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Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Almería Shelled by the Germans
Tuesday, April 12, 2022 @ 5:42 PM

An interesting piece of history recalls the story of how the Germans bombarded the City of Almería. We are at the tail-end of May 1937 in the middle of the worst kind of conflict: a civil war. And the worst kind of battle: a one-sided attack aginst civilians. To be clear, the legitimate if slightly chaotic government of the day, remembered as the Republicans, had been attacked in the uprising of July 1936 by the Nationalists under General Franco. As in the Ukraine today - people understandably wanted to get on with their lives; and not to be shelled, shot or executed for politics.

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 'borrowed' 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 supposedly non-aggression coalition although 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 proposed 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.

150,000 refugees from Málaga, newly fallen to the Nationalists, had just made their way on foot by the coastal road into Almería, adding to the incalculable stress of the situation. It had taken them two weeks to make the dangerous journey, hiding by day, walking by night. All the way - the old road used to follow the contours of the hills, snaking around and upon itself for some 300 kilometres - they were under the guns of the enemy. There was little help available from the weakened Republican forces.

The city itself was shelled another fifty times by enemy forces in the following months.

Almería was not high on the list of useful targets for the Fascists and it wasn't until the end of the civil war, in March 1939, that the city formally surrendered.

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ukarranview said:
Saturday, April 16, 2022 @ 7:49 PM

The Admiral Scheer in Gibraltar ? Did Great Britain allow German warships to visit British outposts in the Med at that time ? I am intrigued by the photo. Maybe it was a cunning ploy by the British Government to be able to look at a German capital warship at close quarters ? Certainly, the Nazis would have made the most of this opportunity to have a good close look at Gibraltar's defences.

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