In July 1936, the civil war flared up in Spain between two groups: the Republicans (also known as : the left side), supported by the USSR and some Americans volunteered, and the Nationalists ( also known as : The right side), led by General Francisco Franco and supported by the Italians and Germans. The war is going to be characterized by the battles going back and forth during the three year period the war last (1936-1939).
The consequences of this war were dramatic; 700,000 soldiers were killed, 30,000 people were either executed or assassinated, and 15,000 were killed in air attacks. Spain was economically defeated and the population was still divided even though the Nationalists won and Spain was ruled by General Francisco Franco until his death. But all through this paper we are going to determine how this war triggered off as well as the top battles, while we would explain the tactics.
In fact, this war doesn’t break out overnight, a chain of events happened before the military uprising. Those events started on April 1931, when Alfonso XII leaves Spain and there is a proclamation of the II Republic on April 14th. On 1932, Catalonia get their autonomy statute, and the connive on the Republicans started. Two years later, the ‘Frente Popular’(FP) is created, which is a coalition of leftist organizations. On February 1936, the F. P. btains the electoral victory, increasing the conspiracy anti-republican, and in May Azana becomes the President of the Republic. But it’s not till the tragic death of General Calvo Sotelo (belonging to the Nationalist side), assassinated the morning of July 12th, that the revolutionary don’t decide to rush and to start making moves. The last details of the military uprising lead by General Francisco Franco were checked on July 12th at the Valle del Llamo Amarillo, Morocco, planning on doing it step by step ; first of all at Morroco , then one day later, the rest of Spain.
On July 17th , colonels Jose Sanjurjo, Emilio Mola, and Francisco Franco drawn down the strategic plan to follow once they will reach Spain. And the next day, the uprising is noticeable almost in the whole country, but is not until July 19th when is a general uprising: Spain was submerged into a civil war. This military uprising mostly succeeded in zones where the Elections of February 1936 ‘The rights’ won, and failed where the Frente Popular obtained electoral majority.
Basically Spain was highly divided ; the south was dominated and controlled by the Republicans, so did the North, but a part of the middle, going from Portugal, passing from Galicia, Zaragoza,and Castilla Leon, and all the way to France, and the Canary Islands were controlled by the Nationalist. But little by little the Nationalist would take over the territory to the Republicans. The Republicans forces would, as an answer, strengthen, those cities that weren’t taken by the Nationalist, including every industrialized zones.
Consequently, Spain was not just divided, but had several hot spots for the revolutionary and republicans. Those were: for the revolutionary; Ceuta, Cadiz, Sevilla ( directed by general Queipo de Llamo), Cordoba, Galicia, Oviedo, Salamanca y Leon, Valladolid, Burgos, el Pais Vasco, Navarra (General Mola, which took Irun couple of days later), Aragon, Balears Islands ( general Goded), Canary Islands and Morroco ( general Francisco Franco)and for the republicans were; Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia, Cartagena, Albacete, and Malaga.
In order to lead the Republican Party, the Government created a coalition cabinet headed by Giralt, and succeeded by Largo Caballero. As reply for this movement, the National Defence Council named on September 29th, General Francisco Franco head of government and armed forces Commander. Then, in order to compensate these past events, the Republican Government made a popular army and militarized the militia.
The war was at its peak, and both sides weren’t strong enough to compete and stay in war by themselves, hence both sides would be helped by international support; the International Brigade would help the Spanish Republicans and the German and Italians troops would help the Nationalist Spain, quickly, Spain turned into ‘an public arena to deny that the war was strictly a conflict between Spaniards. ’( The first Great Patriotic War. Spanish Communist and Nationalism, 1936,1939. Nunez, Faraldo)
With that being said, now we are going to analyze the most important battles and the combat tactics. First of all, the most remarkable thing is that both sides would follow the same combat tactics; in order to get the territory, both parts would have to fight, a similar fight that was used in the World War I; the attack would start with the artillery fire bell which will break enemy lines with intensity. Thereupon, the tanks would irrupt followed by infantry units, in order to break the enemy’s lines, and the infants would advance.
In addition, they would use the flame thrower so they would kill everything ahead of them, creating the no-men land, same than in the W. W. I (wide empty space of territory) ,and the trenches would be clear, and they would be able to move forward. The objective was to clean it up, to make sure there was no enemy’s life; they wouldn’t care if it would take more time, they just wanted to get rid off it. Therefore this civil war isn’t comparable to the World War II where the attack velocity was all it mattered.
In addition to the Spanish armament, both bands would be sponsored by other countries; the Nationals were supported by the Germans, which gave them a tank called Panter 1, a tank that was just endowed by two machine guns, whereas the Republicans were sponsored by the U. R. S. S (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and the International Brigade, and had the tank C26B, which had a 47mm canyon. The objectives of both sides were to crash the enemy’s front, then occupy their territory, and finally clear the pockets of resistance.
As far as important battles are concerned, the very first big battle is the Guernica battle on April 26th 1937, an air attack realized by the German’s Legion Condor and the Italian Aircraft Legion. The objective was to destroy the city, and they did so. This first big battle created a big global impact, and both parts would use it against the other party. They would blame on each other the consequences. Thereupon, the Franco’s supporters, invaded Bilbao and all the Pais Vasco’s cities that weren’t under their control on June 1937.
Then there’s a Republican defeat in the Battle of Brunete on July, and on August the Belchite’s battle started, in order to get the whole Zaragoza. After this battle, the whole North was taken by the revolutionary. On January, the Teruel’s battle started having as consequence the invasion of the Nationalists by February. Five months later, the Ebro battle starts and will end up with the Republican defeat and the invasion of the Nationalist in Catalonia in December. Internationally, countries as France and Great Britain would recognize by this time Franco’s government, as the Spanish government.
But it’s not until March when the Nationalist take every city; meaning that they finally invaded the capital, Madrid. Therefore, General Francisco France made a public announcement, on April 1st 1939, where he affirmed that the war was done and they were victorious. This military triumph allowed Franco governs Spain thru a dictatorship until his death, on November 1975. The consequences of this Civil War were; obviously the loss of almost a million of lives, but as far as politics are concerned, the dramatically changed from a democracy to a dictatorship, and a big economic loss.
This economic loss was characterized by; the losses of material and financial reserves, destruction of infrastructure, decrease of the production, therefore decrease of inputs. In addition, after the Worl War II, the Marshall plan wasn’t established in Spain due to the Nazi’s help. Spain was into a recession, had to start from scratch in order to get where they were a century ago: one of the world powers, but under a dictatorship, Francisco Franco.