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 intervention and international restrictions on arms purchases changed the military balance of the war at several stages. The internationalising of the war also affected the exercise of power behind the lines. On Franco's side, the evidence of statements by generals at the time of the July rising reveals that their chief pre-occupations were national unity, and law and order. They wanted to end the Republic's experiment with devolution, and to curb the waves of street violence, land occupations and strikes that seemed to be swelling out of control. Beyond these aims, individual generals had a variety of political objectives, ranging from
Rise up against the Italian invasion of Spain'. Republican poster from the Civil War. The Republicans claimed that they were the true patriots, defending Spanish democracy against Nazi and Fascist invaders fighting with Franco. But the Republicans came to rely on Soviet help as much as Franco did on Germany and Italy. (Author's collection)
the restoration of the monarchy, which had collapsed in 1931, or the establishment of an alternative and more illiberal monarchical line in Carlism, to the promotion of the Spanish fascist movement, the Falange, and even the continuation of the Republic, but under a different constitution.
By the end of the war, monarchists, fascists and law-and-order Republicans had learned to bow to Franco's supremacy as his personal dictatorship was consolidated. Moreover, the Catholic Church emerged as a particularly notable beneficiary of the victory of the rebel generals, most of whom had not had this result in mind at all when embarking on their attempted coup.
On the Republican side, the changes wrought during the war were even more dramatic. The Communist party had swollen from a small presence to become the dominant political force, and an anti-revolutionary force at that, eclipsing those -the Anarchists, many Socialists and some anti-Stalinist Communists - for whom the Republic had come to mean social revolution or nothing. Democrats who wanted to secure the continuation of the parliamentary Republic as it was in the early summer of 1936 saw that possibility fade away under the pressures of war, then social revolution, then increasing reliance on the Soviet Union. Not all of those who took up arms to defend the Republic in 1936 were convinced that it was worth fighting for in 1939. And among the victors, some were disillusioned that their efforts resulted in a military dictatorship.
The National Side'. Republican Civil War poster The Republican Ministry of Propaganda mocks Franco's claim that his side. 'the Nationals' or 'the Nationalists', represented the true Spain, by depicting the foreign forces - big business. Nazis. Fascists, international Catholicism. Moroccan troops -which supported him. (Author's collection)
The division of Spain between Republicans and Nationalists, July 1936
Soviet policy in Spain failed, both in the defeat of the Republic and in Stalin's inability to draw Britain and France into an anti-Nazi alliance. Germany and Italy gained a very sympathetic Spanish regime, but not one that actively joined a fascist front when war broke out in Europe in September 1939. Meanwhile, British and French policy not only proved unable to prevent armed intervention in Spain by three major powers, but also left Britain and France isolated when the Soviet Union despaired of them and in August 1939 did the unthinkable and entered a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. The Spanish Civil War was not a rehearsal for the Second World War, but it significantly affected the balance of forces when that war began. In Spain itself, the rebels of 1936 became the victors, and with them, counter-revolution triumphed.
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