The Spanish Civil lMngj6jg

By the spring of 1936 it was becoming increasingly evident that Spain was heading for an armed clash between the forces and of the extreme Right and the extreme Left. The moderate Republican government of Madrid was helpless to curb the activities of militants of opposing factions, or to check the tide of political assassinations. Over the period of 16 June to 13 July, terrorists murdered 61 people and wounded a further 224. There were 132 bomb incidents, ten churches and nineteen public buildings were destroyed or badly damaged by fire, ten newspaper offices sacked. Between 15 February and 15 June, 113 general strikes were staged. On 12 July Calvé Sotelo, a well-known monarchist was murdered by Republican storm troopers, and passions were roused to even greater fury when, at the funeral, police opened fire killing four of the mourners.

The dominant figure of the extreme Left, known as 'Largo Caballero' (the Spanish Lenin), enjoyed the full confidence of the Anarchists, and planned to stage a coup d'etat in late July; and, backed by the ultras and their militia groups, he intended to impose a Stalin-type Communist government. To thwart such a take-over, a clique of high-ranking army officers, calling themselves the Union Militar Espanola (U.M.E.), whose nominal head was the veteran General Sanjurjo, planned a similar coup and counted on the support of anti-Communist, Catholic and traditionalist elements of all classes of society. Indeed by mid-July the only question was, which of the two factions would strike first.

Political Map Tortosa

Santander

Saragossa Lérida. Borlas ¿y

Fuentes de Ebro\^_^Meguinenza^Ba c Belchite • Fayon\ ^¿Tarragona Gandesa >Tortosa

¡af Guadalajara

Navalcarnero. Madrid^

Talavera de la Reina

Toledo

Badajoz

Guadia^

Cordoba

Sevilla

Uniforms Pictures From Gen Franco

General Francisco Franco y Bahamonde inspects a guard of honour at Burgos in October 1936, following his appointment to the supreme command of the insurgents. Franco had enjoyed rapid promotion, founding his reputation for professional competence and personal coolness under fire in the savage Moroccan campaigns of the early 1920s. (Keystone)

General Francisco Franco y Bahamonde inspects a guard of honour at Burgos in October 1936, following his appointment to the supreme command of the insurgents. Franco had enjoyed rapid promotion, founding his reputation for professional competence and personal coolness under fire in the savage Moroccan campaigns of the early 1920s. (Keystone)

Under the circumstances, it was the right wing, spurred to action by Calvé Sotelo's murder, that made the opening moves. The weekend of 17/18 July military uprisings broke out, with varying success, in all the main garrison towns of the Spanish mainland.

In the north, monarchist Navarra rallied to General Emilio Mola. In Andalucía, in the south, the capital, Sevilla, was taken over by a handful of troops led by the swashbuckling General Queipo de Llano y Sierra, himself a Republican at heart but violently anti-Communist. Córdoba and Granada also declared for the rebels who would be known as the Nationalists, but in Jaen and Málaga the movement was suppressed, both centres voting solidly for the existing government. Most of Castilla, as well as the cities of Burgos, Salamanca and Avila, embraced the revolution, as did much of Galicia. Though predominantly Catholic, the Basques supported the Republic hoping thereby to achieve a measure of autonomy; their example was followed by the Catalans, who were the most left-wing people of the peninsula. In both Madrid and Barcelona, insurgent officers and troops were soon isolated by Communist mobs, and liquidated. Those who surrendered were speedily brought to trial—a mere formality and .is speedily executed.

Escaping by plane, piloted by an Englishman, Captain Bebb, General Francisco Franco y Bahamonde, leading member of the U.M.E., reached Tetuan, capital of Spanish Morocco on 19 July, and there, with the wholehearted support of the highly professional 'African Army' proclaimed the Revolution, receiving also the full backing of the Khalifa, the local Moorish governor.

These turbulent mid-July days marked the beginning of a civil war, which was to last two years and nine months, a war to be remembered not so much for the brilliance of any individual campaign

(it commander, but rather for its appalling ferocity, and for fanatical, crusader-like belief, held by participants, in the justice of their own cause. Left and Right, alike, were convinced that they were lighting for civilization against the powers of darkness. This fanaticism led to heavy losses, and many of the battles compared for sheer butchery with those of the Western Front of 1914-18.

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