April 26 - 1937 - The Bombing of Guernica
The Spanish Civil War was a complicated conflict, pitting associated right wing groups backing a Nationalist coup by generals against the Republican Government of Spain that was backed by a collection of left wing groups. The Nationalists got support from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, who were backing the troops of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. As Franco and the Nationalists tried to gain the territory of the Basque country in 1937, their best asset was the German Condor Legion, which was testing its strength in aerial warfare through the Spanish Civil War. In late April, the Nationalists had the upper hand, but still faced a long struggle. Then the Condor Legion flew a quick series of missions over the Basque town of Guernica on the evening of April 26, 1937. In total, they ruined most of the town and killed some 300 people. More important than the quite severe immediate damage was the way that the bombing of Guernica foreshadowed future events. Not only did Nationalists steamroll through the Basque country in the immediate aftermath, but the bombing of Guernica was a template the Nazis could use when World War II really began in 1939.