Granollers – the bombing of May 1938

La Porxada - Granollers
La Porxada – Granollers

Tomorrow May 31st is the 75th anniversary of the day Granollers was bombed. It was a Tuesday morning, 9.05am, and the Porxada was full of mostly women and children queuing to buy food. The country had been at war with Franco’s troops since 1936  and here as everywhere there were shortages and rationing and it was necessary to arrive early to buy any food.  Five planes from the Italian airforce appeared as from nowhere and without any warning dropped 60 bombs over the city. They were not trying to destroy military buildings. This was one of the indiscriminate bombings of civilian populations in Republican areas. Franco had given permission to both the Germans and the Italians to use their airpower to attack ordinary people. Later the Italians said they were trying to destroy electicity plants and factories making war supplies. But none of these possible targets were touched. Only a busy market square in the centre of town and the surrounding streets.

There are plaques in the pavements of Granollers to mark the places where the bombs fell

2012-06-21 21.29.56It isn’t hard to imagine the terror and devastation of that day.  The Porxada was partially destroyed. Around 224 people were killed. In 1940 they began restoration of the Porxada and here it is today, in the background is the Ajuntament

2012-07-02 11.36.11In this beautiful local council building there is an old civil war bomb shelter which has recently been open to the public for a few days. It was constructed after the May 31st attack and many people sheltered there in the months that followed when there was further devastation.

Photo0867The next year, on 28 January 1939, Franco’s troops entered Granollers and with the beginning of the post war repression, memories of the trauma of May 31st were silenced. Today as the public were shown round the bomb shelter a woman in her late 70’s called out “My mother was killed in that attack. she was queuing at the fish shop when the bombs dropped”   She must have been around 5 years old on that day when she lost her mother.

Many of the bodies of the victims of the air raid were buried in a mass grave in the local cemetery. When democracy was finally restored in 1975, this memorial became a site for remembrance. Every year on May 31st at 9am a service is held there to honour those who died and those whose lives were changed forever.

he almost broke the internet

I heard about the arrest in Granollers of cyber-criminal Sven Olaf Kamphuis from a friend in Cornwall.  Even though the drama was played out in a street not five minutes from my house, we knew nothing about it until reading the Guardian article from May 20th.  It described how a 35 year old Dutch man with bushy eyebrows tried to mastermind an internet attack from the back of an orange Mercedes van bristling with antennae and solar panels. He had rented rooms in Carrer Figueres, a street off Carrer Girona and parked his rather obvious van outside a  local bar.

Granollers, according to the journalist Giles Tremlett, is a ‘nondescript town 15 miles from Barcelona’ and this epithet spurred me into starting to write this blog.  I have been planning it for months and as we are now suddenly on the map, it seems a good time to offer another view of the town.

Bar Javis, is now famous for playing a small part in the arrest when the owner’s son took a photo of the strange van parked outside.  “Not a lot happens in this street” said the owner ” but it was so huge that it blocked out the light from our bar”

Bar JavisI walked round there last night to take a look, accompanied by Bonnie my border collie.

It isn’t the prettiest street in Granollers and I can’t imagine popping into the bar for a coffee any day soon but it is now a landmark and this is how it looks.

Carrer Figueres