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The Nazis bombed the Spanish town of Guernica

Posted in Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, War on Friday, 1 March 2013

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This edited article about Guernica originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 167 published on 27 March 1965.

Guernica, picture, image, illustration

The destruction of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War

On April 27, 1937, German aircraft dropped 4,000 bombs on the Spanish town of Guernica and wiped it out.

History was made not only because this was the ruthless bombing of civilians in an open undefended town, but it created another ugly precedent – one country using armed warfare to dictate how another country should be governed. A later example was the ruthless action of the U.S.S.R. in establishing a Communist regime in Hungary.

The Spanish Parliamentary elections of February 1936 returned 265 members of the “left”; 142 members of the “right” and 66 of the centre. This was interpreted by the left as a mandate for social revolution, and as they had won the most seats they took office. The right wing argued that the right and centre had actually polled more votes and therefore the country had not given a verdict for socialism.

The right wing was determined to unseat the government, and after a period of unrest it struck – with violence. Lt. Castillo of the left wing was murdered. In reprisal, the right leader Calvo Sotelo was killed.

General Franco announced that there would be a rising in July, and considering that it had the army on its side, early victory was expected. But the ordinary people fought bravely and the revolt did not succeed.

Then came intervention – Italy and Germany supplying arms for the right wing rebels and Russia retorting by supplying arms to the left wing.

The terrible struggle went on for nearly three years. Franco won, and the Fascists have ruled ever since.

But like a scar on the pages of history is the memory of that day when Nazi pilots, in a grand rehearsal for the war of aggression that was to follow so soon afterwards, rained down their bombs on the people of another country.

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