The following discussion will examine the question whether or not the defeat of the Republic was inevitable. The sources for the analysis will include a variety of primary sources including a painting, a novel, a journal, and a newspaper article. Secondary sources will be employed to add context to these primary sources. Together this historical evidence will be mined for the causes of the Republican defeat in the spring of 1939. The conclusion will then return to the inevitability of the Nationalist victory.
Comparing the aerial bombing of Guernica to the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the Allied firebombing that engulfed Dresden, Oxford Professor Raymond Carr describes it as merely a minor act of vandalism. However,viewed in the context of 1936 it was a terrifying, revolutionary and effective operation. According to Preston, “Guernica was the first total destruction of an undefended civilian target by aerial bombardment.” (Preston, 2006, 5)
Precise casualty figures remain a subject of debate amongst historians but on the seventieth anniversary of the attack the BBC summarized historical opinion, “The figures for the number of casualties in the bombing are still disputed, but most historians think between 200 and 250 people were killed and many hundreds wounded. “ (BBC, 2007) Also, Guernica was the historic capital of the Basque nation and as such its destruction was designed to terrorize the Basque and undermining their resistance to the Nationalist forces.
A second element of Prestons description of the event is also significant. Guernica was attacked by the Condor Legion, German aircraft and aircrew seconded to the Nationalist forces to aid in their victory and gain experience in aerial bombardment. Simply put, they were military professionals. Technologically, the Republicans could not match them. Guernica had no anti-aircraft defenses and the