On March 31, 1937, one of the most important bombings Durango suffered took place at the hands of the Italian Air Force, serving the cause of Franco’s insurgents during the months of March and April of 1937.  Following the one on March 31st, two more occurred on April 2nd and April 4th.

Around 300 people died in the March 31st attack.  That was the consequence of four tons of bombs being dropped by the Italians, as well as of the machine gun fire from the fighter planes as they shot at civilians fleeing the bombs.  In total, in the three attacks, 14 tons of bombs were dropped on the town.

The number of victims they caused is known because the rebels did not take the town until April 28th.  Those days between the bombings and the occupation by the rebels of Durango allowed for the number of victims to be counted, the injured to be treated, and the consequences of fascist bombings to be made known.  It just so happened that the April 2nd bombing took place when an international commission, made up of English and French, was in the town studying the damage caused by the March 31st attack.

This unfortunately was not the case with the bombing of Guernica.  Francoist lies and manipulation are still projected to this day.

Today, we wish to remember that war crime, whose only goal was to terrorize and massacre civilians.  As Franco himself so clearly explained to the Italian ambassador in the area controlled by the rebels:

«…Tal vez otros piensen que cuando mis aviones bombardean las ciudades rojas estoy haciendo una guerra como cualquier otra, pero no es así… Debemos llevar a cabo la tarea, por fuerza lenta, de redimir y pacificar, sin la cual, la ocupación militar sería en gran medida inútil. No estoy interesado en el territorio, sino en los habitantes. La reconquista del territorio es el medio, la redención de los habitantes es el fin» (Preston, Paul (2011). El holocausto español. Odio y exterminio en la Guerra Civil y después [The Spanish Holocaust] p. 572)

“…Perhaps others might think that when my planes bomb red cities, I’m fighting just another war, but that is not the case…we must carry out the task, with slow force, of redeeming and pacifying, for if we don’t the military occupation would be in large measure useless.  I’m not interested in the territory, but rather the inhabitants.  The reconquest of the territory is the mans, the redemption of the inhabitants is the end.”

With these words, we can see not only the moral ethics of that individual, but also the wretched way he led the uprising and 40 years of dictatorship that followed.  His words show that he was not only aware he was bombing a defenseless civilian population, he was the one ordering it.  It also shows how arrogant he was at calling the Italian planes “his,” right in front of the fascist Italian ambassador who was “loaning” them to him.

In July 2017, we wrote an article on the bombing of Durango (which can be found at the end) when a lawsuit was presented for war crimes against humanity against 46 Italian pilots who participated in those bombings between March and April 1937, causing over 300 deaths in that small town.

Those wondering as to the reasons for this decision in 2017 may find a clue on the 2014 congratulations received by one of the Italian pilots who volunteered for the rebels from the Italian Minister of Defense, Roberta Pinotti (former PCI member) who was a member of the Matteo Renzi government at the time.

(Happy birthday to the highly decorated aviator Luigi Gnecchi, born in 1914, 100 years old with enviable energy)

This was also transmitted via their website Aeronautica Militare.

As we said then, it’s hard to understand how a democratic government, a member of the European Union, can wish well tom someone who volunteered to massacre a civilian population in another country.  It’s not just unworthy, it’s graceless.

Regarding the bombing Durango, and its nearby region, suffered, we can find a very interesting pamphlet on the Durango tourism website that was drawn up by the council and Gederiaga Elkartea; it’s chock full of interesting information.

The bombing of Durango, like those of Guernica, Otxandio, Eibar, San Sebastian, Bilbao, and many other Basque cities, is one of the war crimes carried out by Franco and his allies during the Spanish Civil War.  Guernica’s is perhaps the best known internationall, thanks to the extraordinary chronicle by George L Steer, who told the whole word of the barbarities that happened, which inspired Picasso to paint the painting that has made the destruction of the Basques’ sacred city a permanent cry against war and barbarism.

We still need truth, justice, and reparations, regardless of how much it bothers the political, and sometimes familial, heirs of those who caused that disaster.


From Italy, “Truth, Justice, and Reparations” are owed to Durango and to the Basques

Fotografía de cabecera: Bombardeo de Durango, 31 de marzo de 1937. Imagen tomada por los bombarderos italianos responsables del mismo

Last Updated on Dec 3, 2023 by About Basque Country

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