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70 Years Ago: Spanish Civil War Began  
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13990 posts, RR: 62
Posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 2175 times:

On July 16th, 1936, after several years of violence between rightwing and leftwing gangs, a rightwing junta of Spanish generals und the leadership of fiorst General Mola and later General Franco, performed a coup d'etat against the democratically elected government of the Spanish Republic.

The coupists were actively supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy with money, troops and weapons.
On the other side Stalin used his influence as the only supporter of the Republic to force the Spanish government tom give the Stalinist Spanish Communist party, which up to then had played only a small role (most leftwing Spanish were either Anarchist, Trotzkist or Social Democrat, but the government also included bourgois midstream liberals and non-fascist conservatives) to unproportional power.
Britain and France decided to stay out of the war and not to support the Republic as not to provoke Germany and Italy.
While the coup was stopped by an armed popular uprising in about 2/3 of Spain, including the big cities of Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia, the coupists managed to capture several provinces in the south and west of Spain. This lead to a civil war with an estimated of 500.000 people being killed, of them approximately half in combat, while most of the rest were executed by death squads of both sides. Later the Stalinists started a civil war within the civil war in the attempt to purge their rivals of the Trotzkist, independent left and Anarchist groups.

In March 1939 the Republic had to surrender.

Both Germany and Italy used the war to try out new tactics to be used a few months later in WW2.
General Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist until his death in 1976.

Jan

[Edited 2006-07-19 21:23:26]

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20532 posts, RR: 62
Reply 1, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 4 days ago) and read 2162 times:

Quoting MD11Engineer (Thread starter):
General Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist until his death in 1976.

Amazing that it's been so long since the passing of the Generalissimo. Interesting recap, I'd forgotten about the war within the war.



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineJJJ From Spain, joined May 2006, 1817 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 2145 times:

Quoting MD11Engineer (Thread starter):
General Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist until his death in 1976

Just a minor nitpick on an otherwise excellent post, Franco died on Nov. 20th, 1975.


User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4693 posts, RR: 42
Reply 3, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 2144 times:

While I certainly do not agree with Franco on the political side, I have to say that he was clever enough to stay out of World War II, thus preserving his regime until the mid-1970's, while his fellow fascist or right-wing co-dictators Hitler, Mussolini and those from the Axis' satellite states only made it until 1944/45.


Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offlineJJJ From Spain, joined May 2006, 1817 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 2142 times:

Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 3):
I have to say that he was clever enough to stay out of World War II, thus preserving his regime until the mid-1970's, while his fellow fascist or right-wing co-dictators Hitler, Mussolini and those from the Axis' satellite states only made it until 1944/45

He inherited a totally exhausted economy, even if at first he was willing to (the famous Hendaye meeting with Hitler) Spain would have been more a burden than any other thing for the Axis.

After the war, Franco was useful because of his staunch anti-communism so he was spared.


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13990 posts, RR: 62
Reply 5, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2121 times:

I think also that Franco, who was, unlike the ideologists Hitler and Mussolini, a trained military general officer with staff training and practical experience as a commander in the colonial war in Morrocco, realised how amateurish both Hitler's and Mussolini's plans for world rule were and decided to stay out off it as far as possible.
He sent his Division Azul to help Hitler in Russia, this unit consisted mostly of fanatical members of the fascist organisation Falange Espanola, which had big losses in combat.
It is thought that Franco used this way to get rid of the revolutionary wing of the fascist party, in a similar way Hitler dropped and executed the leaders of the German SA Stormtroopers in 1934 after he became chancellor of the German Reich to get rid of the opposition within his own movement.
Once both dictators had reached power they needed the support of the establishment (industrialists, conservative military, aristocracy) and the working class revolutionaries of the fascist or Nazi movements, who demanded e.g. socialisation of business and land, became a liability.

Jan


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13990 posts, RR: 62
Reply 6, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2121 times:

Quoting JJJ (Reply 2):
Just a minor nitpick on an otherwise excellent post, Franco died on Nov. 20th, 1975.

Sorry, my fault. Just a typo.

Jan


User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 7, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2114 times:
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Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 5):
He sent his Division Azul to help Hitler in Russia, this unit consisted mostly of fanatical members of the fascist organisation Falange Espanola, which had big losses in combat.

The reason you gave was precisely correct. You need to lose the nutcases who got you over the edge into power sometimes because they are uncontrollable and will cause trouble of the worst kind. Franco was not stupid. Lots of bad things but not stupid.

I remember reading about the various brigades of volunteers, and of one anarchist brigade where they voted on everything......they were slaughtered.

The Abraham Lincoln brigade took much crap back home for years afterwards for being socialist by and large, but they displayed real heroism.

The testbed attitude the Germans, Italians and Soviets took with this conflict (I don't think they cared really who won) was perhaps most evilly displayed with the bombing of Guernica. Ruthless and unfortunately effective.

Repeated by the Americans, necessarily, later during WWII in all theaters, but most notably in Dresden and Cologne, as well as Tokyo and of course Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Spain is a beautiful place, with friendly people....it's amazing that such things could come from there.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13990 posts, RR: 62
Reply 8, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2103 times:

Ian,

Spain under Franco wasn't the Spain you know today (I remember it a bit as a child, when my father was working in Spain in the early 1970s), and the Spain of the early 20th century was again very different.
Back then you had some highly developed regions with lots of industry, especially Catalunia, Asturias with it's coal mines and the Basque country, plus Madrid. Most of inner Spain, the West and the South was agrarian country ruled by a very reactionary aristocratic class of landowners, who made the French royal court of 1789 look modern and liberal.
Spain's economy was booming during WW1, but went into a deep depression in the 1920s. The world economic crisis of 1929-1932 didn't help either.
This led to an impoverished class of landless, often illiterate, farm workers, many of whom emigrated to the industrial cities of e.g. Barcelona, where they got into contact with radical new ideas. Interestingly Marxism was more a thing of the disciplined and skilled industrial workers, but the large number of agricultural workers rather fell for the anarchist ideas of Bakunin, as one said, they though that being given a pistol and an encyclopedia, they would make Spain a new country by abolishing all private property.

On the other side you had the ruling class of aristocrats and rich industrialists, who were depending on poor workers to work as semi slaves for very low pay.
To enforce this they depended on the military, after the Spanish-American war Spain had a very overgrown officer corps, who mostly came from the ruling class (Spain had the highest number of officers per soldier in any army back then), and the Catholic church, which back then was preaching the old "Pie in the Sky" tale (there were progressive priests as well, but they were heavily disciplined by the church hierarchy).
Corruption was also ripe.

This, together with several royalist groups, which were fighting for their respective royal house (Bourbons or Habsburg), and fascists of the Mussolini type, to a volatile mix.
The army and guardia civil (patramilitary police) used a very heavy handed approach to any public disturbance, which was partly cause by the colonial war the Spanish government was fighting against Berber tribes in Northern Africa, where mutilation of prisoners (e.g. cutting off genitals) was a practice used by both sides to teach the other side a lesson.

On the other hand the leftwing radicals in their revoluntionary zeal believed that the only way to improve their life would be by physically eliminating the ruling class.

Spain under Franco was often compared to a cemetary, everything is quiet, but also there is no life.

Spain really improved since Franco's death and joining the EU really brought the country forward (if I could find a job there I could imagine to move there).

Jan


User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13078 posts, RR: 12
Reply 9, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 2096 times:

Another important supporter of Franco was the Roman Catholic Church. He supported their right to exist, their opposition to Communism and their conservative moral views on issues like abortion, In turn, they had considerable authority and social influence in Spain. Once Franco died and the King returned, the RC Church lost gradually their special position in government in Spain. Abortion was legalized and the government became far more secular. During the Franco era, Spain was really out of the cultural and social change loop.
The Civil War in Spain chased out a lot of famous people, with Pablo Picasso one of the best well known. He lived in exile in France for many years. He work 'Gurinica', a huge and well know painting (once at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, later to the Prado Museum in Madrid after the death of Franco) that gave attention to the Nazi Germany attack of that village in support of Franco.


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13990 posts, RR: 62
Reply 10, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days ago) and read 2094 times:

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 9):
'Gurinica',

The place is called "Guernica". Guernica is a small town in the Basque country, not too far from Bilbao and Durango, where in the middle ages the parliament of the Basque chiefs was meeting and the national treasure of the Basques, the tree of Guernica, an ancient oak, under which the Basque chiefs would swear to support the Spanish king and the Spanish king would swear to preserve the internal autonomy of the Basque country.

At the time of the bomb raid, the Basque army was being forced westwards along a road, which lead over a narrow bridge over a river on the eastern edge of Guernica. The Fascist army wanted to cut off the way of restreat of this army to prevent them from regrouping in new positions. For this a fleet of Junker Ju-52 3m bombers (converted passenger planes) was sent to destroy the bridge and the adjacent buildings.
The planes, belonging to the German unit Legion Condor (sent as "volunteers" by Hitler) came in from the north over the Bay of Biscay and flew down the estuary of the river, heading south, at an altitude of about 2000 meters (appr. 7000 ft). Bomb aiming gear was rather primitive, consisting of a big bucket, which was lowered from the aircraft in the air, hanging between the main landing gear, with an bomb aimer in it using a simple bomb sight (not to compare wirh e.g. the gyro stabilised, autopilot connected Norden bomb sights of late WW2). The observer in the bucket would give instructions to the pilot using an electrical buzzer (one short buzz left, two short buzzes right, continous buzz straight ahead). The first planes missed the bridge (as did all others) and hit the adjacent buildings, raising a huge cloud of smoke and dust, which also prevented to following planes to see the target and caused them to drop their loads right into the cloud.
I don't know if there was any AAA around, but if yes, this might also have lead to a situation called a creep back were each pilot drops his load as early as possible to make his bomb run as short as possible to escape the dangerous zone of AA fire.
As a result, while the intended target (as told to the bomber crews), the bridge, was not being hit, the built up area to the west of the bridge was completely destroyed.

One thing that puzzles me though is that the bomb loads consisted not just of HE bombs, as required for the destruction of a target like the bridge, but also loads of incendaries. While the target was picked by midlevel tactical officers, the composition of the bomb loads came directly from the strategical top headquarters.
While the German officers were probably ignorant of the special significance of Guernica to the Basque people the Spanish fascist officers certainly knew about it.
BTW, both the house of parliament and the tree survived the war.
I was there in 1987 and saw both.

Jan


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