Below is my translation of most of the article: “Bombardowali cywilów. Obchody rocznicy w Wieluniu.” (They Bombed Civilians, Commemorations of the Anniversary in Wieluń).
Siren alarms sounded at 4:40am in Wieluń (Poland). This is how the ceremonies started, commemorating the 73rd anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.
Seventy-three years ago at dawn, above the sleepy, defenseless town located 21 kilometers from the border with the Third Riech, came flying the German Stukas, dropping 380 bombs in total. As a result of the bombings, over 1200 residents of Wieluń were killed and 90% of the city center was destroyed.
The ceremonies in Wieluń commemorating the anniversary of the outbreak of World War II and Veteran’s Day started at 4:40am in front of the General Education High School on Pilsudski Street, the site where the hospital stood in September, 1939.
The alarm sirens sounded, and footage of the German bombardment was projected on the wall of the building. Representatives of the city and county leadership as well as combatants, laid flowers and lit votive candles at the monument to the victims of the bombings. Letters from President Bronisłam Komorowski and Premier Donald Tusk were also read.
Before the war, Wieluń had about 16,000 residents and was 21 kilometers from the German border. September 1, 1939 the city was attacked by formations of the Luftwaffe under the control of the aerial commander for special operations, General Wolfram von Richthofen. Among them was the 1st division of the 76th dive bomber regiment under the command of Captain Walter Siegel. Members of his unit were pilots in the Condor Legion, who bombed Guernica (Spain) in 1937.
Overall, 380 bombs fell on Wieluń, weighing a total of 46 tons. The first ones hit the All-Saints Hospital. 32 people died there – patients and staff. These were the first victims of the German air raids during World War II. The next targe was the oldest, parish church in Wieluń, St. Michael the Archangel, built in the beginning of the 14th Century. The Piarist building was the only surviving structure on the old square.
In total, as a result of the attack on Wieluń by the German air force , which lasted until 2pm, over 1200 people died. Certain sources note as many as 2,000 victims. Bombs dropped by the Stukas (Junkers Ju 87) destroyed 75% of the city. 90% of the city center was destroyed.
At the time of the German attack, no units of the Polish Army were stationed in the city, nor were there any anti-aircraft positions. Not only from a military perspective but from an economic one, the city didn’t present any essential target for the Luftwaffe. There weren’t any industrial plants there, nor did any important transportation routes run through it. Thus, in the opinion of historians, the target of the German attack on Wieluń was the civilian population.