Uploaded by Jeffrey Kunkle

Spanish Civil War

Spain was a very backward country with
very few industries, it was primarily a
peasant economy.
It was also a very religious country with a
very powerful Catholic Church.
It also had the growing problem of
separatist groups; particularly Basques and
Urban workers, most landless peasants, much of
the educated middle class, all the left-wing
political groups and socialist and anarchist
Trade Unions
They were particularly strong in industrial regions
such as Asturias and Cataluña.
The majority of Catholic clergy and practicing
Catholics (outside of the Basque region), most of the
large landowners, many businessmen, carlists,
monarchists, centralists (those opposed to regional
autonomies) and fascists
 They kept the best trained part of the Army, that is,
the Army of Morocco, and many important officials.
From 1923-30 Spain
was under the
Dictatorship of Primo
De Rivera with Alfonso
XIII King. During this
time the country had
some modernisation
but was still largely
backward and like
most countries was hit
hard by the Wall Street
Crash and the
depression which
This was one of the
reasons why Rivera
resigned and Alfonso
In 1931 a republican government brought in
some reforms.
 This was replaced by a right wing
government characterized by riots and
 In 1936 elections were won by the Popular
front Government (a coalition of all left
wing political parties e.g Communists,
Socialists, Anarchists) who wanted radical
 In July a revolt of Army officers led to a civil
war (the prospect of radical reforms which
would most likely have lead to a loss of their
Germany and
Italy helped the
 The democratic
decided not to
get involved
In 1936 France was ruled by a
popular front government
similar to Spain which was
led by Leon Blum
Non-Intervention policy suited
French; they wanted to
support the republicans but
couldn’t rely on British
support, were militarily
unprepared and financially
committed to a program of
social reform.
Officially the French
government stuck to
the policy of non –
Unofficially, Small
amounts of arms were
smuggled across the
border by French
Trade Unionists to help
the Republicans
Non-intervention was the ideal
policy for Baldwin’s
As a conservative
government, they couldn’t
be seen to be supporting a
popular front government,
but also couldn’t be seen
to be supporting a
nationalist side.
In addition to this Britain was
not militarily or financially
capable of getting
Britain stuck to the policy of
Italians initially agreed to nonintervention.
However Mussolini wanted to
support the nationalist side; he
was afraid that if they lost Italy
would be surrounded by
popular front governments.
Another motive for
involvement was the raw
materials available in Spain.
Add to this the chance to
divert Italian attention from
the poor living standards and
high unemployment rates.
He also hoped to create a
nationalist puppet
government which would give
him control of the
 Gave military
aid to Franco
and the Nationalists.
Between 1936 and 1938
the Italians provided.
50,000-100,000 troops –
6,000 killed.
760 aircraft.
950 tanks.
91 ships.
7.5 million rounds of
80 million.
In November 1936 Italy
officially recognised
Franco’s government.
Stalin used the Civil War to
further his own foreign
policy aims.
He was keen to prevent a
victory for Franco and the
However he was also keen
to prevent a communist
revolution as this would
damage his own relations
with Britain and France.
Therefore he had to be
seen to be supporting the
legally elected
Russia gave limited aid to the
Popular Front/Republican side in
return for Spain’s gold reserves.
-240 Planes
-800 tanks
-88million (in exchange for gold
-700 guns
-29,000 tons of ammunition
-Oil, tractors, technicians
Russia also insisted that
revolutionary socialists and
anarchists were weakened. As a
result many were murdered.
Supporters of Stalin were given a
large measure of power in
organising the International
Hitler was keen to help the spread
of any Fascist type regimes in
Like Mussolini Hitler was keen to
prevent a popular front
government in Spain; he would
feel ‘hemmed in’ by Spain, France
and Russia.
Raw materials would help with
Germany’s rearmament plans.
Spain as an ally would help
control the Mediterranean in a
future war.
It would also be a chance to try
out new weapons and methods.
i.e Blitzkreig
It would also be a chance to get
closer links with Italy.
Condor Legion under
command of General
Von Sperlle – 6,000
 43 million
 16,000 men – 300
 Guernica April 26th
1937 1,700 killed 900
 100 planes
 16 tanks
The Soviet Union and
Mexico helped the
 The International
Brigades and
American Volunteers
went to Spain to
protect the Popular
Front government.
They were always led
by Communists.
These were volunteers from 53
different countries.
Wide range from intellectuals to
unemployed workers. They
were recruited and organised
by European Communist
Parties under the control of
About 60% of the 40,000
volunteers had been
Communist party members.
Many were keen for the sense of
adventure and the chance to
fight against Fascist aggression
Brigades were forced to withdraw
when Stalin changed his
policy – this led to fall of
Madrid and defeat of the
About 1/3 lost their lives
Around 2,000 British joined the
Bad luck, lack of uniforms and
equipment led to a loss of
morale amongst the Brigades
They were later incorporated into
the Republican Army
George Orwell,
one of the most
Brigaders –
wrote – ‘Homage
to Catalonia’
On 19th July, 1936, General Francisco Franco
assumed command of the Nationalist forces.
In 1936, October, Franco was named
Generalísimo de los Ejércitos and Head of
the State of the National area.
The main aim of the
rebels was to occupy
Madrid. But the defence
of the city was fierce;
some Anarchist Brigades
from Cataluña and the
first volunteers of the
International Brigades
took part in it. The
Republican government
was forced to shift from
Madrid to Valencia, out
of the combat zone.
Having failed
to take the
bombarded it
from the air.
After the failed attempt to conquer Madrid,
Franco decided to finish the Republican North
In April the German Condor Legion bombed the
town of Guernica in the Basque Country, causing
hundreds of casualties.
In the anarchistcontrolled areas,
Aragon and Catalonia,
workers and peasants
collectivized land and
industry, and set up
councils parallel to the
government. This
revolution was opposed
by both the Sovietsupported communists,
and Social Democratic
As the war progressed, Anarchists and the
POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista)
were integrated with the regular army, but in
May 1937 anarchists and communists engaged
each other in violent street battles in the city of
At the end
of March,
1939, the
The war
Evacuation of children to Mexico, Britain, Belgium,
the Soviet Union and other European countries.
Many of those in the Soviet Union, from
Communist families, remained there and
experienced the Second World War
Atrocities were
committed on both sides
during the war. The terror
was used against
civilians. In the case of
the Nationalist side, these
atrocities were ordered
by fascist authorities in
order to eradicate any
trace of leftism in
Spain.The most famous
victim was the poet and
dramatist Federico
García Lorca.
Atrocities on the
Republican side
were committed by
groups of radical
leftists (not by the
government) against
the rebel supporters,
including the nobility,
former landowners,
rich farmers,
industrialists and the
After the end of the War, there were brutal reprisals
against Franco's leftist former enemies. Thousands
of Republicans were imprisoned and executed.
Many other
fled abroad,
especially to
France and
Democracy was discredited
Fascism had triumphed
Britain and France had shown themselves
to be weak by carrying on non-intervention
despite the fact that it was not working “non-intervention inspired neither trust
among friends nor fear among enemies”
Germany and Italy were brought closer
together, the Rome-Berlin Axis was signed in
October 1936
Britain and France were divided; Even
within these countries there were
political divisions.
 The weaknesses of appeasement were
 The war was a testing ground for Hitler’s
Blitzkreig tactics.
 “A climate of war” had been created
Spain had put the possibility of a
European war firmly on the agenda.
 Spain, however, did not ally with