The Spanish Civil War

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On July 18, 1936, Spain entered into a phase of civil war that continued till 1939. In the year 1931 republicans formed the government after a transition from the existing monarchy. But the right-wing nationalists continuously tried to overthrow the republican socialist government.

On this auspicious day, a military revolt broke out in Spanish morocco, canary islands and many parts. From Canary Island, the then military general Franco ordered a military revolt that went on to give a great blow to Spain’s newly formed socialist legacy. 

General Franco was a monarchist and always supported the nationalist. Immediately after the revolt broke most of the Spanish colonies of Morocco, Canary Islands fell to the military force. On the other hand, northern Spain got captured and towns of Southern Spain was captured immediately. 

After some days the socialists regained the capital city of Madrid and some neighbouring cities in this way nationalists took control over some regions and the government formed their control over a particular region. General Franco flew to Morocco and started to regain strength by the Army of Africa to regain the lost territories in the ongoing war.

Events Leading to the Civil War 

In the year 1931, King Alfonso called for a referendum and the people voted for a democracy furthermore that went on to create the Second Republic of Spain. In the elections, people chose the socialists to form the government. However, the nationalists were unhappy and went on to create tensions in several parts of the country.

There were left-leaning reforms all over the country and virtual autonomy was granted in the areas of Catalonia and Basque. Although in 1933, the nationalists gained a lot in the elections and won considerable power to form the government. On the other hand, the socialist revolution broke in different regions.

This was known as the October revolution and General Franco was responsible for crushing the revolution and gaining peace. Though the fragile state of the country’s political situation went onto creating further tension and elections were called in the year 1935 leading to the formation of the Popular front led by the socialists.

The nationalists were very anxious in toppling the government and that is why the Army coup happened. General Franco was a hardcore nationalist supporter and his fellow mates were also the same. After the return of Socialist government in power, Franco was given a posting in the Canary Islands in Africa.

Start of the Uprising 

A group of military officers were of the view that there should be Marxist reforms that would be carried out so they planned to carry out a coup. After much hesitation, General Franco agreed to help them. The main plan was to create a revolution in the Moroccan mainland so that there would be 24 hours before the news reaches the Spanish government.

Ceuta, Tetouan and Melitta were the first target of the military as the Moroccan local government was against the left-wing government so it was very easy for the Military officers to make the move. After hearing the news of the revolt, the leftist government made some efforts to reduce the effect of the revolt.

War and Formation of Franco's Dictatorship

On 18 July, the Spanish war formally started, the peasants and workers tried to protect the cities but republicans denied weapons to them and it helped the nationalists to win over these parts. On the other hand Navarre, Old Castile the traditional nationalist strongholds were easily captured.

Independent regions like Bilbao was also easily captured. In the Spanish navy though the revolt couldn’t become successful because the sailors restricted the movement. 

By November the capital city of Madrid was under the control of nationalists as the Franco's Army of Africa reached the Spanish coast and caused a breakthrough in the war for nationalists. As days passed leftists went to get blows because international forces like Germany and Italy went onto support General Franco's Army. 

On the other hand, USSR went onto support the republicans and Spain went onto become an international battleground. In June 1938 the republican territory was broken into two by the nationalists and at last, Catalonia fell as Barcelona was captured by the Franco forces in January 1939. 

Republicans urged for peace pact but Franco refused. Franco became the dictator of the country in 1939 and went onto rule till 1975 till his death. Whereas, Spain experienced the bloodiest crisis, where around one million people died and many people were displaced.

Written by - Bodhiswatta Mukherjee
Edited by - Ivanova


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