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The Spanish Civil War (Spanish: Guerra Civil Española), widely known in Spain simply as The Civil War (Spanish: Guerra Civil) or The War (Spanish: La Guerra), took place from 1936 to 1939. The Republicans, who were loyal to the democratic, left-leaning and relatively urban Second Spanish Republic, in an alliance of convenience with the Anarchists, fought against the Nationalists, a Falangist, Carlist, Catholic, and largely aristocratic conservative group led by General Francisco Franco. The war has often been portrayed as a struggle between democracy and fascism, particularly due to the political climate and timing surrounding it, but it can more accurately be described as a struggle between leftist revolution and rightist counter-revolution similar to the Finnish Civil War and the wars fought over the formation of the Hungarian and Slovak Soviet republics . Ultimately, the Nationalists won, and Franco, who already ruled over Nationalist Spain, ruled over all of Spain for the next 36 years, from April 1939 until his death in November 1975.
The war began after a pronunciamiento (a declaration of military opposition) against the Republican government by a group of generals of the Spanish Republican Armed Forces, originally under the leadership of José Sanjurjo. The government at the time was a coalition of communist and socialist parties under the leadership of leftist President Manuel Azaña. The Nationalist group was supported by a number of conservative groups, including the Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Right-wing Groups (Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas, or CEDA), monarchists such as the religious conservative (Roman Catholic) Carlists, and the Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (FE y de las JONS), a fascist political party. Sanjurjo was killed in an aircraft accident while attempting to return from exile in Portugal, whereupon Franco emerged as the leader of the Nationalists.
The coup was supported by military units in the Spanish protectorate in Morocco, Pamplona, Burgos, Zaragoza, Valladolid, Cádiz, Córdoba, and Seville. However, rebelling units in some important cities—such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, and Málaga—did not gain control, and those cities remained under the control of the government. Spain was thus left militarily and politically divided. The Nationalists and the Republican government fought for control of the country. The Nationalist forces received munitions, soldiers, and air support from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, while the Republican (Loyalist) side received support from the Communist Soviet Union and leftist populist Mexico. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, France, and the United States followed an official policy of non-intervention.
The Nationalists advanced from their strongholds in the south and west, capturing most of Spain's northern coastline in 1937. They also besieged Madrid and the area to its south and west for much of the war. After large parts of Catalonia were captured in 1938 and 1939, and Madrid was divided from Barcelona, it was obvious to everyone that the Nationalists had won the war. Madrid and Barcelona were occupied without resistance. Thousands of leftist Spaniards fled to refugee camps in southern France. Those associated with the losing Republicans were persecuted by the victorious Nationalists. With the establishment of a dictatorship led by General Franco in the aftermath of the war, all right-wing parties were fused into the structure of the Franco regime.
The war became notable for the passion and political division it inspired and for the many atrocities that occurred, on both sides. Organized purges occurred in territory captured by Franco's forces so they could consolidate their future regime. A significant but lesser number of killings also took place in areas controlled by the Republicans. The extent to which Republican authorities took part in killings in Republican territory varied.

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  1. CountryGent

    Catalonia's Attempt at a Pistol: the Blowback Isard

    This is an interesting one from a historical perspective. I also found it interesting he published it this morning, as there are independence demonstrations in Cataluña this week. P.S. The two books Ian recommends on Spanish handguns are good resources. A third that I would recommend, if...
  2. CountryGent

    Spanish Civil War (Granada Documentary)

    There is a documentary produced by the British television concern Granada, about the Spanish Civil War. I have seen it a couple times in the past. This evening, whilst playing around on the web, I found it is on Youtube. As I know there are others interested in history, I thought I would pass...
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