Spanish Civil War Essay, Research Paper
The two sides were: The Nationalists (a loose coalition of right wing groups, including Army high command, the Church, the landowners, monarchists, a the Falange [fascist party]) and the Republicans ( looser coalition of left wing groups, including socialists, trade unionists, communists, anarchists, and moderate liberals) The Nationalists sought to preserve Spain’s integrity, while Republicans wished to preserve the Second Republic. The Causes of the War Profound cause: long period of decline since the great days of the Spanish Empire. Spain had made little progress, lost her empire, and fallen behind in the industrialization process Deep divisions in Spanish society: Landowners vs. Peasants. Church vs. Anti-Clerical movements: the Church had enormous power in Spain and was opposed to social reform, this led to groups that sought to reduce the Church’s influence. Conservatives vs. Liberals. There was a lack of a political middle, and extremists elements were increasingly popular. Massive divisions btw countryside and towns. The Spanish army had a tradition of interfering in politics. Long standing tradition of violence in Spanish politics, and democracy had never really been established (therefore parties tried to reverse election results through violence) ‘Democracy’ in Spain had brought about corrupts Gov. and undermined the concept of democracy. (there was electoral fraud and continuing landlord control under Spanish ‘democracy’ ) There was a desire for autonomy in several regions of Spain. Conservatives saw this as a threat to Spain. Anarchism was a powerful force in Spain. The weaknesses of the Gov. of the Second Rep. (1930-36), its failure to carry out reforms, and to act against those that were plotting against the Republic. It also failed to maintain law and order. Army concern at the possibility of a communist takeover. The assassination of the right wing leader Calvo Sotelo in July 1936. The Main Developments The Main Characteristics of the War The conflict was extremely brutal There was widespread foreign intervention (b/c the conflict was seen as a struggle btw right and left), Nationalists received support from Germany and Italy, while Republicans obtained aid from USSR and occasionally from France, as well as foreign volunteers and the International Brigades. It has been characterized as an ideological war. The at first loose coalitions developed to be strongly idealistic as excesses polarized opinion. However the war was never clear-cut. And only the ideological divide btw foreign supporters was clear. (USSR vs. Germany and Italy) It was seen as a ‘curtain raiser’ for WWII First major use of air power. Bombing of civilian targets Formations of armored vehicles (to predict Hitler’s Blitzkrieg) The bulk of the troops (despite foreign technology) were not well equipped. It is claimed that it was a war btw professional soldiers and armed workers (although gradually order and discipline was instituted amongst the Republicans.) This war saw the use of propaganda to overcome resistance and terrify populations It brought profound social changes in it wake. (especially in Republican held areas) The Effects of the War Tremendous loss of life (executions continued after the victory of the nationalists) Material losses were great (this was important since Spain had been backward before the war already) — i.e.: the Republicans sent all the gold reserves to the USSR for safekeeping. Franco’s regime marked the end of democracy for the next 40 years. Agriculture remained backward and the landowners in control The Church became more powerful (in return for support for Franco’s regime) Regionalism was suppressed, and the state highly centralized. Censorship was introduced No attempts at reconciliation, reconstruction. Cultural life suffered (b/c of authoritarianism of Franco) High degree of state control led to corruption. Franco’s foreign supporters wanted compensation. He had to provide Germany w/ resources. Spain became diplomatically isolated. The reasons for the Nationalist Victory Most of the army was on the nationalist side. The parts of the army that sided w/ the Republicans was regarded w/ suspicion and not used well. Franco assumed control of the Nationalist side and unified it. The Republicans were not unified (politically & militarily) Foreign aid was more substantial & direct to the Nationalists, and supplies from the USSR dried up when Stalin sought to reach an understanding w/ Hitler. Britain adopted a non-interventionist policy.