History - Spanish Civil War | andalusia.com (2023)

spanish civil war

The Spanish Civil War was triggered by a complex series of events that were highly significant not only for Spain's future but also for the development of European politics in the 20th century.acentury. Far from being just an internal event, the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 was also highly influential globally, attracting left-wing volunteers from around the world to help defend the constitutionally elected government of the Second Republic of thecoupof nationalists led by General Francisco Franco, supported by Hitler and Mussolini. Franco's eventual victory established him as Europe's longest-ruling dictator until his death in 1975.


Briefly summarizing the causes of the Spanish Civil War is not easy. It arose from a sociopolitical stew that could only be made in Spain. King Alfonso XIII of Spain took power in 1902, becoming increasingly autocratic, and in 1909 was convicted of ordering the execution of radical leader Ferrer Guardia in Barcelona. It also prevented the introduction of liberal reforms before World War I.

Blamed for the Spanish defeat in the Moroccan War (1921), Alfonso was in constant conflict with Spanish liberal politicians. His anti-democratic views encouraged General Miguel Primo de Rivera, a right-wing political leader, to stage a military coup in 1923. Primo de Rivera promised to eliminate corruption and regenerate Spain. To do this, he suspended the constitution, established martial law, and imposed a strict system of censorship.

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Numerous groups opposed Alfonso XIII in the early 20th century.aSpanish Society of the 21st Century. These included politically motivated left-wing ideologues: liberal democrats, communists, socialists and anarchists; Catalan, Basque and Galician Spaniards who seek more autonomy (or, in some cases, complete independence) from the federal government; and landless peasants who farmed the land for a starved existence. These disparate groups would later become the backbone of the Republican side during the war.

Alfonso XIII's supporters were traditionalists and, as the term implies, their beliefs came from traditionally conservative sections of Spain. One group was formed by the landowners, a small privileged aristocratic elite that owned much of the country's land wealth, to the detriment of landless rural workers, many of whom lived in extreme poverty working on the landowners' properties.

The traditionalists were also formed by supporters of the monarchy, who saw the beginning of the 20th centuryaCentury movement towards liberalism as a threat to absolute monarchy and therefore a threat to the natural order and stability of traditional Spain. Members of the Catholic Church were also part of the traditionalist ideology, seeing in it not only support for conventional Spanish Catholicism, but also the privileged place that the church occupied in that society. To this group were added thecentralistsand fascistphalanxmembers, who actively fought for strong central government control over the economy and the state. They would unite under the banner ofnationalistsduring the Civil War...

In 1936, Francisco Franco Bhamonde had turned 43 and distinguished himself as a soldier, having risen through the ranks at a remarkable speed. The son of a naval family, he only became a military man due to a lack of vacancies in the navy at the age of 15. His academic ranking at the Toledo Infantry Academy was low, but his service in Morocco earned him 13 medals for leadership, discipline and bravery. . He reached the rank of General at the tender age of 33, becoming the youngest to have achieved this post in Europe after Napoleon Bonaparte.

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With the outbreak of the revolt, Spanish Morocco, the Canary Islands, Galicia, Navarre and parts of Castile and Aragon immediately allied themselves with the new military rebels. However, whether through miscommunication or split thinking, not all garrisons and their officers were united.

In Madrid, public intervention kept the garrison loyal to the left-wing government. General Goded also failed at Barcelona and was shot, while Sanjurjo was killed when his plane crashed during takeoff in Portugal. This situation left three very independent leaders in the field, generals Franco, Mola and Queipo, who neither winning nor losing created a division in the Spanish population, forcing them to support the elected government or the army's insurrection.

The rebel army now controlled only five major cities and a quarter of the mainland. The government had the support of about 75% of the industrial and commercial sectors, in addition to a considerable part of the rest of the army and the important security forces. Fortunately for Franco and his fellow conspirators, government leaders in Madrid did not arm civilian supporters or maintain a united policy. The reaction was typical of recent Spanish history, with each party or union taking power into their own hands.

Catalonia came under the control of the Generalitat and the CNT party; the Basques were as divided as elsewhere, and at the same time once again considered themselves an independent state from Madrid. The confusion led to rampant propaganda, causing people to take to the streets fueled by gruesome stories and half-truths. A true story about the terrible death of 500 inhabitants of Ronda, Andalusia, made famous byErnest Hemingwayin your bookFor whom the bell tolls. In a matter of days, hundreds of churches were burned or looted and an estimated 7,000 priests, monks, nuns and even bishops were horribly slaughtered. But this was just the beginning of the indiscriminate or mass murder committed by both sides in this Civil War.

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From Franco's point of view, the key to the breakthrough was to transport his Moroccan legionaries to Spain. In this sense, Germany decided to join him and lent him 20 transport planes that, throughout August and September, moved troops to Algeciras. Its well-trained force contained soldiers with many years of combat experience in Africa. In return, however, the enthusiasm of the republican street militia helped balance this armed force. In the beginning thenationalists, as General Franco's army was known, quickly captured the eastAndalusiaand Extremadura. In Madrid, the republican militia stopped their steady advance with a heroic attitude. By this time, international support was available to both sides, as youthful idealism was roused in their defence.

Germany, Italy and Portugal sent much needed troops, weapons and planes to help General Franco. Italian leader Mussolini claimed that his 70,000 troops were volunteers only, and the 100 German planes based in Salamanca had a decisive effect on the outcome.

Russia was the main supporter of the republicans and sent weapons and some other much needed military equipment and advisers. The combatants approached the republicans as the famous "International Brigades", formed by ardent idealist leftist supporters from all over the world.

Franco's African army successfully advanced into northern Andalusia, close to the Portuguese border, taking Badajoz in a bloody fashion that outraged many in northern Europe. The old city of Toledo proved very strong in its defense when about 2,000 inhabitants withdrew to the old Alcázar against the siege of the republican army. Franco, appreciating the propaganda value of the situation in Toledo, crossed the march and broke the siege.

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By late 1937, much of the action had shifted to the north coast, where the iron industry and shipbuilding had fallen to the Nationalists. General Mola's death in a plane crash that year left clear center stage with a leader, General Francisco Franco. Almost by coincidence, in May of the same year, a crisis between republicans and communists occurred in Barcelona. The end result was that leadership fell firmly into Communist hands.

In the spring of 1938, the Nationalists broke through the defense line in Aragon and reached the east coast of Spain. Ignoring the Barcelona problem, the army marched south to take Valencia without success. Seizing the moment, the republicans attacked Franco's rear with an offensive in the Ebro valley that cost a total of over 50,000 casualties and 20,000 dead. In December, Franco marched on a virtually defenseless Barcelona and the republicans fled north to France.

The final theater was in 1939 in Madrid with nationalist forces stationed on the outskirts and Coronel Casado struck a blow at the defenders of the Republic in hopes of better conditions for surrender. On 28 March Francisco Franco's army entered Madrid and on 1 April the war was officially declared over. Franco would maintain an iron grip on Spain, its civil liberties, women's rights, jobs and religious practices, until his death in 1975. Many republican supporters would flee and many of those captured would be executed. In total, over 500,000 Spaniards lost their lives in the conflict. Spain would not enter World War II, as a country it had already done enough. It would take generations to recover, if Spain ever made it.

History - Spanish Civil War | andalusia.com (1)

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