The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939

Essay by datajackCollege, UndergraduateA, November 2006

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The Spanish Civil War (July 18th 1936-April 1st 1939) was a conflict in which the incumbent Second Spanish Republic and political left-wing groups fought against a right-wing nationalist insurrection led by General Francisco Franco, who eventually succeeded in ousting the Republican government and establishing a personal dictatorship. It was the result of the complex political, economic and cultural divisions between Spanish coalitions within Spain during the rise of totalitarian governments. The Republicans ranged from centrists who supported capitalist liberal democracy to communists or anarchist revolutionaries; their power base was primarily urban and was particularly strong in industrial regions. The ultimately successful Nationalists had a primarily rural, wealthier, and more conservative base of support, was mostly Roman Catholic, and favored the centralization of power. Some of the military tactics of the war, including the use of terror tactics against civilians, heavily foreshadowed World War II, although both the nationalists and the republicans relied overwhelmingly on infantry rather than modern use of blitzkrieg tactics with tanks and airplanes.

From 1934 to 1936, the Second Spanish Republic was governed by a center-right coalition as well as liberal politicians. During this time, there were general strikes and street conflicts in Madrid and Barcelona. As internal disagreements mounted in the coalitions, strikes were frequent, violence between communists and fascists was rife, and there were attacks on clergy and churches. This was a period of rapid reform, with dramatic actions on the part of farmers and workers who demanded land rights and better working conditions. Spain was convulsed with rebellious attitudes on the part of those who had long been on the bottom of a hierarchical system.

In addition to the economic revolution, there was a spirit of cultural revolution. Traditions some viewed as oppressive were done away with. Women's rights were advocated for while...