Basque nationalist party

People from Basque who fought
for independence. Their own
history, culture and traditions
ensure that they do not see
themselves as part of Spain
Popular Front
Coalition of left-wing and liberal
political parties opposed to
fascism. Included socialists,
republican left and republican
union party. Formed in reaction
to the CEDA (right)
Chapter 4- the eve of war

16 Feb General election in Spain- popular front coalition
the most seats and gained most seats and Azana
became pm again
14 March Falange banned
25 March peasant occupation of farm land in Extremadura
10 May Azana became president
July Falange membership reached 40,000
July 12/13 Jose Castillo assassinated, Jose Calvo Sotelo
assassinated, General Mola issued secret
message ordering a coup

The 1936 election
 After 2 years of reactionary government, the Feb election of 1936 passed power back to the
left. Communists, liberals and socialists made the Popular Front. The anarchists did not want
government and therefore took no part in the election.
 CEDA tried a variety of tactics to hold onto power. The right
ensured that 20 Spanish villages registered no votes for the
popular front. Also, in Chite (south of Spain), well-known
socialists politicians were jailed to stop them campaigning
 Popular front won a healthy majority of seats in the Cortes and
Azana became pm. But they only gained 48% of vote compared
to the right’s 46%. The Basque Nationalist Party gained 1.5% -
this showed there was no real consensus about the future of

The popular front in power
o Azanas gov alarmed the right. Most of the high-ranking
ministers were middle class liberals and there were no
Marxists, the new government started undoing the changes
that had been made during the Bienio Negro
o It announced immediate amnesty for all prisoners from the
1934 rising. Land reform restarted and the government gave
Catalonia political and administrative autonomy. Largo
Caballero called for a Bolshevik-style revolution. The new
government even replaced President Zamora and replaced him with Azana. This was all
bad for the right- they saw this as a step to the Marxist revolution
Mola’s plan
o The rebellion itself was initiated by General Emilio Mola, who wanted the army to turn against
the government and take control of the country
o He thought the army would be able to put down any resistance and he knew he had significant
political backing- he could count of the support of a variety of right-wing groups and leading
members of CEDA
o He even engineered an alliance with the Carlists and Falange, who had militias that could
support the coup (military seizure of power) if street fighting broke out
o The backing of popular groups gave the illusion that the uprising had popular support
o At a speech in the Cortes by Jose Calvo Sotelo, the new leader of the right, he was called
a pimp and a socialist’s deputy offered to fight him on the street.
o Outside the capital, growing violence allowed them to argue that the government had
lost control and that the country was sliding into chaos

o CEDA spoke out against the disorder in the Cortes
o He claimed that 4 months of Azana’s government had seen 269 murders, 300 large scale
strikes and the destruction of 251 church buildings. These figures were exaggerated but gave
indication of the situation
o Gil Robles had been arguing for a military uprising for some time and this would provide the
necessary excuse: the army to rebel against the government in order to restore order

Rural areas
Poor peasants were
impatient for land reform
and seized land from the
aristocracy. On 25 march
(first day of this
movement), 60,000
peasants inn Extremadura
took 3000 farms. Azanas
gov did nothing to stop this-
they instead legalised the
peasants actions.
UGT and CNT unions
organised widespread
strikes in protest against
low wages. These turned
violent as union members
were confronted by
Falange militia
Falange activities
Attacked the CEDA, as they
believed them to be too
moderate. The
government then banned
the Falange and
imprisoned their leader.
This didn’t quell the unrest
and instead led to a surge
in support: by July, Falange
membership increased
 Fascist party founded by Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, son of the
former dictator, in 1933
 Bore prime responsibility for the increasing violence following the
1936 election
 They wanted to end class war by urging workers and employers to
sacrifice their own interests to serve the nation. They wanted to unite
all people by nationalism

 Wanted to restore the
monarchy but rejected
traditional monarchy and
wanted another family line
 They wholly rejected liberalism

Two assassinations

Why did the second republic come to an end?
It had been torn apart by political disagreements and following the 1936 election, it was clear that
democracy had failed to solve the tension within Spanish society. Left and right both turned to
Chapter 5: fighting
The military coup
 Launched 17
july in North Morocco
 Franco’s role: lead the army of Africa, the Spanish army’s elite force.
Mola chose him as he had proven to be an enemy of the radicals.
 Spread to the mainland on the 18
 Mola’s plan failed to overthrow the gov, in five of seven of Spain’s largest cities the army
was defeated by Spain’s local militia fighting with the police and troops loyal to the
 Local army leaders were defeated in Madrid as a general went into hiding. Fanjul then took
control and locked himself and the 2500 troops in the Montana Barracks. Disastrous 
within 24 hours, republican militia took over the base and the soldiers were massacred
 Successes: they managed to take control of Seville, Pamplona and much of Western
Andalusia. The military had weakened the republic.
 The government relied on the army and police force to control its territory but majority had
gone over to the rebels.
o Spain was divided between nationalists, supported the army, and republicans, sided with the
o The army rebels succeeded where monarchism was strong. Eg, in Pamplona the Carlists,
Falangists and police supported the rebellion and crushed the opposition. The army also did
well in north-west Spain, where church goers were hostile to the ‘Godless’ republic- devout
Catholics and workers backed the rebels. Former CEDA voters, aristocracy and majority of
1) Came on the 12
July. Jose Castillo, a well-
known left-wing member of the assault guard,
was murdered as he left for work. On learning
about his death, his colleagues decided to
retaliate by drawing up a death list of prominent
right-wing members. They failed to find Gil
Robles and so the Assault Guard arrested the
monarchist leader Jose Calvo Sotelo and later
killed him
2) Jose Calvo Sotelo had anticipated the murder and
told his wife he would “call her soon unless these
gentleman blow my brains out.” The government was
blamed for the actions of their own police force.
middle class, supported the nationalists. Almost two thirds of the army’s junior officers
o Republicans succeeded in urban areas as workers supported the government’s progressive
labour reforms. Unions quickly organised workers to resist the army rebellion and most poor
peasants backed the gov as they feared the nationalists would reverse the land reform. Also,
people supported the republicans where anti-clericalism was strong


Long-term causes
 Tensions between southern landowners and
day labourers, who endured bad poor working
conditions and bad pay
 Industrialisation and poor working conditions
led to development of radical ideas among
the working class
 Before the second republic, political power
was in the hands of those who didn’t support
the democracy- landowners, church, and
monarchy. These groups saw trade unions
distribution of land and freedom as a threat to
their power
 Those in the regions wanted greater
autonomy. These were the most
industrialised, so was seen as a significant
Short-term causes
 Spain was considerably poorer after 5 years of the
second republic and faced economic problems. The
republic took the blame for the effects of the global
depression. Therefore many Spaniards turned to
radicals for a solution
 International political situation: it seemed that fascist
parties, eg Stalin’s Russia was growing at 13% per
year, were doing better as democratic countries
struggled to solve the problems of the great
 Reactionaries vs. reformers: right- Catholics feared
Spain was abandoning gods ways, landowners
wanted to end land reform, business leaders felt
threatened and the army feared national betray by
weak politicians. The election of 1936 showed the
democracy could not be trusted to save Spain. Left-
growing influence of radicals weakened the republic
 The 1936 May Day demonstrations showed the
popularity of revolutionaries
Coup  civil war
Situation looked bleak for rebels. Mola had failed to take Madrid and so marched south to take the city but a shortage of arms and
resistance from local militia and police prevented his forces from reaching the capital. They were given foreign aid- Hitler sent 20
transports planes which airlifted the Army of Africa to Seville, 1500 troops were lifted, and Mussolini sent bomber planes to cover
merchant ships ferrying troops across.
Republicans had an advantage. People of Madrid remained loyal to the government and therefore it could quickly restore control of
Spain’s communications network, as well as gold reserves. Urban industrial centres remained loyal, which meant that the republicans
could produce arms more effectively than the rebels. The gov also had the loyalty of the navy and organised a blockade which left the
army in North Africa stranded. BUT the republicans did not make the most of its advantages and INSTEAD opted for a
defensive strategy.

Chapter 6- military campaigns
27 Sept 1936 Franco’s forces captured Alcazar Castle in Toledo
3 Nov Franco’s troops in sight of Madrid
23 Nov Nationalists call off assault on Madrid
5-17 Feb 1937 Battle of Jarama
31 march Mola’s offensive in the north
26 April Carpet bombing of Guernica
19 June Bilabo fell to nationalists
6-24 July Republican offensive at Brunete
24 August Republican offensive in Aragon
26 August Santander fell to nationalists
6-22 Sept Battle of El Mazuco
15 Dec-22 Feb 1938 Battle of Teurel
24 Jul – 16 Nov Battle of Ebro
23 Dec- 26 Jan 1939 Battle of Catalonia
28 March Madrid fell to nationalists
1 April Franco declared the end of the war

Unity and division- political support

Franco and the nationalists
 United various factions and turned them into a disciplined force
 Became the generalissimo (gave him supreme military authority)
 Leader of the army of Africa
 Most successful nationalist general- had managed to acquire aid from abroad
 United in its opposition against spain but divded
over its hopes for the future of spain
 Anarchists wanted immediate revolution to
destroy gov
 Marxists wanted a revolution which would
establish a workers government
 Communists thought spain wasn’t ready for a
 Socialists divided: right wanted greater rights for
workers and left wanted more of a revolution
 Middle-class liberals rejected revolution and
supported the republic
 How to fight the nationalists: liberals, communists
and socialists wanted a traditional army (strictness
made it inflexible) whereas others wanted a
demoractic peoples militia (but was disorganised
and slow to make decisions)
 Conservatives wanted to restore order, ban
trade unions and communism and reassert
army authority
 Falange wanted a social revolution
 Carlists and monarchists wanted a king again
Factional fighting meant they could
never rally around one leader.
Ideological divisions seem
impossible to resolve.
Condor Legion
Volunteers from
the german air
force. 12,000 men
 Kept his political nature unclear- didn’t alienate anyone
 Lucky: Falange leader was in prison so no one could undermine his authority
 Political skill: could merge Carlists and Falange in one movement- Movimiento Nacional

The Civil War
Battle for Madrid – nationalist failure
 Following failed coup, Nationalists desired to capture Madrid - authority
 Instead of continuing army advance from south, Franco ordered troops to rescue rebels in
siege of Alcazar (Nationalists had retreated there), which gave republicans more time to
organise their defences
 Rescuing national heroes won F support and confirmed him as leader of the nationalists.
 The republicans were in a much better position once the nationalist had reached Madrid, F
then opted for siege but this was unsuccessful
 Reasons for Nationalists failure included:
o Republicans captured Nationalists plans, knowing where to place forces, with Mola
not changing tactics to account for this.
o High morale in Madrid following arrival of International Brigades.
o Republicans had 23,000 soldiers; Nationalists had 8000.
o Republican militia better suited to street fighting than Franco’s traditionally trained
o Until November, Mola was organising the attack, but his plans were unrealistic as
they ignored republican defences
o Franco’s decision gave Republicans time to organise themselves, prolonging Civil

Nationalist victories in the north, 1937
 Campaign began end of March 1937 – Mola’s army attacked from east, west and
south, and navy blockades north. Mola aided by Condor Legion and German
commander Hugo Sperrle.
 Nationalist progress slow due to Franco’s war of attrition – military strategy
when side tries to win war by wearing opponents down over a long time – as he
wanted to show he, not Mola, was in control.
 Mola wanted quick war, destroying whole towns, farms and factories but Sperrle wanted
slower war to preserve Basque resources so they could be used upon conquering north.
The popular army
Republican army-
leaders hoped t would
replace militias and
become a more
disciplined, united force
 Pace of offensive quickened from April 1937 as Franco backed Mola, allowing Mola’s forces
to conquer Basque County at Battle of Bilbao in June.
 Guernica horrifically bombed: Italian planes destroyed bridges, making escape impossible,
seeing 1654 civilians shot dead.
 Santandar fell to Nationalists in August, and Austurias fell next month after Battle of El
 Mola’s death in June saw Franco restart a slow-paced war.
 Nationalists were successful because:
o They controlled air through Condor Legion, with Republican planes Madrid-based.
o Republican’s northern outpost cut off from rest of territory, so had no direct
o Nationalist navy blockaded northern shores – supplies couldn’t reach North Sea.
o Political/cultural split in three northern regions prevented a united defence.
o Although Franco’s war of attrition slowed pace of northern campaign, it showed
Republican weaknesses long-term.
o Northern victory took a quarter of Republican’s army, while navy was moved to
pressure Republic’s eastern shores.

`` Republican offensives, June to December 1937
 During the war, the southern part of the republic couldn’t provide direct
help to its northern outpost. They indirectly helped by launching an
offensive of their own in the south, which forced nationalists to divide their
energies, which took pressure off the republic in the north.
 On 6 July, 80,000 republican troops attacked Brunete- the weakest point in
the nationalist forces in Madrid. It was highly successful and took Franco
more than a week to plan the counter attack
 His plan prioritised killing large numbers of republicans instead of moving swiftly. The
nationalists then halted the republican advance and by the end of the offensive, the
republicans had lost 25,000 men and gained only a few miles of territory.
 This also occurred on the Aragon front in August, where the republicans recaptured towns of
Belchite and Saragossa. In December, the popular army gained Teurel

Republican militia was better at street
fighting then conventional warfare.
Unfortunately, they played to the strengths
of the nationalists
Nationalists had a unified command;
republicans were weakened by faction
Franco prolonged the fighting and gave
advantage to the better troops. Republicans
were not ready for a long war and didn’t
have the supplies or training
Advance to the Mediterranean 1938-39 – nationalist victory
 It was clear that the republicans could not achieve a military
victory. Nationalists army was 600,000 compared the republics
400,000. The nationalists also had far greater resources
 Negrin refused to surrender. Wanted Britain and France to declare
war on Germany to launch a war against fascism and would
therefore help the republic. His strategy: 13-point manifesto, a
moderate vision for a reunited Spain, then the Ebro offensive to
show the republican was still a force to be reckoned with. He wanted to forced Franco to
 His plan failed: Franco refused, Ebro offensive led republican troops into nationalist
territory, which led to a retreat. Situation in Europe was bad: Hitler had invaded
Czechoslovakia and Britain continued its policy of appeasement
 To win, the nationalists could have invaded Madrid again, but it was heavily defended.
Instead, they started an assault on Catalonia in December.
 The popular army put up little resistance, and thousands tried to escape nationalist
persecution. Once Catalonian city Tarragona fell, the republicans could do little to stop
the nationalist advance
 Nationalists would soon conquer Barcelona, home of the government. Negrin and his
ministers then fled north and in Jan, it fell to the nationalists.
 Azana then went into exile after resigning. Negrin also fled the country, after the Cortes
met for the last time
The fall of Madrid – final nationalist victory
 Negrin led the gov from exile but other generals thought it was time to move on. General
Casado launched a coup against Negrin in Madrid. He wanted to break the alliance between
republic and PCE, assuming Franco would negotiate once communists had been expelled
from the gov
 nce the coup was launched, Casado arrested the communists
 This policy started war between part of the army loyal to Casado and those who sided with
the communists. Fighting continued until 10
march. The fighting weakened the Republican
defence of Madrid. Casado then fled, leaving Madrid undefended
 Republican army had disintegrated. Finally on the 26 march, nationalists began a campaign
to capture Madrid. Franco’s forces entered the capital and faced no opposition. On 1

April, Franco declared that the war was over.

Resolved tensions among factions:
Republicans had never achieved this
Discliped army command strucuture.
Better trained. Old-fashioned tactics
prolonged the war- good for better-
trained and organised nationalists
Commander of Army of Africa: early
successes boosted morale
Views of key groups
The Church
 Majority of Church supported Nationalists because:
o Appeal of Franco’s religious crusade, which they hoped would stop
o Franco seemed to offer best protection from left-wing.
 Spanish bishops justified Franco’s rebellion by saying he was defending Christianity.

The army
 Most senior offices loyal to Republicans as they appointed them in first place
due to their support for the regime.
 Vast majority of middle-ranking officers took part in uprising, being opposed to
Azana’s reforms, mainly army reduction through early retirement.

The regions
 Catalonia and Basque supported Republic, but for pragmatic rather than ideological
o Catalonia saw Republic as only way of preserving autonomy granted in 1932.
o During Civil War, Catalonia heavily resisted until Barcelona heavily bombed
by Nationalists in 1938-9.
 Basques felt Republic would uphold their autonomy granted by at October 1933 statute.
 Basque also suffered; bombing of Guernica showed Fascist brutality against Republicans.

 Working-classes chose Republic; upper-classes mainly Nationalist.
 From middle class, young supported Republic and elders supported Nationalists.
 Greatest divide in rural area between landlords and exploited peasants – former didn’t like
latter, doing whatever they could to destroy 1931 reforms.
Peasantry and estate owners supported Republicans and Nationalists respectively

Feb 1937: Battle of Jarama, cut off supplies to Madrid
April 1937: bombing of Guernica
June: Bilabo fell to nationalists
July: Republican offensive at Brunete
August: Republican offensive in Aragon, Santander fell on nationalists
Sept: Battle of El Mazuco- Asturias fell to nationalists
Dec: battle of Tuerel, northern coast now all with nationalists
July 1938: Battle of Ebro
Dec: battle of Catalonia
March 1939: Madrid fell to nationalists
April: war over