Spanish Civil War


Spanish Civil War

  • The Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939) saw right-wing Nationalists, led by General Franco, fight against the left-wing Republicans. Germany and Italy supported the Nationalists with planes, tanks and weapons. The USSR supported the Republican forces.
  • For some in the British political establishment, Spain confirmed their doubts about Britain’s policy of appeasement. Anthony Eden, who had been a supporter of the government’s non-aggressive approach, began to believe that Britain should take a firmer stance with Europe’s fascist dictators, and resigning his office in 1938.
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British Government

  • The British government did not want the Spanish Civil War to escalate into a Europe-wide conflict and so signed up to the Non-Intervention Committee.
  • Many people were concerned that this war could spread - this encouraged support for the British Government policy of non-intervention.
  • Some people on the Left ignored this and volunteered to fight in Spain. Many of them believed that only force would stop the spread of fascism.
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Fear of the bomber

  • On 26 April 1937, Nazi German and Italian bombers attacked the Basque city of Guernica. Over the course of three hours, they destroyed three-quarters of the ancient town, killing and wounding hundreds.
  • The bombing of Guernica heightened fears of the consequences of any war. The British Prime Minister at the time, Stanley Baldwin, stated: "the bomber will always get through"
  • It was believed aircraft would have a devastating impact. The British Government expected around 600,000 casualties in the first few days of any war.
  • The lack of air defences over Britain and a shortage of air raid shelters encouraged support for appeasement.
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