Joachim von Richthofen's later revealed secret document described a planned operation, saying:
"First came the incendiary bombs which set a number of roofs on fire." They were "followed the 250-kilogram heavy explosives" in order to "destroy water pipes thus hindering the extinguishing of the fires."
He complained that direct hits weren't high enough. Improved precision was needed. Numerous bridges and factories weren't struck.
An eyewitness said:
"The only things left standing were a church, a sacred tree, the symbol of the Basque people."
"There hadn't been a single anti-aircraft gun in the town. It (was) mainly a fire raid."
"A sight that haunted me for weeks was the charred bodies of several women and children huddled together in what had been the cellar of a house."
Civilian sites were fair game. Guenica had no military significance. Terror-bombing leveled the town. It was in flames. It wasn't the first civilian air attack.
Germans did it in WW I. So did Britain against Iraq in the 1920s. Poison gas was used. Then Secretary for Air and War Winston Churchill's secret memo recommended it.
In a May 12, 1919, he wrote: "I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas....I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes."
In 1937, Hitler used explosives, fragmentation bombs and incendiaries. Basque Autonomous Republic president Jose Antonio de Aguirre called the attack more brutal than ever before seen. Fascism revealed its ugly face.
"They scorched the city and fired machine guns at the women and children who fled in panic, resulting in numerous deaths," he said.
Bombing began at the busiest time of day, around 4:30PM. It was Monday, market day.
One account said "streets were jammed with townspeople and peasants from the countryside. Never before in modern warfare had noncombatants been slaughtered in such numbers, and by such means."
Another account said,"Villagers who were not immediately killed fled to the fields to take refuge, only to be ravaged by plunging machine gun fighters."