Spain: Civil War

Civil War

The Popular Front (republicans, Socialists, Communists, and syndicalists) was victorious in the national elections of 1936. Before the government under Manuel Azaña had time to carry out its program, a military rebellion precipitated the great Spanish civil war of 1936–39. The Insurgents, or Nationalists, who soon came under the leadership of Gen. Francisco Franco, embraced most conservative groups, notably the monarchists, the Carlists, most of the army officers, the clericalists, the landowners and industrialists, and the fascist Falange (Nationalist Front). Their forces received the immediate military aid of Germany and Italy. The Loyalists were supported by the Popular Front parties and by the nationalists in Catalonia and the Basque Country, which had at last been granted autonomy.

Because of the nonintervention policy of Britain and France, the Loyalists received virtually no outside support except for an international brigade and some meager aid from the USSR. Despite military inferiority and bloody internal divisions, the Loyalists made a remarkably determined stand, particularly in central Spain. By the beginning of 1938, however, the territory held by the Loyalists had shrunk drastically, and with the fall (Jan., 1939) of Barcelona the war was almost over. Madrid surrendered in Mar., 1939. The Loyalist government and many thousands of refugees fled into France, and the government of Franco was soon recognized by all major powers except the USSR.

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