Introduction To The Spanish Civil War

Discussion in 'Other Conflicts' started by spidge, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. spidge

    spidge Active Member



    When the leading Generals of the Spanish Army led their troops into a revolt against the Republican Government on 18th July 1936, they expected little opposition to their coup d'etat. They were, however, mistaken. The supporters of the Government proved to be much stronger than expected and as a result Spain experienced three years of bloody Civil War.
    It was a war of contradictions and political in-fighting. Both sides experienced problems in retaining the support of groups or political parties that were, more often than not, in violent opposition with one another.
    The Government had the support of all the Left-wing political parties. These included the Republicans, the Socialists, the Communists, and the Anarchists. They and their associated Trade Unions provided the armed Militias that resisted the rising in its earliest stages. Support was also forthcoming from the Catalan and Basque Nationalists as the Republic had given them their much longed for regional autonomy. Some elements of the Armed and Para-Military Forces remained loyal to the Republic; included amongst these were most of the Navy's Seamen (but not the Officers), a large part of the Air Force, some units of the Peninsular Army, sections of the Guardia Civil (the national police force) and Carabineros (the Frontier Guards), and a majority of the Asaltos (the national riot police).
    The Government received some military material from the French Socialist Government in the early stages of the war, and substantial assistance from the Mexican Government throughout the conflict. Considerable help also came, in the form of weapons and advisers, from the Russian Government once the Left-wing nature of the Republic was established and a large part of the Spanish Gold Reserves were safely housed in Russia! Further military aid was provided by the many foreign volunteers who were organised, with the help of the Communist International, into the International Brigades.
    The Insurgents (who soon became known as the Nationalists) had the support of the Army of Africa (which contained the most battle-hardened units in the Spanish Army), the remainder of the Peninsular Army, Guardia Civil, Carabineros, and Asaltos, and the Right-wing and Traditionalist Political parties. These parties included the Monarchists, the Carlists, and the Falange. The two latter parties were of particular importance as both had armed Militias that could assist in putting down resistance to the rising. With the exception of the Basque Region, the Catholic Church gave its support to the Insurgents.
    The Nationalists also received foreign military aid. The Right-wing governments of Italy and Germany sent "volunteers", tanks, aircraft and artillery to aid the Nationalist cause. In addition small numbers of Portuguese, French and Irish volunteers fought with the Insurgent armies.
    The Spanish Civil War was a war of ideals fought by soldiers who thought that God or History was on their side. It foreshadowed many aspects of the Second World War whilst at the same time harking back to an earlier age; it seemed at times to be a war of Medieval ferocity fought with Twentieth Century technology.
  2. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    The Politics Of The Spanish Civil War




    The Carlists

    The Carlists supported the claim of the descendants of Don Carlos (the uncle of Queen Isabella II) to the throne of Spain. They wanted a return to a "traditionalist" ultra-Catholic monarchy. Although they hated the Alfonsine Monarchists, whom they regarded as too "liberal", they loathed the anti-clerical Republicans. The movement's support came from the Requetes (the Carlist Militia), the Pelayos (the Carlist Youth Movement) and the Margaritas (the Carlist Womans' Service), whose recruits were mainly drawn from the families of Navarrese smallholders.
    The Catholic Church

    The CEDA (Confederacion Espanola de Derechas Autonomas) was a composite right-wing Catholic party founded in 1933 by Gil Robles. It was formed from the Accion Popular and Partido Agrario, and had a youth movement known as the JAP (Juventudes de Accion Popular). Although successful in the 1933 elections, the Party virtually collapsed after the Popular Front victory in 1936. The membership of JAP then switched en masse to the Falange.
    The Falange

    The Falange was a small fascist party that was founded in 1933 by Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. It gained a degree of popular support when it merged with the JONS (Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista), in 1934, to form the Falange Espanola de las JONS.
    The Monarchists

    The Monarchist groups, which included Accion Espanola and Renovacion Espanola, supported the claim of the descendants of Queen Isabella II to the throne of Spain. The Monarchist movement, which had the support of conservative army officers, became the focus of opposition to the Republic after the abdication of King Alfonso XIII.

    The Anarcho-Syndicalists

    The Anarchist movement in Spain was the strongest in Europe. Its main support came from the industrial workers of Barcelona, who formed the anarcho-syndicalist trades union, the CNT (Confederacion Nacional de Trabajo), in 1911. The Anarchist also founded a youth movement, the FIJL (Federacion Iberica Juventudes Libertarias), to promote anarcho-syndicalist beliefs amongst the young. The most influential organisation within the Anarchist movement was the FAI (Federacion Anarquista Iberica); this was a federation of militant anarchist groups founded in 1927. It worked in secret, and formed the backbone of the Anarchist Militias at the outbreak of the Civil War.
    The Basques

    The Basques had always considered themselves to be a separate nation. The region had its own language, culture, traditional laws and style of government, and its people looked to the Republic to reintroduce the autonomy that had previously existed. The PNV (Partido Nacionalista Vasco), the main Basque Nationalist Party, was founded in 1895 and enjoyed popular support in the Basque region.
    The Catalans

    Like the Basques the Catalans thought of themselves as separate from Spain. They too had a language and culture of their own, and expected to gain autonomy when the Republic was founded. The main Catalan political parties were the ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya), which was a Left Republican nationalist party founded in 1931, and the PSUC (Partido Socialista Unificado de Cataluna), the United Catalan Socialist Party, which was formed in 1936 from several Socialist and Communist groups. The latter was affiliated to COMINTERN and was the Communist Party in Catalonia.
    The Communists

    The PCE (Partido Comunista de Espana) was founded in 1921. Due to the strength of the Socialist, Anarcho-Syndicalist and Marxist movements in Spain, the Spanish Communist Party was small; it was also highly efficient and enjoyed the support of Stalinist Russia. This was to prove highly significant as the Civil War progressed; as the other political parties declined in power the Communists were to exert more and more influence, especially in the Armed Forces.
    The Marxists

    The revolutionary anti-Stalinist Marxist Party, the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista), was formed in 1935 as the result of the merger of the BOC (Workers and Peasants Bloc), led by Joaquin Maurin, and Izquierda Comunista (Left Communist Party), led by Andres Nin.
    The Republicans

    The two main republican parties were founded in 1934. They were the Izquierda Republicana (Left Republican Party), which was formed from four smaller left-wing social-democratic groups, and the Union Republicana (Republican Union Party), which had broken away from the Partido Republicano Radical (Radical Party).
    The Socialists

    The Socialists were the most powerful left-wing political force in Spain before the Civil War. The Spanish Socialist Workers Party, the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol), was founded in 1879; it was supported by the Socialist Trades Union, the UGT (Union General de Trabajadores), and the Socialist Youth Movement, the FJS (Federacion de Juventudes Socialistas). The latter amalgamated, in 1936, with the Communist Youth Movement to form the Unified Socialist Youth or JSU (Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas); this was soon dominated by the Communists.
  3. spidge

    spidge Active Member


    Read the chronology of the battles of the civil war here:

    17th - 18th July 1936

    Throughout Morocco and Spain military garrisons (aided, in places, by the Guardia Civil and the Falange) rose in revolt against the Republican Government.
    19th July 1936

    The Insurgents (or Nationalists) succeeded in seizing power in Morocco, Navarre, Galicia, Old Castile and Seville, but were thwarted in the key cities of Barcelona and Madrid.
    Santiago Casares Quiroga (of the Left Republican Party) resigned from the post of Prime Minister of the Republic. President Manuel Azana asked Diego Martinez Barrio (a member of the Republican Union Party) to form a moderate government that could negotiate with the rebels. When Barrio was unable to form a government that enjoyed any real support he resigned. Professor Jose Giral (of the Republican Party) replaced him and ordered that arms be distributed to the workers.
    General Francisco Franco flew from Tenerife to Tetuan to take over command of the Army of Africa.
    20th July 1936

    Prime Minister Giral appealed to the French Socialist Government (whose Prime Minister was Leon Blum) for arms supplies.
    General Francisco Franco sent emissaries to Hitler and Mussolini to ask for military aid and technical assistance.
    The nominal leader of the Rising, General Jose Sanjurjo, was killed when the aircraft bringing him from Portugal to Burgos crashed on take-off.
  4. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Aircraft that Did/Could have/Didn't take part in the Spanish Civil War

    A somewhat strange website with Aircraft that did take part, that may have taken part and those that definitely didn't take part!

    Great images though!
  5. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    It is indeed a strange way of presenting information. The first time I saw that site a few months ago I thought the guy was just trying to fill up space. But I have since seen some heated debates on other sites about whether a particular aircraft did or didnot fly during the war. It seems that a number of aircraft were used by both sides that were obtained "unofficially". In that context, the site actually makes a bit more sense to me now.
  6. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

  7. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

  8. Steed

    Steed Member

    The Spanish Civil War was one of the most bitter fratricidal conflicts ever fought in Europe.

    Brutalities were comitted on both sides, yet while Hitler and Mussolini gave their whole hearted support to the mutineers, the Western powers did nothing to help the democratically elected Republican government which was under attack.

    Why? "Oh, the Spanish government is very left wing and we don't like Communists" or "But we've just fought the war to end all wars and we don't want to have any more" were the typical lame excuses of the French and British leaders who then went on to excel themselves in appeasing old Adolf while he carved up Checoslovakia.

    Meanwhile the Condor Legion was doing an excellent job of practising German military aviation and tactics against civilian objectives in Guernica and Granollers.
  9. Ernest D'Albero

    Ernest D'Albero New Member

    One of the best book about the Spanish Civil War is "Homage to Catalonia" by George Orwell. It provides a large series of points of view about the conflict, some of them unusual and unexpected. I'd recommend this book to everyone who'd like to understand more about the spanish civil war.
  10. Dalek

    Dalek New Member

    The really interesting thing is, Franco's victory turned out to be the best outcome for the allies during the cold war. He was very anti-communist and proved to be such an ally that on his death in 1975, Nixon said "General Franco was a loyal friend and ally of the United States"
  11. Steed

    Steed Member

    This explains why Americans are not very popular in Spain when politics are discussed.

    Franco was a bloodthirsty butcher, responsible for 40 years of brutal Fascist repression in a hungry impoverished Spain, while similar countries like Italy were developing economically under democracy and the Marshall plan. There was no difference between Franco and Hitler, the ignorant peasant equally sent thousands of people to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps, principally Mauthausen. He would have undoubtedly sent any Jews he could find there if his heros the Catholic Kings Isabel and Fernando hadn't already exiled them in 1492 or tortured them to death in the Inquistion that followed for the next THREE HUNDRED YEARS.

    He sent a division of troops to fight against the Russians in the siege of Leningrad. Wouldn't you say that was a reason for the Allies to declare war on him in 1945, just like Russia did against Japan right at the end? He supplied raw materials and espionage information to the Nazis. This blind obedience of the Fascist dog to his master in supplying military intelligence cost the Nazis dearly when they swallowed the trick of Major Martin in Operation Marmaduke to facilitate the Allied attack on Sicily in 1943. Very well deserved.

    On the other hand, the true courage and honour of the Spanish population was shown in the Spanish Republican forces who wrested control of the strategic centre of Paris from the Germans in the heavy fighting for the Liberation in July/August 1945.

    Franco's right hand man Carrero Blanco had an unpleasant surprise in September 1973 (same time as the US was installing our wonderful democratic friend Pinochet in a coup in Chile). ETA inflicted some decent payback and sent him flying four floors up into the air onto someone's balcony. The pig died of course, a lot of champagne bottles were opened in private, and at that moment Spain's transition into democracy started, no thanks to the USA.
  12. georgew

    georgew Member

    To be fair, their was going to be a civil war whoever won the election as the Republican leader had already promised to rise up against the Nationalists if they had gained power.As for the Russian communists 'help' read 'The Battle for Spain' by Anthoiny Beevor for an explanation of how they almost single-handedly ruined any chance of Republican victory.
  13. Spowys

    Spowys Member

    This is the part that surprises me most about the Spanish Civil War. If something like that happened today the entire world would be involved in no time. The fact they everyone basically ignored what was going on in Spain is amazing, especially considering the circumstances of the war.

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