|Franco's Falangist militia during the Battle of Madrid. July 30, 1936|
THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR: HOW IT BEGAN
▪ The Republican government granted Catalan autonomy,much to the disgust of the Right.▪ The Agrarian Reform Law allowed the state to nationalise the latifundiaand then hand them over to the peasants;however, compensating the landowners was complicated and expensive, and the government was divided on the issue of collectivisation and so, it was never implemented on a large scale. As a result it angered the landowners yet disappointed the peasants too.▪ Primo’s Labour Arbitration Scheme was extended and improved with the help of the UGT, which trebled its membership during this period.
▪ The Jesuits were dissolved, the state withdrew subsidies to the Church, civil marriage was permitted,divorce was allowed and Prime Minister Azana, well-known for being direct and honest (or insensitive and arrogant, depending on your perspective), said “all the convents in Madrid are not worth the life of a single Republican”.
▪ Half of the officer corps were pressed into retirement at full pay (leaving little money for social reform); Azana told the army they had no right to challenge the government; a military revolt by General Sanjuro in 1932 was crushed.
▪ The government’s measures led to the foundation of the right-wing Catholic CEDA party led by Gil Robles. At the same time a fascist party – the Falange (Phalanx) - was established by the son of Primo de Rivera, Jose Antonio.
In 1933 government troops shot dead anarchist prisoners in Cadiz. This precipitated a crisis that led to elections being called for November 1933.
▪ A right-wing coalition government assumed power after the elections. It reversed the process of reform and cancelled the measures against the Church.The period from 1933 to 1935 became known as the “ two black years ” by those on the Left, who became divided between socialists (led by Prieto ) who favoured involvement with the coalition and those of the UGT (led by Caballero) who favoured violent opposition to it.
▪ In 1934 opposition to the reactionary government exploded into outright violence in the Asturias Uprising : an anarchist miners’ revolt lasting two weeks which was only suppressed with difficulty by the troops of General Franco, who became known as the "Butcher of Asturias". Mass arrests followed (even Azana was briefly arrested), left wing newspapers were closed and the Catalan Autonomy Statute was suspended.
▪ The Asturias Uprising was “a watershed in the history of the Republic”(Knight). It pushed the Left (especially the UGT of Caballero, the ‘Spanish Lenin’)towards a more revolutionary position, and convinced the Right that the Fascism promoted by Rivera’s Falange was the only means of controlling the workers.
▪ The international situation strongly influenced this polarising trend: the growing power of Fascism and Communism in Europe convinced many on both sides of the political spectrum that a moderate political stance would mean disaster. The Countdown to War
▪ In 1936 an election was called.
▪ A Popular Front of Communists, Socialists, Republicans and Separatists was formed to oppose the government. The right wing formed the National Front
.Increasing tension meant that the Left now regarded the Right as Fascists; the Right regarded the Left as Communists.
▪ The Popular Front won only slightly more votes than the National Front, but the voting system transformed this into a decisive majority of seats in Parliament.▪ However, Caballero’s socialists, still bitter about the failures of Azana’s earlier government, refused to join. This weakened not only the government but also the Left wing of Spanish politics as a whole.
▪ Despite these problems, the new government immediately reintroduced the reforms of the 1931-3 government, banned the Falange and posted Franco to Morocco to keep him out of the picture.
▪ Disorder and political violence spread throughout the country.
▪ The anarchist CNT encouraged the peasants to take over the land;
▪ The socialist UGT called a general strike among the proletariat
▪ The fascist Falange started to grow dramatically.▪ Most seriously, the army began plotting to overthrow the ineffectual new government. The leader of the plot was General
.▪ On the 13th of July the monarchist politician, Calvo Sotelo, was assassinated by Republican police in revenge for the murder of one of their men by a Falangist. The military now had the perfect pretext to make their move. The revolt began on the 17th of July in Spanish Morocco – led by Franco.
Germany could not tolerate a Communist Spain under any circumstances. As a National Socialist [Hitler] had the obligation to do everything to prevent that eventuality . . . If a Communist Spain actually does emerge, in view of the current situation in France the Bolshevisation of that country is only a matter of a short time and then Germany can ‘pack up’ [einpacken]. Hemmed in between the powerful Soviet bloc in the East and a strong Franco-Spanish communist bloc in the West we could hardly do anything, if Moscow decides to act against Germany.
When the civil war broke out in Spain, Franco sent a call for help to Germany . . . The Fuhrer thought the matter over. I urged him to give support under all circumstances, firstly in order to prevent the further spread of communism in that theater, and secondly to test my young Luftwaffe at this opportunity in this or that technical respect. With the permission of the Fuhrer I sent a large part of my transport fleet and a number of experimental fighters, bombers, and anti-aircraft guns; and in that way I had an opportunity to ascertain, under combat conditions, whether the material was equal to the task. In order that the personnel, too, might gather a certain amount of experience, I saw to it that there was a continuous flow,that is, that new people were constantly being sent and others recalled.
GERMANY AND ITALY'S REASONS FRO INTERVENING IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR
In intervening in the civil war in Spain both the Italians and Germans were highly motivated by ideological, strategic and economic considerations but it was the first of these that initially drove their intervention and sustained it thereafter. The common struggle against Bolshevism, above all preventing a victorious communist republic emerging from the Spanish conflict, with its consequent encouragement for international communism and its negative ramifications for the advance of fascism in Europe.
|The 14th International Brigade fighting for the Republicans. 1937. The 14th International Brigade was one of several international brigades that fought for the Spanish Second Republic during the Spanish Civil War. It was raised on 20 December 1936 with volunteers mainly from France and Belgium, under General "Walter" (Karol Świerczewski). This Brigade was the fourth of the international brigades, and it mixed veterans with new, idealistic volunteers. It was formally named the Marseillaise Brigade, after the French revolutionary song. After the Nationalist strategic victory in the Battle of Brunete (6–25 July 1937), heavy losses reduced the brigade strength from four to two battalions. However, the brigade lived on and was able to take part in the last Republican offensive of the war. As with all of the volunteer international brigades, the members of the XIV International Brigade faced a dark future after the eventual Nationalist victory.|
The military insurrection broke out on July 18, 1936.
Two weeks later the rebels were in possession of a brand-new air-fleet of German and Italian planes, manned by German and Italian pilots, mechanics and instructors; Italian tanks were already in action at Badajoz; Irun was being bombarded by German heavy artillery . . .Technicians also were pouring into the country . . .
Italian regular troops landed in Majorca: and by the end of October this largest of the Balearic Islands had become virtually an Italian possession. Week by week the number of foreigners in the rebel army grew.On November 18, by which time the capital and three fifths of Spain were in the hands of the constitutionally elected Government,Germany and Italy proclaimed General Franco ruler of Spain.During the winter months of 1936–7, Italy landed 85–90,000 infantry in Spain, while Germany took over various specialised technical functions in the rebel army: motor transport, tanks and anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft guns, coastal batteries, and heavy artillery.On February 9, 1937, the Italians captured Malaga . . .The Spanish War is for the dictatorships in many respects a dress rehearsal for the world war for which it is preparing the way
|The Republican soldiers|
|An armored car of the Anarchists. (Click here for information of Anarchists during the Spanish Civil War)|
|Bomber "Savoy Marchetti" with its Italian crew, accompanied by Fiat CR.32 fighters bombs Madrid. November 1936.|
|Spanish Nationalist soldiers on the Central Front. 1937|
|Italian soldiers in Spain|
|German Stuka Dive Bomber, the JU 87, flies in the Spanish skies in 1939|
|Spanish refugees on the French border in 1939|
|Madrid after being bombed on December 3, 1936|
|Republican soldiers at Brunete. On the left is the legendary Valentin Gonzalez. Valentín González is mentioned in Ernest Hemingway's book For Whom the Bell Tolls through the thoughts of Robert Jordan, who described him as brave and tough, a man who "never knew when everything was lost and if it was he would fight out of it."|
|The tanks of the rivals. A Republican soldier rides a Soviet supplied T 26 tank.|
|Franco's Panzer 1 tank. Converted German tank Pz.I - with an increased tower and a 20-mm cannon.|
|A surrendered rebel led to a summary court-martial July 27, 1936 in Madrid.|
|German tanks from the 'Legion Condor' in Spain|
|T-26 tanks in Spain|
|Soldiers train women loyalists how to fire a rifle to protect the city of Barcelona against fascist General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. June 2, 1937.|
|Ernest Hemingway with Republican soldiers on the Aragon front in a photo by Robert Capa|
|Rebel fighters with their German trainers at Huesca, northern Spain on December 30, 1936|
|Rebel militia fighters. July 30, 1936. The man on the right is wearing a government army uniform. Probably changed sides.|
|"Viva Rusia". "Glory to Russia". A graffiti on a wall in a Spanish town|
|The Anarchists, CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo), receive arms in 1936|
|The Battle of Alcazar. 1936. The soldiers of the republican forces fighting for Alcazar of Toledo, in September 1936. Alcazar was a fortress at the highest point in Toledo. The fortress was defended by rebel colonel Jose Moskardo Ituarte and was almost completely destroyed by the troops of the Second Republic during the siege, which lasted 70 days from July 22 to September 28 in 1936. Participated in the siege of the forces and CNT-FAI UGT-PSOE, as well as assault guards.|
|Republican troops being sent to the front|
|Preciados Street in Madrid ruined by bombing|
|Republican soldiers in Teruel, 1938|
|Women government soldiers|
|February 2, 1939. An elderly man quarrels with a young woman over a loaf of bread|
|Republican soldiers cross the River Ebro in 1938|
|Preparation for the final defense of Madrid.|
1. The Spanish Civil War by Andrew Forrest
2. A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War: An Armenian-Canadian in the Lincoln Battalion by D. P. Stephens