A Spanish court wants Italy to apologise for the war crime of mass bombardment during the civil war, in support of General Franco
The Guardian 27 Jan 2013
His fellow eyewitnesses are dying off, but Alfonso Cánovas, 95, remembers Barcelona becoming one of the first major cities in the world to be subjected to a campaign of aerial bombardment.
"I wasn't even there for the worst of it," he said. "But I saw bombs fall, and I was told about how they bombed the Gran Vía, leaving the street littered with body parts, which also hung from the trees."
In 1938 Savoia bombers from Benito Mussolini's Italian air force rained bombs on the Spanish city as they broke non-intervention treaties to support General Francisco Franco's rightwing rebels in the Spanish civil war. The use of attacks from the air was designed to provoke panic, kill civilians and destroy morale. Within a few years, the technique would spread through war-torn Europe as cities such as Coventry, Hamburg and Dresden were subjected to blanket bombing.
In 1997, the former German president Roman Herzog formally apologised for the bombardment of the Basque town of Guernica. The atrocity, which inspired one of Pablo Picasso's most famous paintings, was carried out by the Luftwaffe's Condor Legion (with the help of Italian aircraft) as Hitler also threw his weight behind Franco. Britain has also never apologised for the carpet bombing of Dresden in the final months of the second world war.
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