Battles round Madrid November 1936 March 1937

Battle For Madrid 1936

a small scale. 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 Spain. The Soviet biplane I-15 and monoplane I-16 fighters were new and fast, and flown by Soviet pilots. These fighter-planes, known in Spain respectively as chato (snub-nose) and mosca (fly), were supplemented by bombers. With about 100 aircraft in all, the Republic suddenly had the means to establish air superiority. Meanwhile, the Soviet T-26 tanks and anti-aircraft guns were also superior to the German and Italian models in Spain, although this advantage would soon be challenged by the dispatch, in early November, of the German Condor Legion to Spain.

In addition to these crucial Soviet supplies, one other new resource arrived in time to participate in the defence of Madrid. The International Brigades were formed by the Comintern, from volunteers already fighting in Spain, not least from Italy and Germany, and from new volunteers flocking to Spain from right across Europe and beyond to fight fascism. Eventually about 35,000 men served in the International Brigades. Most but not all were Communists, the great majority were working-class men, and on 14 October the first 500 were brought to the base in Albacete, about 150 miles (240 km) south-east of Madrid, where Andre Marty, a top Comintern official, was commander. By the end of October, only those who chose not to see could deny that on both sides the Spanish Civil War had been internationalised.

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