Civil War

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  • Created by: Victoria
  • Created on: 02-12-12 17:44

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  • Goded flew into Barcelona – but his troops were defeated by Assault Guards, CNT militia, the Generalitat’s own security forces and the Civil Guard.
  • General Fanjul in Madrid found himself besieged with 2,500 supporters in the Montana barracks by workers’ militias. The barracks were stormed, he was later executed.
  • In Valencia General Mouje the local army commander decided to remain loyal and the rebels were defeated
  • Sanjurjo was killed when his overloaded plane crashed on take-off

 The only major city initially captured by the rebels was Seville thanks to the extraordinary panache of General Quiepo de Llano who made his small forces stain their faces to make the populace think Moorish troops had arrived. However the rebels did take control of parts of Andalusia, Galicia, western Aragon, northern Castile and Navarre.

 In many areas there was an immediate descent into a bloodbath e.g. Badajoz massacre, where it has been said that 1,000s of residents were ***** and murdered by the Nationalists, there has been much debate between historians whether or not the massacre took place as was claimed. There are other eye-witness accounts of atrocities in works of literature such as Hemingway’s account of the murder of a priest whilst he was reporting on the war.

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Mola’s forces advanced on Madrid from the north but short of ammunition, they were held at the Somosierra (a mountain pass north of Madrid) and Alto de León passes. General Franco could get the Army of Africa across to the mainland. He requested help from the Germans and Hitler, seeing the possibility of a pro-German right-wing govt. in Madrid, obliged. In the last days of July 20 Junkers transport planes arrived in Morocco and were put at Franco’s disposal, whilst Mussolini sent 12 bombers to Morocco. 

Franco’s forces were able to reach mainland Spain and the nationalists soon took control of the whole of western Andalusia and Extremadura, by mid August Franco began his advance on Madrid

The advance was not as rapid as it might have been as he diverted forces to Toledo in September to rescue 2,000 nationalists who had been besieged in the fortress – the Alcazar – since late July. The relief had little military significance but great symbolic importance…Toledo as the seat in Spain of the Catholic church, Franco and other rebel officers had been cadets at thee military academy there and the heroic resistance of the Alcazar could be portrayed as symbolic of the whole nationalist cause. The relief also enhanced Franco’s personal prestige on the nationalist side.

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The battle for Madrid raged throughout the winter of 1936-37…but Franco’s forces were unable to take it despite three major offensives. The relief of Toledo may have cost Franco his chance of taking Madrid quickly as in November the Republic got the assistance of 500 Russian military experts, together with 100 tanks and 100 aircraft. This combined with the skilful defence of the city by General Rojo, the passionate commitment of the local people, the arrival of International Brigades…and Franco’s caution… meant that there was going to be no quick victory for the nationalists.

A long gradual campaign actually conformed with the military instincts and experience of Franco…this was how he had achieved success in Africa…securing territory little by little and it meant he could go about completely eliminating the Left (mass executions or prison) as he went along.

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foreign intervention

For Franco:

  • Italy sent the most…first volunteer soldiers, and then regular army units, Italian divisions numbered perhaps between 60 and 70,000 men with supporting artillery, armoured cars, anti-aircraft units and warplanes (Savoia and Caproni bombers and Fiat fighters. The Italians also provided a couple of submarines and 4 destroyers and Italy’s own submarines sank some ships supplying the Republic in the early period of the war before Britain forced a halt to such piracy (but Italian air attacks on such ships continued).
    • The Italian record in the civil war was distinctly mixed and Franco, whilst grateful for the material aid, did not have a particularly high opinion of them.
    • Italian troops assisted in the easy capture of Malaga in Feb 1937 but suffered defeat in the battle of Guadalajara in March 37. A very large Italian force, against light opposition, captured Santander in Aug 1937.
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foreign intervention

Far more supplies were to follow. Whilst Mussolini largely gave his aid on a basis of credit and ideological solidarity, the Germans negotiated large share-holdings in Spanish mineral companies as their major payment.

 This foreign assistance was vital in tipping the balance in Franco’s favour and giving him air superiority from mid 1937 with about 400 aircraft.

The most notorious action by these forces in the civil war was the raid by the Condor Legion on the small ancient capital of the Basque country: Guernica. They bombed the town continuously for 3 hours on 26th April 1937 leaving it largely obliterated – a terrible foreshadowing of what modern bombing could do. With little strategic significance the attack may have been designed to undermine Basque morale – or it may have been simple German exasperation with the slowness of Franco’s advance. The attack inspired Picasso’s painting, ‘Guernica’ – and Franco’s regime was long to maintain the fiction that the town had been dynamited by retreating republican militia.

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foreign intervention

Far more supplies were to follow. Whilst Mussolini largely gave his aid on a basis of credit and ideological solidarity, the Germans negotiated large share-holdings in Spanish mineral companies as their major payment.

 This foreign assistance was vital in tipping the balance in Franco’s favour and giving him air superiority from mid 1937 with about 400 aircraft.

The most notorious action by these forces in the civil war was the raid by the Condor Legion on the small ancient capital of the Basque country: Guernica. They bombed the town continuously for 3 hours on 26th April 1937 leaving it largely obliterated – a terrible foreshadowing of what modern bombing could do. With little strategic significance the attack may have been designed to undermine Basque morale – or it may have been simple German exasperation with the slowness of Franco’s advance. The attack inspired Picasso’s painting, ‘Guernica’ – and Franco’s regime was long to maintain the fiction that the town had been dynamited by retreating republican militia.

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foreign intervention

For the Republic:

  • The Popular Front govt. (first socialist govt. of France) under Blum in France naturally wanted to help the Republic but came under great pressure from conservatives at home and from the British (with whom France, facing a resurgent Germany, was anxious to remain close), to adopt a neutral position. They resisted this pressure to some extent…sending 55 bombers and fighters in early August 1936 and throughout the war allowing André Malraux to buy war materials in France on behalf of the Spanish govt. (150 aircraft), and allowing volunteers to pass through France…however, with great reluctance Blum agreed (Aug 1936) to Britain’s idea of a non-intervention committee. Britain, France, Germany and Italy all joined this committee, which was to oversee an embargo (restriction) on arms and troop supplies to Spain. The committee was a farce…Germany and Italy ignored it. Its main purpose seems to have been to assuage (provide relief) the conscience of the Conservative British govt., which, fearful of Communism in Spain, would essentially not object to a Nationalist victory.
  • Russia became the Republic’s major supplier and between 700 and 1,000 planes, mainly fighters were shipped to Spain during the war, (in fact the early arrival of the planes served admirably in the defence and early survival of Madrid) together with:
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