User:Hobbitschuster/Spanish Civil War

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The Spanish Civil War was one of the most notable and important conflicts of Interwar Europe and in many ways it can be seen as a "prelude" to World War II with the unwillingness and inability of democratic France and Great Britain to come to the aid of the Second Spanish Republic and the Italo-German de facto alliance backing Franco being harbingers of what was to come in the years 1939 and 1940.

Understand[edit]

The Spanish Second Republic had been established in 1931 and during its short existence it never achieved anything resembling stability. A center-right government was replaced by a left wing "popular front" in the 1936 elections, which led a number of right wing officers - particular those stationed in Spanish Morocco - to launch a coup against the regime. Said coup was initially led by Franco, Sanjurjo and Mola, but by late 1937 Franco was the last of the three left alive. While the Republican side initially controlled much of the country and various far left groups who had opposed the Republic as "bourgeois" during much of its existence came to fight for it, the lack of international support (The Soviet Union did deliver weapons but demanded payment in gold and kept a lot of "Republican gold" for "safekeeping" - gold which is lost to this day) and subsequent infighting weakened the republican side whereas Franco managed to play Carlists against Falangists, traditionalist Catholics against Alfonsine monarchists without anybody ever gaining an upper hand or achieving a position able to threaten Franco's power. Similarly, despite relying heavily on German and Italian military assistance, Franco managed to stay neutral during World War II and subsequently stay in power during the Cold War. Franco simply died of old age, designating King Juan Carlos as his successor and - whether foreseen by Franco or not - Juan Carlos would transform Spain into the more or less democratic western aligned country it is today. However, this peculiar transition ensured that many Franquist elites not only never faced trial for their crimes but stayed in power economically and politically. Partly due to this, the Civil War was a taboo for a long time and only during the Zapatero government (2004-2011) was an attempt even undertaken to exhume victims of atrocities from mass graves and try to change names of streets which had been named after Franquist generals.

The Spanish Civil War endures in world memory not only because of its continuing effect on modern Spanish politics, but also because many notable figures of the 20th century were in Spain as war correspondents, volunteers, fighters, or some mixture of all those. Famous figures who went to Spain include Earnest Hemmingway, George Orwell, Willy Brandt and several of the later leaders of East Germany. Hemmingway and Orwell in particular let their experiences in Spain show up in their writing and it is through their lenses that many have come to see the Spanish Civil War.

Sites[edit]

  • 1 Valle de Los Caídos. Perhaps the most controversial monument in Western Europe, this was built with forced labor of Republican prisoners of war (many of whom died) and while it does host the remains of Republican fighters (provided they could be proven to have been Catholic) it also hosts the remains of Falange-founder José Antonio Primo de Rivera and Franco himself. The Sanchez government (2018-) has announced a will to put the remains of those two controversial figures elsewhere, but Franco's heirs (both figurative and literal) have announced their will to resist any such move. Valle de los Caídos on Wikipedia Valley of the Fillon (Q940833) on Wikidata
  • 2 Gernika (Guernica). The Basque city leveled by the German Legion Condor, allegedly to destroy a bridge of some strategic importance (in reality, the bridge was one of the few things left standing after the bombing). Picasso was inspired by the carnage to paint his famous painting of the same name. Guernica on Wikipedia Guernica (Q189848) on Wikidata
  • 3 Jarama Valley. Site of a famous battle with major participation by the International Brigades, immortalized by the song interpreted - among others - by Woodie Guthrie. Battle of Jarama on Wikipedia Battle of Jarama (Q3956) on Wikidata