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The Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War


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10 Facts About the Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 was a prominent conflict fought for a multitude of reasons. Nationalist rebels fought against the loyalist Republicans in a war that was widely followed by the international community.

Some historians class it as part of a European Civil War that lasted from 1936-45, however most reject that view as ignoring the nuances of Spanish history. Regardless the international interest in this conflict was endemic of the growing tensions of 1930’s Europe.

Here are 10 facts about the war.


The Spanish Civil War: New Approaches and Historiographic Perspectives

The bibliography on the Spanish Civil War is almost unattainable, but the matter continues to elicit such interest that it remains open to new historiographic trends. For example, the ‘classic’ military history of the conflict, cultivated prominently in recent years by Gabriel Cardona, Jorge Martínez Reverte and Anthony Beevor, does not renounce the microhistory or cultural perspective. These constitute the theoretical framework of the New Military History and its corollary the New Combat History , which combine philological, anthropological, psychological and historiographical perspectives to various degrees. In the specific field of the war experiences pioneered by George L. Mosse, the concepts of brutalisation, barbarisation and demodernisation of military operations, coined by Omer Bartov to describe the particularities of the Eastern campaign during the Second World War, are being used by Spanish historians dedicated to the study of the violence and atrocities of the civil war and post-war. Focusing on the field of political history, government management or diplomacy has been studied almost exhaustively, but this is not the case for the principal phenomenon of political violence in the 1930s in Europe, namely paramilitarisation. It is surprising that the latest studies on the issue at the European level (Robert Gerwarth, John Horne, Chris Millington and Kevin Passmore) do not include any essays on the enormous incidence of paramilitary violence in Spain before, during and after the civil war.


75 years since the Spanish Civil War. Perspectives from the 21st Century‪.‬ Sheffield University

྇ years since the Spanish Civil War. Perspectives from the 21st Century' was a one-day interdisciplinary conference held at the University of Sheffield on 28 March 2014. Supported by the Departments of History and Hispanic Studies, it was organised by four PhD students, Ruth Littlewood, Ángela Lavilla Cañedo, James Yeoman and Matthew Kerry.

We are grateful for generous financial support from the Economic History Society, Royal Historical Society and the Herbert Hughes Memorial Trust.

Aftermaths of the Civil War: Contesting the National Paradigm in Republican Exile Historiography

Mari Paz Balibrea. Perspectives on Exile panel at 75 years since the Spanish Civil War conference.

Implementing Spain's Reparation Law: A sharp tool or a blunt instrument

Georgina Blakeley. Perspectives on Memeory panel at Spanish Civil War conference.

Dr. Félix Martí Ibáñez, the "Dean" of anarchist writers on issues of sexuality

Richard Cleminson. Perspectives on the War panel at Spanish Civil War conference.

Forced to Fight: Obligatory Military Service during the Spanish Civil War

James Matthews. Perspectives on the War panel at Spanish Civil War conference.

Saving the Persecuted? British Government Maritime Rescue Efforts in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939

Peter Anderson. Perspectives on the War panel at Spanish Civil War conference.

Perspectives on the War Q and A

Perspectives on the War pane. Question and answer session at Spanish Civil War conference.


The Spanish Civil War - History

The Spanish civil war is one of the most famous coups in the world and took place between July of 1936 and April of 1939. The uprising consisted of military action between the existing republican government and a nationalist faction led by a military General called Francisco Franco. The nationalist’s goal was to seize control from the republicans who were loyal to the Spanish Republic led by President Manuel Azana.

The war began after a declaration of political and military opposition from a faction of the Spanish military led by Jose Sanjurjo. Sanjurjo held the support of several conservative and monarchist groups including the Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Right, Fascist Falange, and Carlists.

In addition, several military units from neighboring countries fully supported the coup as well. Spain thus found itself deeply militarily and politically divided.

Overview

The Nationalists, led by General Francisco, launched an attack against the established government to take control of the country. The rebel group mainly consisted of people who thought that the ruling government was irrational and ill-equipped to run Spain in a justifiable manner.

Even though most of the army men were in full support of the mission, a few refused to cooperate. Those who refused had been drafted from barracks in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia, and Malaga, showing that the ruling government still retained some loyalty in the face of rebellion.

Some countries, such as the Kingdom of Italy, Nazi Germany, and Portugal, were in full support of the war. Only Mexico and the Soviet Union supported the republican faction as the United Kingdom and France decided to remain neutral.

Both sides committed atrocities in an attempt to weaken their opponents. As a result, tens of thousands died and property worth plummeted. Most of the killings took place on grounds of differences in political and religious views.

By 1939, the war was coming to a close and the Republicans were slowly conceding defeat to the Nationalists. At the war’s conclusion, those linked to the repulicans were persecuted by the Nationalists. As a result, many people who stood by the existing government were forced to escape to refugee camps in Southern France. Following the fall of the Spanish Republic, Franco took power.

The Cause of the Coup

The new government was voted on in February of 1936. The incoming government had promised to introduce a host of land reforms which would alter Spain’s land utilization strategies, a policy which appeared to be beneficial for the public.

The military wing, however, was not happy with the planned changes and began planning the best course of action to resist them. As the rest of the country celebrated the concluded elections, the military was deeply worried about the oncoming reforms. Rumors of a planned military coup led the ruling government to switch out the military’s leaders in an effort to make coordination difficult.

However, this was not sufficient to prevent revolution. The plans for a military uprising continued until July 18th when war broke out.

What the military did not anticipate was the determination of the Spanish citizens who broke into the barracks and crushed the rebellion in key cities like Barcelona and Madrid.

The actions of the citizens took the battle to a whole new level altogether. The Generals realized that they could not win that easily and thus rushed back to the drawing board to come up with a new strategy. They resolved to plead for assistance from friendly countries like the Kingdom of Italy (a dictatorial regime), Germany, and Portugal, all of which supplied them with material and technical support. The Nationalist wing was fully supported by Adolf Hitler, Antonio Salazar, and Benito Mussolini.

As the battle ensued, key countries such as the U.S. and France decided to remain neutral.

By early 1939, Franco’s troops had conquered Catalonia, Tarragona, Gerona, and Barcelona. The U.K. and French governments had even formally acknowledged Franco’s regime. Madrid remained the last point of resistance.

In March of 1939, a faction led by Julian Besteiro and Segismundo Casado rose up against the ruling government and formed a military junta to negotiate a fresh peace deal. However, the Prime Minister escaped to France leaving Julian to stop an upcoming civil rebellion from his own followers. He drew a peace treaty and invited Franco to sign it to end the war. Franco refused and demanded an unconditional surrender.

On March 26th, Franco marshaled all of his military power in preparation for the Battle for Madrid. The fighting was short lived as it only took him five days to conquer and secure power in the centre of Spain.

With the government now firmly under the control of Franco and his party, many civilians who had supported the overthrown government were forced to run to neighboring states for safety as they feared reprisal from the new government.

The few who were not lucky enough to escape were arrested and prosecuted. Many were forced into labor, drying out swamps, digging canals, and building railways.

Available statistics show that some 500,000 Spanish citizens were forced to seek refuge in France where they were housed in refugee camps. It is further stated that about 5000 of them died due to the harsh conditions therein.

Franco’s rule was followed by instances of guerilla warfare and resistance attempts from people who felt discontented with the new state of government.


The Spanish Civil War (book)

The Spanish Civil War is a book by British historian Hugh Thomas, first published in London by Eyre & Spottiswoode (xxix, 720 pages, illustrated with photos and maps). [1] It won the Somerset Maugham Prize in 1962. [2] A second revised edition was published by Penguin Books in 1965. [3] A third, revised and enlarged edition was published in 1977 by Harper & Row, [4] which was printed again in 2001 and 2013. [5] Thomas said that the excellent reviews the book got on its release were a determining factor in his own life and career. [6]

The Spanish Civil War
AuthorHugh Thomas
LanguageEnglish
SubjectSpanish Civil War
Published1961
Media typePrint
Pagesxx, 1115 [3rd, revised ed.]
ISBN0060142782

The book has been translated in various languages, among them Greek, French and Spanish.

Upon its release in 1961, John Murray called it "an exhaustive study, ably and conscientiously documented". [7] In 1963, Robert G. Colodny wrote a similarly positive review, praising in particular the vast amount of research material examined. [8]

Shortly after the death of Thomas, Pablo Guimón called it "a seminal book on the Spanish Civil War", "a highly influential work during the country's transition to democracy" and "a classic reference in the existing literature about the 1936-1939 period in Spanish history". [9] Paul Preston claimed that "it marked the first attempt at an objective general view" of the Civil War. [10]

Richard Baxell wrote that "it is by no means faultless there are many errors of fact and judgement and Thomas has rightly been accused of occasionally valuing narrative style above factual accuracy." Baxell is also critical of the romanticized depiction of International Brigaders in the first edition. [11]

The book was forbidden in Francoist Spain. [12] The translation and publication of the book was undertaken by Ruedo Ibérico, a publishing house in Paris, founded by Spanish political refugees. It was targeted by Francoist authorities, and was the target of a terrorist attack by a pro-Franco group. [13] Copies were smuggled across the border with France, and Spaniards caught in possession of the book sometimes went to prison. For example a Valencian, Octavio Jordá, was caught at the French border having a pair of suitcases packed with many copies of the book. Jordá was later found guilty of "illegal propaganda" and "spreading communism", and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. It wasn't until after Francisco Franco’s death in 1975 that the book could be freely distributed in Spain. [14] [15]

In response to Thomas's book, Franco's then minister of information, Manuel Fraga, set up an official centre for civil war studies to promote the regime's official historiography. So successful was the book that even Franco was regularly asked to comment on statements in it. [16]

In 2016, Spanish historian Guillermo Sanz Gallego argued that the Spanish translator, José Martinez, manipulated his translation to follow an ideological pattern that favoured the Republican side. Moreover, the translation used less objective language than the original text when narrating events such as the assassinations of José Calvo Sotelo and Federico García Lorca. In the case of the Paracuellos massacres, the number of the deaths, several thousand in the original, was reduced to "approximately a thousand" (millar aproximado). [17] Sanz Gallego's claims attracted attention from the media. [18]

  1. ^
  2. "The Spanish Civil War, First Edition". Naval Marine Archive . Retrieved 29 August 2019 .
  3. ^
  4. Cowell, Alan (May 10, 2017). "Hugh Thomas, Prodigious Author of Spanish History, Dies at 85". The New York Times . Retrieved 9 August 2018 .
  5. ^
  6. "The Spanish Civil War, revised edition". Naval Marine Archive . Retrieved 29 August 2019 .
  7. ^
  8. "The Spanish Civil War, revised and enlarged edition". Naval Marine Archive. ISBN0060142782 . Retrieved 29 August 2019 .
  9. ^
  10. "Kirkus Review". Kirkus. 19 August 2019.
  11. ^
  12. Guimón, Pablo (8 May 2017). "Obituary: Hugh Thomas, author of seminal book on the Spanish Civil War". El País . Retrieved 19 August 2019 .
  13. ^
  14. Murray, John (Winter 1961). "Reviewed Works: The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas The Grand Camouflage by Burnett Bolloten". An Irish Quarterly Review. 50 (200): 445–447 here 445. JSTOR30103647.
  15. ^
  16. Golodny, Robert G. (Winter 1963). "The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas". Science & Society. 27 (1): 77–80 here 77. JSTOR40400911.
  17. ^
  18. Guimón, Pablo (8 May 2017). "Obituary: Hugh Thomas, author of seminal book on the Spanish Civil War". El País . Retrieved 19 August 2019 .
  19. ^
  20. Preston, Paul. "Lord Thomas of Swynnerton obituary". The Guardian . Retrieved 19 August 2019 .
  21. ^
  22. Baxell, Richard. "Hugh Thomas and The Spanish Civil War" . Retrieved 19 August 2019 .
  23. ^
  24. Samaniego, Fernando (22 November 2001). "Hugh Thomas afirma que los orígenes de la guerra civil son difíciles de entender". El País . Retrieved 19 August 2019 .
  25. ^
  26. Sanz Gallego, Guillermo (2016-08-30). "La traducción como manipulación historiográfica en el exilio: análisis paratextual e intertextual de la Guerra Civil Española de Hugh Thomas". Pensamiento y Cultura. 192–780 (780): 340 . Retrieved 19 August 2018 .
  27. ^
  28. Schudel, Matt (13 May 2017). "Hugh Thomas, historian whose 'Spanish Civil War' was smuggled across borders, dies at 85". The Washington Post . Retrieved 19 August 2019 .
  29. ^
  30. Preston, Paul. "Lord Thomas of Swynnerton obituary". The Guardian . Retrieved 19 August 2019 . It was accepted for publication in 1976.
  31. ^
  32. Preston, Paul. "Lord Thomas of Swynnerton obituary". The Guardian . Retrieved 19 August 2019 .
  33. ^
  34. Sanz Gallego, Guillermo (2016-08-30). "La traducción como manipulación historiográfica en el exilio: análisis paratextual e intertextual de la Guerra Civil Española de Hugh Thomas". Pensamiento y Cultura. 192–780 (780): 340 . Retrieved 19 August 2018 .
  35. ^
  36. Alemany, Luis (15 June 2017). "Ruedo Ibérico manipuló 'La Guerra Civil española' de Hugh Thomas en beneficio de la II República". El Mundo . Retrieved 19 August 2019 . La Guerra Civil española, del recién fallecido Hugh Thomas, no era como los españoles la leyeron. Pequeños flecos manipulados en la traducción por José Martínez, el editor de Ruedo Ibérico, enfatizaron algunos hechos y atenuaron otros con el fin de exponer un relato más propicio para los defensores de la II República.

This article about a non-fiction book on Spanish history is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.

This article about a book on military history is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.


Causes of the Spanish Civil War

Exploding in July 1936, the war in Spain soiled the 20th century it was among the bloodiest wars ever to take place on the European continent. As the clock ticked further, humanity had to forcefully understand that the Spanish Civil War wasn’t only meant to be fought by Spanish citizens – foreign countries such as Soviet Union, Portugal, Italy, and Germany also got involved in the war.

On causes of the war, numerous factors came into play. But the most fundamental cause had a lot to do with the irresponsibility of the Spanish government. The country’s political factions had a problem with the operations of democracy.

At the turn of the 19th century, Spain wasn’t unified and stable. After its defeat during the 1898 Spanish-American War, Spain’s monarchy struggled with economic hardships. As a result of this, power occasionally lied in the hands of the military. Furthermore, various secular groups who supported anarchy and communism dreaded the growth of the Catholic Church. On the other hand, the elite populace was more economically sound than the other social classes, hence they saw communism as a threat to their wealth.

In the early 1930s, increased division and disparity among Spain’s social classes notched the country to a tipping point. In addition to the various political strife, the Catalan region in the northeast of the country wanted a complete breakaway from Spain something that the central government wouldn’t raise a finger. The widespread division of Spain according to ideological and social lines, made possible the eruption of the bloody war that rocked the country to its core.

Here is a summary of the root causes of the Spanish Civil War:

Irresponsible Dictatorial Government

Spain maintained neutrality during World War I. But that didn’t give it peace nor prosperity. World War 1 ended with a major economic disaster. Both the poor and the employed class struggled to get their daily bread.

Poverty led people to group themselves along communist lines backed by anarchists. In rural communities, stronger peasants would do anything to succeed such as confiscating lands. The elite class could feel the bells of communism ringing close to their properties.

Meanwhile, monarchist leader and dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera couldn’t do anything to support the poor masses after coming into power in a 1923 coup. Rivera and his troops took power from King Alfonso XIII, but his failure to properly govern the people led to conflicts and divisions in Spain.

The Great Depression

In the 1930s, characterized by a catastrophe in every sector of the world, the Great Depression dealt a big blow to Spain which was already in ruins. Unemployment rose high to the skies. General Rivera did not have the slightest clue on how to manage Spain’s financial struggles. In the end, the army lost faith in him, forcing his resignation in the midst of troubles.

The New Republic Faced Challenges

A Spanish election in April 1931 ended with a resounding Republican victory. This victory saw Spain become a Republic, and the monarchy was discarded. However, the emergence of the new republic wasn’t a match for the myriads of problems that infected the nation.

The Spanish regions of Catalonia and Basque were interested in acquiring their own Independence. At that time, the Roman Catholic Church had a noticeable influence in Spain – this kept the Catholics at arm’s length from the Republican government.

To add fuel to fire, government realized that the military had way too much power which must be reduced immediately – army officers were forcefully retired from service. The increased hardships also confused the new government, leaving them with dangerous options on their table.

Mistakenly, the government started targeting the comfort of the privileged classes, including Catholics, military men, industrialists, and landowners. By stepping on the wrong feet, resistances began to mount against the government. Political parties were formed with ulterior motives.

As early as 1932, military coup attempts led by Manuel Azana were made on the Republican government, but they were unsuccessful. In January 1933, tensions further escalated when government troops fatally shot 25 people in an attempt to arrest them. Additionally, the killing of Calvo Sotelo (of the right-wing) on July 13, 1936, wasn’t taken lightly.

Left parties united and founded the Popular Front party. More riots and protests occurred until the party won the 1936 elections Azana became the Prime Minister. As more problems poured in, a full-blown Spanish Civil War ignited in July 1936 when General Francisco Franco’s army revolted against the Second Spanish Republic.

Causes and timeline of the Spanish Civil War


Why was Spanish society divided before the Civil War?

Spain was a very divided, unstable, and weak country in the 19th century. Once a great power, Spain lost almost the last of its colonies after its defeat in the Spanish-American war. [1] It was technically a monarchy, but power had frequently been in the hands of military dictators. The country was bitterly divided. The Spanish people's acute poverty meant that many were drawn to Communism, Anarchism, and Socialism. [2] These ideologies call for popular governments and the re-distribution of resources, such as land and wealth.

Spanish anarchists, socialists, and communists were secular and wanted to remove the influence of the Catholic Church from Spanish society. The elite and the middle class were especially conservative. They dominated the economy and feared that the Communists would confiscate their property. This is typified in the fact that much of the best land in Spain was owned by a relatively small proportion of the population. Furthermore, the wealthy and the middle class, especially in rural society were Catholics and resisted any idea that there should be a separation of Church in State in Spain. [3] The elite and the rich landowners, the ‘agrarian oligarchy’ were terrified of communism, especially after the Russian Revolution in 1917.

By 1930, Spain was bitterly divided into social and ideological lines. Spain was and is a diverse society. [4] There are many areas of the country with strong regional or national identities. Many of Spain's regions, such as the Catalans, demanded more autonomy or even outright independence from Madrid, such as the Basques. The tensions between the regions and the central government meant that the country was inherently unstable, as a compromise was impossible between the parties.


The Spanish Civil War


The Spanish Civil War started in 1936 and finished in 1939.

The forces on the right were lead by Generals Franco and Sanjurjo. They were known as Nationalists.

The forces on the left were lead by Azana and were known as Republicans.

At the start of the war, the cities of Cadiz, Saragossa, Seville and Burgos declared their support for the Nationalists.

Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia declared for the Republicans.

The Nationalists received help from Nazi Germany in the form of the Condor Legion from the Luftwaffe – Germany’s air force. 50,000 “volunteers” from Mussolini’s Italy also helped the Nationalists.

The Republicans received help from Russia. Stalin sent advisers and technicians. An International Brigade comprising of volunteers from all over the world also helped the Republicans.

However, the Nationalists held the advantage in the sense that those who fought for them were professionals – the “volunteers” from Italy went to fight with Mussolini’s approval and many of these volunteers had a military background. The Republicans relied on real volunteers many held idealistic beliefs but had minimal military training.

At the start of the war, the military strength of the Nationalists gave them the upper hand. By the end of 1936, 50% of Spain was controlled by the military including the whole of the border with Portugal – a vital supply route.

In the east and north, the Basques and Catalans held out far more effectively and the impact of the Nationalists here was minimal.

Franco decided that the only way to succeed was to split the Republicans in half. The crucial battle here was the Battle of Guadalajara which the Nationalists lost. This ended their attempt to split the Republicans in half in that year. However, the capture of Bilbao in 1937 was an important victory for the Nationalists.

The Nationalists were far more successful in 1938. By August 1938, the Republicans had been split and by December the Nationalists had been successful in Catalan. However, throughout the whole of 1938, Madrid held out.

In 1939, Republican resistance all but collapsed. The various factions in the Republican movement were at odds as to what to do and Russia withdrew its support for them. By 1939, it was only a matter of time before the Nationalists won. Barcelona fell in January 1939, Valencia and Madrid surrendered in March 1939 and the Republicans unconditionally surrendered on April 1st.

The war is thought to have cost 500,000 lives though official figures have now put the casualty figure as high as 1 million.

The war also witnessed the first ever deliberate aerial bombing of a city. On April 27th 1937, the ancient city of the Basques – Guernica – was bombed and destroyed by the Condor Legion of Germany. For Hitler it was a useful experiment into the value of bombing civilian targets. For the Nationalists, it took out a city of spiritual importance for the Basques. For Europe, the warning posed by this bombing was obvious. Hence the attempts by Chamberlain and Daladier to create a formula for Europe to avoid any chance of a repetition of Guernica. Aerial bombing and its consequences were to terrify western Europe.


Causes of the Spanish Civil War

Exploding in July 1936, the war in Spain soiled the 20th century it was among the bloodiest wars ever to take place on the European continent. As the clock ticked further, humanity had to forcefully understand that the Spanish Civil War wasn’t only meant to be fought by Spanish citizens – foreign countries such as Soviet Union, Portugal, Italy, and Germany also got involved in the war.

On causes of the war, numerous factors came into play. But the most fundamental cause had a lot to do with the irresponsibility of the Spanish government. The country’s political factions had a problem with the operations of democracy.

At the turn of the 19th century, Spain wasn’t unified and stable. After its defeat during the 1898 Spanish-American War, Spain’s monarchy struggled with economic hardships. As a result of this, power occasionally lied in the hands of the military. Furthermore, various secular groups who supported anarchy and communism dreaded the growth of the Catholic Church. On the other hand, the elite populace was more economically sound than the other social classes, hence they saw communism as a threat to their wealth.

In the early 1930s, increased division and disparity among Spain’s social classes notched the country to a tipping point. In addition to the various political strife, the Catalan region in the northeast of the country wanted a complete breakaway from Spain something that the central government wouldn’t raise a finger. The widespread division of Spain according to ideological and social lines, made possible the eruption of the bloody war that rocked the country to its core.

Here is a summary of the root causes of the Spanish Civil War:

Irresponsible Dictatorial Government

Spain maintained neutrality during World War I. But that didn’t give it peace nor prosperity. World War 1 ended with a major economic disaster. Both the poor and the employed class struggled to get their daily bread.

Poverty led people to group themselves along communist lines backed by anarchists. In rural communities, stronger peasants would do anything to succeed such as confiscating lands. The elite class could feel the bells of communism ringing close to their properties.

Meanwhile, monarchist leader and dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera couldn’t do anything to support the poor masses after coming into power in a 1923 coup. Rivera and his troops took power from King Alfonso XIII, but his failure to properly govern the people led to conflicts and divisions in Spain.

The Great Depression

In the 1930s, characterized by a catastrophe in every sector of the world, the Great Depression dealt a big blow to Spain which was already in ruins. Unemployment rose high to the skies. General Rivera did not have the slightest clue on how to manage Spain’s financial struggles. In the end, the army lost faith in him, forcing his resignation in the midst of troubles.

The New Republic Faced Challenges

A Spanish election in April 1931 ended with a resounding Republican victory. This victory saw Spain become a Republic, and the monarchy was discarded. However, the emergence of the new republic wasn’t a match for the myriads of problems that infected the nation.

The Spanish regions of Catalonia and Basque were interested in acquiring their own Independence. At that time, the Roman Catholic Church had a noticeable influence in Spain – this kept the Catholics at arm’s length from the Republican government.

To add fuel to fire, government realized that the military had way too much power which must be reduced immediately – army officers were forcefully retired from service. The increased hardships also confused the new government, leaving them with dangerous options on their table.

Mistakenly, the government started targeting the comfort of the privileged classes, including Catholics, military men, industrialists, and landowners. By stepping on the wrong feet, resistances began to mount against the government. Political parties were formed with ulterior motives.

As early as 1932, military coup attempts led by Manuel Azana were made on the Republican government, but they were unsuccessful. In January 1933, tensions further escalated when government troops fatally shot 25 people in an attempt to arrest them. Additionally, the killing of Calvo Sotelo (of the right-wing) on July 13, 1936, wasn’t taken lightly.

Left parties united and founded the Popular Front party. More riots and protests occurred until the party won the 1936 elections Azana became the Prime Minister. As more problems poured in, a full-blown Spanish Civil War ignited in July 1936 when General Francisco Franco’s army revolted against the Second Spanish Republic.

Causes and timeline of the Spanish Civil War


The Civil War

The military uprising started in Morocco on July 17, 1936, and quickly spread to the garrisons of metropolitan Spain. The Civil War took place because the rising was successful only in Old Castile, in Navarra, where Carlist support was decisive, and, of the larger towns, in Zaragoza, Sevilla, Córdoba, Valladolid, and Cádiz. Galicia soon went over to the Nationalists, as did most of Andalusia. Catalonia and the Basque provinces were loyal to the government because the republic guaranteed their autonomy. In Madrid and Barcelona the security forces, aided by the workers who were armed belatedly by the government, defeated the officers. Thus, in broadest terms, the Republic held the centre, the Levant, Catalonia, and the Basque industrial zones the Nationalists controlled the food-producing areas, which was to cause an increasingly acute food shortage in the Republican zone.

The role of the workers in defeating the rising made their organizations the power in the Republican zone. The legal government was bypassed or totally supplanted by local committees and trade unions the workers’ militia replaced the dissolved army. In many parts of Spain a social revolution took place in July 1936 as factories and farms were collectivized. The English novelist George Orwell described Barcelona, where the CNT was all-powerful, as “a town where the working class was in the saddle.” The success of working-class control, in terms of increased production, is difficult to estimate.

The revolution was distasteful to the Left Republicans and to the Communist Party of Spain (Partido Comunista de España PCE), the latter growing rapidly in number and in political influence because it controlled the supply of arms from the Soviet Union, which—given the refusal of Britain and France to support the legitimate and democratically elected Republican government or even to allow it to purchase arms—became the Republic’s only significant ally. In the name of an efficient war effort and the preservation of “bourgeois” elements in the Popular Front, the communists pressed for a popular army and central government control. In September–November 1936, the CNT was brought into the government of Catalonia and into Largo Caballero’s ministry in Madrid—an astonishing step for a movement that had consistently rejected “bourgeois” politics. The CNT militants did not approve the leaders’ “surrender” and the dismantling of the militia-backed revolution.

A small Marxist revolutionary party, the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification ( Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista POUM), which rejected the Popular Front in favour of a workers’ government, set off a rebellion in Barcelona in May 1937. The communists, Republicans, and anti-Caballero socialists used this as an excuse to oust Largo Caballero, who proved insufficiently pliable to communist demands. The government led by the socialist doctor Juan Negrín was a coalition of Republicans, socialists, and communists. Thus, the UGT and CNT trade unions were replaced by the political parties.

The communists were correct in arguing that the committee-militia system was militarily ineffective. Ferried over from Morocco, General Franco’s army cut through the militia and neared Madrid by November 1936. The successful resistance of the city, which was stiffened by the arrival of the International Brigades, organized by the Communist International, and by Soviet arms, prolonged the Civil War for two more years.

Victory ultimately went to the Nationalists, who had a better army, unified political control, and an adequate arms supply. The core of the Nationalist army was the African army commanded by General Franco. Given the confused political control in Republican Spain, the secure military and political command of Franco (from October 1936) was decisive. In April 1937 he incorporated the Falange and the Carlists into a unified movement under his leadership. Franco also benefited from the support of the Roman Catholic Church, which proclaimed his cause a “Crusade.”

The Nationalist zone saw the extensive use of terror against anyone suspected of being a “Red.” The number of people killed for political reasons is unclear, but even conservative estimates put the figure at 80,000 between the outbreak of the war and 1943. The Republican zone also saw numerous political killings, including some 7,000 members of the clergy, but the circumstances were radically different. The vast majority of the executions in the Republican zone took place in the early months of the war when government authority had broken down. In contrast, the Nationalists consciously used terror as a policy, one that continued well after the war had ended.

Both sides sought help from abroad. General Franco appealed immediately to Hitler in Germany and to Benito Mussolini in Italy, both of whom supplied aircraft early in the war. In return for mineral concessions, the Germans supplied the Condor Legion (100 combat planes), and the Italians sent some 70,000 ground troops both supplied tanks and artillery. This support proved crucial to Franco’s victory.

The Republic consistently hoped that France and Britain would allow them to acquire arms. Owing to fears of a general war and domestic pressures, however, both powers promoted a nonintervention agreement (August 1936), which committed 29 countries to refrain from selling war matériel to either side in the Spanish conflict. The agreement was supposed to be enforced by a London-based committee, but this turned out to be nothing more than a facade that did little to hinder the blatant violations by Germany and Italy.

The Soviet Union responded to the breakdown of nonintervention by supplying arms to the Republican side. Soviet supplies were of great importance (tanks, aircraft, and a military mission) after October 1936. Mexico also provided aid to the Republicans, though its support was very limited. Soviet supplies dropped off in 1938, and thereafter the balance of arms supply decisively favoured the Nationalists. Once the Popular Army replaced the militia, the Republic held Madrid and defeated two flanking attacks in the battles of Jarama (February 1937) and Guadalajara (March 1937), where the International Brigades decisively defeated a motorized Italian corps.

After his failure at Madrid, Franco transferred his effort to the north, where the bombing of Guernica (Gernika-Lumo) on April 26, 1937, by German planes outraged public opinion in the democracies. By October 1937 Franco had captured the industrial zone, shortened his front, and won a decisive advantage. When Franco concentrated again on Madrid, the Republican army staged its most effective offensive in the Battle of Teruel (launched December 15, 1937). Franco, however, recovered Teruel and drove to the sea, but he committed his one strategic error in deciding to launch a difficult attack on Valencia. To relieve Valencia, the Republicans attacked across the Ebro (July 24, 1938) once more they failed to exploit the breakthrough, and the bloody battle exhausted the Popular Army.

The final Nationalist campaign in Catalonia was relatively easy. On the Republican side, the question of the feasibility of continued resistance, which was supported by the communists and Negrín, caused acute political divisions. On March 7, 1939, a civil war broke out in Madrid between communists and anticommunists. On March 28 the Nationalist forces entered a starving capital.


Watch the video: Feature History - Spanish Civil War (June 2022).