It was market day in
For over three hours, twenty-five or more of
Germany's best-equipped bombers, accompanied by at least twenty more
Messerschmitt and Fiat Fighters, dumped one hundred thousand pounds of
high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the village, slowly and systematically
pounding it to rubble.
"We were hiding in the shelters and praying. I only thought of running away, I was so scared. I didn't think about my parents, mother, house, nothing. Just escape. Because during those three and one half hours, I thought I was going to die." (eyewitness Luis Aurtenetxea)
Those trying to escape were cut down by the strafing machine guns of fighter planes. "They kept just going back and forth, sometimes in a long line, sometimes in close formation. It was as if they were practicing new moves. They must have fired thousands of bullets." (eyewitness Juan Guezureya) The fires that engulfed the city burned for three days. Seventy percent of the town was destroyed. Sixteen hundred civilians - one third of the population - were killed or wounded.