All the Major Facts Surrounding the Spanish Civil War
Listed as one of the most devastating conflicts of the 20th century, the Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936 and lasted till 1939. The 3-year conflict broke out when Spanish Nationalists (rebels) under the command of General Francisco Franco, took it upon themselves to seize power from the incompetent Republican government of Manuel Azana.
Here are all the interesting facts about the Spanish Civil War that ultimately ended the Spanish Second Republic.
Both Sides Were Guilty of Committing Heinous War Crimes
Right from the word go, General Franco and his rebels embarked on evil campaigns targeting their opponents. This enmity led to killings and torture. For instance, in Badajoz, the rebels fatally shot about 4000 people perceived to be Republicans. Reminiscent of events that could have happened in the Dark Ages, General Franco’s men went ahead and torched the corpses of the dead in a cemetery. In the words of one rebel leader, he asked his men to “eliminate anyone who held contrary views”. Another general remarked, “I command you to slay opponents like wild beast”. In totality, the rebels killed about 150,000 captives and civilians during the war. Even after their victory, 20,000 more victims were sent to their makers.
Regarding Republican atrocities, a number of innocent lives were killed, but far Iesser than what the Nationalists did, although this assessment is very much debatable. Completely disregarding any form of rules of engagement, Republican troops had no mercy on the Roman Catholic clergy – the number of slain priests, nuns, and monks, counted in thousands. On the outskirts of Madrid, Republicans mass-killed many suspected fascists. In all, about 49,000 people died from Republican atrocities.
The total estimate of the deaths from the three-year civil war stood at around 500,000. But Nationalists claim that the total death count hovers around the one million mark.
Some Foreign Countries Partook in the War
The Spanish Civil War was actually more than a civil war; some foreign countries sent volunteers or technical aid to the Spanish factions.
Italy and Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany backed the rebels; Russia supported Republicans; European and American volunteers (the International Brigade), in turn, aided Republicans. The funny thing about foreign interference in this conflict is that the foreign troops and fighters suffered higher casualties than their Spanish associates.
In any case, the war ended in April 1939; Republicans woefully lost the war, despite getting assistance from powerful nations such as Russia and Italy.
A Host of Factors Caused the Spanish Civil War
Tensions in Spain lingered on for years before bursting into an all-out civil war in July 1936. The chain of circumstances that eventually gave birth to the war can be attributed to sharp culture divisions in Spain, inequality, political failure, religion, the Great Depression and many other factors.
In summary, the war came as a response to hardships that plagued Spaniards for years. There was a loss of respect, trust, and unity between the Republican government and the Nationalists. In the end, the rebels picked up their weapons to resist the government’s flawed land reforms which worsened their plight.
Guernica was Air-bombed
On April 26, 1937, Guernica (in Basque, Spain) was air-bombarded by the Condor Legion (of the German Luftwaffe in support of the Nationalists). The air attack destroyed a greater part of the town and also killed civilians. Pablo Picasso’s popular painting “Guernica” was themed on this aerial bombing.