Internationalisation of the war

There were important political developments on both sides at the end of the summer. On

Francisco Largo Caballero with Republican soldiers and volunteers, 29 July 1936. As Minister of Labour in the provisional government in 1931. Largo Caballero had issued decrees to help urban and rural labourers. He was Prime Minister from September 1936 to May 1937, when Communist opposition helped remove him from power (Topham Picturepoint)

4 September a new Republican government under Francisco Largo Caballero replaced Giral's cabinet. Largo Caballero was a trade unionist, the leading figure on the left of the Socialist party, and identified with the revolutionary insurrection of October 1934. Many saw him as 'the Spanish Lenin'. He was able to construct a cabinet of six Socialists - including the moderates Prieto and Negrin, four Republicans, two Communists, one Catalan and one Basque Nationalist. He became Minister of War as well as Prime Minister.

Largo Caballero's cabinet was much more representative of the range of people actually fighting for the Republic than Giral's had been. Only the Anarchists declined to participate, although on 26 September they joined the autonomous government of Catalonia in an unprecedented decision for a movement that opposed the very notion of the state. On 4 November, the Anarchists took the final step and joined Largo

Francisco Largo Caballero with Republican soldiers and volunteers, 29 July 1936. As Minister of Labour in the provisional government in 1931. Largo Caballero had issued decrees to help urban and rural labourers. He was Prime Minister from September 1936 to May 1937, when Communist opposition helped remove him from power (Topham Picturepoint)

Caballero's second cabinet. Although Anarchist participation did not last many months, until the very end of the war the Republic had a civilian government composed of various political and trade union forces of changing relative strength, and Manuel Azana remained in office as President. It was essential to try to hold the disparate groups together, and to present the Republic internationally as a continuation of the pre-war, democratic Republic.

By contrast, the military were obviously dominant on the Nationalist side. Martial law was immediately proclaimed wherever the rising succeeded in July, and the military

Junta established by Mola in Burgos declared it for the whole country as early as 28 July. The fusion of military and political power, and the centralisation of both, were consummated on 29 September when his fellow-generals named Franco both Commander-in-chief of all Nationalist forces, and head of government. From 1 October, Franco referred to himself as head of state, and although colleagues such as Mola and Cabanellas were displeased, there was nothing they could do.

Franco set up his government in Burgos, and his military headquarters in Salamanca, in the archbishop's palace. He became known as Caudillo (chief), and Generalissimo (supreme general). From then on, there was no doubt about where ultimate control lay in Nationalist Spain, whereas on the Republican side control continued to be disputed, between the political parties, between the government and the revolutionary committees, and between Madrid and Barcelona. Largo Caballero moved to undermine one of the systems of dual power in October, when he decreed the incorporation of the militias into 'mixed brigades' in the new Popular Army, but party and union affiliation remained the basis of many units.

The Republic was in urgent need of arms. The British and French policy of nonintervention resulted in the establishment of the Non-intervention Committee, which first met in London on 9 September, and the Non-intervention Agreement, by which signatories agreed to prohibit all exports of arms to Spain. By the end of August it had been signed by all the major powers, including Germany and Italy, which continued to supply Franco, and the Soviet Union, which was about to start supplying the Republic.

This charade of non-intervention was painful for the Republic. It became heavily dependent on Soviet arms, and through them on Soviet military and political advisers. Only Mexico sent arms openly to the Republic, on

General Franco, flanked by General Cavalcanti and General Mola, in Burgos on 1 October 1936. Franco had just been elected Commander-in-chief and Head of Government by his fellow-generals. This combination of military and civil authority gave Franco unified control of all aspects of Nationalist Spain. (Topham Picturepoint)

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