Army of Africa

The arrival of the Army of Africa in Andalusia created the first radical change in the balance of forces in Spain. It also gave Franco the opportunity to establish himself as the leading military figure among the Nationalists, a project that was greatly enhanced by his privileged status as the unique recipient of German aid. Franco flew to Seville on 6 August to oversee operations, while Yague was the field commander of about 8,000 men. The obvious strategy was to head north towards Madrid....

Madrid and Barcelona

Young Rebel Set Slogan

Madrid and Barcelona were the two great Republican triumphs in July 1936. Each city had over one million inhabitants, dwarfing other cities in Spain. Valencia, the next largest, was less than one-third that size, followed by Seville with a population of about 250,000. Holding on to Madrid and Barcelona was vital for the Republic, and winning them was a necessary aim of the Nationalists. In the short term, nothing could be done about Barcelona, which was surrounded by Republican territory, with...

The democratic experiment

The Spanish Civil War began when army officers rose against the Second Republic in July 1936. But the potential for conflict was rooted in long-term, structural imbalances in Spanish society and the economy, and in the failure of successive regimes to construct a state system that enjoyed undisputed legitimacy. Political power had traditionally been concentrated in the hands of a small elite, who had not learned the trick of moderate reform aimed at co-opting the masses. On their great estates...

Francos victory

Even after the collapse of Catalonia, Prime Minister Negrin was determined to fight on, still hoping against hope that the fortunes of the Republic would be transformed once a general European war broke out, in which the western democracies would at last have to confront Hitler's Germany. A number of military leaders, however, including Colonel Segismundo Casado, commander of the Republican Army of the Centre, thought that continuing the war at this point was simply irresponsible. In Madrid,...

Women

The Nationalists were also traditionalists where gender roles in society were concerned. The Republic, on the other hand, represented change. One of the most famous Republican posters carried the slogan 'They shall not pass', which the great Communist leader and orator Dolores Ibarruri (La Pasioiniria) had made into the rallying-call for the defence of the Republic, and especially of Madrid. Above this armed soldiers, one of them a woman, wearing the blue overalls that were the improvised...

The division of Spain between Republicans and Nationalists prior to the Ebro offensive of July 1938

Ebro Spain Map

November the Republicans had retreated back across the Ebro, in good order, but defeated. The last major Republican offensive, and the greatest battle of the civil war, was over. There were almost 100,000 casualties. It was also the last engagement of the International Brigades, which were disbanded in November 1938, partly because by this stage they were largely composed of Spaniards anyway, and partly in a vain attempt by Negrin to achieve the withdrawal of all foreign participants on both...

Two Spains

As the Spanish Civil War progressed, it soon became clear that Republican Spain and Nationalist Spain were two different states, and even different worlds. The Republic remained under civilian government, which struggled to assert its authority. At first, it was powerless to restrain the social revolution that swept through the country when the war began. Then Largo Caballero's government of September 1936 to May 1937 had some success in containing the revolution, by bringing the Anarchists...

Introduction

The Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 was a class war, and a culture war. Competing visions of Spanish identity were superimposed on a bitter struggle over material resources, as the defenders of property, religion and tradition took up arms against a Republican government committed to social reform, devolution and secularisation. Directly or indirectly, the conflict caused about half a million deaths in a population of 24 million. The war began in the middle of July 1936, when a group of generals...

Antonio

There were many who had been waiting for the day to dawn when they could fight for the Spain of their desires. One example in Ronald Fraser's oral history of the Civil War, Blood ofSpain, was Antonio Izu, from a Carlist village near Pamplona. His family of modestly prosperous peasant farmers had been Carlist for generations. On hearing of the military rising, he was happy. 'I didn't sleep all that night, thinking what a hell of a shindy we were going to kick up.' He immediately grabbed a rifle...

The battle of the Ebro July November 1938

Battle The Ebro

Orchestrated initiative took their opponents by surprise, although they soon deployed air and artillery power against the advancing forces, and severely impeded the transport of armour across the river. Within a few days, Republican troops had advanced several miles west, establishing a new front between Mequinenza and Cherta, and capturing Nationalist soldiers who were surrounded. Other Nationalists fell back on Gandesa. It was a great victory, and persuaded many otherwise pessimistic...

The Spanish Civil War in perspective

In retrospect, it sometimes became difficult to remember why the Spanish Civil War had been fought at all. Francoists had assumed for decades after the war that Spain would remain what they had made it - Catholic, authoritarian, nationalist and centralist. They suddenly found themselves living in a society full of the features they had sought to eradicate. It was now pluralist, tolerant, federal and multilingual. Militarism disappeared. Instead of the Second Republic being an anomalous period...

The first defence of Madrid July 1936

First Defence Madrid 1936

At the end of July, about 70 aircraft were sent across the border to Barcelona, including Potez 54 bombers and Dewoitine 371 fighters. The Popular Front government in France was divided, and subjected to two quite different pressures. One was the desire to bolster another government that had come into office as the result of a Popular Front electoral victory, against a right-wing coup that would create a pro-fascist Spain. But the other was a fear of alienating...

The growth of unrest

Labour radicalisation was evident in strikes and unrest in both industry and agriculture. Indeed, the Republican-Socialist coalition repressed strikes and imposed law and order by the same rough methods as previous governments. An Anarchist general strike in the summer of 1931 was crushed by the army, leaving 30 people dead. In the village of Castilblanco, in Badajoz province, in Extremadura, a demonstration by rural workers who were members of the Socialist agricultural union the FNTT National...

In ESPAA

Division Spain

And Fascist regimes supporting Franco, and the Soviet Union supporting the Republic -with momentous consequences for the war in Spain. So too did volunteers from dozens of countries who joined the International Brigades and defended the Republic, and a small number, mainly from Ireland, who briefly fought on the other side. Britain and France adopted the second option and pursued a policy of non-intervention aimed at limiting the conflict by making arms sales to Spain illegal. Foreign...

Teruel

Soldier Face With His Enemy

The Republicans were first to launch a new offensive, at Teruel, in southern Arag n, on 15 December. Arag n had already seen action in late August, when the Republicans took the small but heavily defended town of Belchite, south and a little east of Saragossa, at enormous cost. They failed to get much further, and failed too in their aim of diverting Nationalist forces away from the northern campaign. Earlier in August the Republican government had decided to dismantle the Council of Arag n as...

Nationalist advances

Navarrese Soldiers Spanish Civil War

By the end of June 1937 it was evident that the Nationalists were steadily conquering Republican territory, in a bitter war of attrition. It was also ever clearer that Nationalist Spain was Franco Spain. In April 1937 Franco quelled the claims of Falangists and Carlists to separate political identities by decreeing the unification of all political forces, under his leadership. Monarchist traditionalists and revolutionary fascists suddenly found themselves unwillingly incorporated, with everyone...

Battles round Madrid November 1936 March 1937

Battle For Madrid 1936

Otherwise, the Republic had no choice but to pay inflated prices for often sub-standard guns, ammunition and aeroplanes purchased on the black market in Paris, or Prague, or in the United States, in addition to paying over the odds for Soviet supplies. On 25 October Finance Minister Negrin shipped the gold reserves of the Bank of Spain to Moscow, as downpayment. The first consignments of Soviet tanks, aircraft, armoured lorries, anti-aircraft guns and artillery were already in...

Culture

Soviet Youth Culture Posters

Both the strength of ideological commitment and the problems it created were apparent in one of the most notable artistic features of the war - Republican poster art. The Nationalists produced some posters too, but not on a comparable scale, nor of such variety and power. They did not need to. Military victory was their greatest propaganda tool. Moreover, the swift concentration of military and governmental powers in Franco's hands at the end of September 1936 enabled them to set up a central...

The battle for Madrid November 1936

Battle Madrid 1936

Franco's military strategy was one of territorial reconquest. He was determined that bit by bit the whole of Spain would be under his control, even if this meant a long war of attrition. His terms for the end of the conflict were always unconditional surrender by the Republicans. Topham Picturepoint General Francisco Franco, in 1936. Franco's military strategy was one of territorial reconquest. He was determined that bit by bit the whole of Spain would be...

Women and war two

Women Helping The Revolutionary War

For some women, the Spanish Civil War was genuinely emancipatory. Young women on the Republican side joined trade unions, engaged in politics, took up all sorts of war work, and even briefly served as soldiers in the militias. The necessities of war and the outbreak of social revolution combined to open up these new roles. Even in the traditional culture of Nationalist Spain, young, middle-class, Catholic women found they could go out without chaperones, and many of them worked outside the home...

The fall of Malaga to the Nationalists 78 February 1937

Growing Nationalism

Republicans were seized and executed on a scale not experienced since Badajoz. The violence of the repression alarmed Italian leaders, just as the plight of those fleeing along the road to Almer a appalled many observers. This was a civil war in which cruelty as well as heroism was commonplace, because each side loathed and feared everything that the other stood for. A bizarre symbol of one of the different cultural worlds that the two sides broadly represented made an unexpected appearance in...

Saturnino Carod

Saturnino Carod, also interviewed by Ronald Fraser, began the war as convinced of the importance of defending the Republic as Antonio Izu was about destroying it. He was the son of a poor agricultural labourer in Arag n, and had begun working at the age of six. As an adult, he joined the CNT and learned to read. Before the war Saturnino had become CNT regional propaganda secretary in Saragossa, preaching anarchism in the local villages. He escaped from Saragossa during the rising, and joined an...