The Splintering of Spain: Cultural History and the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

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Many shipments were lost or arrived only partially matching what had been authorised. The Republic paid for Soviet arms with official Bank of Spain gold reserves, this would later be the frequent subject of Franquist propaganda, under the term Moscow Gold. The USSR sent a number of military advisers to Spain 2, [] —3, [] , [] and while Soviet troops were fewer than men at a time, Soviet volunteers often operated Soviet-made tanks and aircraft, particularly at the beginning of the war.


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Mexico's most important contributions to the Spanish Republic was its diplomatic help, as well as the sanctuary the nation arranged for Republican refugees, including Spanish intellectuals and orphaned children from Republican families. Fearing it might spark a civil war inside France, the leftists "Popular Front" government in Paris France did not send direct support to the Republicans.

On 1 August , a pro-Republican rally of 20, people confronted Blum demanding that he send aircraft to the Republicans at the same time as right-wing politicians attacked Blum for supporting the Republic and being responsible for provoking Italian intervention on the side of Franco. However the Blum government provided aircraft to the Republicans through covert means with Potez 54 bomber aircraft, Dewoitine aircraft, and Loire 46 fighter aircraft being sent from 7 August to December of that year to Republican forces.


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  7. Even after covert support by France to the Republicans ended in December , the possibility of French intervention against the Nationals remained a serious possibility throughout the war. German intelligence reported to Franco and the Nationals that the French military was engaging in open discussions about intervention in the war through French military intervention in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. A large air and sea-lift of Nationalist troops in Spanish Morocco was organized to the south-west of Spain.

    The capture of Gipuzkoa isolated the Republican provinces in the north. The Republican government under Giral resigned on 4 September, unable to cope with the situation, and was replaced by a mostly Socialist organization under Largo Caballero. Two days after relieving the siege, Franco proclaimed himself Caudillo "chieftain" , while forcibly unifying the various and diverse Falangist , Royalist and other elements within the Nationalist cause.

    In October, the Francoist troops launched a major offensive toward Madrid, [] reaching it in early November and launching a major assault on the city on 8 November.

    The Splintering of Spain: Cultural History and the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

    A contributory factor in the successful Republican defense was the arrival of the International Brigades , though only an approximate three thousand foreign volunteers participated in the battle. The battle of the Corunna Road , a Nationalist offensive to the north-west, pushed Republican forces back, but failed to isolate Madrid. The battle lasted into January. With his ranks swelled by Italian troops and Spanish colonial soldiers from Morocco, Franco made another attempt to capture Madrid in January and February , but was again unsuccessful.

    The city was taken by Franco on 8 February. The operation's main objective was not met, though Nationalists gained a modest amount of territory. A similar Nationalist offensive, the Battle of Guadalajara , was a more significant defeat for Franco and his armies; it proved the only publicised Republican victory of the war. Italian troops and blitzkrieg tactics were used by Franco, and while many strategists blamed the latter for the rightists' defeat, the Germans believed it was the former at fault for the Nationalists' 5, casualties and loss of valuable equipment.

    The "War in the North" began in mid-March, [] with Biscay as a first target. The destruction had a significant effect on international opinion. April and May saw infighting among Republican groups in Catalonia. The disturbance pleased Nationalist command, but little was done to exploit Republican divisions.

    In July, it made a move to recapture Segovia, forcing Franco to delay his advance on the Bilbao front, but for only two weeks. A similar Republican attack on Huesca failed similarly. Mola, Franco's second-in-command, was killed on 3 June. The Battle of Brunete , however, was a significant defeat for the Republic, which lost many of its most accomplished troops. A Republican offensive against Zaragoza was also a failure. Despite having land and aerial advantages, the Battle of Belchite resulted in an advance of only 10 kilometres 6.

    At November's end, with Franco's troops closing in on Valencia, the government had to move again, this time to Barcelona. The Battle of Teruel was an important confrontation. The city, which had formerly belonged to the Nationalists, was conquered by Republicans in January. The Francoist troops launched an offensive and recovered the city by 22 February, but Franco was forced to rely heavily on German and Italian air support.

    On 7 March, Nationalists launched the Aragon Offensive , and by 14 April, they had pushed through to the Mediterranean, cutting the Republican-held portion of Spain in two. The Republican government attempted suing for peace in May, [] but Franco demanded unconditional surrender; the war raged on. In July, the Nationalist army pressed southward from Teruel and south along the coast toward the capital of the Republic at Valencia, but was halted in heavy fighting along the XYZ Line , a system of fortifications defending Valencia.

    The Republican government then launched an all-out campaign to reconnect their territory in the Battle of the Ebro , from 24 July until 26 November. The agreement with Britain effectively destroyed Republican morale by ending hope of an anti-fascist alliance with Western powers. Franco's troops conquered Catalonia in a whirlwind campaign during the first two months of Tarragona fell on 15 January, [] followed by Barcelona on 26 January [] and Gerona on 2 February. Franco declares the end of the war. However, small pockets of Republicans fight on.

    Only Madrid and a few other strongholds remained for the Republican forces. Negrin fled to France on 6 March, but the Communist troops around Madrid rose against the Junta, starting a brief civil war within the civil war. Casado defeated them, and started peace negotiation with the Nationalists, but Francisco Franco only accepted an unconditional surrender. On 26 March the Nationalists started a general offensive, on 28 March the Nationalists occupied Madrid and by 31 March they controlled all the Spanish territory.

    After the end of the War, there were harsh reprisals against Franco's former enemies; [] thousands of Republicans were imprisoned and at least 30, executed.

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    Many others were put to forced labour, building railways, drying out swamps, and digging canals. Hundreds of thousands of Republicans fled abroad, some , to France. Of the 17, refugees housed in Gurs, farmers and others who could not find relations in France were encouraged by the Third Republic, in agreement with the Franquist government, to return to Spain. Along with other "undesirable" people, the Spaniards were sent to the Drancy internment camp before being deported to Nazi Germany. About 5, Spaniards thus died in the Mauthausen concentration camp.

    The Splintering of Spain: Cultural History and the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

    After the official end of the war, guerrilla war was waged on an irregular basis by the Spanish Maquis well into the s, being gradually reduced by military defeats and scant support from the exhausted population. In , a group of republican veterans, who also fought in the French resistance against the Nazis, invaded the Val d'Aran in northwest Catalonia, but were defeated after ten days. Children preparing for evacuation, some giving the Republican salute. The Republicans showed a raised fist whereas the Nationalists gave the Roman salute.

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    The Republicans oversaw the evacuation of 30—35, children from their zone. Against initial opposition from both the government and charitable groups who saw the removal of children from their native country as potentially harmful. On arrival two days later in Southampton the children were dispersed all over England with over children accommodated in Wales. Most were repatriated to Spain after the war but some still remained in Britain by the end of the Second World War in Death totals remain debated. Antony Beevor writes in his history of the Civil War that Franco's ensuing ' white terror ' resulted in the deaths of , people and that the ' red terror ' killed 38, Spanish Civil War grave sites.

    Location of known burial places. Colors refer to the type of intervention that has been carried out. Green: No Interventions Undertaken so far.

    White: Missing grave. Red: Fully or Partially Exhumed. The view of historians including Helen Graham, [] Paul Preston , [] Antony Beevor , [] Gabriel Jackson [] and Hugh Thomas, [] is that the mass executions behind the Nationalists lines were organized and approved by the Nationalists rebel authorities while the executions behind the Republican lines were the result of the breakdown of the republican state and anarchy: Though there was much wanton killing in rebel Spain, the idea of the limpieza , the "cleaning up" of the country from the evils which had overtaken it, was a disciplined policy of the new authorities and a part of their programme of regeneration.

    In republican Spain, most of the killing was the consequence of anarchy, the outcome of a national breakdown, and not the work of the state; even though some political parties in some cities abetted the enormities, and even though some of those responsible ultimately rose to positions of authority. Nationalist SM. Nationalists atrocities, which authorities frequently ordered to eradicate any trace of 'leftism' in Spain, were common.

    The notion of a limpieza cleansing formed an essential part of the rebel strategy and the process began immediately after an area had been captured. Many such acts were committed by reactionary groups during the first weeks of the war. Extensive killings of civilians were carried out in the cities Nationalists captured, [] along with the execution of unwanted individuals.

    These included non-combatants such as trade-unionists , Popular Front politicians, suspected Freemasons , Basque, Catalan, Andalusian , and Galician Nationalists, Republican intellectuals, relatives of known Republicans, and those suspected of voting for the Popular Front. Nationalist forces massacred civilians in Seville, where some 8, people were shot; ten thousand were killed in Cordoba.

    Nationalists also murdered Catholic clerics. In one particular incident, following the capture of Bilbao, they took hundreds of people, including 16 priests who had served as chaplains for the Republican forces, to the countryside or graveyards and murdered them. Franco's forces also persecuted Protestants, including murdering twenty Protestant ministers.