Spain was in the middle of the Civil War, but they could be at ease. The front was far away and they were not military targets. So the inhabitants of four tiny villages in the interior of the Castellón Province, right in the Republican zone, went about their business: cattle and crops. Until the ‘Stuka’ appeared. 40 neighbours died. They never knew who bombed them. They had never seen a plane. They never suspected that they were victims of a Nazi experiment.
The attacks took place in May 1938. More than 70 years later, a report located in the military archives in Fribourg, Germany, explains what happened in Benassal, Ares, Vilar de Canes and Albocàsser. There are 66 photographs. Some mark the targets; others the aftermath. The Nazi officials went through much troubles to document everything carefully. There was a reason.
The pilots belonged to the Condor Legion, sent by Hitler to aid Franco. They set their base in la Sènia, Tarragona. They brought three Junker 87 bombers, known as ‘Stuka’, capable of nose-diving above their marks and destroying precise targets. They had the order to test whether the aircraft would hold a new bomb of 500 kilos, double the load launched up until then. They chose the easiest target. Four defensless villages. They were close and the pilots could return to base for lunch. The experiment would be decisive in the German decision to use the ‘Stuka’ for the still unsuspected WWII.