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The Spanish Civil War

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Chuck Simms

on 28 October 2016

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Transcript of The Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War
Spain had been ruled by a constitutional monarchy and coalition of Church, the military, and wealthy landowners for over nearly 100 years.
A system evolved known as 'el turno pacífico' in which the liberals and conservatives took turns ruling. Elections were called, then rigged.
Eventually voices of dissent emerged. Nationalist movements (the Basques and people of Catalonia especially) as well as political groups (the communists, socialists) and the workers and peasants, all demanded greater opportunity and reform.
Under pressure, the king abdicated and a republic proclaimed in 1931.
Tension between the new government (that was composed of liberals and socialists) and traditional ruling powers as well as the far left resulted in violence.
A series of violent attacks from the left resulted in public opinion swinging in favour of the 'law and order' platform of the right, who were elected in 1933.
When the left protested with a series of strikes, the army reacted with a series of vicious responses. This overreaction led to another change in government.
Socialists, communists, and anarchists formed the new government.
Civil War
Violence erupted, and the nation was divided into two factions.
The Republicans represented the elected government. The communists, socialists, and those who wanted a democracy.
The Nationalists were the army, the wealthy landowners and industrialists, the Catholic Church, and the Falange (Spain's fascist party)
Dress Rehearsal for World War II?
The Spanish Civil War is often referred to as a dress rehearsal for WWII. The forces of democracy and communism were united against fascism.
International Involvement
Though there was generally popular support for the Republicans, France was reluctant to get involved. There were concerns that the fascists in France would grow more active.
Britain wanted no part in a European War. Additionally, under British and French sponsorship, the League of Nations had forbade assistance to other side.
Nevertheless, over 40,000 volunteers from many nations enlisted in the International Brigade to support the Republican Cause. Canadians who joined the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion did so illegally.
The USSR offered substantial amounts of materiel and advisers to aid the Republicans.
Franco, who emerged as the leader of the Nationalists received help from the fascists in Nazi Germany and Italy.
The Nationalists triumphed after three years, and Franco held power as a dictator until his death in 1975.
New weapons and tactics were developed and tested.
Hitler was convinced that the democracies were weak and indecisive. Stalin too believed that the western powers would not intervene as the Nazis grew stronger.
The League of Nations had again failed
France and Britain continued to re-arm with increased commitment. They realized that fascism and militarism would eventually have to be confronted.
... and they wouldn't have to wait long.
The Western democracies condemned the Fascist aggression and supported the Republic.
The Luftwaffe's Condor Legion supported Franco, infamously bombing Guernica, and a sizeable contribution of Italian troops (over 60,000) also participated.
The war was brutal, with atrocities, reprisals, and many civilian deaths.
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