The Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War took place form july 18th 1936 up to april 1st 1939 and ended with the fall of Madrid.
It started with an uprise in Marocco, then a colony of Spain. Within a few months it turned into a real civil war.
You may also find the start date as july 17th. The uprise was supposed to start at june 18th at 00:00 hour. The commander of an armylocation in Marocco got suspicious and started to ask around the night before. Out of fear the rise would fail, they started early that night. Starting in this case means killing those who would probably not take part in the uprise.

King Alfonso XIII

But how did it get this far? Until 1931 Spain was a kingdom with king Alfonso XIII as king.
Spain was still in the Middle Ages at that time. This means the country was mainly agricultural and workers would have to do their job for starvation wage. This was also the case with miners and workers at factories. There were no organisations like unions and if you have to work 16-20 hours a day, you do not have time to organise.
However, certain people did find the time to organise and so they did. It did not take that much trouble since people were tired of the exploitation.

With the social commotion the call for independence also rised in a number of regions. Specially in the Basque Country and Catalunia it played a large role.
In 1931 king Alfonso went into exile in Portugal. According to some stories he would have been forced, other stories tell he went voluntairy. Alfonso would even have said he did not want to cause a civil war.

And so Spain became a republic. But it was not like things would settle down. There were elections but with the result sometimes a progressive party was in charge, the next time a conservative party was. At a certain day there were even three different governements.

The biggest error that was made, was to reform Spain into a social state much to quickly. They put too much pressure on the elite like landowners, industrials and the army.
The resistance from that corner was drammatically underestimated. Maybe they could disown the landowners but the army resisted in a way armies usually do: an uprising.


Spain was falling apart and two generals, Mola and Sanjurjo decided to commit a coup, take over the government and keep Spain a unity.
Franco, the later dictator, was govenor at the Canary Islands at that time. He stood in high regard with the Moors, a tribe in Marocco. He had given them many militairy victories and the adored him. Both initial generals thought it would be a good idea to get Franco involved so they could use those Moors. According to some stories, Franco would still doubt if he would take part in the uprise during two months.

Moors waiting for transport

And so the uprise started with transporting Moors and the Spanish foreignlegioen from Africa to the Spanish mainland. At first by ship but that was to dangerous since not all of the navy had taken the side of the insurgents. This would mean a single shot could eliminate a couple of thousand soldiers.
So Germay was asked for help. Hitler send airplanes to transport the soldiers from Africa to Spain, a lot less vulnerable.

Hitler's aid did not stop at that point: more military support was given as in the form of the Condor Legion. This existed of bombers and fighter planes that in 1937 took part in the bombing of the Basque place Gernika (Guernika in Spanish)
The reasons for this aid was Hitler wanted resources like iron ore, something Germany hardly has and certainly not enough to build its warmachine. Also the use of the heavy industry like in the Basque Country would be of use.
But it was not just Germany that send militairy support, also Italy and Russia did in spite of the non-interventionpact they had signed. If you want to read some more about that subject, then click here for a short essay.

As said, the civil war ended april 1st 1939. From that moment on Franco would be the dictator of Spain and stay until his death in 1975. He declared Spain a monarchy again in 1947 but that did not change anything about his reign in a practical way.

The Spanish Civil War is still ongoing, not as bloody as back then. Spain still is a devided country. If you want to talk to people about the civil war or Franco, you will get the question which side you are on. A wrong answer results most certainly in an end to the conversation.
During my visit to Spain twice an appointement with older people was cancelled because of fear, an impuls created in the days of Franco where it was dangerous to talk.