Spain Civil War


Peacefully born, among the hopes of the majority of the nation, the Second Republic ended, as is well known, in the tragedy of the civil war of 1936-39, a prologue to the Second World War and Franco’s dictatorship. To understand historically this umpteenth failure of the Spanish “left” it is not enough to consider that the reforming intentions of republican politicians – theoretically impeccable, as the 1931 Constitution specified them, exemplified on the German Weimar one – necessarily had to clash with the opposition of the republican politicians. privileged classes (landowners, large industrialists and financiers), who – especially after the Asturian and Catalan revolutions of October 1934 – also sought international support and had direct contacts with Italian fascism, from which the Falange was bornSpanish by JA Primo de Rivera, son of the deposed dictator (a group which, however, always remained marginal and minority). Nor is it enough to recall the ancient “coupist” vocation of the generals, which started the civil war on 18 July 1936. In the key two-year period of the foundation of the Republic (1931-33), before the strengthening of the right-wing oppositions (monarchists, Carlists, high bourgeoisie) and left (anarchists, communists), imprudence and serious errors are attributable to the center-left government coalition (radicals of M. Azaña and socialists of various and too many currents), who promised much more than he could do, improvised excessively ambitious reforms without being able to implement them thoroughly, offended the religious sentiments of the majority with an angry anticlericalism and ended up displeasing everyone – starting with petty bourgeoisie that had supported it in 1931 -, exasperating dissent and opposing extremisms. This explains the slip to the right of the 1933 elections, which brought the CEDA to power(Christian Democrat party of JM Gil Robles, basically conservative), with other non-extremist center-right formations. At this point a consolidation of the weak democracy would perhaps still have been possible if the opposition had not launched into mad adventures, such as the anarchist-separatist insurrections of Asturias and Catalonia. Terrified by the frenzied excesses, the extreme right and some generals began to think of an armed counter-revolution, while the extreme left, momentarily defeated, armed themselves for revenge.


Even before the elections of February 1936, which led to the victory of the Popular Front (on the basis of a previous majority law which attributed 80% of the seats to the list that had more than 50% of the votes), right and left already had their civil war started. The events of the war (18 July 1936-1 April 1939) are well known. The rebels, led by generals F. Franco, E. Mola, J. Sanjurjo and M. Goded (the last three died soon tragically), immediately conquered the northern regions, up to Zaragoza and the central Sierra, but excluding the Basque Country and Catalonia, which became autonomous confederate republics with Madrid. At the same time, Moroccan and “ Tercio “They took over Seville and other Andalusian cities, with the aeronaval support of fascist Italy (which subsequently sent Franco a lot of war material and up to 120,000 soldiers, while Nazi Germany contributed an air division and up to 30,000” specialists “).

According to, the rebellion failed instead in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​which remained with the Republicans, with the regions of the Center, up to Extremadura, and of the East. More or less organized popular forces (although always undermined by disagreements between anarchists and communists) and later (from October-November) anti-fascist “international brigades”, up to a maximum of 40,000 men, fought alongside the government troops, without being able to save Extremadura and Toledo, but stopping the Francoists at the gates of Madrid, who heroically resisted until the end. L’ The Soviet Union provided aid from airplanes, tanks and specialists, limited, however, by transport difficulties or international hindrances. Faced with such massive interventions, the League of Nations proved practically powerless. He confined himself to creating an almost humorous Committee for non-intervention, of which Germany and Italy were members at the same time as they were practicing the most shameless intervention. On the military level, the main events were: in 1937 the Franco conquests of Málaga and the Basque Country (with consequent cancellation of the Northern front), the battles of Guadalajara and Brunete, which strengthened the defense of Madrid; in 1938 the battle of Teruel, Franco’s advance as far as the Mediterranean, which cut the republican area in two, and the desperate battle of the Ebro, last war effort of the republican army; in 1939 the fall of Catalonia and the flight to France of over 200,000 republicans, and finally the handover of Madrid to Franco by a rebel “defense junta” against the legitimate government and Franco’s occupation of the Valencian Levant.

Spain Civil War

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