Please click the
icon to follow us on Twitter.
the Spanish Civil War had raged for
two and a half months, though the political confusion went back decades.
In 1873, the experiment with the Spanish Republic began, but it crumbled
to give a return to monarchy under Alfonso XIII fourteen years later.
Military dictatorship kept the monarchy propped up for over forty years,
but, in 1930, another overthrow gave birth to the Second Spanish Republic.
A new constitution came in 1931, and a flurry of reforms gave relief to
the great numbers of poor who had suffered under laws created in
feudalism. With the election of 1933, the Spanish Confederation of the
Autonomous Right won a near-majority of seats, but President Alcal´-Zamora
ignored their political significance, instead turning to the Radical
Republicans. The government seemed hijacked, and tension gave way to
hostilities, which gave way to violence. Hundreds of assassinations,
general strikes, bombings, and fires by arson crippled the country.
"1. Germany had little real influence in Spain at
this time; Italy had more but still not enough to be decisive 2. this does
not explain how Mola out politicked Franco who was possibly the smartest
operator in Europe for this period 3. why would Western aid be covert?
There was zero chance it would not leak so why not open and if open it
would have been decisive. Key was whether UK was prepared to fight Italy
and 1936-37 [which were the key years] UK was not" - reader's comments
in 1936 changed the government to a coalition of gradual reform under
President Azaña. Extreme rightists refused gradual reform, calling for
revolution and an end to Azaña, who had weakened the Spanish military with
budget cuts. On July 17, a coup under monarchist and figurehead General
José Sanjurjo began with Emilio Mola as its second-in-command. They called
themselves the Nationalists and hoped to achieve a strong, central
government like the fascists that had transformed Italy and Germany. While
outlying areas such as the Canary Islands and Morocco fell quickly, the
Republicans managed to contain the rebels and control the south,
especially the major cities. In other areas, anarchists armed themselves,
killing just about anybody who tried to subdue them.
With the coup botched, Spain descended into civil war. The Republicans,
aided by Mexico and the USSR as well as international volunteers including
some 2000 Americans, fought against the fascist Nationalists, who found
support from Germany, Italy, Portugal, and major American companies such
as General Motors, Ford, Firestone, and Texaco. The Nationalists convened
in Burgos to determine a leader. Sanjurjo had died in a plane crash on
July 20, just three days into the coup. Much attention was brought to
Francisco Franco, and it looked as if he would gain official command after
being named commander-in-chief on September 21. Hitler had named his
support for Franco, but behind-the-scenes politicking established Mola as
the leader of the Nationalists on October 1. Some had blamed his
ineptitude for the failure of the coup, but promises he made to Hitler
trumped the Fuhrer's trust in Franco. The power would thus be divided
between Franco militarily and Mola for public affairs.
"Scott, 1. True, thus unable to stop the second
civil war. 2. My guess is he made territorial promises to Hitler. Franco's
demands of Gibraltar, Africa, etc, were too much, but Mola seemed more
willing not to press (ala the bungled coups and taking of Madrid). Franco
definitely knew what he was doing. Keeping Spain out of the War was best
for everyone, especially him. 3. Covert (and not so convert) operations
definitely funded both sides, something of a pre-WW2 prep. The USSR
practically kept the Republicans going." - author's response
arrangement seemed a success. Mola achieved great strides in propaganda,
such as his creation of the term "fifth column" to describe the additional
shadow-soldiers of Nationalist-sympathizers complementing his four columns
of official soldiers. Franco, meanwhile, led the armies in a siege of
Madrid, taking the city at the end of October. Announcements claimed that
the war would be ended by Christmas.
In reality, the war dragged on through the winter and into the spring.
Most of the Republicans had been dug out of cities in the southwest, but
bitter guerrilla warfare slowed the Nationalist march through the
countryside and, especially, mountains. Still, victory seemed inevitable,
especially with the German Condor Legion bombing suspected Republican
"This wouldn't prevent the republican side from
their own bouts of Kilkenny-cats infighting; you might have had Spain
tearing itself apart completely" - reader's comments
On July 3,
1937, Mola died in a plane crash on his return to Vitoria. Franco
inherited the mantle of Head of State, but Mola-supporters were
suspicious. When evidence of assassination arose (though disputed), civil
war broke out among the fascists. Hitler and Mussolini offered to mediate,
but both sides refused to speak to the other without major conditions met.
Finally, the Fuhrer and Il Dulce grew impatient and decided to back
Franco. He managed to retake control of the Nationalists by force in 1939,
but by then Italy and Germany had gone into their own war against the
The Republicans regrouped while the fascists had turned to in-fighting and
gained material supplied by covert operations from the Allies. In their
first campaign, they retook Madrid, causing Franco to call for help from
Vichy France. As the French came into the war, so did Britain, the Soviet
Union, and, later, the United States. Using Spain as a beachhead, the
Allies stomped out the Nationalist soldiers in 1942 and moved through
France toward Germany and across the Mediterranean to Italy.
After the war, Spain would solidify in its republic and achieve great
prosperity with the rebuilding of Europe and 1960s. While still known for
leftist as well as rightist fanatics, Spain serves as a model among the EU
for republican brotherhood and regained glory.