Bombings in Spain. Petition Forwarded to the League of Nations by the International Labour Organisation, from the President of the Labour Council, Miguel Santalo


The Spanish Civil War of 1936–39 involved a prolonged revolt of forces led by Nationalist general Francisco Franco against the Spanish Republican government, which ultimately was won by the Nationalists. Under the leadership of dictator Benito Mussolini, Italy supported the Nationalists with supplies of weapons and direct military involvement. On March 16–18, 1938, Italian forces carried out an aerial bombardment of Republican-held Barcelona in support of the Nationalists, resulting in the death of more than 1,000 civilians. Shown here is a petition forwarded on March 31, 1938, to the director of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva by Miguel Santalo, president of the Labour Council of the Spanish Republic, requesting that the League of Nations censure Italy’s actions. Santalo argued that Italian and Nationalist forces had violated a League resolution of July 25, 1932, prohibiting the aerial bombing of civilian targets and emphasized that if the League did not take a strong position in this case it would be inviting further bombings of civilians in Spain and elsewhere. The petition is held in the archives of the League, which were transferred to the United Nations in 1946 and are housed at the UN office in Geneva. They were inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 2010.

Last updated: May 24, 2017