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Spanish Civil War

A plane zooms over your village. It's one of the German planes. Meanwhile, you sit in your small house, hoping that all the chaos will end soon. It's the Spanish Civil War.

The Spanish Civil War was fought between 1936 and 1939. On one side were the Republicans, loyal to the Second Spanish Republic. On the other side were the (conservative or fascist) Nationalists, eventually under Francisco Franco. The two sides (especially the Republicans) were not really that simple.

On the Republican side, one quickly notices the vast array of forces on the Spanish political spectrum that nominally support the Republic. We see traditional moderate liberals and democrats - but we also see socialists and communists, in addition to anarchists. It's certainly confusing and contributed to the loss of the Second Republic.

The Nationalist side is much less confusing. There's the traditional conservatives, backwards reactionaries, and the new fascists - all on the right side of the spectrum.

Causes of the Spanish Civil War:

The Bourbons were restored in Spain in 1874 and lasted until 1931, where corruption remained rampant. King Alfonso XIII submitted to popular pressure and allowed elections, but the liberal republicans and socialists won almost everywhere, so the King quickly fled.

Through a series of events, the Spanish right wing eventually became convinced that the Second Republic was hostile to Roman Catholicism and conservatism in general. When a Spanish anarchist organization called for strikes, the Civic Guard suppressed the strike, leading them to believe that the Republic was just as bad as the monarchy.

In December of 1930, a new constitution was declared, forcing secularization of the nation. In 1933, the right wing won the general elections. Alejandro Lerroux, from the Radical Republican Party rolled backprevious changes and gave amnesty to Sanjurjo. Eventually, the military felt that the government had to be replaced to prevent a breakdown (or a break-apart) of Spain.

The Civil War begins:

Francisco Franco was moved to the Canary Islands. Mola was moved to Navarre, and Llopis was moved to the Balearic Islands. Later, a man supposed to be arresting Jose Calvo Sotelo, a parliamentary conservative, shot him in the back of the neck. This provided a public justification for the military coup.

The plan was discovered on July 17, and the military immediately enacted the coup. Only around 189 people were shot. The Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, and Spanish Morocco were secured, along with Seville. Most major cities did not fall, except for Seville and Leon. Cadiz was taken relatively quickly later.

From July 17, 1936 - April 1, 1939, the Spanish Civil War was fought between the Spanish Republicans and Nationalists. The war started when a declaration of opposition by a group of generals under José Sanjurjo against the Republic, which was controlled by President Azaña.
The Spanish Civil War was a war involving 2 main factions of Spain at that time - the Republicans, supported by the Soviet Union and Mexico, and the Nationalists, supported by Germany, Italy, Portugal. 

Atrocities and murders were committed by both the Republicans and the Nationalists. Organized purges happened in areas conquered by the Nationalists, and a significant amount of killings occurred in Republican-held territory. Tens of thousands of civilians on both sides were killed for their political or religious views. In fact, one theory posits that a reason why the Nationalists did not go for a quick knockout of their opponents like they could have was because they wanted purge territory of Republican-supporters, which would be significantly more difficult in a quick victory.

After the war was over 1939, people who helped the Republicans suffered under the Nationalists. After a fascist dicatorship was declared by Francisco Franco, who became Regent for Life, right-wing parties became part of the Nationalist nation. Francisco Franco ruled Spain for 36 more years until his death in 1975. 

The war became a testing ground for weapons - for the Soviet Union and Germany alike. Pablo Picasso, the famous painter, immortalized the German bombings that destroyed Guernica in his paintings. The Soviet Union used this war to test their bombs as well. This helped Germany in World War II, especially the blitzkrieg involved with the German invasion of Poland.

Part of the World War II Series
                                                                                                            Next - Blitzkrieg, a German Strategy

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