Spanish Civil War

Thurs 19th Jan

Research task – beginning of Field

Youtube video: Prelude to Tragedy; Part 1

(Following information taken from the film)

  • 1936 – 1939
  • most savage civil conflict in EU
  • estimated 1/2 million lives lost
  • “Godless revolution”
  • battle between Fascism and Democracy
  • Army officers rebelled against a republic government

Lead up to the war:

  • 1931; the monarchy had fallen calling for a social and economic change
    • dictatorship – felt the King could no longer protect them
    • replaced with middle-clased Republic government; democratic
    • so many economic and social problems due to monarchy – government rule gave hope
  • huge amount of poverty; problem with land, it wasn’t distributed fairly – Republican wanted to change that with LAND REFORM
    • Farmer/land workers were paid what rich people wanted to pay – pretty much slavery
    • rich people kept hold a lot of the land, which left a lot of landless people
    • landless people then began grabbing land, leading to land owners fearing that they would lose estates and potentially their lives
  • Catholic church had a huge hold over society
    • held respect from the rich and powerful
    • had a lot of relevance and hatred
    • Liberal Republicans and Socialist wanted to break the hold the Church had
    • people against the Church began to set fire to Churches and convents
      • police/republicans stood by and watched – ‘all churches in Spain were not worth a Republicans life’
  • Half the population were illiterate
    • Republicans set to give a non-religious education
    • 10,000 schools opened
    • art and culture everywhere
  • Catalonia: Barcelona the capital
    • more aware of their culture than the rest of Spain
    • more industrialised
    • eventually given Catalonian home rule
      • army officers worried Catalonia would disrupt the unity of the country
  • Republic plan – reform army
    • made a lot of Army officers weary; loss of unity
    • attempted rising over Republic government – right-wing weren’t ready for over-prise of government
  • Underpaid farm workers began speaking openly to government
  • CNT – Anarchists
    • rejected Republican rule, remained against a ruler; wanted a society of equal human beings
      • freed from curse of private property, God and poverty
  • 1933; new parliamentary election: shifted Right
    • A mass catholic party had emerged; learned from the campaign style of the nazis
  • 1934; fascism reaching out across Europe
    • Left-wing didn’t want Fascism to become part of Spain (like it had with Nazi Germany)
    • Left-wing – Socialist/Connumist/Anarchist – declared revolution
      • the South, coal miners, went on strike – ready for war against Right-wing Madrid Government
      • 2,000 people killed and 10,000 left-wings involved marched to prisons
      • the revolution did not work because the Left couldn’t unite
  • 1936; Left united – march to show the Left had strength
    • calling for a revolution
  • Right-wing leader wanted a strong, unite, fascist state
  • Left-wing Police officer (strong activist) shot which retaliated in the right-wing leader being shot – more than likely by a left-wing republican police officer
  • July 1936; uprising of military – army rising against Spanish democracy
    • socialist unarmed
    • anarchist prepared for fight


(following information taken from online)
sources: BBC bitesize; wikipedia; britannica; history learning site

The Spanish Civil War: Republicans VS Nationalist


  • LEFT
  • democratic
  • alliance with anarchists
    • anti-leadership
    • wanted society of equal beings
  • workers/trade unions/socialist/peasants
  • during the war they were supported by the USSR and Internationa Brigades (vounteers from Europe and USA)
    • fight against fascism


  • Falangist
    • Fascist ideology
    • anti-communist
    • anti-democratic
    • strong Catholic religious identity
  • Monarchist/land owners/employers/Roman Catholic Church/Army
  • during the war had help from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany


France & Britain:

Neither of them wanted Spain to fall to Nationalist as it would strengthen the Fascist alliance between Italy and Germany but they were no better if it fell to the Soviet-backed Republicans as communism was see as a threat to world peace. They both agreed a non-intervention committee that would stop aid reaching Spain – however, this would not stop Hitler sending aid to the Nationalist side.

The result:
Nationalist’s won the war.

Effect of the Civil War:

  • Thousands of Republicans held in concentration camps and prisons years after the war ended
  • 10-15% of Spain’s wealth destroyed
  • hugh structural and manufacturing damage

Did the Spanish Civil War cause World War 2?

  • Hitler’s position in Europe was strengthened; increased his popularity
    • potential ally in right-wing dictator of Spain, General Franco
  • Participation in Spanish war strengthened bond between Italy and Germany – previous enemies now firm allies
  • Hitler gained practical military lessons he applied in campaigns of 1940
  • Fostered a new direction for the Soviet Foreign policy
    • there could be no broad alliance in Europe with Hitler
  • Britain’s attempt to avert Spain’s war by non-intervention, actually encourage Hitler to become more aggressive and to think less of Britain



Author: ellenreiddesign

First year Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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