The Ruins of Belchite

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ANOTHER ONE FOR THE VELVET ROCKET.

The Velvet Rocket

By Bernie Debusmann, Pictures by Sarakshi Rai

To most non-Spaniards, the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is distant history, the stuff of Hemingway novels. But to many Spaniards, the war can seem like yesterday – and nowhere is this more evident than in the town of Belchite.

Belchite, home to about 2,000 people in Aragon, had a rough time during the civil war which began with a military uprising against the elected Republican government, a coalition of leftists. The rebels called themselves Nationalists and included the Fascist Falange party. They were backed by Nazi Germany.

Belchite’s troubles began when Nationalists arrested and executed about 200 Republican-leaning residents.

That slaughter prompted an all-out battle in August and September 1936, when the Republicans launched a fierce offensive against the Nationalists.

The 13-day battle devastated the town, and since then, the ruins of ‘Old Belchite’ have remained as a testament to the bloody combat…

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