In 1935, General Erich Luderndorff had published “The Total War” (Die Totale Krieg) in which he argued that modern war was all encompassing and that no-one could or should necessarily be spared by the military (like civilians).
Guernica was the first city to be deliberately targeted for aerial bombing. Guernica was the ancient capital of the Basques which had withstood the advances of the army since the beginning of the war. By bombing it, a clear message would be sent of the Nationalist military power-though No-one knew what a bombing raid would do to a city. Franco’s Nationalists actually had little air force power and had been greatly helped by Nazi Germany, who wanted to try out their Luftwaffe.
The first bombs fell around 4:30 in the afternoon, and since it was market day, the city centre was packed with people from the outlying area around Guernica. Targets had been selected strategically, including the main bridge that lead into the city. unfortunately, the Legion could not accurately hit targets from height.
By the time theraid was over, the centre of Guernica was in ruins and over 1,500 people were killed and almost 1000 wounded.
Consequences of the raid included distrust in the diplomatic meetings between Chamberlain and Hitler in September 1938. Chamberlain, feared the possibility of a southern English city being similarly bombed. It also acted as a stimulus for Britain to modernize her outdated Royal Air Force.