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1936 - Spanish Civil War

spanish civil war fallen soldier_min.JPG

Title: 1936 - Spanish Civil War


About: By the 1930s, Spain had become an increasingly divided nation, and in 1936 a military coup escalated the tension and led to all-out war, pitting Nationalists against Republicans and plunging Spain in a bitter conflict that lasted until April 1939.


Although the fighting itself began in 1936, the fault lines had been forming for decades. The country was divided along many lines - socio-economic, urban-rural, religion, tradition-modernity and more. There were many opposing forces in Spain, and those with different visions for the country were viewed as irrational and ill-equipped to wield power.  Tensions reached boiling point when a new government was voted on in February of 1936. 


On July 18th, military generals rebelled against Spain’s democratically elected government, aiming to turn the clock back on social, cultural and political change.


Following the confusion of the initial days, the rebel army only held ahandful of large cities and a quarter of the mainland, and importantly had failed to take Madrid or Barcelona. The government had the backing of about 75 per cent of the industry and commerce sectors, plus a sizable section from the rest of the army and the important security forces. However, the government leaders failed to arm its civilian supporters, or maintain a united policy, with each party or Union taking power into their own hands.

General Franco consolidated his claim to leadership over the Nationalist forces when he transported his Moroccan Legionnaires into Spain. This well-trained force contained soldiers with many years of fighting experience in Africa. Enthusiastic street militia and International Brigades formed of idealistic leftists from across the globe provided the Republicans a counterweight. While the professional soldiers of the Nationalists quickly captured eastern Andalusia and Extremadura, in Madrid the Republican militia stopped their steady advance with a heroic stand. 


For many observers, the internationalisation of the conflict turned it into a Europe-wide struggle between fascism and democracy. Germany, Italy and Portugal sent troops, much-needed arms and planes to assist General Franco. Russia was the principal supporter of the Republicans and sent arms and some much-needed other equipment and military advisers. 


Fighting ground on, with the Nationalists moving successfully north from Andalucía and taking the cities of Badajoz and Toledo. By the end of 1937 much of the action had moved to the northern coast where the iron and ship building industry fell into the hands of the Nationalists. 

In spring of 1938 the Nationalists drove through the defensive line in Aragon and ended up on the east coast of Spain. Ignoring the problem of Barcelona, the army marched south to unsuccessfully attack Valencia. Seizing the moment the Republicans attacked Franco's rear with an last costly offensive in the River Ebro valley. By now it was clear the Nationalists would triumph, and in December Franco marched on a virtually undefended Barcelona. By the end of March 1939, Madrid finally fell, and the war was over.

Franco would maintain a repressive iron grip on Spain - its civil liberties, women's rights, jobs and religious practice - until his death in 1975. Many Republican supporters fled, and thousands of those who were captured languished in prison or were executed.


Decade: 1930s

Year: 1936

Region: Europe

Country: Spain

Conflict: Civil War

Politics: Revolution

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 9

Artist: Bryan Willian


Group: Genesis

Number: 36/100

Price: 0.9 ETH


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