The gruesome history of Guernica is covered in most history books and known by many Europeans. The battle of Belchite, however, has received little to no attention. But the crucial role it played during the Spanish civil war deserves your attention, so please read on and let me tell you its story.
Summer 1937. After failing to stop the Nationalists advance in the North, the Republican army decided to start a new offense on Aragon. The main objective was to capture the city of Zaragoza, just a few miles behind enemy lines. Controlling the region from there would allow them to slow down the approaching enemies.
However, this planned Republican takeover of Zaragoza was hindered by a strong force of resistance in Belchite. Nationalists barricaded themselves in the city using all the buildings to their defense. In their attempt to overcome this resistance, the Republican army fought with all they had, using both ground and air forces. The battle for Belchite played a crucial role in the struggle for control over Aragon.
The Republican offense began on August 24th and ended with the Nationalists surrender on September 7th. Despite the Republican victory in Belchite, they never achieved their primary goal, which was the capture of Zaragoza. In the end you could say this battle had no winner. Both sides had lost, both from a military as from a civil standpoint.
As you can see in my photos, the city was left in ruins. Between piles of rubble and crumbling houses, the remnants of two churches still show a glimmer of their former beauty. A single step into Belchite overwhelms you with an aura of sadness.
I never planned to write this article, but a review of our LomoAmigo jaalvarez made me realize that the black and white photos had really captured the dying spirit of Belchite. I hope you enjoyed it!