On June 12, 1937, the so-called “Iron Ring” of Bilbao (Bizkaia) was bombarded and finally destroyed by the armed forces of Francisco Franco. The “Iron Ring” was a series of fortifications made primarily of steel and concrete. Constructed between 1936 and 1937, the purpose of this structure was to defend the city of Bilbao, which was an important industrial center for the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War. The breakthrough of this fortified line left the Bizkaian city unprotected. In the next few days, Franco’s troops advanced northward through the Basque territory and, finally, on June 19, took Bilbao.
To learn more about different experiences of war in Europe during the tumultuous years of the 1930s and 1940s, check out the book edited by anthropologist Sandra Ott, War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946.