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The Interwar Years (1919-1938)


The Spanish Civil War (1931-1939)

Summary The Spanish Civil War (1931-1939)

Comparatively, the Republicans received inadequate support. The French Popular Front was sympathetic to the republic, but Leon Blum's hands were tied by conservatives in the government, who did not want to get involved in a foreign war. Most important was the stance taken by Britain, which was more concerned about the spread of communism than fascism. The British urged the French not to get involved, and remained detached from the situation themselves. This attitude amounted to tacit support for Franco, and forced the Republicans into the arms of the Soviets. Stalin aided Spain in efforts to strengthen his position against Germany, to appear as the defender of legitimate government, and to divert attention away from the purge trials in Moscow. Soviet intervention gave the Republicans superior technology early in the conflict, but the republicans never capitalized on this advantage.

Added to unbalanced sources of support was the unbalanced zeal of the two contending groups. As the Cabellero government slipped further and further into uncertainty, many begun to question if it was worth fighting for. Morale was low throughout the republican forces, while it remained fairly high in the Nationalist ranks. The bombing of Guernica, while the casualty figures pale in comparison to later numbers, was crucial in crushing the spirit of the Republicans and convincing many that to resist the Nationalists was to open the doors to bloodbath. Morally crushed, the Republicans collapsed in front of the Nationalist effort.

The Spanish Civil War is sometimes referred to as a dress rehearsal for World War II. In military terms this was far from true. Both sides were starved for material, fighting with outdated weapons on flexible fronts with limited communication and little air support. Civilians were bombed, but the destruction in Spain did not compare to the assault unleashed upon all of Europe shortly after.

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