode 13 with Xabier Irujo

The bombing of the Basque town of Gernika on April 26, 1937 by the planes of Germany’s Condor Legion, fighting for Franco’s rebel forces during the Spanish Civil War, today stands in the historical memory as one of our most powerful reminders of the horrors of war, thanks in no small part to Picasso’s famous painting. But what were the Germans trying to accomplish in this terror bombing, how exactly did the events of that day unfold and did the Germans achieve their goals? In this second part of our series on Nazis in Spain, Xabier Irujo, Director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada- Reno, answers these questions as well as addresses the aftereffects of an event that we still remember with horror more than 80 years later.

The Episode

Episode 13 Extra- The Gernika Myths

The Guest

Xabier Irujo is the Director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno and an Adjunct Instructor of Contemporary Basque Politics at Boise State University.  He was born in exile in Caracas, Venezuela and received doctorates in history from the State University of Navarre and in political philosophy from the University of the Basque Country.  Among his numerous publications, his most recent book, Gernika, 1937: The Market Day Massacre, chronicles the context and events of the Gernika bombing in impressive detail, drawing on thousands of archival sources from several countries.  Irujo traces how the bombing was the result of the international politics of the time and German experimentation with terror bombing.  His account of the bombing itself captures why Gernika stands as such an infamous war crime.

Suggested Reading

  • Corum, James S. Wolfram Von Richthofen: Master of the German Air War.  University of Kansas Press, 2008.
  • Patterson, Ian. Guernica and Total War.  London: Profile, 2007.
  • Rankin, Nicholas. Telegram from Guernica: the extraordinary life of George Steer, war correspondent.  London: Faber, 2003.
  • Southworth, Herbert Rutledge. Guernica! Guernica!: A study of journalism, diplomacy, propaganda, and history.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977.
  • Thomas, Gordon. Guernica, the crucible of World War II.  New York: Stein and Day, 1975.
  • Xabier, Irujo. Gernika, 1937: The Market Day Massacre.  Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2015.

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