Spanish Civil War - Guerra civil española

Spanish Civil War
Part of interwar period
Spanish Civil War collage.png
Starting from the top left, in a clockwise direction: a republican tank in the battle of Belchite ; Granollers after being bombed by Nazi aviation in 1938; a bomb in the Sahara ; troops during the siege of the Alcázar of Toledo ; and the Lincoln Battalion .
Date As July 17 as 1936 - 1 as April as 1939 (2 years, 8 months and 15 days)
Place Spain [ a ]
Casus belli Partial failure of the coup of July 1936
Outcome Victory of the insurgent side and implantation of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco
Consequences See Consequences
Bandera de España Republican gang

Supported by:

Uprising side

Supported by:

Forces in combat
175 000 dead [ 2 ] 110 000 dead [ 2 ]
~ 500 000
~ 120 000 rear [ 3 ]

The Spanish civil war or war in Spain , [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] also known by the Spanish as the Civil War par excellence, [ 8 ] [ 9 ] or just war , It was a military conflict - which would later also have repercussions in an economic crisis - which broke out in Spain after the partial failure of thecoup d'état of July 17 and 18, 1936 carried out by a part of the armed forces against the Government of the Second Republic . After blocking the Strait and the subsequent bridge air , thanks to the rapid cooperation of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy , moved the rebel troops to mainland Spain in the last weeks of July, [ 10 ] [ 11 ] began a civil war that would conclude on April 1, 1939 with the last part of the warsigned by Francisco Franco , declaring his victory and establishing a dictatorship that would last until his death, on November 20, 1975.

The war had multiple facets, as it included class struggle , religious war , confrontation of opposing nationalisms , struggle between military dictatorship and republican democracy , between revolution and counterrevolution , between fascism and communism . [ 12 ]

The parties to the conflict are often referred to as the republican side and the rebellious side :

Both sides committed and accused each other of committing serious crimes at the front and in the rear, such as taking out prisoners , walks , disappearances of persons or extrajudicial courts . The Franco dictatorship investigated and severely condemned the criminal acts committed in the Republican zone, even going so far as to file a General Cause , all with few procedural guarantees. For their part, the crimes of the winners were never investigated or prosecuted during the Franco regime, despite the fact that some historians [ 14 ] and jurists[ 15 ] [ 16 ] they argue that there was agenocidein which,addition to subvert the institutional order, he would have triedexterminate the political opposition. [ C ]

The consequences of the Civil War have largely marked the subsequent history of Spain, for it is exceptionally dramatic and long-lasting: both the demographic - mortality and decline in the birth rate that marked the population pyramid for generations - and the material - destruction of the cities, the economic structure, the artistic heritage—, intellectuals —end of the so-called Silver Age of letters and sciences— and politics —the repression in the rear of both zones, maintained by the victors with greater or lesser intensity throughout the year. Francoism, and the Republican exile -, and that were perpetuated well beyond the prolonged postwar period, including the geopolitical exceptionality of the maintenance of the Franco regime until 1975 .


Cover of the 1931 Constitution

In January 1930 General Miguel Primo de Rivera recognized the failure of the dictatorship that he had established in September 1923 with the support of the king and resigned. [ 19 ] Alfonso XIII named then as president of the government to the General Damaso Berenguer , but this fails to restore the monarchy 'normal constitutional "(this period was known as " soft dictatorship " ) and is replaced in February 1931 by Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar , who calls municipal elections for Sunday, April 12 . [ 20 ]The elections are won in the cities by the republican-socialist candidacies arising from the Pact of San Sebastián of August 1930 and on Tuesday, April 14, King Alfonso XIII, given the doubts of the Civil Guard and the Army to use force to stop the massive pro-republican demonstrations that flood the main cities, leaves the country. In Madrid the republican-socialist "revolutionary committee" proclaimed the Republic and assumed power as a Provisional Government chaired by Niceto Alcalá-Zamora . [ 21 ]

During the first biennium of the Second Spanish Republic , the new republican Constitution and the coalition government of left republicans and socialists chaired by Manuel Azaña , formed on December 15 , 1931 after the Radical Republican Party rejected its participation in it. For being in disagreement with the continuity in the government of the Socialists, it deepens the reforms initiated by the Provisional Government whose purpose is to modernize the Spanish economic, social, political and cultural reality. The new government was formed after the election of Niceto Alcalá Zamoraas President of the Republic, who confirmed Manuel Azaña as Prime Minister.

However, the wide range of reforms that the "social-Azanista" government undertook met with great resistance among social and corporate groups that were trying to "dismount" from their acquired positions: landowners, large businessmen, financiers and employers, the Catholic Church , religious orders , Catholic opinion, monarchical opinion or "Africanist" militarism . The latter organized a failed coup in August 1932 led by General Sanjurjo . [ 22 ]But there was also a resistance to republican reformism of the opposite sign: that of extreme revolutionaryism, led by the anarchist organizations (the CNT and the FAI ). For them, the Republic represented the "bourgeois order" (without too many differences with the previous political regimes, Dictatorship and Monarchy ) that had to be destroyed in order to achieve " libertarian communism ." [ 23 ] Thus a series of anarchist uprisings took place (in January , such as the one in Casas Viejas , and in December 1933, circumscribed this to Aragon and La Rioja) harshly repressed.

The coalition headed by Azaña falls apart and elections are called for November 1933, in which women voted for the first time, which are won by the Catholic right of CEDA and by the Republican center-right of the Radical Republican Party of Alejandro Lerroux . This form of government with the aim of "rectifying" the reforms of the first biennium, not canceling them, to incorporate the Republic to the "accidentalist" right (which did not openly proclaim itself monarchical, although its sympathies were with the Monarchy, nor was it republican) represented by the CEDA and the Agrarian Party , which give it their parliamentary support. [ 24 ]When the CEDA entered the government in October 1934, a failed socialist insurrection was unleashed that only consolidated in Asturias for a couple of weeks (the only place where the CNT also participated), although it was finally put down by the intervention of the Army. , which brought the colonial troops of regulars and legionaries from the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco and, once completed, there was a strong repression. The same happened with the proclamation by the president of the Generalitat of Catalonia Lluís Companys of the "Catalan State" within the "Spanish Federal Republic" on October 6 . [ 25 ]

The October 1934 Revolution raised fears in the radical-CEDista government that a forthcoming attempt at a "Bolshevik revolution" would end up succeeding. This accentuated the pressure on the Radical Party to carry out a more decidedly legislative or counterrevolutionary policy. [ 26 ] Ultimately, the events of October 1934 convinced the CEDA that it was necessary to reach the presidency of the government in order to take the "authoritarian turn" that the regime, according to them, needed. [ 27 ] The leader of the CEDA , José María Gil Robles , found his opportunity when the black market scandal broke outand the Nombela affair that brought down Lerroux and the Radical Republican Party, from which he would not recover. [ 28 ] But the President of the Republic Alcalá Zamora refused to give power to an "accidentalist" force that had not proclaimed its loyalty to the Republic and entrusted the formation of a government to an independent of his trust, Manuel Portela Valladares , who form the 15 December a center-right Republican cabinet that holds the executive power until Alcalá Zamora calls elections for 16 February 1936. [ 29 ]

The result of the February 1936 elections was a very balanced distribution of votes with a slight advantage of the left (47.1%) over the right (45.6%), while the center was limited to 5.3% . But since the electoral system prevailed over the winners, this translated into a comfortable majority for the Popular Front coalition. [ 30 ]

The Popular Front Government (February-July 1936)

On Wednesday , February 19 , Manuel Azaña , the leader of the Popular Front, formed a government that, in accordance with the agreement with the Socialists, was only made up of left-wing Republican ministers (nine from the Republican Left and three from the Republican Union ). [ 31 ] One of his first decisions was to remove the most anti-republican generals from the centers of power: General Manuel Goded was assigned to the Balearic Military Command; General Francisco Franco , to the Canary Islands; General Emilio Mola to the military government of Pamplona. Other general meanings like Luis Orgaz, Rafael Villegas , Joaquín Fanjul and Andrés Saliquet were made available. [ 32 ]

The most urgent measure that the new government had to take was the amnesty of those convicted of the events of October 1934 , thus "legalizing" the assault on several prisons by the multitude, but also fulfilling the main point of the Front's electoral program. Popular. [ 33 ] Another urgent measure was to reinstate mayors and councilors elected in 1931 and replaced during the conservative biennium . [ 34 ]On February 28, the government decreed not only the reinstatement of all workers fired for political and union reasons related to the events of 1934, but also, under pressure from the unions, ordered the companies to compensate these workers for their non-wage wages. subscribers. [ 35 ] Likewise, the government of the Generalitat of Catalonia was restored , whose members had also been released from prison benefiting from the amnesty. [ 33 ]

The "agrarian question" was another problem that the new government had to urgently tackle because of the intense peasant mobilization that was taking place with the determined support of the local authorities and that threatened to provoke serious conflicts in the countryside, especially in the countryside. Extremadura . [ 36 ] [ 37 ] So on April 19 , Minister of Agriculture, Mariano Ruiz Funes , presented several bills, including one that repealed the Law Reform Agrarian Reform August 1935, which became law on June 11, so the Agrarian Reform Law of 1932 was in full force again. Thanks to various decrees and this law, between March and July 1936 some 115,000 peasants settled, more than in the previous three years. [ 38 ] However, the high level of conflict in the countryside continued, mainly due to the attitude of the owners and the radicalization of the peasant organizations, leading to violent incidents. The most serious case occurred in Yeste ( Albacete ), where at the end of May 1936 “the arrest of some peasants who tried to cut down trees on a private farm led to a bloody confrontation between the Civil Guard and the day laborers, in which they died. a guard and 17 peasants, several of them murdered in cold blood by the agents. [39]

The activity of the parliament was paralyzed almost the entire month of April due to the process of dismissal of the president of the Republic Niceto Alcalá-Zamora , initiated and approved by the left, and his replacement by Manuel Azaña, who was invested in his new position on 10 May 1936, being replaced at the head of the government by fellow party Izquierda Republicana , Santiago Casares Quiroga , [ 40 ] [ 41 ] who in turn assume the portfolio of War .

The new government of Casares Quiroga continued with the reformist policy that the Azaña government had already initiated, which consisted fundamentally of re-enacting the decrees that had been repealed or modified during the radical-CEDista biennium, to which some others were added. [ 42 ]

One of the problems that the government had to face was the wave of strikes that were declared and sustained many times by joint committees of the CNT and the UGT, in which many of them spoke of revolution. [ 43 ] But neither the UGT nor the CNT were preparing any insurrectionary movements after the continuous failures of 1932, 1933 and 1934, and the only possibility that one would occur would be in response to an attempted military coup. [ 44 ]

Another of the problems of the government of Casares Quiroga was the internal division of the PSOE, the most important party of the Popular Front, [ 45 ] which faced the "prietista" and "long-caballerista" sectors, since Francisco Largo Caballero , who dominated the UGT and the PSOE parliamentary group continued to oppose the entry into the government of the socialists and defend the understanding between the "workers organizations" to await the moment when the failure of the "bourgeois republicans" would facilitate the conquest of power by the class. worker. [ 46 ]Another problem was that the CEDA sector led by Gil Robles opted for a boycott of republican institutions and for supporting the position defended by the monarchical right of the National Bloc of José Calvo Sotelo , which openly advocated for the violent breakdown of the constitutional order through a military coup d'état in the preparation of which they were already collaborating (for their part, the Carlist monarchists accelerated the formation of their requete militias with a view to the military uprising with whose leaders they maintained contacts). [ 47 ]

Political violence

The Popular Front governments also had to cope with an increase in political violence provoked by the fascist Spanish Falange party , which in early 1936 was a marginal political force, but which after the Popular Front triumph received an avalanche of affiliations from Right-wing youths ready for violent action, and for the response that left-wing organizations gave them. [ 48 ] The first important attack committed by the Falangists was the one perpetrated on March 12, 1936 against the Socialist deputy and "father" of the 1931 Constitution, Luis Jiménez de Asúa , in which he was unharmed, but his escort, the policeman Jesús Gisbert, died. [ 49] The response of the Azana government was to ban the party and detain its top leaderJosé Antonio Primo de Riveraon March 14, but going into hiding did not prevent him from continuing to carry out attacks and participate in brawls with young socialists and communists. [ 48 ] [ 50 ]It also continued to carry out acts of violence and intimidation against elements of the institutional order of the Republic. On the night of April 13, two Falangist gunmen murdered Manuel Pedregal, a Supreme Court magistrate, in the street in retaliation for having acted as a speaker in the trial for the attempted murder of Jiménez de Asúa. The judge had previously received death threats for this reason. Several of those involved fled to France by plane piloted by the then Falange collaborator , Juan Antonio Ansaldo . [ 51 ] [ 52 ] [ 53 ] In fact, Falange spread Blacklistsof judges with the purpose of intimidating them, and their clandestine bulletin No Importa threatened magistrates such as Ursicino Gómez Carbajo or Ramón Enrique Cardónigo, who had intervened in cases with a sentence unfavorable to their interests. [ 54 ]

The most significant incidents occurred on April 14 and 15. On the 14th, a military parade took place on the Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid in commemoration of the Fifth Anniversary of the Republic. Next to the main rostrum, an artifact exploded and then several shots were fired, causing the death of Anastasio de los Reyes, an ensign of the Civil Guard who was there in civilian clothes, and wounding several onlookers. Rightists and leftists accused each other of the attack. The following day the funeral of the lieutenant was celebrated, which became an anti-republican demonstration attended by deputies José María Gil Robles , leader of the CEDA, and José Calvo Sotelo, leader of the royalist right, as well as army officers and armed Falangists. Shots were fired at the entourage from various places, which were responded to, resulting in six dead and three wounded. One of the dead was the student Andrés Sáenz de Heredia, a Falangist and first cousin of José Antonio Primo de Rivera. [ 50 ] A young traditionalist ( Carlist ), José Llaguno Acha, was also wounded and a crowd tried to lynch Lieutenant José del Castillo Sáenz de Tejada, who was accused of shooting him.

Between April and July, the attacks and brawls led by Falangists caused more than fifty victims among left-wing labor organizations, most of them in Madrid. Some forty members of the Falange were killed in these acts or in retaliatory attacks by left-wing organizations. [ 50 ] Religious buildings were also subjected to violence (a hundred churches and convents were attacked and burned) [ 55 ] although there were no clergy members among the victims of the political violence from February to July. [ 56 ]

The increase in political violence and the growth of paramilitary youth organizations both among the right (Falangist militias, Requetés Carlist) and between the left (militias of the socialist, communist and anarchist youth), and among Basque and Catalan nationalists (militias of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and the PNV), although they were not armed and their main activity was to parade, provoked the perception among part of the public opinion, especially the conservative one, that the Popular Front government chaired by Santiago Casares Quiroga was not capable of to maintain public order, which served as a justification for the military "coup" that was being prepared. [ 57 ]The Catholic and far-right press that incited rebellion against the "disorder" that it attributed to the "tyrannical Government of the Popular Front", "enemy of God and the Church," also contributed to this perception, taking advantage of the fact that the confrontation between clericalism and anticlericalism returned to the fore after the February elections with continuous disputes over symbolic matters, such as the ringing of bells or manifestations of worship outside churches, such as processions or Catholic funerals. Likewise, in parliament, the right-wing deputies, particularly Calvo Sotelo and Gil Robles, accused the government of having lost control of public order. [ 56 ]

José Calvo Sotelo speaking at a rally at the fronton Urumea (San Sebastián), in 1935.

On the night of Sunday July 12 was killed in the street Fuencarral Madrid Lt. Guard Assault and instructor of socialist militias Jose Castillo Saenz de Tejada [ 58 ] , which was heading to his job in the Pontejos Barracks, probably by far-right gunmen belonging to the Traditionalist Communion (or the Spanish Falange ). [ 59 ] Lieutenant Castillo was well known for his leftist activism and was credited with the phrase "I am not shooting at the people" after having refused to participate in the repression of the Revolution of AsturiasAn act of rebellion that would cost him a year in jail.

In retaliation, Lieutenant Castillo's fellow police officers, led by Civil Guard Captain Fernando Condés, kidnapped José Calvo Sotelo , leader of the "Alfonsino" monarchists from his own home and murdered at dawn the following day (who had no nothing to do with the murder of Lieutenant Castillo), and they left the body in the deposit of the Almudena cemetery. At Calvo Sotelo's funeral, the monarchical leader Antonio Goicoechea solemnly swore "to consecrate our lives to this triple task: to imitate your example, avenge your death and save Spain." For his part, the leader of the CEDA, José María Gil Roblesin the Cortes he told the deputies of the left that "the blood of Mr. Calvo Sotelo is on you" and accused the government of having the "moral responsibility" for the crime by "sponsoring violence." [ 58 ]

According to the most complete study that has been carried out on the fatalities as a result of political violence between February and July 1936, before the coup d'état began, there were a total of 189 incidents and 262 deaths, of which 112 were caused by the intervention of the forces of public order. Of the 262 victims, 148 would be militants from the left, 50 from the right, 19 from the public order forces and 45 unidentified. In addition, this study confirms that the number of fatalities caused by political violence decreased in those five months. [ 60 ]

The political violence of the months of the Popular Front government in peace, from February to July 1936 , was later used by the victors in the Civil War as justification for their uprising. Today, the debate is still open, although most historians believe that there can be no talk of a "tragic spring" in which the Popular Front government lost control of the situation. [ 61 ] And the conclusion of most of them is clear: "The actual political destabilization in the spring of 1936 in no way explains the military uprising [of July 1936] and even less does it justify it." [ 61 ]"Spanish politics and society showed unmistakable signs of crisis, which does not necessarily mean that the only way out was a civil war." [ 49 ]

During the first months of 1936, there was a polarization of Spanish politics, at the extremes of which stood the revolutionary left and the fascist right , and in between a moderate left and a republican right, together with an anticlerical center and a right with a strong Catholic component. and monarchical (representing many soldiers, landowners and the Catholic hierarchy who saw their privileged position and their concept of the unity of Spain in danger). A division that could be traced back to the 19th century when the difficult process of change that began in 1808 to put an end to absolutism took placethat weighed down the country, maintaining strong economic differences between privileged and not privileged, and that the nineteenth-century moderationism only managed to overcome in part. The result was a rural population divided between the anarchist day laborers and the small proprietors clinging to (and dominated by) the caciques and the Church; Some conformist bureaucrats and a working class with very low wages and, therefore, with revolutionary tendencies typical of the new century, mean that the division among the poor classes was also very marked. The tradition also came from the nineteenth century that problems were only solved with pronouncements. It is not surprising, then, that in a Spain marked by the recent dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and failed attempts, such as those of José Sanjurjo , there was once again the noise of sabers and a plan to overthrow the new established government was feared. Events would prove the pessimists right.

The trigger: the coup of July 1936

The military conspiracy

Ruta del Dragon Rapide , the plane that took Francisco Franco to Tetouan where he took command of the uprising troops. [ 62 ]

As soon as the Popular Front victory was known in the elections, there was a first attempt at a "coup d'état" by the right wing to try to stop the handover of power to the victors. Gil Robles himself was the first who unsuccessfully tried to get the acting president of the government Manuel Portela Valladares to declare a "state of war" and annul the elections. He was followed by General Franco, still head of the Army General Staff, who went ahead to give the pertinent orders to the military commanders to declare a state of war (which according to the Public Order Law of 1933assumed that power passed to the military authorities), but it was overruled by the still head of government Portela Valladares and by the minister of war, General Nicolás Molero . [ 63 ]

On March 8, 1936, a meeting of several generals ( Emilio Mola , Luis Orgaz Yoldi , Villegas, Joaquín Fanjul , Francisco Franco , Ángel Rodríguez del Barrio , Miguel García de la Herrán , Manuel González Carrasco , Andrés Saliquet and Miguel Ponte , together with Colonel José Enrique Varela and Lieutenant Colonel Valentín Galarza , as a man from the UME), in which they agreed to organize a "military uprising" that would overthrow the government of the recently constituted Popular Front and "restore order in the interior and the international prestige of Spain." It was also agreed that the government would be carried out by a Military Junta presided over by General Sanjurjo , who at that time was in exile in Portugal . [ 64 ]

From the end of April, it was General Mola who took over the leadership of the coup plot (thus moving the center of the conspiracy from Madrid to Pamplona), adopting the code name "the Director." The latter continued with the project of establishing a Military Junta presided over by General Sanjurjo, and began to draft and disseminate a series of circulars or "reserved instructions" in which he outlined the complex plot that the coup d'état would carry out. [ 65 ] The first of the five instructions was issued on May 25, and the idea already appeared that the coup would have to be accompanied by violent repression. [ 66 ]

Mola managed to involve numerous garrisons in the coup, thanks also to the clandestine plot of the UME but he had doubts about the success of the coup in the fundamental place, Madrid, and also about Catalonia, Andalusia and Valencia. [ 65 ] Thus, the problem for the military involved was that, unlike the coup of 1923 , now they did not have the entire Army (neither the Civil Guard nor the other security forces) to back it up. [ 67 ]A second difference with respect to 1923 was that the attitude of the workers 'and peasants' organizations would not be passive in the face of the military coup but, as they had announced, they would unleash a revolution. For these reasons, the date of the military coup was delayed again and again, and for this reason, in addition, General Mola, "the Director," sought the support of the militias of the anti-republican parties ( Repetés and Falangists ) and financial backing. of the parties of the right. [ 68 ] The Casares Quiroga government received news from various sources of what was being plotted, but it did not act forcefully against the conspirators. [ 69 ]

Maps that represent the plans outlined by Mola to carry out the coup that overthrew the Second Republic .

At the beginning of July 1936 the preparation for the military coup was almost finished, although General Mola acknowledged that "the enthusiasm for the cause has not yet reached the necessary degree of exaltation" and accused the Carlists of continuing to make difficulties by continuing to ask " inadmissible concessions'. General Emilio Mola's plan was a coordinated uprising of all the compromised garrisons, which would implement a state of war in their demarcations, starting with the Army of Africa, which between July 5 and 12 carried out maneuvers in the Yellow Plain where the details of the uprising in the Moroccan Protectorate were completed. As it was expected that in Madrid it was difficult for the coup to triumph by itself (the uprising in the capital would be under the command of General Fanjul), it was planned that from the north a column led by Mola himself would head towards Madrid to support the uprising. from the garrison of the capital. And in case all that failed, it was also planned that General Franco, after revolting the Canary Islands, would go from there to the Protectorate of Morocco aboard the Dragon Rapide plane , chartered in London on July 6 by the correspondent of the newspaper ABC Luis Bolín thanks to the money contributed by the financier Juan March , to lead the colonial troops, cross the Strait of Gibraltarand advance on Madrid . [ 70 ] [ 71 ] Once the deposed government of the Republic, a military dictatorship would be established following the model of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera , in front of which the exiled General Sanjurjo would stand. [ 70 ] «The rebels carried out their action pretending that they were rising up against a revolution that was absolutely non-existent at the time in which they were operating, they invent false documents that Tomás Borrás composedand that they spoke of a Soviet government that was preparing, and in fact what they represented was the defense of the positions of the old ruling classes, the fight against social reforms, more or less deep, that the Popular Front started again. ». [ 72 ]

The assassination of José Calvo Sotelo in the early morning of July 13 accelerated the commitment to the uprising of the Carlists and also of the CEDA and ended up convincing the military that they had doubts, among them, according to Paul Preston , General Francisco Franco. [ 73 ] In addition, General Mola decided to take advantage of the commotion that the double crime had caused in the country, and on the 14th he advanced the date of the uprising, which was set for July 18 and 19, 1936. [ 74 ] .

The coup of July 17-20

On the morning of July 17 in Melilla , the two colonels and other officers who were aware of the military uprising meet in the cartographic department and draw up plans to occupy public buildings on the 18th, plans that they communicate to the Falangist leaders. One of the local leaders of the Falange reports to the local leader of the Republican Union, reaching this information to General Romerales, Military Commander of Melilla, who in turn informs Casares Quiroga. Romerales sends in the afternoon a patrol of soldiers and assault guards to search the cartographic department. The colonel in command of the same delays the registration and calls the Legion barracks, from where they send him a group of legionaries. Before these, the patrol surrenders and the rebels proceed to arrest Romerales (who was shot together with the government delegate and the mayor of Melilla who had resisted the rebellion), proclaim the state of war and initiate the uprising in advance, informing his colleagues in the Moroccan protectorate that they had been discovered. This led to the anticipated date being brought forward in Morocco. [ 75 ] In the following three days the coup spread to the garrisons of the peninsula, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.

Situation on July 23, 1936 after the partial failure of the coup. In blue the areas controlled by the rebels. [ 76 ]

The rebel soldiers failed to achieve their main objective of seizing the nerve center of power, Madrid , or the large cities, such as Barcelona , Valencia , Bilbao , Malaga or Murcia (although they did control Seville , Valladolid , Zaragoza and Córdoba ), but they dominated about half of the Spanish territory, since they practically controlled the northern third of the peninsula ( Galicia , León , Castilla la Vieja , Álava , Navarra , much of theprovince of Cáceres , including the capital, and the western half of Aragon , including the three provincial capitals), minus the Cantabrian strip formed by Asturias , Santander , Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa , which was isolated from the rest of the republican zone, and Catalonia . They also dominated the Andalusian cities of Seville (where General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano takes over with unusual determination with the command of the 2nd Organic Division), Córdoba and Cádiz connected to each other by a narrow strip (as well as the city of Granada, but isolated from the rest), plus the entire Moroccan Protectorate and the two archipelagos, the Canary Islands (except the island of La Palma ) and the Balearic Islands (except Menorca ). Outside this area, they controlled certain isolated places and points of resistance within the Republican zone, such as the city of Oviedo (which endured a siege by the Republicans for 90 days, until the entry of Franco's troops on October 17 ), the the Simancas barracks in Gijón , the Alcázar of Toledo or the sanctuary of the Virgen de la Cabeza inAndújar . [ 77 ] This Spain controlled by the rebels was generally "the interior, rural Spain, of more retarded social forms, of large and medium agrarian owners, and with an extensive agrarian proletariat as well." [ 77 ]

From the places where the uprising has triumphed, the offensives of the rebel troops start, to do what the "national" propaganda called the " Reconquest ", to take the cities in the hands of the Republic or to liberate the places in the hands of the besieged rebels. by government troops, such as the cases of the siege of Oviedo and the Alcázar of Toledo .

In the uprising area, the death in an aviation accident of the one who was to be the head of the rebellion, General Sanjurjo , caused the rebel generals to decide to create a National Defense Board on Thursday, July 23 , which would be constituted the next day in Burgos. , and that it would be made up of Generals Miguel Cabanellas , who was appointed Chairman of the Board for being the oldest general among the rebels, Andrés Saliquet , Miguel Ponte , Emilio Mola and Fidel Dávila , in addition to Colonel Federico Montaner and Colonel Moreno Calderón. Decree No. 1 published by the Board established that it assumed "all the powers of the State" and that it would represent the country before foreign powers, although in the following weeks no country recognized it and continued to consider it as the legitimate government of Spain that of Madrid chaired by the left-wing Republican José Giral . [ 78 ] On July 27, 1936, the first squadron of Italian aircraft sent by Benito Mussolini arrived in Spain . [ 79 ]

The republican forces, for their part, managed to quell the uprising in more than half of Spain, including all industrialized areas, thanks in part to the participation of the newly armed militias of socialists , communists and anarchists , as well as the loyalty of most of the Assault Guard and, in the case of Barcelona, ​​the Civil Guard. The military governor of Cartagena, Toribio Martínez Cabrera, was a sympathizer of the Popular Front and the sailors were also against the military coup, which together with the popular riots of the 19th and 20th made the coup movement fail in the naval base of Cartagena and the rest of the province ofMurcia.

The zone faithful to the Republic occupies roughly the eastern half of the Peninsula: the eastern part of Aragon (less the three capitals), Catalonia , Valencia , Murcia , eastern Andalusia (less the city of Granada ), Madrid , Castilla la Nueva and La Mancha . In the west it controlled the provinces of Badajoz and Huelva . Isolated from this area was the Cantabrian strip formed by Asturias (except Oviedo and Gijón), Santander , Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa. The loyalist territory was superior in extension to the rebel and was, in general, the areas of Spain "more socially evolved, with a large urban population, more industrialized and with organized modern working-class nuclei." [ 77 ]

Thus, the result of the uprising was uncertain as it was successful in some places and failed in others, so Spain was divided into two zones: one controlled by the military that had risen against the Republic (the rebel zone ) and another that remained loyal to the government (the republican zone ). Approximately a third of the Spanish territory had passed into rebel hands, with which neither side had absolute supremacy over the other. The attempt to overthrow the Republic with one blow had failed miserably. Both sides prepared for the inevitable: a confrontation that was to bleed Spain for three long years. The Spanish civil war had just begun.

Military operations

General map of the development of the war.
Legend Initial uprising zone - July 1936 Advance revolts until September 1936 Advance revolts until October 1937 Advance revolts until November 1938 Advance revolts until February 1939 Last area under Republican control Solid blue.png Main centers of the rebels
Red-square.gif Major Republican Centers
Panzer aus Zusatzzeichen 1049-12.svg Land battles
Vattenfall.svg Naval battles
Icon vojn new.png Bombed cities
City locator 4.svg Concentration camps
Gatunek trujący.svg Massacres
Red dot.svg Refugee camps

The two armies

Although it is a highly controversial issue, most historians estimate that 70% of the 15,000 chiefs and officers active in 1936 fought on the rebel side (1,236 were shot or imprisoned for being disaffected to the victorious side in each place ), while, on the contrary, most of the 100 generals did not rise up. Of the 210,000 enlisted men and non-commissioned officers that theoretically made up the regular army in 1936, about 120,000 remained in the rebel zone, but the most decisive thing was that among them were the 47,000 who made up the Army of Africa, who constituted the best Spanish army troops. The Civil Guard , for its part, was very divided between the loyalists and the rebels to the Republic.[77]

If the evolution during the war is considered, the data is very favorable for the rebels, because while during that time the staff of chiefs and officers of the rebel side grew to reach 14,104 troops on April 1, 1939, that of the Republican side was decreasing until it was reduced to 4,771, mainly due to the passing of many chiefs and officers to the rival side in the course of the war. As the historian Francisco Alía Miranda , from the University of Castilla-La Mancha has pointed out , it must be borne in mind that most of the 18,000 officers in Spain in July 1936 applauded the coup, since a conservative mentality prevailed among them, corporate and militaristic . [ 80] But there is another factor that explains the decrease in the number of chiefs and officers in the Republican zone and that was that more than half of those who remained in that zone after the coup refused to obey the Republican authorities, something that did not happen in the revolted side. So while on the rebel side only 258 soldiers were shot or expelled from the Army, on the Republican side 4,450 were expelled, of which 1,729 were shot. And even on this side, many officers were not granted troop command because they mistrusted them and they only held bureaucratic positions. [ 81 ]

Propaganda poster of the rebellious side , where the Falange calls for military recruitment to fight for "The Homeland, Bread and Justice".

Thus, the rebellious side did not have to build its army, but counted from the first moment on the military units (and the forces of public order) that had risen during the coup, already organized and directed by their commanders, among which the army of the Protectorate of Morocco , the so-called Army of Africa , composed of the Foreign Legion and the Regulares (indigenous Moorish troops commanded by Spanish officers) that constituted the most experienced military force of the entire Spanish army. [ 82 ] On the other hand, the Carlist militias ( requetés ) and the militiasFalangists who supported the rebels were integrated into the army of which they considered themselves allies and not enemies (contrary to what happened on the Republican side where the workers' militias, especially the anarchist confederal militias , always distrusted the military institution, with the exception of communist militias ). [ 83 ]

On the rebel side, the army quickly achieved unity of command and completely dominated civil life in the rebel zone , which they called the national zone . [ 82 ] The death in an aviation accident in the first days of the coup of General Sanjurjo , who was the military man chosen by his comrades to lead the uprising, made that the command in the insurrectionary zone was then distributed among the generals Emilio Mola and Francisco Franco , but only two months later, on October 1, General Franco assumed sole military and political command (General Mola died in another plane crash the following year, on June 3 , 1937 ). [ 82 ]

«The phenomenon of the military centralization of the war effort in the insurrectionary zone meant that nothing resembling political disunity, rancor between political groups and lack of trust in the commanders and heads of the campaign was allowed. which was manifested especially in the republican rearguard of the north , in Aragon and in Catalonia , which is where the war was really lost. (...) As the Republic lost the war, hunger and deprivation increased in the rear, creating a hellish situation, with refugees, bombings, shortages and cold. [ 84 ]

As for foreign aid, the rebellious side received weapons of all kinds and planes practically from day one from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy to which complete military units were soon added (the German Condor Legion and the Italian CTV ) in a continuous flow that never stopped throughout the war. [ 85 ]

Propaganda poster of the republican side . It shows Generalissimo Franco, as Death , supported by a general of the Axis powers , a capitalist and a priest.

For its part, the Republican side could not count on practically any complete organized and disciplined military unit with all its commanders and non-commissioned officers and during the first months the military force that opposed the rebellious army, after the decision of the José Giral government to discharge To prevent the uprising from spreading, the troops consisted of makeshift columns made up of loose units and the militias of the workers' organizations, which when commanded by career officers often raised suspicions of treason among the combatants. It was from the formation of the government of Largo Caballeroon September 5, 1936, when the process of building a true army began, with the militarization of the militias and their integration into the Mixed Brigades , the first step towards the creation of the People's Army that was only achieved after the crisis had been overcome. of the " events of May 1937 " and the formation following the government of Juan Negrín . But the Republican army always had a structural problem that was difficult to solve: the lack of professional commanders (according to Michael Alpert's calculations, only 14% of the military that appeared in the Military Yearbookof 1936 they were still serving in 1938 in the army of the Republic). A problem that was especially pressing in the case of the Navy. [ 82 ] Something that recognized the Republican General Vicente Rojo , who wrote: [ 83 ]

We have created an army with the name of such, with all the nomenclature and command system of a regular army ... but we have only climbed the first steps to reach the top.

Furthermore, on the Republican side, unity of command was only achieved (and it was never complete) in mid-1937 when the People's Army was completely structured and, on the other hand, only from that moment did military needs prevail over those of the civil life (marked by the Social Revolution of 1936 ). And also, unlike the rebel side, it was the government that made the decisions, but almost always following the recommendations of the Chief of the General Staff, the colonel and then General Vicente Rojo , and other loyal military personnel. [ 82 ]

Regarding foreign aid, the Republic, because France and Great Britain did not come to their aid and also promoted the pact that gave rise to the Non-Intervention Committee (whose prohibition on supplying arms to any of the contending sides was not complied with neither by Germany nor by Italy, despite having signed the agreement) the Republic had to acquire the war material where it could, often resorting to arms dealers who sometimes sold them outdated or in very poor condition at astronomical prices. This made him dependent on supplies provided by the Soviet Union, after Stalinovercome his doubts about the aid to the Spanish republicans, whose war material (automatic weapons, tanks and planes) accompanied by Soviet military instructors and advisers, together with the International Brigades recruited by the Communist International or Comintern , did not begin to arrive until October of 1936 and then the successive deliveries were interrupted on several occasions due to the European international situation (which determined, for example, that the French government opened or closed the border) and the increasing blockade imposed by the rebel Navy in the republican ports. [ 85 ]

Coins minted by the parties in conflict.
25 cents from 1937 of the insurgent side.
5 cents from 1937 on the Republican side.

July-October 1936: advance on Madrid and Guipúzcoa campaign

The front four months after the military rebellion. Legend Area controlled by the rebels Spanish Republic Solid blue.png Main centers of the rebels
Red-square.gif Main centers of the Republic

As soon as it became known on July 17 in the afternoon that the military uprising had triumphed in the Protectorate of Morocco , the Minister of the Navy José Giral (who two days later would end up presiding over the government of the Republic after the resignation of Santiago Casares Quiroga and the government «Lightning» by Diego Martínez Barrio ) ordered several Navy warships to go to the Strait of Gibraltar to block the squares of Ceuta , Larache and Melilla and thus prevent the colonial troops from entering the peninsula. From the base of CartagenaThe destroyers Almirante Valdés , Lepanto and Sánchez Barcáiztegui left , with orders to sail at maximum power to the strait. [ 86 ] Thanks to the fact that the crews of these ships rebelled against their officers, who were involved in the coup, the rebels were initially unable to dispose of the Army of Africa , made up of the Foreign Legion and the regulars (troops made up of Moroccans commanded by Spanish officials). [ 82 ]

On the same day July 19 that the rebellion in Madrid was put down, several columns made up of militiamen and troops from the military units that had been disbanded by order of the government left the capital towards the Sierra de Guadarrama to prevent them from joining. to the uprising. There they managed to prevent the columns of the rebels sent by General Mola from Castilla y León and from Navarra from crossing the mountain passes of the Madrid mountains and reaching the capital. [ 87 ] Madrid's northern front was thus stabilized until the end of the war. [ 88 ]This first campaign of the Civil War was known as the battle of Guadarrama . [ 89 ]

From Barcelona, ​​also once the rebellion was put down, several columns quickly formed by the workers' organizations and the left-wing parties left to go to Aragon . Together with the columns of the POUM and the PSUC (and one of the Republican Esquerra de Catalunya that came from Tarragona), the most important contingent was contributed by the confederal militias of the anarchist organizations ( CNT , FAI , Juventudes Libertarias ). The first and most numerous was the Durruti column , so called because it was headed by the FAI leader Buenaventura Durruti, which left Barcelona on the 24th in the direction of Zaragoza. The also anarchists Column Ascaso and Column Los Aguiluchos of the FAI left in the direction of Huesca. But none of them managed to achieve their objectives of liberating the three Aragonese capitals (the Iron column had left for Teruel from Valencia ), and the Aragon front was stabilized, although the anarchists brought the revolution to the eastern half of Aragon where they created the Regional Defense Council of Aragon . [ 90 ]

Also from the city of Barcelona an expedition was organized to the Balearic Islands , of which only Menorca remained republican. The operation started on August 8 under the command of Captain Bayo had an initial success when it managed to occupy a strip of the coast of Majorca, but the landing of Majorca ended in complete failure. [ 90 ] Another failure was the Cordoba offensive , "where the situation was undecided, which was one of the few Republican strategic initiatives." It was organized from Albacete by General Miaja , whose Chief of Staff was Lieutenant ColonelJosé Asensio Torrado , but the advance stopped soon (General Miaja located his headquarters in Montoro ) and the republicans could not reconquer western Andalusia, in the hands of the rebels, especially after the arrival of the first units from the Moroccan Protectorate . [ 90 ]

The situation of blockade in which the Army of Africa found itself (the main combat force that the rebels had to take Madrid, once General Mola's columns had been stopped in the Guadarrama mountain range) could be overcome thanks to the quick help that they received the rebels from Nazi Germany and fascist Italy . On July 26, the first twenty German Junker transport aircraft arrived in Morocco, which could easily be converted into bombers, accompanied by fighters, and four days later, on July 30, the first nine Italian fighter-bombers. With these aerial means, General FrancoChief of the rebel forces in Morocco, he was able to organize an airlift with the peninsula to transport the legionaries and regulars, and also achieve air superiority in the strait. Thus, on August 5 he was able to cross it with a small fleet called by the propaganda of the rebels " Convoy de la Victoria ". [ 10 ] However, the complete unblocking of the passage of the strait would not occur until later, when the Republican government decided to transfer most of its warships to the Cantabrian Sea , which according to historian Michael Alpert constituted "perhaps the biggest mistake of the Civil War ». This decision was motivated, among other reasons, by the refusal of Great Britain, which had the most important naval war fleet in the Mediterranean, for the republican government to stop neutral traffic directed to enemy territory, so that republican warships could not prevent German and Italian merchant ships from landing war material in the ports of Ceuta, Melilla, Cádiz, Algeciras or Seville, controlled by the rebels. [ 10 ]

Republican militia women taking a break from fighting in the summer of 1936

On August 1, General Franco gave the order for the columns of legionaries, regular Moors and volunteers to advance north from Seville to go to Madrid through Extremadura, having the left flank protected by the border of Portugal , whose Salazar regime supported the rebels. Following this route to reach the capital, the two areas controlled by the rebels would join. Thus begins the Extremadura Campaign . [ 10 ] The so-called " column of death " [ 91 ]Because of the brutal repression that it applied in the Extremadura towns that it was occupying, and whose most outstanding fact was the Badajoz massacre , it advanced rapidly at an average of 24 kilometers per day. On August 10 he took Mérida and on 15 Badajoz , then establishing contact with the rebel forces in the north. The advance then turned in a northeast direction to reach the Tagus valley and on September 2, Talavera de la Reina fell , already in the province of Toledo. [ 92 ] The rapid advance of the rebels towards Madrid, together with the news of the imminent fall of Irún (with which the north would be completely isolated from the rest of the republican zone), caused President José Giral , feeling lacking in support and authority, to submit his resignation to the President of the Republic, Manuel Azaña . On September 5, a new government of "anti-fascist unity" was formed, chaired by the socialist Francisco Largo Caballero , who personally assumed the War portfolio, with the primary objective of organizing an army that could stop the advance of the rebels and win the war. . [ 93 ]

The rapidity with which the populations fell one after the other in the advance through Extremadura and the Tagus was fundamentally due to the fact that the Army of Africa was made up of the best trained and combat-hardened troops (legionaries and regulars), perhaps the only truly professional in combat. the first chaotic months of war. [ 94 ]On the other hand, the republican forces were made up mostly of militiamen who lacked military training. «They were undisciplined and tended to flee, in panic, abandoning their weapons, which constituted rifles and individual artillery pieces, since the disruption caused in the capital by the uprising did not allow adequate military planning. In July and August a lot of military material was lost. In contrast, the rebels were increasingly armed with foreign material, apart from what they took from the enemy. [ 92 ]In addition, the militiamen, whose vast majority came from the workers' organizations and left-wing parties, distrusted the professional military who tried to command them and for ideological reasons they rejected military discipline and organization, with the exception of the communists who advocated the complete militarization of the military. the militias and the creation of a Popular Army following the model of the Fifth Regiment organized by them. [ 95 ]

Heinrich Himmler visiting the Alcazar of Toledo with José Moscardó in October 1940, a year and a half after the end of the civil war.

On September 21, the Army of Africa took the town of Maqueda , less than 100 kilometers from Madrid. That same day the revolted generals met on a farm in the outskirts of Salamanca to appoint General Franco as the sole and supreme command of the rebel forces. A week later they would meet again to elucidate the political command. In that time interval, General Franco decided to divert towards Toledo the columns that advanced towards Madrid to lift the siege of the Alcázar of Toledo , where civil guards and a few cadets of the Infantry Academy under the command of its director, Colonel José Moscardó They had been resisting the Republican attacks for two months. [ 96] This decision, which according to some historians made the rebels lose the possibility of taking Madrid before its defense was organized, [ 97 ] has sparked a debate among historians. For a good part of them it was a political decision rather than a military one, since it strengthened the prestige of General Franco before his comrades when the sole political command was already being discussed. [ 97 ]«The Alcázar contained a treasure of symbolic legitimacy: a military academy, the besieged resisted in the middle of the ruins, with the walls of the powerful factory half destroyed, sheltered in the basements. With her liberation, Franco received enormous political capital: the Alcázar was the symbol of the salvation of Spain, which, like a martyr, was resurrecting from the grave to which her enemies had led her ”. [ 98 ] It also had enormous propaganda value for the cause of the rebels. "The Alcázar was later made a myth by the Francoists, whose main extremes - the episode of the dialogues between Moscardó and his son in the hands of the besiegers, for example - are today absolutely discredited." [ 97 ]However, some historians claim that it also had a military motivation. «The usual explanation seems convincing: the military camaraderie and the propaganda value of rescuing the besieged in the Alcázar made it necessary to lift the siege as soon as possible. It is possible that there were political motives, not separated from Franco's ambition to be a generalissimo and a civil chief, that imposed this heroic gesture. Now, the fact of taking Toledo first could be justified militarily: securing this city would allow attacking Madrid from the south and the east, protecting the flanks along the Tagus and counting on two first-class roads instead of one ». [ 96 ]The same day that the siege was lifted, September 28, General Franco was appointed by his comrades in the uprising not only "generalissimo of the national forces of land, sea and air", but also "head of the Government of the Spanish State. , while the war lasts. [ 97 ]

On October 8, the Army of Africa reached San Martín de Valdeiglesias , some forty kilometers from Madrid, where it made contact with the rebel forces in the north under the command of General Emilio Mola, who had just finished the Guipúzcoa campaign after taking Irún. , on September 5 and San Sebastián on September 13 , leaving the republican north surrounded by land by the "nationalists." Thus, at the beginning of October, the rebellious forces had deployed in a semicircle around Madrid that started from Toledo to the south and reached the northwest about ten kilometers north of El Escorial, and that it was between 40 and 55 kilometers from the capital. Although the republican forces put up greater resistance thanks to the military reorganization undertaken by the Largo Caballero government (with the formation of the Mixed Brigades, commanded mostly by career military personnel and in which the militias were framed, a militarization accompanied by the creation of of the figure of the political commissars), the "national" forces were narrowing the semicircle that gripped the capital (while in the north on October 17 they broke the siege of Oviedo ) and at the beginning of November they reached the southern neighborhoods of Madrid . "The attack on Madrid marked the end of the first period of the war." [ 99 ]

November 1936-March 1937: the battle of Madrid and the taking of Malaga

Bridge of the French, over the Manzanares river . Disputed bridge during the battle of Madrid .

At the beginning of November, the rebels took for granted the taking of the country's capital. Radio Lisboa came to announce hastily, at the beginning of that month, the fall of the city (even recounting the triumphal entry of Franco on the back of a white horse). [ 100 ] Already on November 5, the legal column that was to be in charge of the repression of the republicans (eight councils of war, sixteen examining courts and an Audit of the Occupation Army), commanded by Colonel Ángel Manzaneque y Feltrer , was he grouped in Navalcarnero - thirty kilometers from Madrid - to await the imminent victory of the Francoist troops. [ 101 ]

On November 6, when it seemed that the rebel army was about to enter Madrid, the government of Largo Caballero decided to move to Valencia, entrusting the defense of the city to General Miaja, who should form a Madrid Defense Board . "A hasty departure, kept in secrecy, about which no public explanation was given." [ 102 ] "Those who stayed in Madrid could only interpret these events as a shameful flight ... especially because the people of Madrid were able to organize their defense." [ 103 ] Two days later the Battle of Madrid began .

Given that the forces of the rebels were not superior to the republican forces defending Madrid (about 23,000 soldiers), penetration into the capital would have to be rapid and on a very narrow front. A column would cross the Manzanares river to the north of the bridge of the French and would advance through the University City of Madrid and then go down the Paseo de la Castellana . Another column would cross the Parque del Oeste to continue along the boulevards and reach the Plaza de Colón . And a third would cross the Rosales neighborhood to reach the Plaza de España and Calle Princesa. To support this advance, it was considered essential to take the Garabitas hill in the Casa de Campo where the artillery could be located and from there bomb the city. The success of the operation depended on the republicans believing that the attack would take place from the south and concentrating their forces there, but on the night of November 7 to 8, precisely at the time that the battle of Madrid was about to begin , Lieutenant Colonel Vicente Rojo , chief of the Madrid Defense Staff, learned of the attackers' plans thanks to the papers found on the body of an Italian officer of the rebel army. [ 104 ]

Between November 8 and 11, violent fighting broke out in Casa de Campo. On the 13th the rebels occupied the Garabitas hill and two days later they managed to cross the Manzanares River, entering the University City . But from there they could not pass thanks to the resistance presented by the republican forces, reinforced by the arrival of the first International Brigades , Soviet tank units T-26 (whose first intervention had occurred in the battle of Seseña ) and 132 Russian planes " Moscas " and " Chatos " that disputed the air superiority to the 117 planes of the Condor LegionGerman. On November 23, General Franco gave up on continuing the unsuccessful frontal attack on the capital and the front was stabilized that day. [ 105 ]

Soviet T-26 tank used by Republican forces

«The resistance of Madrid changed the sign of the war. It would no longer be a conflict of fast enveloping movements, but of large-scale battles, of tactical maneuvers to achieve strategic objectives, in which a few hundred meters of terrain would have meaning and whose model would be the First World War , rather than the campaigns. colonial, the only form of war that the Spanish knew directly. [ 106 ]

When the frontal attack failed, the rebels decided to surround Madrid to the northwest, concentrating their forces to cut the La Coruña road and try to penetrate Madrid through there. In the first attempt that took place at the end of November ( first battle of the La Coruña highway ) they only managed to advance three of the seven kilometers planned, stopping the attack. The second attempt took place in December ( second battle of the La Coruña highway ) and it was also a failure. The third and last attempt (known as the third battle of the La Coruña highway ) took place at the beginning of January 1937 and constituted the “first important battle of the Civil War in the open field”. [ 107 ]The rebels organized an important army, called the Madrid Reinforced Division , which had Italian tanks, anti-tank batteries to counter the Soviet T-26s and heavy artillery. In front of it the republicans deployed an army made up of five divisions, each with three brigades, although some were not complete and very few were commanded by career infantry officers (to command the five divisions, two retired officers had to be used by the Azaña law of 1931, two officers from the security forces, and a militiaman, the communist Juan Modesto). Between January 6 and 9, the Reinforced Division attacked northward and then turned east upon reaching the La Coruña highway, but the republican forces resisted and the "nationals" had to give up their advance. [ 108 ]

The attempt to envelop Madrid in the northwest failed, the rebels tried to do so in the southeast, advancing towards the Jarama River to cut the vital highway from Valencia, where most of their supplies reached Madrid. The battle of Jarama began on February 4 with the attack by units of the Spanish Legion and regular Moroccan forces , supported by tanks, to the republican positions. On February 11 they took the Pindoque bridge defended by the " André Marty " company of the XII International Brigade.that had 86 dead. The rebels continued their advance but the republican forces supported by Soviet tank units led by General "Pablo" ( General Rodimtsev ) and the dominance of the air of the republican aviation thanks to the " Chatos " forced them to stop and give up reaching the Arganda - Morata de Tajuña line . However, the Republicans could not recover the lost ground and the front was stabilized on February 23 , 1937. It was the end of the Battle of Jarama . [ 109 ]

While the battle of Jarama began , the insurgents took over Malaga on February 8, 1937, thanks in particular to the intervention of the motorized units of the Italian fascist militia division ("legionari" of the CTV, Corpo di Truppe Volontarie ) who had started arriving in Spain two months earlier from Mussolini , imbued with the idea that the fascist soldier was far superior to the "red" fighter. The attack had begun on January 14, 1937, advancing from Ronda in the north, following the coastal road advancing towards Marbellato the west (with the support of the two modern Balearic and Canary Islands cruisers that bombarded from the sea and against which the destroyers and the oldest and worst armed republican cruisers could do little) and from Granada to Alhamato the northeast. Although the Republican militias managed to contain the attack inland, on February 5 several columns converged on Malaga led by Italian forces. This forced the militias to retreat to the capital, but there, lacking command, defense fortifications and the support of the republican fleet, they had no choice but to flee to the east along the coastal highway of Malaga and Almería accompanied by thousands. of civilians while they were machine-gunned and bombarded by the Italian aviation and the warships of the rebels. A few days later the rebels arrived in Motril taking numerous prisoners and obtaining large quantities of material. [ 110 ]“For the Republican Government, the defeat demonstrated profound inefficiency and a lack of moral energy and marked the beginning of the disappointment of the Communists with regard to Largo Caballero's performance as Head of Government and Minister of War. The splashes reached the controls that Largo had named, which were prosecuted as a result of the investigations carried out after the disaster. [ 111 ]

Italian artillerymen from the rebel side firing a cannon in the battle of Guadalajara .

The third and last attempt to envelop Madrid was an initiative of the Italian fascist Corpo di Truppe Volontarie (CTV), which Generalissimo Franco agreed to, and which led to the Battle of Guadalajara . The Italian idea of ​​the offensive was to attack Madrid from the northeast heading for Guadalajara and once this city was taken, cut the highway from Valencia and enter the capital. For this operation, which would follow the tactic of what the Italian generals called " blitzkrieg»(The forecasts were that in one week, between March 8 and 15, 1937, Madrid would be conquered), a good part of the 48,000 soldiers that the CTV had at that time were deployed (integrated into four divisions with 4000 vehicles, 542 guns and 248 aircraft). [ 112 ]

Italian soldiers of the Corpo Truppe Volontarie during the Battle of Guadalajara

On March 8 the attack began and on the night of March 9 to 10, the 3rd Italian Division took Brihuega and on the 11th Trijueque, encountering strong resistance from the republican forces, among which were the XI and XII. International Brigades (of which the Garibaldi Battalion was partmade up of anti-fascist Italians), supported by Soviet tank units and aviation, and aided by bad weather (rain-muddy floors made it difficult for vehicles to advance and prevented aircraft from taking off from flooded fields, while that Republican planes did have usable airfields). On March 12, Republican troops launched a counteroffensive that made the Italian 3rd Division flee demoralized and allowed Trijueque and Brihuega to recover in the following days, seizing material abandoned by the Italians. On March 19 the Republican forces halted their advance and organized lines of defense. On March 23, the battle of Guadalajara endedwhat the liberal and left-wing international press called the "first victory against fascism", highlighting the fact that many "legionari" of the CTV had been captured by the "garibaldini" of the International Brigades . [ 112 ]

“With Russian help, the Republic had been able to respond to the threat posed by the arrival of weapons from Italy and Germany to the national side . The People's Army no longer consisted of loose bands of militiamen with improvised commanders. He had shown to know how to retreat to prepared fortifications, resisting with small rearguards while waiting for reinforcements. Responding to this technique would require other capabilities than the CTV possessed . ' [ 113 ]

March-November 1937: the Northern campaign and the battles of Brunete and Belchite

The battle of Guadalajara was the last attempt of the rebellious side to take Madrid and only a week after its end the Northern Campaign began , the attack of the rebellious forces against the Cantabrian strip that remained faithful to the Republic but was isolated by land from the rest of the Republican zone . The objective of the "nationals" was to control their important mining and industrial resources (especially the iron and steel factories and the arms factories), in addition to the fact that their conquest would allow the fleet to move to the Mediterranean to try to stop the maritime traffic that went to the ports. Republicans. [ 114 ]The offensive of the rebellious forces under the command of General Mola (about 28,000 troops, including those of the Italian Corpo Truppe Volontarie units , supported by 140 Italian and German planes of the Condor Legion ) began on March 31, 1937 from the positions reached in October 1936 in the Guipúzcoa campaign , which were located about 35 kilometers west of San Sebastián, on the defenses of Vizcaya that had been organized by the Basque government chaired by José Antonio Aguirre since October 1936 after having approved the Republican courts the Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country . TheThe Basque Army recruited by Aguirre rejected the authority of General Francisco Llano de la Encomienda, who was the head of the Army of the North, which theoretically grouped all the forces of Vizcaya , Santander and Asturias , and acted independently (in him there was no figure political commissioner and had few professional managers). [ 115 ]

In the first offensive of the Biscay campaign, the "national" forces, although they had naval and air superiority (the bulk of the Republican fleet was in the Mediterranean and there were only a small number of Soviet fighters), advanced relatively little due to the strong resistance they encountered and the bad weather conditions. The second offensive started on April 20 was more successful, reaching the Guernica - Durango line five days later . On April 26, after having bombed Jaén and Durango the previous days, Guernica was bombarded by German planes from the Condor Legion and Italian planes from theCTV causing many civilian casualties and enormous destruction because in addition to conventional bombs they used incendiary bombs. Three days later the "national" forces occupied the city and on April 30 they reached Bermeo. [ 116 ]

Then both armies reorganized (the « Lehendakari » Aguirre in person assumed the supreme command of the Basque army) to attack and defend respectively the set of fortifications around Bilbao , the so-called « Iron Belt », which however had lost a large part of its usefulness because the engineer who had designed them, Alejandro Goicoechea , had gone over to the rebel side with their plans. Thanks to them, the "nationals" were able to penetrate its weak points while the city of Bilbao was bombarded by heavy artillery and aviation (20,000 howitzers fell on June 17 [ 117 ]). Finally, Bilbao fell on June 19, without the Valencia government, chaired since May 17 by the socialist Juan Negrín after overcoming the republican crisis of the " events of May 1937 ", having been able to organize an attack on other fronts that would have made difficult the great concentration of land and air resources deployed by the "nationals" in the Vizcaya Campaign . [ 118 ]

Finally in early July the republican forces launched an offensive on the Madrid front to relieve pressure from the "nationalist" army in the north. Thus, on July 6, the battle of Brunete begins , so called because the republicans fight for the conquest of that town located to the west of Madrid (which later intended to continue in a southeastern direction to meet the other government forces that would advance from the south of the capital, which if successful would force the "nationals" to order a general withdrawal of their forces if they did not want to be surrounded) became the central element of the fighting. The attack on Brunete was launched by the reorganized Republican V Army Corps under the command of militia commander Juan Modestosupported by Soviet T-26 tank units that occupied the town almost without resistance, but General Franco reacted quickly and sent units of the Legion and Regulars plus the Navarre brigades and some 150 Italian and German aircraft withdrawn from the northern front, thus stopping the attack on Santander. This allowed the national forces to carry out the counterattack. [ 119 ] “Thus began a battle of attrition under the tremendous summer sun, without shade or water, which ended up throwing a balance of 40,000 casualties. The tough battle ended on July 26, out of sheer exhaustion. The Republican People's Armyit had retained important sectors of the territory it had conquered ... although it lost Brunete. (...) [The Battle of] Brunete coincided with the anniversary of the beginning of the war. From a few rebellious columns fighting improvised militias , two armies had been formed with considerable artillery and aviation support. ' [ 120 ]

After the battle of Brunete the "national" forces reorganized and resumed the Northern Campaign, attacking Santander from the south through the mountain pass of Reinosa and from the east along the coast. The Battle of Santander began on August 14 with the attack on Reinosa, which was occupied only two days later and whose armament factory was not destroyed by the Republicans in their rout. Republican resistance on the coast also quickly collapsed as CTV units advanced.Italian thanks especially to air superiority (the Republicans could not send aviation to that area due to the remoteness of the bases) whose continuous bombardments destroyed and demoralized the Republican forces commanded by General Mariano Gamir Ulibarri appointed on August 6. On August 24, just ten days after the offensive began, the city of Santander (where food and fuel were in short supply due to the naval blockade of the rebellious army) was occupied after the forces of public order, once evacuated the commanders raised a white flag. [ 121 ]“The history of the Santander campaign is one of continuous progress, with occasional and brief resistance. There were many prisoners and those who "passed", which attested to the state of demoralization of the republican ranks ". [ 122 ]

Map of the environment where the battle of Belchite took place with an indication of the initial and final situations.

The second Republican offensive to relieve pressure from the "nationals" in the North came late, starting on the same day as the fall of Santander. This time it took place on the Aragon front , which had remained practically unchanged since the beginning of the war when the columns of confederal anarchist militias and the POUM left Catalonia and occupied the eastern half of Aragon (where they created an almost independent entity called Consejo de Aragón ) although they did not achieve their objective of conquering Zaragoza, and that after the " events of May 1937 " they had been incorporated into the regular units of the Army of the East . On August 24, theZaragoza offensive whose purpose was to break the front and reach the Aragonese capital, which would force General Franco to suspend his northern offensive . To the north of the Ebro the anarchist divisions were fighting and to the south the communist divisions led by Enrique Líster and the two international generals Walter and Kleber . After the capture of the towns of Codo and Quinto, they surrounded Belchite on the 26th, starting the battle of Belchite, the most outstanding warlike event of the campaign. The "nationals" who defended the town resisted fiercely until September 3. Four days earlier the "nationals" had started the counteroffensive that drove back the anarchist divisions to the north of the Ebro and to the south in Fuentes de Ebro , a town located 26 kilometers from Zaragoza , managed to defeat the Soviet BT5 tank units and the XV International Brigade . [ 123 ]

Although Belchite remained in the hands of the Republicans, the two objectives of the Zaragoza offensive were not achieved: neither was the Aragonese capital taken, nor was the "nationalist" advance on the northern front halted. After the occupation of Santander, the Asturias offensive began on September 1 along the coast and inland to put an end to the last territory of the republican northern strip. A few days before, the Sovereign Council of Asturias and León had been formed in Gijón ( Oviedo continued to be occupied by the "nationalists" since the beginning of the war) under the presidency of the socialist Belarmino Tomás , one of the former leaders of the Asturias Revolution.October 1934, he tried to organize the defense, but his situation was as difficult as that of Santander. The Asturians had no naval support (they only had the destroyer Císcar) or air support (the few planes they had were much inferior to those of the attackers) and were subjected to the naval blockade of the rebel army, which had caused civil and military supply problems aggravated by the presence of some 300,000 refugees from from other areas occupied by "national" troops. Thus the resistance to the "nationalist" advance was very difficult to maintain due to the lack of material and food and the abandonment of the area from the air and sea and the demoralization of the troops led to disorderly withdrawals due to panic. However, it was not until October 21 [ 124 ] that Gijón was taken, the last stronghold of republican Asturias and the entire north. [ 125 ]Most of the prisoners from the Northern Front were held in the Miranda de Ebro camp .

The consequences of the "nationalist" victory in the Northern Campaign were very important for the course of the war. «Franco was able to concentrate all his forces in central Spain and the Mediterranean, and obtained the benefit of an undisrupted industry. The victory restored the pride of Mussolini [lost by the defeat of the Battle of Guadalajara , who would henceforth cooperate willingly with Franco. International opinion judged that, once the north was lost, victory was a matter of time. [ 126 ]

In November 1937 the republican government of Juan Negrín decided to move from Valencia to Barcelona (where since November 1936 the President of the Republic Manuel Azaña had already been present ) to "put the Catalan war industry" in full swing, which in the months The following came under the direct authority of the government of the Republic, to make up for the loss of the important armament factories of Vizcaya, Cantabria and Asturias, and also to "definitively establish the authority of the government in Catalonia," which relegated the government of the Generalitat of Lluís Companys to a secondary role. [ 127 ]

December 1937-November 1938: from the battle of Teruel to the battle of the Ebro

On December 12, 1937, the 11th Republican Division under the command of the communist militia chief Enrique Líster cut the communication routes from the city of Teruel with the "national" rearguard. Thus begins the battle of Teruel , whose strategy has been designed by the Republican Chief of Staff, Colonel Vicente Rojo . The objective is to conquer this projection that Teruel represented in the enemy lines, in addition to preventing the attack of the "nationals" against Madrid scheduled for December 18 and achieving a military success such as taking a provincial capital in the hands of the rebels from the start of the war to strengthen internal and external confidence in the republican cause after the defeat of the Northern Campaignat a time when the arrival of war material from the Soviet Union was slowing down due to the difficulties it was encountering to cross the French border due to the fall of the socialist government of Leon Blum . General Franco reacted immediately to break the siege of Teruel but since he could not achieve it in the first attempt he had to send more forces and suspend the planned attack on Madrid (with which one of the Republican strategic objectives of the offensive on Teruel had been achieved ). Low temperatures and snowfall made the actions of the two armies difficult and prevented the "nationals" from breaking the siege, despite enjoying air and artillery superiority, so Colonel Domingo Rey d'HarcourtHe decided to surrender on January 8 and Republican forces (the 46th Division under the command of the militiaman Valentín González "El Campesino") occupied the city. [ 128 ] From then on, the "national" forces redoubled their attacks to reconquer Teruel, launching several offensives that were undermining the defenses and morale of the republican forces. On February 7, 1938 they reached the Alfambra river line and on February 21 the city was surrounded. The 46th Division commanded by "El Campesino" escaped or fled, according to the different versions, and the city was reconquered by the "nationals". [ 129 ]"The courage of some inexperienced soldiers, badly led, armed and dressed and confronted by political resentments [anarchists against communists] could do little against experienced and well-equipped troops and, above all, against the bombings." [ 130 ] Colonel Vicente Rojo wrote to the Minister of Defense of the Republic Indalecio Prieto on withdrawal of Teruel Division 46: [ 130 ]

It will take a long time for the leaders of our army to behave properly.
Map of Spain in July 1938 after the Aragon offensive and when the Battle of the Ebro began .
Legend Area controlled by the rebels Spanish Republic Solid blue.png Main nationalist centers
Red-square.gif Major Republican Centers

The battle of Teruel showed the weaknesses of the republican army which induced Franco to definitively postpone the attack on Madrid and instead launch the offensive of Aragon against Catalonia and Valencia. The attack, which was to spread throughout the Aragon front , began south of the Ebro river on March 9, where the front collapsed due to the great concentration of artillery and aviation fire. On the 14th the CTV took Alcañiz and on the 17th the "nationals" took Caspe , after having "reconquered" Belchite . The same thing happened north of the Ebro where they took Fraga on March 27 and at the beginning of April they arrived in Lleida.(where the 101st Mixed Brigade commanded by the militia chief Pedro Mateo Merino prevented them from crossing the Segre river there). North of Lleida they advanced to Noguera Pallaresa and established bridgeheads at Balaguer and Tremp . Once these positions were reached, Franco ruled out heading towards Barcelona and opted to advance towards the Mediterranean south of the mouth of the Ebro, a goal they reached on April 15 when they reached Vinaroz , thereby dividing the republican area in two. [ 131 ]

The failure of the battle of Teruel and the collapse of the Aragon front caused the crisis of March 1938 on the Republican side when the president of the government Juan Negrín tried to make Indalecio Prieto change his ministry and leave that of Defense since, as the president of the Republic Manuel Azaña , Prieto considered that what had happened showed that the republican army could never win the war and that a surrender had to be negotiated with Franco-British support. But when Negrín failed to do so, he asked Prieto to leave the government, [ 132 ]Then rebuilding his cabinet on April 6 and Negrín personally taking over the Ministry of Defense, [ 133 ] with communist colonel Antonio Cordón as undersecretary of war, who proceeded to reorganize the republican forces grouped into two large groups of armies , in line with the division of the republican zone caused by the arrival of the «nationals» to the Mediterranean: the GERC (Group of Armies of the Central-South Region) and the GERO (Group of Armies of the Eastern Region). [ 134 ] The positions of the new Negrín government with a view to possible peace negotiations were set out in its «Declaration of the 13 points "made public on the significant date of 1 May 1938. [ 135 ]

Republican replacement assigned to the Teruel front

Once he reached the Mediterranean, Franco decided to direct his troops against Valencia instead of against Barcelona, ​​the seat of the republican government, not because he feared, according to historian Michael Alpert, that "Catalonia would be a difficult bite" but because "the presence of German forces and Italians in Spain meant that a possible Franco approach to the French border could arouse international tensions ». [ 136 ] Thus begins the Levante offensive whose plan was to converge on Sagunto(about 20 kilometers north of Valencia) advanced along the coast from Vinaroz and inland from Teruel, to take Valencia from there. The republican resistance was especially harsh when the "national" forces after conquering Castellón de la Plana on June 13 reached the line of fortifications called the XYZ line that extended from Almenara , a few kilometers north of Sagunto, on the coast to the Turia river. inside. There the "national" troops had to stop their advance. [ 137 ]

Map of the area where the Battle of the Ebro took place

On July 25, 1938, the republican Ebro Army , one of the two great corps of the army that made up the newly created GERO , crossed the Ebro river by surprise between Mequinenza and Amposta with the aim of attacking from the north to the "national" army approaching Valencia. It was the beginning of the Battle of the Ebro that became a hard struggle of attrition for both sides. [ 138 ] Although the passage of the Ebro through Amposta on the coast was soon liquidated by the "national" forces, the bulk of the Republican Army arrived at the gates of Gandesain the interior but did not manage to take this town due to the strong resistance offered by the regular and legionary units that defended it and above all because inexplicably the republican aviation did not protect the advance and the Condor Legion sent quickly by General Franco dominated the airs and constantly bombarded and machine-gunned Republican positions. So by August 2 or 3, the republican maneuver had failed since no irruption of republican units was going to take place in the territory dominated by the rebels. [ 139 ]From that moment on, the operations focused on the bag of territory won by the Republicans south of the Ebro, which they defended at all costs while the "nationals" tried to evict them from there (despite the fact that some of the collaborators of the General Franco advised him to leave the Ebro front once the republican advance had stopped and to resume the campaign against Valencia, but Franco thought, nevertheless, “that with the constant help he received from Germany and Italy in aviation and heavy artillery, with his greater logistical flexibility (in the face of an enemy that could not bring reinforcements to its troops because the French border was closed) and with the virtual maritime blockade of the coasts, it could slowly destroy the best of the Republic's forces ”). [ 140] After three months of heavy fighting, which caused more than 60,000 casualties on each side, the Republicans had to withdraw and cross the Ebro again in the opposite direction. On November 16, the last units did so, thus ending theBattle of the Ebro, the longest of the war and which was a new victory for therebellious side. [ 141 ]

While the battle of the Ebro was taking place , the crisis in the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia broke out , which could lead to war in Europe. Negrín then decided to withdraw the International Brigades to achieve a favorable attitude towards the Republic of the democratic powers France and Great Britain and the same did General Franco by reducing the presence of Italian troops (although keeping what really interested him in the Italian fascist aid : artillery, aviation and tanks) and guaranteeing Great Britain and France that they would remain neutral if war broke out in Europe. However the closure of the crisis with the agreements of Munich of the September 29of 1938, according to which Czechoslovakia should hand over the Sudetenland to Hitler, was a further defeat for the Republic at the international level because the agreement meant that the democratic powers, France and Great Britain, continued their policy of "appeasement" with respect to the Nazi Germany, and if they did not intervene to defend Czechoslovakia, they would do so much less to help the Spanish Republic. [ 142 ] [ 143 ]

December 1938-February 1939: offensive on Catalonia

Spain in February 1939 after the fall of Catalonia.
Legend Area controlled by the rebels Spanish Republic Solid blue.png Main nationalist centers
Red-square.gif Major Republican Centers

The two armies came out very broken from the battle of the Ebro , but the "nationals" managed to rebuild quickly, being, at the beginning of December 1938, ready to begin the offensive in Catalonia , "which would be the last significant offensive of the war", [ 144 ] at a time when, after the Munich accords, attacking Catalonia no longer implied the danger of a French reaction ('France and Great Britain had accepted, at least tacitly, the continuation of the Italian presence in Spain, and only wanted the end of the conflict. For his part, Franco had guaranteed his neutrality in the event of a general war "). [ 144 ]

The attack on Catalonia was delayed because of bad weather and finally began on December 23 , advancing from the south and from the west, meeting strong resistance during the first two weeks. On January 6, the remains of the Ebro Army had been almost completely decimated, while the other group of GERO armies , the Eastern Army , was in retreat. The Republican Chief of Staff, General Vicente Rojo , planned a diversionary maneuver in the south-central zone to relieve pressure on Catalonia, but failed (the landing in Motril had to be abandonedby the weakness of the republican fleet, "undermined by laziness, indiscipline and the lack of a clear political-strategic direction"; the offensive on the Extremadura front had little success given the low morale and lack of material and means of transportation suffered by the armies of the central-south zone ( GERC ) under the command of General Miaja ). [ 144 ]

Thus, from the first week of January 1939, the advance of the "national" troops was practically unstoppable (thanks again to the better preparation of their middle commanders - commanders, lieutenant-colonels and colonels), to their artillery superiority and air by the permanent presence of the Condor Legion and the Italian aviation since the rebel fleet bombed the ports preventing the arrival of material for the republican forces). The "nationals" in their advance took more and more prisoners, which "always constitutes an indication of the decomposition of an army." [ 145 ] Trough of Segre was taken on January 4, Tárrega 15, 21Villafranca del Panadés , on the 22nd Igualada and on the 24th they reached the Llobregat river . The shattered Republican armies withdrew towards the French border accompanied by an immense crowd of civilians and officials and authorities who collapsed the roads. On January 26, the "nationals" without encountering little resistance entered Barcelona , abandoned by the government and the military authorities who crossed the French border on February 5 after holding the last meeting of what remained of the Republican Courts in the castle. of Figueras . The day before, on February 4, the "nationals" had occupied Gerona . [ 146] GeneralVicente Rojo Lluchcompared a year later from exile what had happened in Madrid in November 1936 and what happened in Barcelona in January 1939 [ 147 ]

What a different environment! What enthusiasm then! And what a decline now! Barcelona, ​​forty-eight hours before the entry of the enemy, was a dead city ... [It was] simply lost because there was no will to resist, neither in the civilian population, nor in some troops contaminated by the environment.

Between February 5 and 11, the last remnants of the two Republican armies of the GERO crossed the border in an orderly manner, laying down their arms and then being interned in makeshift camps located on French beaches in the open. [ 148 ]

While the republican troops crossed the French border, the occupation of Menorca by the "nationals" took place thanks to the British intervention, the only one that took place in the War of Spain. [ 149 ] To prevent the strategic island of Menorca , which had remained under republican sovereignty throughout the war, from falling under Italian or German rule, the British government accepted the proposal of the Francoist head of the Balearic Air Region, Fernando Sartorius , Count of San Luis , to be transferred to Mahón by a Royal Navy shipand there to negotiate the surrender of the island in exchange for the republican civil and military authorities being able to abandon it under British protection. The British government launched the operation without informing the republican ambassador in London, Pablo de Azcárate (who when he found out later filed a formal protest for lending a British ship to an "emissary of the Spanish rebel authorities"). Thus, on the morning of February 7, the Devonshire cruise ship arrived at the port of Mahón with the count of San Luis on board, where the captain of the ship Luis González de Ubieta met with the republican governor. , who after unsuccessfully trying to contact Negrín, accepted the surrender conditions the next day. At 5 am on 9 February the Devonshire left Mahón for Marseille with 452 refugees on board. Menorca was immediately occupied by the "nationals" without the participation of any Italian or German contingent. The British intervention sparked a heated debate in the House of Commons on February 13 during which the Labor opposition accused the Conservative government of Neville Chamberlain of having compromised the UK in favor of Franco. The following day the unofficial representative of General Franco in London, the Duke of Alba , sent the secretary of theForeign Office Lord Halifax "the gratitude of the generalism and the national government" for collaborating in "reconquering Menorca." [ 150 ]

February-March 1939: the return of Negrín and the resistance of the Central-South zone

On February 9, the president of the government, Juan Negrín, crossed the French border, but in Toulouse he took a plane to return to Alicante the next day accompanied by some ministers with the intention of reactivating the war in the center-south zone, the last stronghold of the republican zone . [ 151 ] There a final battle was unleashed between those who considered it useless to continue fighting and those who still thought that "to resist is to win" (hoping that tensions in Europe would eventually erupt and Britain and France would finally come to the aid of the Spanish Republic, or that they would at least impose a peace on Franco without reprisals), [ 152 ]But the fatigue of war and hunger and the crisis of subsistence that devastated the republican zone were undermining the resistance capacity of the population. [ 143 ] The problem for Negrín, who set up his headquarters at the El Poblet farm in the Alicante town of Petrel (whose code name was " Yuste Position "), was how to end the war without fighting in a way different from that of delivery without conditions. His position was practically untenable when on February 27 , France and Great Britain recognized the Franco government in Burgos as the legitimate government of Spain, and the next day the President of the RepublicManuel Azaña, who was at the Spanish embassy in Paris, resigned from his position. [ 153 ] He was temporarily replaced by the president of the Cortes, Diego Martínez Barrio , who was also in France. [ 154 ]

While the military and political conspiracy against the Negrín government led by the head of the Army of the Center, Colonel Segismundo Casado , was well advanced , convinced that "it would be easier to liquidate the war through an understanding between the military " for which he had contacted through the " fifth column " with the Headquarters of the "Generalissimo" Franco for a surrender of the republican army "without reprisals" in the manner of the "embrace of Vergara" of 1839 that ended the first Carlist war(with the preservation of jobs and military positions, included). Something to which General Franco's emissaries never committed themselves. Casado obtained the support of several military leaders, among which the anarchist Cipriano Mera , head of the IV Army Corps, and some important politicians, such as the socialist Julián Besteiro , who had also maintained contact with the "fifth columnists" in Madrid, stood out. All of them criticized Negrín's resistance strategy and its "dependence" on the Soviet Union and the PCE , which were the only ones who already supported Negrín's resistance policy. [ 154 ]

Probably in connection with the Casadista conspiracy, on March 4 the uprising of the naval base of Cartagena took place, led by pro-Franco military encouraged by the fifth column that had deployed an intense activity in the base and in the city. During the 4th and 5th there are battles between the rebels and the republican resistant. And in the midst of them, Admiral Miguel Buiza orders the republican fleet to leave the port and directs it to the naval base of Bizerte in the French protectorate of Tunisia , despite the fact that the uprising had been dominated in Cartagena by republican forces. on March 7. [ 155 ][156]

March 1939: defeat of the Republic

Map of the two Spain in March 1939

On March 5 , the day after the start of the Cartagena uprising, Casado's coup began, with his supporters seizing the nerve centers of Madrid and then announcing the formation of a National Defense Council chaired by General Miaja . The Council issued a radio manifesto addressed to "anti-fascist Spain" in which it deposed the Negrín government, but did not speak at all about the peace negotiations. The military units controlled by the communists put up resistance in Madrid and its surroundings but were defeated (there were about 2,000 deaths), finally signing an agreement for the "transfer of command from the Republican Army to the rebellious Army." [ 157] The following day Negrín and his government, together with the main communist leaders, left Spain by plane to avoid being arrested by the "casadistas." [ 158 ]

After the coup of Casado, General Franco refused to accept a new " hug from Vergara ", as Mola had also rejected it on the first day of the coup in 1936, and did not grant Casado "any of the guarantees implored almost on his knees by his emissaries [who only interviewed low-ranking members of the Headquarters], and replied to the British and French, eager to act as intermediaries in the surrender of the Republic in order to contain German and Italian influence over the new regime, that he did not need them and that the spirit of generosity of the victors was the best guarantee for the defeated ». [ 159 ]

Statement issued by the Generalissimo's Headquarters announcing the end of the war

Franco only accepted a "surrender without conditions" so it only remained to prepare the evacuation of Casado and the National Defense Council. These embarked with their families on March 29 in the British destroyer that transferred them to Marseille (the socialist Julián Besteiro decided to stay). The day before, the "national" troops made their entry into Madrid and quickly the rebels in their final offensive occupied practically without a fight the entire center-south area that had remained under the authority of the Republic throughout the war (on March 29, Cuenca , Albacete , Ciudad Real, Jaén, Almería and Murcia; on March 30 Valencia and Alicante, and theMarch 31 the city of Cartagena ). [ 160 ] [ 161 ] In Alicante since March 29 , some 15 000 people, including military leaders, Republicans, political combatants and civilians who had fled from Madrid and other places thronged the port waiting embarking on a British or French ship, but most did not succeed and were captured by the Italian troops of the Littorio Division , under the command of General Gastone Gambara . Many of those captured were executed on the spot. [ 162 ]

On April 1, 1939, the radio of the rebel side ( Radio Nacional de España ) broadcast the last part of the Spanish civil war , which read the following:

Today, the Red Army captive and disarmed, the national troops have reached their last military objectives. The war is over. Burgos, April 1, 1939, the year of victory. The Generalissimo. Signed. Francisco Franco Bahamonde.

Naval warfare

In the Spanish civil war, land actions predominated over maritime ones, and the navies of both sides avoided major war actions for political and strategic reasons. [ 163 ] Thus, after the fighting for control of the Strait of Gibraltar in 1936, the two fleets did not have "decisive encounters at sea" and "their strategies moved in very conservative contexts, aimed above all at the conservation of its troops ». [ 164 ] The historian Michael Alpert, in his study entitled The Spanish Civil War at Sea, affirms that the “two Spanish navies had to be rebuilt”, but that the “government navies did not manage to keep up with the moment and, despite having the majority of the fleet units, played a defensive role during the most of the contest. On the other hand, "the Navy of the rebels made the most of its meager resources and the help it received from abroad." [ 165 ]

Since the beginning of the 20th century , the primary function of the navy was no longer to destroy enemy ships, but to block their sea lanes and ports and impede their movements on the coast. This is what the navy of the rebel side did with increasing success , while the navy that remained loyal to the government abandoned that objective after the first weeks and adopted a defensive position whose objective was to protect their own maritime communications, while the « nationals' endeavored to interfere with them. [ 166 ]

At the beginning of the Civil War, the republican navy was much superior to the one that remained in the hands of the rebels, as it was made up of practically all of the Spanish Navy at that time: the battleship Jaime I (launched in 1914); the light cruisers Libertad (launched in 1925), Miguel de Cervantes (launched in 1928) and Méndez Núñez (launched in 1923); sixteen destroyers in service or about to be delivered; seven shortstop ; twelve submarines (from the submarine Isaac Peral (C-1) to the submarine C-6 and the submarine B-1to the sub B-6 ); a gunboat ; four coast guards and almost all of the Naval Aeronautics . [ 167 ] [ 168 ]

Despite having such an important fleet, the problem was that throughout the war it was not possible to overcome the effects of the repression that took place at the time of the coup in July 1936 when the sailors and non-commissioned officers they rebelled to prevent the ships from joining the uprising, since the vast majority of the officers were in favor of the coup. [ 163 ] As late as May 1938, a report presented to President Juan Negrín on the situation of the fleet indicated the lack of efficiency and discipline. "In general, the offensive morale of the commanders is low and the combat morale of the crews is low." In addition, it pointed to the presence of the fifth columnFrancoist both in the Fleet and in the naval base of Cartagena ("Moral defeatist. Much fascist with complete freedom of action", it was said). Subsequent reports indicated that the situation had not improved. [ 169 ]

Unlike what happened with the rebellious side, which was supported by the Italian and German navies, the Republic only received four G-5-class torpedo boats from the USSR , in addition to a few commanders and submarine specialists who, according to a report "reserved and confidential" presented to President Negrín, they were "considered - within the Fleet - as annoying guests who must be tolerated with kindness. The same happens in the naval base of Cartagena . [ 169 ] For their part, France and Great Britain only participated on a specific occasion to avoid the capture of their own ships by the "national" fleet.

Thus, over and above the occasional victory, such as the sinking of the Balearic Islands in early March 1938 at the Battle of Cape Palos , “the reality was that the republican navy had focused on the protection service of merchant traffic, in the maintenance of a supply channel for war supplies and food. ' [ 170 ] But even that role as an escort was not carried out with full success, as noted in a report by the Republican Secret Service ( SIM ) of January 1939 in which, after affirming the "notorious inferiority" of the Navy Republican Navy regarding the "national" stated: [ 169 ]

The truth is that the factional Navy has increased without any harassment on our part ... and that its Merchant Marine sails smoothly through all the seas, while ours, persecuted and practically defenseless, is easy prey for the factional.
The Republican submarine C-3

The republican fleet and the naval base of Cartagena were increasing their strategic importance for the cause of the republican side as the difficulties increased for the supply from abroad by land, as a result of the frequent closures of the French border, so that maintaining the maritime "umbilical cord" with the Soviet Union was vital to the republicans. They also became increasingly important as the Republican defeats accumulated and the territory of the Republican zone was reduced because, especially after the fall of CataloniaIn early February 1939, "for the Republican combatants the Base and the Fleet were a kind of safeguard in the event of an organized or last minute evacuation." [ 171 ]

At the beginning of the Civil War, the navy of the rebellious side was much inferior to the government navy as it only had the battleship Spain (launched in 1913 and which in July 1936 was in dry dock); the light cruisers República , renamed Navarra , (launched in 1920 but undergoing repairs and did not enter service until late in the war, in August 1938), and the Almirante Cervera (launched in 1928); the destroyer Velasco (launched in 1923); five shortstop; three gunboats and five coastguards. But this inferiority was compensated very soon thanks to the control of the rebels of the main shipyard of the navy inFerrol, where the Canarias heavy cruiser - which entered service in September 1936 - and another, the Baleares , about to be delivered (entered service in December 1936), along with the only two minesweepers in Spain (the the Jupiter minesweeper , which entered service in early 1937, and the Vulcan minesweeper , which entered service at the end of the same year). [ 167 ] [ 172 ]

The initial inferiority of the insurgents was also compensated by the support that they had practically from the beginning of the war of the Italian Navy, which participated with auxiliary cruisers and submarines in blocking the shipments of armaments from the Soviet Union , and from the German one. The scandal produced by the sinking of an Italian submarine by mistake by a British destroyer, caused Fascist Italy to stop participating directly in naval warfare, ceding four "legionary submarines" to the "nationals" and selling them four destroyers and two submarines .

For its part, Nazi Germany sent two submarines to the Mediterranean in the so - called Operation Úrsula , sinking a German U 34 the republican submarine C3 off Malaga . The Germans contributed cruisers, but they did not intervene, except in the bombardment of Almería by Admiral Scheer on May 31, 1937, carried out in retaliation for the air attack that the pocket battleship Deutschland had suffered on May 28, 1937 in Ibiza . This so-called Deutschland incidentit was probably carried out by Russian crews, without the knowledge of the republican command. But the international scandal it caused caused the Republic to say that it was a mistake and that it was Republican planes that believed they were attacking the heavy cruiser Canarias . The bombing of Almería, which had taken place openly (displaying the German flag), came to be considered as a possible reason for the Republic to declare war on Germany (a position defended by Colonel Rojo and Indalecio Prieto, in search of generalization of the conflict to all Europe), but finally the opposite position of Negrín and Azaña prevailed. [ 173 ]

A report from the Republican Secret Service ( SIM ) in January 1939 pointed out the disadvantage of the Republican Navy compared to the "Factious Navy", which had "a total of about 100 units - including a large number of cruisers. perfectly armed auxiliaries— ». [ 174 ]

The air war and the bombing of towns

Bombardment of the North Station of Valencia by Italian planes in 1937

The main novelty in the field of air warfare in the Spanish war from 1936 to 1939 was that "for the first time in history, aviation was used intensively in bombing missions over the rear." [ 175 ] Thus "from the Spanish civil war the victims could be hundreds of kilometers from the places of the war and simply be a defenseless civilian population." [ 176 ] Given that the Spanish military aviation in July 1936 was obsolete, this was only possible because both sides received help from foreign powers that contributed their modern bombers: the rebel side the Savoia-Marchetti SM81 and theSavoia-Marchetti SM79 of the Legionary Aviation of Fascist Italy and the Junkers Ju 52 and Heinkel He 111 of the Condor Legion of Nazi Germany ; the republican side the Katiuskas of the Soviet Union . [ 176 ]

The rebellious side repeatedly used the "terror bombardment", as Solé i Sabaté and Villarroya call it, whose sole objective was the civilian population to demoralize it and push it to surrender. This strategy was started in Madrid when in November 1936 the frontal attack against the city failed and continued with the bombardment of Durango , the bombardment of Guernica , the bombardment of Lleida , the aerial bombardments of Barcelona in January 1938 , the aerial bombardments. of Barcelona in March 1938 , [ 177 ] the bombing of the central market of Alicante , the bombing of Granollersand the bombings on various Catalan populations in the final months of the war, especially those of Figueras, and whose main victims were women and children at a time when the republican army no longer existed in Catalonia. [ 178 ] The only possible case of a "terror bombing" by the Republican side was that of Cabra in November 1938, but everything seems to indicate that it was a terrible mistake made by the pilots who confused the city's flea market. with a camp of tents of an Italian unit that, according to the order they had received, had to be searched and destroyed. [ 179 ]

As for the cities most devastated by the bombings, the list is headed by the three main republican cities, Barcelona, ​​Madrid and Valencia, followed by Tarragona , Reus , Lérida , Badalona , Granollers , Gerona , San Feliu de Guíxols , Palamós , Figueras , Colera , Portbou and Perelló in Catalonia; Alicante , Sagunto , Gandía , Denia and Cartagena on the coast of Valencia and Murcia; and in VizcayaDurango and Guernica , the latter turned into the symbol of the atrocities of the bombings of the rebellious side , and that had a huge international impact. [ 180 ] Regarding the number of victims, there is also an enormous difference between those caused by the republican bombings, about 1,100, and those caused by the bombings of the Francoist side , around 9000 ( Barcelona 2,500 dead; Madrid , 2000; Valencia , about 1000; Alicante about 500; Durango , Guernica , Lérida , Tarragona, Granollers , Figueras and Cartagena more than two hundred dead each; Bilbao , Reus , Badalona and Alcañiz about 200; Játiva more than 100 dead; and small towns whose deaths were less than this number). [ 181 ]

This is how "aviation became a decisive weapon and the performance of the Italian and German aviation was decisive in the victory of the Francoist army." [ 176 ]

Other milestones of the air war during the Spanish Civil War are that during it the first airlift in history was probably made; that in the fighter planes the ceiling and the speed began to prevail, which meant the end of the biplanes and also demonstrated their importance for controlling the air and thus avoiding enemy bombardments (even at night); that air attacks were carried out on naval units, in port and at sea; that dive bombing planes were used to deliver food and messages of encouragement to besieged positions, such as the Alcázar of Toledo or the Sanctuary of Santa María de la Cabeza, and for the "ideological bombings", by launching leaflets and slogans at the cities that were in the rear, such as the "bombing of bread" on Alicante.

Evolution of the rebel zone

Ticket issued by the rebel side on October 12, 1937 with the large shield of the Spanish Monarchy .

After the stage of certain provisionality represented by the National Defense Board formed after the death in an aviation accident of General Sanjurjo , who was to head the military Directorate that would govern the country after overthrowing the Popular Front government , the generals and rebellious leaders decided to appoint a single military and political command. From October 1, 1936, General Franco was the generalissimo of the rebel forces and the head of the State Government. After the failure of the taking of Madrid (between November 1936 and March 1937) and with the prospect that the war was going to be long, Generalism Franco, with the help of his brother-in-law, Ramón Serrano Suñer, began to configure the political organization of the «New State». The first step was the Unification Decree of April 1937, by which all the political forces that supported the "national uprising", and particularly the Falangists and Carlists , who had contributed the most to the war with their militias, were integrated under a single party, called the Spanish Traditionalist Falange and the JONS . The next step was the organization of the "New State" which was the task entrusted by the generalissimo to his first government , appointed on January 30, 1938 (and which replaced the Technical Board of the State ). [ 182 ]

The construction of the "New State" was accompanied by the destruction of everything that had to do with the Republic . Thus in the rebellious zone , contrary to what was happening in the other zone (where the Revolution had unleashed ), a " counterrevolution " was carried out, carrying out "a systematic repression of people, organizations and the institutions that in some way, real or even imaginary, could be understood to be linked to that revolutionary Republic, or in the hands of revolutionaries, which it was said to fight ». [ 183 ]

The National Defense Board

Cool with General Franco in an appearance in Burgos on August 27 , 1936 , collected by the German newspaper Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung . Mola is the one that stands out on the right.

Death on July 20 of the General Sanjurjo , in exile in Estoril, because of the accident that took nothing off the plane I had to go from Lisbon to Pamplona to get to the front of the uprising, left the rebel generals without chief who was to lead the uprising. [ 184 ] To partially make up for the lack of a single command, the revolted generals and chiefs formed a National Defense Board in Burgos on July 24, chaired by the senior and oldest general, Miguel Cabanellas . [ 185 ]Its Decree number 1 established that it assumed " all the powers of the State " [ 185 ] and in successive decrees it extended the state of war that the rebels had proclaimed in each site to all of Spain (which served as a basis for submitting to councils of war summary trials to those who oppose the military rebellion), [ 186 ] he outlawed parties and unions of the Popular Front and banned all political activities and union workers ' and employers' for the duration of the current circumstances "(Decree of September 25 ). [ 187 ]

But the most urgent thing was to achieve the unity of military command. [ 186 ] Thus, on September 21, 1936, the first meeting attended by the generals of the National Defense Board , with the addition of Generals Orgaz , Gil Yuste, and Kindelán, took place in a farm near Salamanca . There the assembled discussed the need for the sole command of the rebellious forces and appointed General Franco to the position since he was the one who commanded the army that was about to gain entry into Madrid (the Army of Africa was near Maquedaonly 100 kilometers from the capital) and the one who had obtained the help of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy , and who had been dealing with them. But once the sole command in the military field had been decided, the political command still remained to be elucidated. [ 188 ]

Then General Franco made a "master move": ordering that the columns advancing towards Madrid be diverted towards Toledo to liberate the Alcázar and thus lift the two-month siege to which a thousand civil guards and Falangists, as well as some cadets, had been subjected. of the Infantry Academy under the command of its director, Colonel Moscardó, [ 187 ] and that they were holding "women and children of known left-wing militants as hostages." [ 189 ] “The taking of the Alcázar enlarged the legend of General Franco. The famous phrase of Moscardó without news in the Alcázar, repeated before Franco and numerous journalists two days after his release, was adequately publicized. Franco was the savior of the besieged heroes, the symbol of an army ready to win the war at any cost ». [ 190 ]

On September 28, 1936, the same day that the Alcázar of Toledo was liberated, the second meeting of the generals was held in Salamanca to decide who would hold the political command. The chosen one was General Franco, whom his comrades in the uprising named not only " Generalissimo of the national forces of land, sea and air ", but also " Head of the Government of the Spanish State, while the war lasts ." [ 98 ] But when decree 138 of the National Defense Board with his appointment was published the following day, an important change had been introduced in the text: the tagline " while the war lasts"And to the appointment of General Franco as" Head of the Government of the Spanish State "was added" who will assume all the powers of the new State . " This decree of September 29, 1936 would be the foundation of the legitimacy of the power of the «Generalissimo» for the next 39 years. [ 187 ]

General Franco, «generalissimo» and «caudillo»

The 1 of October of 1936 , in the hall of the throne of the Captaincy General of Burgos , Francisco Franco took possession of his new position, as Generalissimo of the army revolted and Head of the Government of the State . [ 191 ]

The day before, the bishop of Salamanca Enrique Pla y Deniel had published a pastoral in which he presented the war as "a crusade for religion, the country and civilization", giving a new legitimacy to the cause of the rebels: the religious . Thus, generalism was not only the "chief and savior of the Nation", but also the "leader" of a new "crusade" in defense of the Catholic faith and social order. [ 190 ]

Casa del Cordón , in Burgos , headquarters of the State Technical Board .

The first law that Generalissimo Franco promulgated was the one that created the State Technical Board (replacing the National Defense Board ), chaired by General Dávila (who in the summer of 1937 would be replaced by the monarchical general Francisco Gómez-Jordana , much more efficient than its predecessor) [ 192 ] and that it had a General Secretariat of the Head of State , a position held by Nicolás Franco , the generalist's older brother. His occupation was "to rectify all republican legislation by returning things to their previous point." [ 187 ]

The headquarters of the State Technical Board was established in Burgos, although the political capital of the national Spain was Salamanca, where the military power resided, since Franco's Headquarters was located there . [ 187 ]

The Unification Decree of April 1937

The next step in the consolidation of the power of the new «caudillo» took place when after the failure of the taking of Madrid (between November 1936 and March 1937) the need to create a «single party» was raised, following the model of the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera , from the merger of the Carlists and Falangists . [ 193 ]

From the Generalissimo Headquarters, the new advisor to Franco Ramón Serrano Súñer (brother-in-law of the "caudillo" and former CEDA deputy who had arrived in Salamanca escaped from the "red zone") fostered a rapprochement between the Traditionalist Communion and the Spanish Falange and of the JONS with a view to its merger, but the ideological and political differences that separated them were almost insurmountable (since they were those that separated traditionalism from fascism), and there was also another obstacle that was non-negotiable: that General Franco himself should be at the head of the «single party». In other words, both parties had to accept that the new political formation would be subject to the personal power of the "Generalism", the apex of military and political power. To support this idea, the motto A homeland, a State, a caudillo , a copy of the Nazi motto Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer ('a people, a State, a caudillo') was spread from the Salamanca Headquarters . [ 194 ]

There were contacts between the Falangists and the Carlists but they did not bear fruit and the whole process did not cease to create tensions within both parties which, in the case of the Falangists, resulted in the " events in Salamanca " of April 1937, during which several Falangists died in the confrontations between those in favor of the fusion and of the submission to the military power (headed by Sancho Dávila and Agustín Aznar ) and the opponents of it (headed by Manuel Hedilla ). [ 195 ]

Finally, Franco's Headquarters decided to act, and on the same day that the Falangists opposed to the merger held a National Council in which they elected Manuel Hedilla as "national chief", on Sunday April 18, [ 196 ] the General Franco himself announced that the following day a Decree of Unification of the Falange and the Traditionalist Communion would be promulgated , which now came under his direct leadership as the "national chief" of the same. [ 197 ]

Franco a week later ordered the arrest of Manuel Hedilla (along with other dissident Falangists) when he refused to join the Political Board of the new party as a simple member and also told his provincial leaders to obey only their own orders. [ 198 ] “So that there would be no doubt about the location of power in what was already beginning to be called the New State, Hedilla was tried and sentenced to death for his manifest act of indiscipline and subversion against the sole and indisputable Command and Power of the national Spain . It should be clear to all that the military command unit would in the future be a political command unit ”. [ 199 ]But Franco followed the advice of the sister of the "Absent" Pilar Primo de Rivera (leader of the "pure" sector of Falange), Serrano Suñer and the German ambassador and pardoned Hedilla, although he spent four years in jail and when He left it and was cut off from political life. [ 200 ]

In the statutes of the "single party", published on August 4, it was established that the "caudillo" would only be "responsible before God and before history", and before no one else. [ 201 ]

Two months earlier, on June 3 , during the campaign of the North 's General Mola , the "director" of the military conspiracy that had given the coup of July 1936 which began the Civil War, died when the plane the one who was traveling crashed on a hill in the town of Alcocero , near Burgos. [ 202 ] Mola used to use the plane frequently in his movements and there is no evidence of sabotage, although death clearly favored Franco by eliminating the "director" as a rival. [ 202 ] The German ambassador wrote shortly after: 'Franco is undoubtedly relieved by the death of General Mola . [ 203 ]

In October 1937, the 50 members of the National Council of the FET and the JONS were appointed by the "Generalismo" Franco , but it was no more than a merely consultative body. [ 204 ] The same could be said of the FET and the JONS , whose only activity was reduced in practice to carrying out propaganda. [ 205 ] However, the Falange leaders held many of the most important positions in the administration of the "New State" and in the party. [ 203 ]

The birth of the "New State"

Shield of the «New State».

In January 1938, while the battle of Teruel was taking place , the first step was taken towards the definitive configuration of the « New State » with the promulgation by the «Generalism» of the Law of the Central Administration of the State by which a administrative structure that adopted the ministerial form, and with the appointment on January 30 of his first government in which Franco himself assumed the Presidency , while Francisco Gómez-Jordana (until then president of the State Technical Board ) was the Vice-president and Minister of Foreign Affairs . However, the most prominent person in the cabinet wasRamón Serrano Súñer , Minister of the Interior and Franco's brother- in-law. [ 206 ] This government has already foreshadowed the ideological amalgam that would be provided in the future Franco : "His conservatism traditional , and derechismo reactionary ." [ 207 ]

It will be this government that begins the process of institutionalization of the «New State», with the promulgation of the « Labor Law », based on the Charter of the Italian fascism lavoro , [ 208 ] and which constituted the first of the seven Fundamental Laws of the Franco dictatorship that functioned as a "constitution" of the new regime; [ 209 ] [ 210 ] abrogation of the Statute of Autonomy 1932 and the enactment of a series of orders and decrees prohibiting the use of the Catalanin public documents and in private conversation; [ 210 ] the Press Law that subjected newspapers to prior censorship and attributed to the government the appointment of newspaper directors; [ 210 ] the reintroduction of the death penalty that had been abolished by the Republic; [ 209 ] the approval of a Secondary Education Law that guaranteed the Catholic Church absolute autonomy in secondary education. [ 210 ]

According to Julián Casanova , fascism and Catholicism were the two ideologies on whose amalgam the "New State" was built. The process of fascism was evident by the exaltation of the leader, the "Caudillo", as the Führer or the Duce ; the raised arm salute established as a "national salute"; the uniforms and the Falangist symbols; etc. And at the same time, Catholic religious rites and manifestations such as processions, campaign masses or political-religious ceremonies that imitated supposed medieval forms proliferated . [ 208 ]

On April 19, 1939, nineteen days after the "last part" in which Franco declared "the war is over," the victory parade presided over by the "caudillo" was held in Madrid . Before starting the military parade, General Varela imposed the Grand Cross Laureate of San Fernando on Franco "in the name of the Fatherland" , "which he had so coveted since his African campaigns and which he had to end up granting himself" in a decree signed by him. same and that was read by the general count of Jordana at the beginning of the act. The next day the ABC newspaperde Madrid titled his chronicle: "Spain, in the great military parade before the Caudillo, shows the world the power of the weapons forging the new State." A month later, General Franco offered his sword as a victorious leader to God in a ceremony held on May 20 in the Madrid church of Santa Bárbara and presided over by the Cardinal Primate of Toledo Isidro Gomá . [ 211 ]

Evolution of the republican zone

The government's reaction to the military uprising