Gernika Testimonials: English

Testimony 1

A woman was carrying a little child in her arms, holding him tightly to her chest. The boy was shouting: “Amatxo, hiltzera noa” (“Mummy, I’m going to die”), and the mother, embracing her son, responded: “Ez beldurtu ume; biak hilko gara” (“Don’t be afraid son, we will die together”). The mother had barely finished speaking when a plane, descending to twenty meters, machine-gunned and killed them both.

(Testimony of the gudari Iñaki Rezabal)

Testimony 2

The dead animals, as well as pieces of animals, were scattered on the ground, mixed in with human bodies.

(Testimony of Mercedes Irala)

Testimony 3

I joined those who were working, but it was useless. We could hear the people, under the rubble, moaning and calling us and we worked as hard as we could. But there was too much debris covering them, and the fires were increasing in size, and they kept coming closer. In the end, we had to abandon them. At that moment, I almost went crazy.

(Testimony of Sabin Apraiz)

Testimony 4

I stumbled upon a good woman... who could not say anything but ‘my son, my son’. She dragged me to a pile of rubble that had been her house. I started working like crazy; to remove stones and heavy wooden beams. I scratched my nails until I broke them... When I touched the clothes of that child, who couldn’t have been more than three years old, I stained my hands with his blood that was still warm. I took that broken and lifeless child and raised him to his mother.

(Testimony of the gudari Joseba Elosegi)

Testimony 5

It was about eight o'clock. They would not return. It was not necessary. Gernika no longer existed. With all the first aid material that we had, we went to the town’s center to do as much as we could to help people. But even walking was difficult. Everything was in ruins and it was hard to distinguish the streets. There were fires everywhere and the walls were beginning to fall. Wherever you looked, you could see destruction. The worst part were the people's cries, people asking for help, help finding their relatives... help unearthing a relative or a friend buried under tons of rubble.

(Testimony of the gudari Joseba Elosegi)

Testimony 6

I went back to the village the next morning. It was gray and under a haze of clouds. Some of the fires were still blazing and there were smoky seats of fires in various places. I went down San Juan Street and saw the body of Felipe Bastarretxea under the Errenteria Bridge. He was lying on his back, near a small boat. I crossed the bridge and continued along San Juan Street. When I got close to the shelters, I could hear the people’s cries. There were still some people alive under the rubble. There were mountains of debris on some of them. It would have been impossible to unearth them. I would rather die than see that horror again.

(Testimony of Francisca Arriaga)