War and Conflict

Spanish Civil War

What caused the Spanish Civil War?

From 1936 to 1939, two sides fought for control of Spain: the nationalists and the loyalists. The insurgent nationalists were aristocrats, military leaders, Roman Catholic clergy, and members of a political group called the Falange Party; they were supported by Nazi Germany (under Adolf Hitler [1889–1945]) and fascist Italy (under Benito Mussolini [1883–1945]) in their effort to wrest control. The loyalists were liberals, socialists, and communists; they were supported by the Soviet Union (under Joseph Stalin [1879–1953]). A number of non-Spanish idealists, who believed saving the republic from the fascist rebels was worth dying for, joined the ranks of the loyalists to form the International Brigade. (In his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway [1899–1961], who had covered the war as a correspondent, wrote about one young American man who took up arms in behalf of the loyalist effort.) The nationalists, under Generalissimo Francisco Franco (1892–1975), won the war when they captured Madrid in March 1939, beginning an era of harsh right-wing rule. And, as with any war, the fascist victory had come at a dear price: hundreds of thousands dead and massive destruction throughout the country.


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