Conference on the Stuka experiment in Maestrat
Eighty-one years later, the bombing of Gernika is one of the international icons that commemorates the suffering of civilians in the course of wars and, more specifically, the innocent victims of aerial bombardments. The one in Gernika was an unprecedented air attack that, according to the historian Xabier Irujo, caused more than 2,000 victims and was a war experiment in order to test the Koppelwurf bombing system and the new cocktail of explosive and incendiary bombs devised by Wolfram von Richthofen, chief of staff of the Luftwaffe on Basque soil in 1937. Moreover, the bombing was a birthday gift that was supposed to happen for Hitler’s 48th birthday.
The Condor Legion, as the Luftwaffe unit that Hitler sent to Franco was called, carried out other experimental bombings preparing for World War II. One of these experiments was the one that the German air unit carried out in Maestrat (Valencia) in order to put to the test the new dive bomber models Junkers Ju87 Stuka and the new 500 kg bombs. The Condor Legion destroyed four locations in order to measure its effectiveness in May 1938, causing many casualties among civilians.
A conference organized by Oscar Vives (University of Valencia) took place on May 25-29, bringing together researchers and historians to study this event, where Xabier Irujo from the University of Nevada, specialist in the bombing of Gernika, participated. The conference also featured Dr. Joan Villarroya, who spoke about Franco’s aviation in Valencia and Catalonia, and Dr. Stefanie Schüler-Springorum from the University of Berlin, who spoke about life during the war of young German pilots. The bombings of other territories such as Alcañiz, Alicante, and Castellón were also discussed, as well as the Battle of Levante. A round table was held to close the conference.
In the course of the conference the producer Docsvalència presented the film titled ‘Stuka Experiment’, which is a documentary that studies what happened in “Castellon’s Gernika” 80 years ago.