In September 1937, the military Junta under General Francisco Franco (who had seized power on 1 October 1936, sparking the Spanish Civil War), now controlled over half of Spain. Franco’s Nationalist ranks had swelled with the addition of Nazi funding, Italian troops from Fascist Italy and Spanish troops from Morocco. Franco had merged the disparate right-wing parties into the Falange Española de las JONS and banned all other political parties, creating a one-party state. The left-wing Republican opposition forces, made up of disparate Communist and anarchist groups and supported by Mexico, the Soviet Union and the International Brigade, were disintegrating, due to internal tensions. The collaboration of the German Luftwaffe in the bombing of Guernica in northern Spain on 26 April 1937, created vast numbers of casualties and enabled Franco to occupy the region. In August 1937, the Vatican recognized the legitimacy of the Franco government. Three fascist powers – Germany, Italy and Spain – now encircled European allied powers in the west.
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