Saturday, July 26, 2014

Almería Bombarded by the Germans

An interesting piece of history here recalls the story of how the Germans bombarded the City of Almería on May 31st 1937.
A squadron of Republican bombers, Tupolevs, had flown out of a Murcian air-base some days before and had attacked a German battleship (under, apparently, the idea that it was the Admiral Canaris, a warship used by the Nationalists) which was moored in Ibiza. The ship was in fact a German pocket battleship, the Deutschland, which suffered the loss of over thirty crew-members as a result of the strike. The Deutschland belonged to Nazi Germany, a country which in 1937 was part of a non-aggression coalition but the ship was, nevertheless, trespassing within a ten mile exclusion zone.
Appraised of the incident, Hitler was incandescent and planned to shell Valencia (the provisional capital of the Republicans), however, on reflection, Almería as a smaller target was chosen and another battleship, the Admiral Scheer, was chosen for the job, together with four supporting destroyers, the Albatros, Luchs, Seedler and Leopard.
The Admiral Scheer, while in Gibraltar.
Over 200 rounds were fired at the undefended port and city. Fifty people died, another 55 were reported wounded and a number of buildings were destroyed. Unlike the attack on Guernica some weeks previously, the German forces made no effort to disguise their nationality, nor to work in any alliance with the Rebels. This was about revenge.
Great Britain and France made small complaint and the event was swept under the carpet. Meanwhile, a large web of tunnels was quickly built under Almería to protect the population from further attacks - enough to protect 35,000 citizens (the tunnels are now a tourist attraction) from the privations of the Nationalist, Italian and German forces. As 150,000 refugees from Málaga, newly taken by the Nationalists, struggled into Almería, adding to the incalculable stress of the situation. The city itself was shelled another fifty times by the Rebel forces in the following months.

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