Sure, give me all the complex international conflicts... grr...

In 1931, Spain reached the end of its more than four hundred year old monarchy and the begining of a new Spanish republic. A moderate legislature under a President Azana was elected, and all seemed to be well. Unfortunetly, in 1933, when the next elections came about, the communists refused to ally with other left wing parties in any sort of coaltion, and, in doing so, handed the elections to the radical right, made up mostly of those that supported the Catholic Church and the rich. In 1934, the new government's backward policies led to massive striking by the left and in 1936 a radical left government was elected that attempted to institute what was at least socialism, and probably would have evolved into soviet style communism. Fortunitly, (or perhaps, unfortunitly, depending on what evils you least dislike) General Francisco Franco used the army to back the right - they made up the Nationalists, while those that opposed him became the Rebublicans.

So far this has been simplified signifigantly. The complications come when you realise the sheer number of factions that were a part of this war: Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, and Basque and Catalonia seperatists on the Rebulican side alone. Not to mention the fact that Adolf Hitler aided the Nationalists, and Stalin backed the Rebulicans along with many, many volunteers from Western states. The war is often seen as a precursor for World War II.

After bloody, bloody war Franco wins and institutes a repressive totalitarian regime that lasts into the 1980s. However Spain is destroyed, to the point to which it can not aid the Axis during WWII.

The Spanish Civil War and Adolf Hitler

Soon after the war broke out it was clear there were political sympathies between the rebel leader General Francisco Franco and the leaders of Italy and Germany - Mussolini and Hitler respectively. The two leaders soon put their metal where there mouth was by providing equipment, personnel and advice to the Nationalists. Spain would prove to be a most excellent theater in which to experiment with new military techniques and train officers in their use.

A brief history of the war

1936: The death of Calvo Sotelo rapidly accelerated a military coup that had been undergoing preparations for a long time. The conspiritors had in fact just being awaiting General Franco's order to begin the uprising. The coup soon spread to other garrisons in metropolitan areas of Spain and Franco was shortly in charge of the army in Morocco. The uprising was successful in many places, and by the end of the year Franco controlled the greater part of Andalucia, Extremadura, Toledo, Avila, Segovia, Valladolid, Burgos, Leon, Galicia, a part of Asturias, Vitoria, San Sebastian, Navarra and Aragon, as well as the Canary Isles and Balearic Islands with the exception of Menorca. Castilla la Nueva, Catalunya, Valencia, Murcia, Almeria, Gijon and Bilbao remained in Republican hands.

On September 29th, Franco was named head of the government and commander of the armed forces. To offset these circumstances, the Republican government also created a popularist army and militarized the milita. Both sides soon begun receiving aid from abroad: the International Brigades supported the Republicans and Germany and Italy supported the nationalists.

1937: There was a large amount of fighting in the north of the country; Guernica was bombed in April by nationalists and Bilbao, Santander and Gijon were taken. The Battle of Teruel begun at the end of the year.

1938: The Nationalists concentrated their efforts at Aragon, recovered Teruel and divided the Republican zone in two parts. The government replied with the Battle of the Ebro, which ended in a huge Republican defeat and 70,000 casualties.

1939: Government resistance now exhausted, the Republican exile began. Many fled accross the border to France. Madrid was eventually the only city left resisting, and after it rejected offers of peace it was occupied. Franco officially declared the end of the war on April 1st.

Back to the World War II metanode.

Spanish Civil War

In theory the Spanish fascist dictatorship lasted from 1936 to 1939. During this period the inhabitants of Spain were divided into two main groups, the fascists and nationalists who where also named Francistas or Falangistas sided together against the republicans or in fact anyone opposed to Franco's regime.

When the monarchy toppled in 1931 and the republicans took over Franco wasted no time in creating a makeshift army in Morocco in order to invade Andalucia. He insured that Fascism spread rapidly through out Spain with the help of his army.

The Spanish Civil War was not like most civil wars when there are 2 armies fighting each other. In this war there were no properly formed military groups. The people who fought were civilians with no formal training, in the early stages, people were fighting against their neighbours and they were even killing members of their own families.

In no time Franco had a hold on most of central Spain, the Basque region and the south. However in Catalunya it was a completely different story. Franco managed to ban Catalan in the streets and to remove every symbol of the "nation within a nation". He removed its flags and emblems. However there was one thing that Franco dared not touch. This was the Barcelona Football Club. The support for this great club was so vast that he dared not remove it. So instead he created a football club called the Espanyol this club became the symbol of fascism whilst Barcelona was the symbol for the republicans. Yet the Espanyol team never managed to have the same success as Barcelona. So this was a major source of hope for the Republicans and for the Catalans alike.

For all those who fled to Catalonia during the war Barcelona was the best way to integrate into the Catalan society. By speaking about how Barcelona had won a match the people became united and knew on whose side they were.

As the war went on and Franco and his regime gained more territory his Falngists became stronger and more skilled. The following true story shows how the Francistas managed to gain control of most of Spain by torturing and murdering civilians.

It was 1935, a year before the start of the Spanish Civil War, the setting, the small village of Gaucin found in the Andalusian mountains of Southern Spain.

The Spanish Civil War had broken out and nobody could be trusted for fear of being turned over to the Francistas. Everybody lived in fear of Franco's regime, well all those who opposed his fascist ideology. At the time the country couldn't have the laid back approach to life it now has. Those who could run fled, others simply hoped they would go unnoticed and tried to lead a 'normal' life. Many fled to Catalunya where they where safe from the fascist army. Other's fled to neighbouring countries such as Portugal, France and Gibraltar.

Now back to the quaint mountain village, there was a man called Emanuel Galvez who lived with his wife Manuela and their 6 children. The couple managed a shop, which didn't make much profit, but it put the bread on the table. Well the eldest of the 6 children was my grandmother also called Manuela she was 12 at the time. They were your usual family, no political links even though they were opposed to Franco they dared not manifest or speak of politics. However in the Falangists eyes there was one crime Emanuel had committed, he was literate.

One day the Francistas went to Gaucin. They went into the shop and completely ransacked it destroying everything the family had. Mr Galvez was beaten in front of his wife and children and then taken. Manuela was then left with 6 children and no source of income. This was the last time that Emanuel was seen by his family.

Manuela decided she had to leave and look for somewhere she could work and be safe. So she left the 5 youngest with relatives in Gaucin and took the eldest. She and Manuela jr. left Gaucin they travelled 34 miles at night on a donkey to La Linea de la Concepcion(the town on the Spanish side of the Gibraltarian border. Once there they stayed with some relatives. At the time the border was closed so in order to be allowed to cross you had to request a pass from the Spanish government, this normally took a couple of months, during which Manuela and her daughter lived in hiding. When the passes finally arrived there was only one. Manuela was determined not to leave yet another child behind, so they devised a plan. Manuela was to hide under the blanket of a paraplegic whilst crossing the border. Fortunately for them the plan was successful and they were able to pass through into Gibraltar unharmed.

Manuela and her daughter were later reunited with the other siblings after World War 2, Emanuel Galvez was neither seen nor heard of again. To this day the family do not know what happened to him. In recent years the Family have contacted the Spanish government to find out what happened to him however they received a letter saying that they have no records of him and were not able to give any further information.

It is a common misconception that the rebels/Nationalists led by General Franco were fascists, a misconception aided and abetted by Communist propaganda; the rebels' acceptance of aid from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany did much to further this.

The only component of the Nationalist movement that actually subscribed to fascist ideology was the Falange (more properly, the Junta Ofensiva Nacional-Syndicalista, "National-Syndicalist Offensive Union"), whose program was essentially similar to that of the Italian Fascists under Mussolini. They were, however, a minority; aside from the Army, which was reactionary and Catholic where it was not Moroccan*, most of the combat troops in the Nationalist ranks came from the Requetes of the Carlist movement, who sought the restoration of the Carlist line of Bourbon pretenders, and thus were also politically reactionary and Catholic, but not necessarily in agreement with the generals. Add to this already volatile mixture the center-right Catholic bourgeoisie who felt pushed into rebellion by the Second Republic's anarchist and Communist factions, and you had a combination of factions that hated each other only slightly less than they hated the Loyalists/Republicans.

It is a testament to Franco's political skill that he was able to maneuver himself into leadership of what would soon be named the Falange Espanola y Tradicionalista y de los J.O.N.S. (Traditional Spanish Phalanx & The JONS) although the political cooperation was never as smooth as the military.** It didn't hurt the solidarity of the new Falange that the Republic made no effort to restrain the anticlerical excesses of its anarchist and Communist factions; these excesses alienated the still largely Catholic bourgeoisie and proletariat, and contributed to the myth of the "fifth column".

*About a third of the Army of Africa's strength was made up of 10,000 Moroccan regulares recruited in the African colonies; the remainder was composed of the Spanish Foreign Legion and Spanish troops stationed in Morocco.

**This was noted in a contemporary joke: before the unification of all Nationalist parties in the FET y los JONS, the Carlists usually wore a blue beret while the Falangists wore blue shirts. After the unification, all party workers were required to wear both beret and shirt. This usually resulted in hardcore Falangists stuffing the beret of the hated Carlists into their pockets when they could get away with it. As for the Carlists, they say that one old Requete was accosted by some young Falangist toughs, who shouted, "Hey, old man! Why are you out of uniform?" The old man turned to them and answered softly, "Because I cannot stuff my shirt into my pocket."

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