Free essays on the Spanish Civil War

History Extended Essay

To What Extent were Trotskyists to blame for causing the Barcelona May Days of 1937?


The Spanish Civil War, in general, has been a war that has invariably always captivated me. Prior to reading into the conflict in more depth I perceived it to have been a precursor to the Second World War as well as being the only clash between Socialism (in which I comprehended to have been its most desirable form) and Fascism. These conceptions were partially built through my fascination with the author and journalist Christopher Hitchens who wrote. “When allied with my socialist and Fabian readings in other areas, this soon had me thinking of the Spanish Civil War as the only “just” war there had probably ever been.”[1] He then proceeds to write that this led him to read “Homage to Catalonia. Which causes him to profess “I actually couldn’t make head or tail of this book in those days because the ideological battles within the Left were still opaque to me.”[2] I didn’t fully understand this statement until reading the book myself. In “Homage to Catalonia” George Orwell masterfully describes his experiences during the war in which he served as a volunteer in the POUM militia[3] In the book he dedicates two chapters to the Barcelona May Days in which he describes the build up to the violence and the actual events. During his experiences of the event and its aftermath you get a quite tangible sense of the divides within the left and the antagonism that this caused.              
 Personally one of the most poignant events in the novel was the scapegoating of the POUM, or Trotskyists as the Republican government referred to them during and after the Barcelona May Days, for apparently triggering the clashes in an attempt to undermine the revolution and allow a victory for the Nationalists. Thus during this essay I will attempt to understand whether these accusation had any basis or were slanderous and used in an attempt to strengthen the Stalinist policies of the Republican government.  Before embarking on my investigation it’s imperative to set out the various groups involved. For the purpose of this essay I will regard these groups as falling under three “main” “ideologies”: Trotskyism, Stalinism and Anarcho-Syndicalism. 
In this essay I will regard the followers of Trotskyism as being anti-stalinist as well as generally being sympathetic to Trotsky’s interpretation of Marxism. Despite this it’s important to bear in mind that the term Trotskyist at this time was used in a highly slanderous way by many Stalinist sympathisers. This is well explained in the essay entitled “Spilling the Spanish Beans” by George Orwell who wrote “if he still refuses to shut up, you change your tune and call him a traitor. More exactly, you call him a Trotskyist.” He then proceeds to explain this writing: “And what is a Trotskyist? This terrible word--in Spain at this moment you can be thrown into jail and kept there indefinitely, without trial” “The word 'Trotskyist' (or 'Trotsky-Fascist') is generally used to mean a disguised Fascist who poses as an ultra-revolutionary in order to split the left-wing forces.” Due to the nature of the word at the time it’s very difficult to determine who exactly was a Trotskyist and who was an anti-Stalinist. It could perhaps be said that Orwell would not have considered himself to be a Trotskyist but rather anti-totalitarian. Despite this confusion as to the exact nature of many anti-Stalinists in this essay  I will regard the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista) as being “Trotskyist” despite not officially being so. This was due to the merging of the Trotskyist ICE (Izquierda Comunista de España) and the BOC (Bloque Obrero y Campesino) in 1935, against the wishes of Leon Trotsky.[4] Regardless of this “split” members of the POUM were widely Trotskyist sympathising and almost exclusively anti-Stalinist.[5] I will regard the followers of Stalinism as seeing the Soviet Union under Stalin as being a desirable form of government and secondly seeing Trotsky as being a counter-revolutionary and in some cases a Trotsky-Fascist. In Catalonia the largest Stalinist group was the PSUC (Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya (a regional party of the national PCE (Partido Comunista de España)) which was at this time part of Comintern.[6] The major Stalinist union at the time was the UGT (Unión General de Trabajadores) which had close ties to the PCE.  
The third main ideological group were the Anarcho-Syndicalists who, in summary, believed that industry should be controlled by individual unions rather than on a state level. The two main anarchist groups in Barcelona at this time were the FAI (Federación Anarquista Ibérica) and the CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) both of which were closely linked although historically the FAI was more radical.

The Event  

The Barcelona May Days were a period of civil unrest between factions on the Republican side in the region of Catalonia. With the focal point being the various factions engaging in street battles in the regions capital, Barcelona, from the 3rd to the 8th of May 1937.  Trouble began on the 3rd of May when the Catalan councillor for public order, Rodriguez Salas (a Communist leader), without the knowledge of the Catalan government attempted to take control of Barcelona’s central telephone exchange which had been controlled by the Anarchist Trade Union the CNT from the beginning of the “revolution”.[7] With a force of Assault Guards (urban police) and members of the Stalinist group PSUC. The confrontation led to fighting across the city during which the anti-Stalinist, and predominantly although not officially Trotskyist, POUM and the anarchist FAI supported the CNT. The violence between the Communist and non-Communist forces led to the deaths of nearly five thousand people and also left another one thousand wounded.[8]  Following the May Days the republican government (supported by the PCE and PSUC) launched a crackdown against “counter-revolutionary” groups namely the POUM and it’s allies. During this crackdown forty “Trotskyists” were arrested[9] and the leader of the POUM: Andrés Nin was taken into custody and then subsequently murdered, although the circumstances remain shady.[10]

The Claim  
In this essay I will use the book “Trotskyism in The Service of Franco” by George Soria to establish “the claim” of the Stalinist factions in relation to the Trotskyist actions during the Civil War. Soria argues that Trotskyists factions sought to undermine the “revolution” and thus could be argued to have been in the service of Franco’s Nationalists and that these “counter-revolutionary” actions, according to many Stalinist sympathisers climaxed during the Barcelona May Days.  A major spokesperson of the Stalinist left at the time was Dolores Ibárruri. Ibárruri, frequently known as "La Pasionaria", was a Republican leader during the Civil War and communist politician of Basque origin. She is often regarded as one of the greatest public speakers of the 20th century and is idolised by Communists even today. Therefore, at least in Communist terms, she could not be argued to be a complete fanatic. In regards to the Barcelona may days she wrote that the May Days were an "Anarchotrotskyist" attempt at shutting down the Republican government on orders from General Franco, acting in tandem with Adolf Hitler. According to her, the violence was the culmination of an anarchist plot which included plans to stop the movement of trains and cut all telegraph and telephone lines.[11]  To understand the repercussions of such a claim it’s imperative that we look at the plight of the ex PCE leader who founded the POUM: Andrés Nin. In Wilebaldo Solano short biography of Andrés Nin he writes that “But thanks to the heroic sacrifice of Nin, they were not able to mount a "Moscow show trial" in Spain.”[12] This extract references to the supposed planned show trial in Spain of Trotskyists which seems to have many similarities to the Moscow show trials in which Stalin destroyed his political opponents and slandered many of them as Trotskyists a highly slanderous term as Leon Trotsky had been exiled for being “counter-revolutionary”. These show trials perhaps lay the basis of the views harboured by those who saw the May Days as the pinnacle of un-revolutionary actions by the POUM amongst others.  

Although it’s difficult to deem what the exact crime and evidence used against the “Anarchotrotskyists” would have been if the trial had been allowed to take place.  When assessing “The Claim” it’s difficult to analyse the extent to which the supposed Trotskyist crimes against the Republican government can be deemed to be true as the Communist aspects within the Republican government were predominantly Stalinist sympathising thus their judgement may have been perhaps limited because of such things as the Moscow Show Trials which displayed Trotsky as a supposed opponent to Communism  When looking at the May Days we must bare in mind that at this time that Stalin was not considered to be such a monster as he is now as much of the left simply didn’t accept events such as the purges and Ukrainian famine to have happened to the extent that we know them to have had now. Thus mine and I can imagine a great number of peoples judgement of someone referring to themselves as a Stalinist are clouded by more recent historical truths.  

Historic Antagonism  
When looking at the history of the Spanish left it begins to appear that the May Days were an inevitable clash between Anarchism and Communism as within Spain these two different ideologies had been vying for popularity for many years. If we briefly look at the history of both groups within Spain this becomes quite apparent.  
Although obviously not either an Anarchist or a Communist the most radical movement in the mid-19th were the followers of Pierre-Joseph Proudhorn, the most famous of these “federalists”, in Spain, was Fransesc Pi i Margall whom was regarded as being “the wisest of the federalists, almost an anarchist” by Ricardo Mella and also interestingly the only prime minister of the short lived First Spanish Republic of 1873. What we can gather from this is that Spanish “radicals” historically veered to the libertarian side of the left rather than the more federalist communism.[13]  
The first major introduction of Anarchism to Spain was through a visit in 1868 by Giuseppe Fanelli the famous Italian Anarchist revolutionary, which was organised by perhaps the most influential figure of Anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin, to recruit members for the newly formed First International[14] (which aimed to unite different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist political groups as well as trade-union organisations as well as creating a forum for discussion).[15] In 1872 the anarchists split from the International. Anthony Beevor describes this as being because “Bakunin utterly distrusted Marx’s character and predicted that the philosophy of such a man could only lead to dictatorship and deceit.”[16] If Beevor is to believed it seems inevitable that the two would be destined to split and secondly that the ideologies presented by these two intellectuals would not be able to coexist because of their contradictory nature of them as well as the emphasis both put on the problems with the others views and the negative affects such ideologies, if followed, would have.  
In 1871 Marx sent his son-in-law Paul Lafargue to Spain after the fall of the Paris Commune.[17] During his time in Spain he is said to have laid the basis of Spanish Marxist socialism in Madrid.[18] Beevor writes that “The Marxists’ lack of success, in comparison to the anarchists, was partly due to the emphasise they placed on the central state. The idea of a ‘parliamentary road to socialism’ was unthinkable in such a blatantly crooked electoral system as Spain’s.”[19] Marx is said to have written to Engels that they would have to leave Spain to Bakunin for the time being.  Due to the popularity of Anarchism in Spain it’s perhaps not surprising that the 1936 revolution was predominantly an Anarchist movement [20] with much of Spain’s economy being put under worker control; in anarchist strongholds like Catalonia, the figure was as high as 75%, but lower in areas with heavy PCE influence.[21]  Any chance of cooperation between the two groups within Spain was further harmed in 1923 when Primo brought the secretary of the UGT, Fransisco Largo Caballero, into his government to set up industrial arbitration boards.[22] This was much against Anarchist principles as it was seen to be entirely “counterrevolutionary” to have any link to the bourgeois government as they were essentially the “enemy”.  
It could perhaps be these historic relationships between Anarchism and Communism that caused such antagonism throughout the war as both ideologies had never previously been able to coexist and when present in the same environment tended to clash. Ultimately when the communists sided with the Republican government and attempted to disband the militias in favour of a “Popular Army”,[23] disarm private citizens and create a non-unionised army went against many of the “victories” that the Anarchists had made at the beginning of the revolution. Thus the Anarchists had to make the decision to either put up with these changes in order to form a “Popular Front” against the Fascists or continue their more Libertarian revolution.  When looking at these events from a historically determinist viewpoint it could be argued that the historical antagonism between Communists and Anarchists, both generally and specifically is Spain, caused the Barcelona May Days as at the inception of the “revolution” it was inevitable that it’s final resting place could not be ideologically inclusive of both views. The question therefore lies: if there was no Spanish Civil would these opposition groups have clashed in such a violent manner? At least hypothetically it seems that this would have been unlikely as events like the establishment of a regular army and moves towards more capitalist forms of production transpired to have brought these two groups into a hostility. Without such events it seems that antagonism of the nature seen in the May Days would have been unlikely to occur. We could perhaps therefore look at the Spanish Civil War as a catalyst for the May Days which brought historical opposition to a violent head. 
This exacerbation of the situation could perhaps be partially attributed to the split on the Communist side with anti-Stalinists now forming a large group within Spain and  because of their anti-Soviet views be more likely allies of the Anarchists, which naturally would have unnerved the Stalinist aspects within Republican government who were at this time striving for a more Stalinist style governmental system.

The Anarcho-Syndicalist Standpoint  
Before embarking upon the views of Anarchists we must firstly remember that rather than a small and inconsequential left wing faction, as anarchists are regarded in many European countries, in 1934 and, I dare say, even now anarchists, hold great public support within Spain. In 1934 the CNT’s, “according to a government source”, membership numbered 1.58 million people whereas the UGT’s membership was 1.44 million.[24]  
The Anarcho-Syndicalist standpoint is along the line of the May Days being part of a much wider move to make an originally predominantly anarchist revolution more inline with a Stalinist agenda. For this reason the IWA (International Workers Association), essentially the English cousin of the CNT, have written an article about why the May Days were significant as they saw the “Communists made their decisive move”[25] against the CNT and it’s associates as they stormed the CNT controlled telephone exchange which was seen to be symbolic of a much larger aim of “reintroducing capitalist modes of production.”[26] Which is against Anarcho-Syndicalist philosophy that sets out how industry should not be controlled on  a central level but instead by individual trade unions.[27]  The article from the IWA goes on to refer to a “courageous” plea made by the leadership of the CNT which read “Workers of the CNT! Workers of the UGT! Don’t be deceived by these manoeuvres. Above all else, Unity! Put down your arms. Only one slogan: We must work to beat fascism! Down with fascism!”[28] This call was mostly headed, leading to a stop in the fighting and can perhaps explains why Anarchist trade unions were not targeted after the May Days to the same extent that the POUM was. The article however fails to mention that this call to create a “popular-front” and essentially put on hold the “revolution” was not shared by all Anarcho-Syndicalist factions, the more radical Friends of Durruti whom were calling for a all out “revolution” against the “counter-revolutionary” republican government.[29]  
To summarise the Anarcho-Syndicalist perspective, groups like the CNT and FAI took the view that the PCE and Republican government were attempting to attack the principles upon which the revolution had been built. However in the most part they took up the opinion that this conflict was one to be had later and at this time it was far more important to stop the Fascists winning the war. However we must also not forgot that there were those within these main Unions as well as in the Friends of Durutti militia who felt that any hope of the prolongation of the revolution depended upon the Republican government being combated at this time.

The Trotskyist Standpoint  
In the eyes of many Trotskyists a conflict with the republican government was in some ways inevitable and perhaps desirable. This was because the republican government was moving towards a more Soviet Union style system of government[30] which obviously went against the anti-Stalinist views of the “Trotskyists”.  The liquidation of a “revolutionary” atmosphere in Barcelona is no better shown than in George Orwell’s accounts of the Spanish Civil War. When he first arrived in Barcelona on the 26th of December 1936 [31] he described a situation were “there were no private motor cars”, “revolutionary posters were everywhere, flaming from the walls in clean reds and blues” and “except for a small number of women and foreigners there were no ‘well-dressed’ people at all.”[32] This seemingly couldn’t be more in contrast to his description of Barcelona just prior to the May Days with him writing that “The smart restaurants and hotels were full of rich people wolfing expensive meals, while for the working-class population food-prices had jumped enormously.”[33] Understanding this situation, it seems conceivable that the so called “Trotskyists” would want to show there opposition to the Stalinists and the republican government. This would therefore support an argument for the Trotskyists starting the May Days although obviously not in the sense that they were acting under Fascist orders whilst trying to undermine Stalinist elements within the Republican government.  
It could therefore be said that although many “Trotskyists” desired a confrontation in order to challenge Stalinist influence within the Republican government, the actual violence of the May Days was in the most part triggered by the Stalinists with the taking of the telephone exchange and the clamping down on Trotskyist militias and leaders both after and before the May Days.

It’s obvious that the historical opposition between the Anarchists and Communists and later the Stalinists and Trotskyists played a major part in the creation of a climate in which a conflict could occur. This can be seen by the numerous disagreements in the past that in the case of Anarchism and Communism lead to the Anarchists leaving the First International and secondly the opposition of Trotsky to Stalin in Russia which lead to the Moscow show trials, due to these events it does not seem inconceivable that such groups could clash in such a way in Spain.  What also seems to be clear is that Stalinist influence played a major part in causing antagonism between the Republican government and the POUM as well as Anarcho-Syndicalist groups, through the creation of a “Popular Army” as well as moving towards more capitalist modes of production. It could perhaps be said that it was through the taking of the CNT controlled telephone exchange that the situation was ignited.  In reference to the Trotskyist involvement in causing the May Days, it seems inconceivable that they could have had caused it in the way that many Stalinist insinuate/have insinuated. Although I’m sure that the Trotskyists didn’t cause the May Days in the sense that they were Fascist spies and in league with Hitler. They perhaps contributed to the situation that caused it’s occurrence with many members of the POUM, as I’ve previously mentioned, believing that a confrontation with the Republican government was desirable.  
To summarise the “Trotskyist” factions were as far as I can see partially to blame for the conflict as they did nothing to prevent such a clash occurring. Although through my research it seems that the Stalinist government played a far larger part in creating the conflict as they both brought about the events that made cooperation no longer an option for both the Anarchists and Trotskyists as many of their aims had now been marginalised. The aftermath also shows us that the Stalinists capitalised on the conflict in such a way that it seems unlikely that it was simply a consequence of the clashes. Alongside the roles of factions in the immediate build up to the conflict it seems that the role of the long run antagonism within the left in Spain must not be overlooked as it appears to have done more than anything to create a climate in which a confrontation could occur.

  [1] Hitchens, Christopher. Hitch 22: A Memoir. London: Atlantic, 2011. 72. Print  [2] Hitchens, Christopher. Hitch 22: A Memoir. London: Atlantic, 2011. 72. Print  [3] Leys, Simon. Orwell & the Anarchists. 2011. Web  [4] Durgan, Andy, The Spanish Trotskyists and the Foundation of the POUM in The Spanish Civil War: The View From The Left - Al Richardson. Pontypool: The Merlin Press Ltd, 1992. 47. Print  [5] Held, Walter. Stalinism and the POUM in the Spanish Revolution. Quatrième Internationale, 1937. Print  [6] Rees, Tim. International Communism and the Communist International, 1919-43, Manchester University Press, 1998. 154. Print  [7] Souchy, Augustin. A Tragic Week In May. London: Freedom Press, 1987. 17. Print.  [8] Courtouis, Stéphane. The Black Book of Communism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999. 340. Print  [9] Brockway, Fenner. Arrest of P.O.U.M. leaders. International Bureau for Revolutionary Socialist Unity, 1937. Print  [10] Solano, Wilebaldo. The Spanish Revolution The Life of Andreu Nin. ILP: 1974. Print  [11] Ibárruri, Dolores. Memorias de Dolores Ibárruri. Barcelona: Planeta, 1985. 383. Print  [12] Solano, Wilebaldo. The Spanish Revolution The Life of Andreu Nin. ILP: 1974. Print  [13] Bookchin, Murray. To Remember Spain: The Anarchist and Syndicalist Revolution of 1936. San Francisco: AK Press. 1994. Print  [14] Guillaume, James. Michael Bakunin A Biographical Sketch. New York : Knopf. 1971. 23. Print  [15] Raymond, Walter. Dictionary of politics: selected American and foreign political and legal terms. Brunswick Publishing Corp. 1992. 85. Print  [16] Beevor, Anthony. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2006. 24. Print  [17] Heywood, Paul. Marxism and the Failure of Organised Socialism in Spain, 1879-1936. Cambridge University Press. 2003. 6. Print  [18] Beevor, Anthony. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2006. 26. Print  [19] Beevor, Anthony. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2006. 26. Print  [20] Bookchin, Murray. To Remember Spain: The Anarchist and Syndicalist Revolution of 1936. San Francisco: AK Press. 1994. Print  [21] Dolgoff, Sam. The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution.  New York Free Life Editions. 1974. 41. Print  [22] Beevor, Anthony. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2006. 31. Print  [23] Colberg, Barbara. The Effect of Communist Party Policies on the Outcome of the Spanish Civil War.The Ohio State University. 2007. 33. Print  [24] Beevor, Anthony. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2006. 27. Print  [25]‘may-days’-in-barcelona-1937. The ‘May Days’ in Barcelona 1937. Web  [26]‘may-days’-in-barcelona-1937. The ‘May Days’ in Barcelona 1937. Web  [27] Rocker, Rudolf. Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism. Freedom Press. 21.1988. Print  [28]‘may-days’-in-barcelona-1937. The ‘May Days’ in Barcelona 1937. Web  [29] The friends of Durruti group. Towards a Fresh Revolution. 1938. Print  [30] Colberg, Barbara. The Effect of Communist Party Policies on the Outcome of the Spanish Civil War. The Ohio State University. 2007. 33. Print  [31] Orwell, George. Orwell In Spain. Penguin Classics. 2011. 6. Print  [32] Orwell, Geroge. Homage to Catalonia. Mariner Books. 1980. 3. Print  [33] Orwell, Geroge. Homage to Catalonia. Mariner Books. 1980. 98. Print

The Desolation of Guernica

An Analysis of the Motives for and the Justifications of the Bombing of Guernica on 26 April 1937

This essay investigates the motives for and justifications of the bombing of Guernica on 26 April 1937, carried out by the German Condor Legion, the Italian Aviazone Legionara and the Spanish Nationalist officials in the Basque country. The introduction discusses the context of the issue as well as the significance of the topic of Guernica, and ends with stating how the question shall be examined. This is followed by a paragraph focusing on portraying the town of Guernica, its location, strategic importance and symbolic significance. After this section, the investigation will move on to the full analysis of the question, which is divided into two main parts. The first section, entitled the Military Thesis, will focus on the arguments supporting the theory that Guernica had been attacked for strategic motives, such as its position as a communication centre near the front, but also analyse possible limitations of the justifications. Subsequently, the second part of the main investigation shall concentrate on discussing the opposing Morale theory and the validity of the arguments presented. These include the views that as Guernica symbolised Basque liberties and independence, the destruction of this important town would consequently shatter Basque morale and ease the Nationalist advance towards Bilbao. The main analysis will be succeeded by a brief summary of the discussed arguments. Through the analysis the conclusion will be reached that while the main justifications had, in the view of the Condor Legion which, unlike the Spanish officials, did not know of the town’s symbolic worth, been strategic, the bombing had been intended to have a psychological impact and shatter Basque morale.

The Bombing of Guernica – Apotheosis of the Spanish Civil War

During the ideological conflict that shook and divided Spain between 1936 - 1939, many events ignited international interest – yet perhaps none of them as much as the bombing of Guernica on the 26 April 1937. This event, often seen as the ‘first total destruction of an undefended target by aerial bombardment‘[1] was to become one of the most tragic symbols of war and a monument to the atrocities of modern air warfare. Guernica, the ancient capital of the Basques as well as the historic center of their cultural heritage[2], traditions and political ceremonies was a target whose destruction could not but have produced an extreme uproar in the Basque nation as well as in Republican Spain. Picasso’s famous painting ‘Guernica’ in addition to the fortunate presence of several foreign, English-speaking journalists[3] - amongst them the journalist George Steer of The Times – rendered the event a matter of global importance, both politically and emotionally. The desolation of the Basque town overshadowed many preceding as well as subsequent bombings and destructions of other cities, some of them even more disastrous than Guernica. Yet it gave rise to more controversy both within Spain and on a global scale than any other. In countries involved in the event, such as the author’s home country Germany, the bombing of Guernica is even nowadays referred to as the apotheosis of the Spanish Civil War. The many factors which contributed to the broad interest in and popularity of the topic have been explained by the most knowledgeable scholars on multiple occasions, and these analyses might have lessened the interest or the belief in the singularity of the event. None of this was the case. It seems as though Guernica, indeed, was ‘burned into the European consciousness’[4]. The question as to who was to blame for the atrocity can nowadays, thanks to much thorough research and study[5], be answered - the responsibility of the Condor Legion and the Aviazione Legionara as actors as well as of the Spanish rebel command as initiators are no longer a matter of doubt. The motives of the bombing, however, remain a controversy. While many historians support the theory which assumes that Guernica had been a military target, others firmly support the idea that it was bombed to crush Basque morale. This essay’s aim will be to assess the validity, coherence and objectivity of the proof given for each argument and thus analyse to what extent the aims and actions of both the Spanish and the Germans before as well as during the bombing justify each theory.

Guernica  - Ancient symbol and sentinel over Basque culture

Guernica, although not the official capital of the Biscay province, was the center of Basque tradition, culture and national pride. It was not in Bilbao, but in front of Guernica’s famous oak[6] where political decisions concerning Basque rights had been made for centuries[7]. While a source of pride to the Basques, the Spanish Nationalists saw in it the threat of autonomy and possible opposition towards the regime.[8] Several other factors, however, added to the town’s importance and eventual danger to the rebels. Located less than 10 miles from the front and from the Iron Ring around Bilbao, it was home to about 7000 inhabitants and 3000 refugees[9] at the time of its destruction. The short distance to several surrounding villages as well as regular Monday markets – as was the case on Monday 26 April 1937 – meant that the town was a vital center for communication, commerce and political discussions, partly owing to the fact that the headquarters of the Izquierda Republicana, too, were located in the centre. On the outskirts of the town and unknown to many, putatively also the Nationalist army and the Condor Legion, Guernica was also home to two small-arms factories, ‘Unceta y Cía’ and ‘Talleres de Guernica’. The bridge over the river Oca, which connected Guernica with the adjoining district of Renteria, as well as the crossroads leading from the village, made Guernica one of the few places through which retreating Basque soldiers or fleeing civilians could pass.

Guernica as a military target – The Military Thesis

As the Nationalist army, led by General Emilio Mola and his chief of staff, Colonel Juan Vigón Suerodiaz, advanced through the areas of Navarre and Guizpoca  towards Bilbao, they left a trail of death and destruction behind them. Where they passed, cities and towns in the Basque country were reduced to heaps of debris, often despite not being of symbolic or strategic importance. The towns of Durango and Ochandiano, both of which were of less significance symbolically than Guernica, were destroyed on 31March[10] and only serve as two examples of the many towns in the Basque country which experienced a similar treatment. That Guernica was a strategic target and destroyed in the general wave of destruction which rolled over Basque villages is a thesis which caused both dispute and acclaim worldwide. Due to the fact that consequential reasoning has to be applied for several arguments which justify the military thesis and also owing to a scarcity in original historic sources, historians’ account often stress different aspects. As a result, the opposing school of thought frequently portrays the military thesis as lacking in coherence and cogency. The following paragraphs, however, will focus on the most widely established and plausible arguments which support the theory that Guernica had indeed been a strategic target.

Its situation less than 10 miles from the front[11] on the evening of the 25 April 1937 or the proximity to the Iron Ring surrounding Bilbao were not the only attributes which rendered Guernica a town of strategic importance. The bridge over the river Oca, which connected the district of Rentaria with Guernica, was a vital means for fleeing Basque soldiers and civilians, especially since it provided one of the last opportunities to cross the river. Crossroads leading through Guernica to several other villages also permitted the passage of soldiers, civilians and war matériel through the town. In nearly all accounts of the bombing, the existence of these two factors are listed as the major objectives for the bombing of Guernica. In his diary entry from the 26th April, General Freiherr von Richthofen, head of staff of the Condor Legion and theoretically under Mola’s control, clearly states that both the bridge and crossroads had been the only targets.[12] The same is expressed in the statement of Freiherr von Beust, who himself flew aircraft over Guernica on Monday the 26.4.1937.[13] To destroy the bridge and block the crossroads would have had the highly desired effect of ‘closing off’[14] Republican traffic both within Guernica, but also around nearby villages such as Marquina[15].

Plans showing the distribution of the bomb holes over the city and the two routes of the aircraft – from North to South and from West to East – indicate clearly that the routes crossed exactly over the bridge (see Appendix I). This consequential reasoning does not necessarily supply concrete evidence, yet it can be argued that as in the case of Guernica most justifications had to be gathered in hindsight, it is a logically convincing assumption. As aforementioned, both the bridge and crossroads were essential factors in rendering Guernica a centre of communication and commerce.

As the majority of planes raiding Guernica were part of the Condor Legion and flown by German pilots, the aims behind the bombing are often explained with the trials of war tactics carried out by the Germans during the Spanish Civil War. The Condor Legion in Spain, especially during its mission in the North, was a dominant power under command of the Spanish officials such as Emilio Mola, but mostly directed by its own will. Colonel Freiherr Wolfram von Richthofen condescendingly stated in his diary entry of 24.3.1937: ‘We are basically directing the entire enterprise, without any responsibility.’[16] Indeed the German commanders enjoyed high respect and were accustomed to having their orders fulfilled. The officials of the Condor Legion - as most notably shown in Richthofen’s diary entries from 18 and 23 April 1937 - were discontented with the slow advance in the Basque region as well as eager for another occasion to test their aircraft tactis and matériel in order to secure a successful strategic move towards Bilbao.[17]

Father Onaindía, a priest who arrived in Guernica on the very day and became an often quoted eye-witness of the bombing, was convinced that the attack was ‘a trial in totalitarian warfare’[18] carried out by the Condor Legion. This argument is often accompanied by the statement of Reichsmarschall Göring during the Nuremberg trials in 1945, in which he mentioned that air support was given to Franco partly because it supplied the occasion to ‘test my young Luftwaffe in this or that technical respect’. [19] The credibility of this quite general statement should be questioned, especially as it was made eight years after the end of the Spanish Civil War and used as a justification rather than an explanation for the actions of Nazi Germany in Spain. Yet it does highlight again that especially for new divisions of the Luftwaffe, such as the Condor Legion, the testing of their warfare was certainly a prerequisite.

That the German officials did indeed perceive the mission in the North as a testing ground for ground attacks and carpet bombing can easily be noted in Richthofen’s diary. In an entry from 5 April 1937, Richthofen referred to earlier advances through the Basque region as ‘A good first success, which served especially to get to know the apparatus, which had not been used in this way beforehand.’[20] Reflecting on the destruction of Guernica, he stated that ‘the streets were hardly hit’ and thus ‘the planned aim not fulfilled‘ but called it a ‘full technical success for our 250er and EC.B.’ (explosive and incendiary bombs) and praised the bomb holes which were still visible on the streets[21]. Reports of the Condor Legion suggest that the combination of explosives and incendiaries was not necessarily uncommon, but used for bombing trials of several Spanish towns, due to it having proved most successful.[22] Indeed, the technique used in Guernica had already been practiced in Madrid in late 1936[23] and only ceased to be practiced on towns after the international controversy of Guernica.[24]

It is necessary to summarise these various aspects in order to conclude how much credibility can be attributed to the thesis that Guernica was a military target. That the German Condor Legion used the bombing as another opportunity to test their tactis cannot be questioned. It is also certain that the military aspects of the bridge and crossroads, as well as the importance of Guernica as a comunication centre were – at least at first – the only reasons known to the German officials for the bombing. The location of the town certainly also played and important role – it is unlikely that Guernica would have become a target of such utter annihilation or indeed destroyed at all had it been very far away from the front. It is, however, even less likely that the two arms factories were major causes for the bombing. None of these can be proved without a remaining, yet minimal amount of ambiguity. It is, however, reasonable to accept that Guernica certainly had several aspects which possibly made it a military target.

Guernica as a psychological target - The Morale Thesis

The bombing of Guernica had a highly destructive impact, both physically and psychologically on the inhabitants of the town as well as on the Basque Nation itself. Although the event did not succeed in convincing the Basques to surrender Bilbao, it was a severe blow and insult to Basque national pride, liberty and beliefs. Very soon, the question as to why Guernica had been the target of such calamitous forces spread far over the Spanish borders and thus the theory that the destruction had been solely for the purpose of crushing Basque morale was established internationally. George Steer, a journalist of The Times who had visited Guernica while still in flames, published his article on the 28.4.1937 in which he clearly stated that ‘Guernica was not a military target’[25]. Over the years, both historians and non-scholars sought proof for this theory. The principle argument that Guernica’s destruction was for psychological motives is ubiquitous in the works of this school of thought, yet scholars’ views do diverge to some extent. As is the case with the military thesis, the paucity of historic documents, the many falsified press reports and the often differing accounts by eye-witnesses explain why no complete consensus has been reached. The subsequent paragraphs will concentrate on the main arguments, presented in all works of this school of thought, supporting the thesis that the destruction of Guernica had been carried out due to psychological motives.

During the Spanish Civil War and especially under the German Condor Legion as well as the Francoist air force, the techniques of carpet and terror bombing reached fatal dimensions. It is highly likely, if not certain, that despite remaining inexperience in the first years the commanders of the Condor Legion knew of the destruction the incendiaries would cause - both physically and psychologically – on the town of Guernica and its inhabitants. Richthofen was, as Preston states in his work, experienced in the field of terror bombing and thought it a highly effective method of shattering morale.[26] Emilio Mola, the Spanish General in charge of the campaign in the North and cognisant of the towns symbolism, while addressing himself to the Nationalist mayors of Navarra, famously stated that: “It is necessary to spread terror. We must create the impression of mastery, eliminating without scruples or hesitation all those who do not think as we do.”[27] In a campaign to ‘spread terror’ at the end of March and early April 1937, Mola initiated the printing of leaflets thrown onto Basque towns reading “If your submission is not immediate, I will raze Vizcaya to the ground, beginning with the industries of war. I have ample means to do so.”[28] Clearly, the use of terror to secure victory was both welcomed and intended by the Spanish generals. No evidence has been found to prove that the German officials were aware of the symbolic importance of Guernica and it remains unknown whether they were indeed ignorant of the town’s significance or whether documents proving the contrary were removed. Yet it can be stated that as terror bombing and the shattering of morale had been deployed by the Condor Legion before 26 April 1937, most notably at Durango, it is highly probable that Guernica had been, at least partly, targeted for psychological motives.

The opposing thesis, or rather the facts used for this line of argument, provide ample scope for counterclaims which in turn reinforce the theory that the devastation of morale had been the main objective. Such is the case with the often discussed claim that the two arms factories in the South-East of the town rendered Guernica an important military target. It is highly questionable that the existence of the small-arms factories was at all known to the commanders of the Condor Legion. A telegram the Condor Legion received by the General Headquarters staff from Salamanca on the 7.5.1937, to be further passed on to Berlin, reports – and stresses - the several factors which made Guernica a military target.[29] These include that Guernica:

‘was six kilometers from the fighting line, is a highly important communications crossroad, has a factory for munitions, bombs and pistols; on the 26th  it was a place for passage of units in flight and for the stationing of reserves.’[30]

This statement which Berlin – unaware of the exact details and objectives of the bombing – was to receive, is the only genuine historic document which passed between the Spanish command and Berlin concerning the destruction of Guernica after 26 April 1937. As is to be expected, the statement’s uniqueness significantly increased its value as a primary source for historians of this school of thought.  That the telegram stresses the existence of these factors, refers to the bombing as an accident due to ‘lack of visibility’[31] and most importantly clearly takes on the responsibility for the event, remarkably lessens the credibility of the statement and indicates its purpose as an excuse for the Condor Legion.[32]

The very process of the bombing and the types of bombs used are very cogent arguments for the theory that Guernica was bombed to destroy Basque morale. According to the Spanish historian César Vidal, the second waves of planes consisted of three Italian Savoia 79 which - despite orders to bomb only the bridge and crossroads – dropped 36 bombs during a single sixty seconds flight from North to South over the entire town.[33] While destruction was then still limited to a few buildings, including the headquarters of the Izquierda Republicana, the subsequent waves would be all the more destructive: German Junkers 52s carrying over 22 tons of 50 kg and 250 kg explosives as well as the certainly lighter, but all the more disastrous 1kg incendiaries were to bomb the whole town, and by doing so would destroy 71% of all buildings completely.[34] Several planes which had already dropped their load onto the town then followed and machine - gunned fleeing inhabitants[35], a fact which suggests that terrorisation and elimination of the inhabitants must have been purposed. The peculiar choice of bombs is also rather indicative – incendiary bombs are not suited to destroy a specific target, yet alone crossroads or a stone bridge. Paul Preston, in his work ‘The Destruction of Guernica’ argues that ‘the incendiary effects of the attack cannot have been a side-effect’ or intended to destroy the stone bridge, but were solely meant for ‘terrorising the residential sector of the town, which was largely of wooden construction.’[36] Although most houses in Guernica were indeed built

Moreover, the fact that the alleged targets – the bridge, crossroads and, as often added, the two small-arms factories – were undamaged, but the centre of the town and especially the residential areas destroyed[37], indicates that the annihilation of Guernica was not accidental. The statement that the aircraft missed the actual aims due to smoke and dust blocking their vision[38] cannot be taken into consideration as an explanation – evidently after incendiaries and explosives had hit near the centre, it was impossible to discern specific targets. Furthermore, if the attack had only been aimed at the bridge and the crossroads, it would have sufficed to fly the bombers in a single route from East to West over Guernica – it would not have been necessary to cross the whole town in routes from North to South as well as east to West and thus maximise the area of possible destruction (see Appendix I).


Both the military and morale thesis sound plausible and both are supported by facts and arguments which – in general – are objective and rational. Regarded from a purely military and objective point of view, Guernica – as many other smaller villages – was a communication centre with the possible threat of giving refuge or passage possibilities to retreating Republican soldiers. The German comanders used the opportunity to further test their aircraft and bombing tactics, while also, as they had done before, experimenting with terror bombing. They were, however, unaware of the symbolic importance and the international impact such an attack would provoke. The Spanish officials Mola and Vigón both had experience in terrorising civilian population and, as shown before, had no scrupel to use it. They, in contrast to Richthofen, were well acquainted with the significance of the town for the Basque nation. The bridge and crossroads were the two major aspects which allegedly rendered the town a target - yet neither was fully destroyed. The tow arms factories, the Tree of Guernica and the Casa de Juntas also remained untouched. What was destroyed however, was the centre of the town and with it Basque morale. Given the detail concerning both theories, it is reasonable to assume that although in the eyes of the German commanders, it had at first been a military target, they did not hesitate to destroy the entire town. By doing so – as they assumed – a possible danger could be easily eliminated. The Spanish officials, although not directly and actively taking part in the bombing, ordered Guernica’s destruction, knowing that it was the ancient capital of the Basque region and that its military importance – although existing – was not significant enough to fully destroy the entire town.


The controversy that raged over Guernica once has ebbed, but not died. The horrific annihilation, so perfectly captured in Picasso’s immortal and world-famous painting, still is a widely discussed and analysed topic. It owns its longeveity not only to the extreme horror – other bombings, such as Durango, were at least as atrocious – nor only to the vast amount of press it once created – rather it is the fact that it is still unsolved, still not completely explained or proved and thus again and again provokes polemics and investigations. This essay attempted to show as objectively as possible the facts supporting each theory, analysing their validity by contrasting them with the counterarguments of the opposing thesis. As already stated in the summary, an evaluation of the arguments given for both theories indicates that the destruction of Guernica was neither only for military, nor entirely for psychological reasons. The Condor Legion percieved Guernica – at least at first – as a military objective. While a partial destruction was also effective, it was in their eyes clearly even more effective to eliminate the whole town and with it every ounce of a possible threat. The Germans were certainly aware of and welcomed that the full destruction of the town had a severe and immediate psychological impact on the inhabitants, but they were unaware of the symbolism of Guernica. The Spanish commanders – Mola and Vigón – gratefully took advantage of the willingness of the Condor Legion and Aviazione Legionara to bomb the town. They knew of its symbolic significance and of the morale shattering efects its annihilation would have on the enemy. In this way, the attack on Guernica was both a military and psychological target – and – unfortunately – successful in both aspects. There will, however, never be an entirely correct and unambiguous answer – depending on the arguments at hand, the political tendency or the research carried out, the conclusion on whether Guernica was a military or moral target will always vary.

   [1] Paul Preston, A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War, (London: Fontana Press 1996) pg. 5  [2]  [3] Herbert R. Southworth, Guernica! Guernica! A Study of Journalism, Diplomacy, Propaganda and History , (London: University of California Press Ltd. 1977), 12  [4] Paul Preston, ibid.  [5]  [6] Author’s note: The oak of Guernica, according to records planted in the 14th century, first became significant in 1512 when the government of Biscay province began holding its assemblies in Guernica. Since then, the tree has evolved into the symbol of liberty as well as autonomy for the Basque region and is even nowadays depicted on the Basque coat of arms.  [7] Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, (London, Penguin Books 2012, 50th anniversary edition), 606  [8] Paul Preston, The Destruction of Guernica, (London: Harper Press 2012), Kindle edition, 60  [9] George Steer, The Tragedy of Guernica, (London, (Thomas 2012) The Times, 28.4.1937)  [10] Thomas, 598 - 9  [11] Thomas, 606  [12] Maier, 103  [13] Oberst a.D.Frhr. von Beust, Die deutsche Luftwaffe im spanischen Krieg (..., 1955)  [14] Wolfram Frhr. von Richthofen, Spanien-Tagebuch, (Spain: Bundesarchiv 136-7), 121  [15] ibid. 121  [16] Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen, ‘Spanien-Tagebuch‘ (..., 1937)  [18] Father Alberto Onaindía, ‘Hombre de Paz en la Guerra’ (Buenos Aires, Editorial Vasca Ekin, 1937) 238-240  [19] Nürnberger Prozesse gegen die Hauptkriegsverbrecher, (Nürnberg: 14 November 1945 to 1 October 1946, bd. XI Nürnberg 1948)  [20] Richthofen, Spanien-Tagebuch 1937, (59 in Maier Buch)  [21] Richthofen, Spanien-Tagebuch, 1937  [22] Maier, 59  [23] Robert H. Whealy, Hitler and Spain, (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1989), 102  [24] Ángel Viñas, Guerra, Dinero, Dictadura: Ayuda facista y autarquía en la España de Franco (Barcelona: Editarial Crítical, 1984), 102 – 106, 112  [25] George Steer, The Tragedy of Guernica (London, The Times 1937)  [26] Preston, The Destruction of Guernica, 89  [27] Juan José Usabiaga Irazustabarenna, ‘La Guerra de Franco, los Vascos y la Iglesia’, (San Sebastián, Puplicaciones del Clero Vasco, 1978), 433  [28] George Steer, The Tree of Gernika: A Field Study of Modern War (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1938), 159  [29] Herbert Rutledge Southworth, Guernica! Guernica! A Study of Journalism, Diplomacy, Propaganda and History, Berkeley: University of California Press 1977  [30] Salamanca Telegram – citation needed.  [31] Salamanca Telegram  [32] Southworth, 372-3  [33] César Vidal, La Destrucción de Guernica: Un Balance Sesenta Años después, (Madrid, Editorial Espasa Calpe 1997)  [34] nationalist report (found in Guernica 26.4.1937 by Klaus Maier)  [35] Alberto Onaindia, Hombre de Paz en la Guerra, (Buenos Aires, Editorial Vasca Ekin, 1973) ???  [36] Paul Preston, The Destruction of Guernica, 503  [37] Vidal, 102  [38] Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War (London, Penguin Books, 2012, fourth edition)

History Extended Essay
To What Extent Did Foreign Intervention Help The Nationalists Win The Spanish Civil War?

            The Spanish Civil War started on July 17, 1936 and ended on April 1, 1939 with the surrender of Madrid and a Nationalist victory. To what extent did foreign intervention help the Nationalists win the Spanish Civil War?

The factors I will discuss which influenced the outcome of the war will be military aid, the internal political landscape, foreign intervention (and briefly non-intervention) and the effect of these factors upon both the Republicans and the Nationalists. The Republicans received foreign aid from the Soviet Union in exchange for Spanish gold[1], however in 1938 the Soviet Union stopped supporting them[2], as it was clear that they were going to lose. The Republicans were militarily and politically more disconnected than the Nationalists and had conflicts between the different political parties constituting the Popular Front[3]. The Nationalists on the other hand were generally unified under Generalissimo Francisco Franco. The Republicans were supported by only one major power, whereas the Nationalists were aided by both the Germans and the Italians throughout the whole war.

The Nationalist victory was due to a combination of all the factors mentioned above. However, Spain was industrially underdeveloped[4] and foreign intervention was crucial, especially for the Nationalists starting the uprising. Even if a group is politically and militarily better organized, a war cannot be won without equipment and or masses. Therefore the foreign intervention received was the deciding factor in their victory.                                                                                            Word Count: 299

To What Extent Did Foreign Intervention Help the Nationalists Win the Spanish Civil War?


The Spanish Civil War was between the Republicans and the Nationalists and began on the 17 of July 1936, ending with the surrender of Spain’s capital, Madrid, and a Nationalist victory on the 1 of April 1939[5]. To what extent did the foreign intervention help the nationalists win the Spanish Civil War? This question will be answered by looking at the political, military and foreign intervention (and lack thereof) factors concerning both the Republicans and the Nationalists, however with more emphases on the Nationalists.
The Nationalists were lead by General Francisco Franco, who, in July flew to Spanish Morocco to join the uprising and consequently lead the Spanish elite troops stationed there to continental Spain to join the other rebels with the help of German transport.[6] The Nationalists were politically and militarily more united than the Republicans as the Republicans had to deal with revolutions in Catalonia, as well as changes in the government and conflicts within the different political parties.[7] Both the Republicans and Nationalists had foreign intervention, however it worked out better for the later. The Nationalists had substantial help from the Italians and the Germans. This constituted of training, transportation and men and equipment to fight the war. However the Republicans had limited aid from the Soviet Union. This included advisors and equipment, which in March 1938 declined and was soon after withdrawn. The Republicans also had to pay for Soviet materials with Spanish gold[8]. The outcome of the war still affects many Spanish people of older generations today who still carry bitterness or delight depending on their stance.

Foreign Intervention
The foreign intervention the Nationalists received was the most important factor for winning the war. Both sides needed foreign aid as Spain was not very industrially developed and couldn’t make the amount of weapons needed for a war. ‘To an industrially under-developed country, as Spain was in the 1930s, foreign military equipment was a necessity.’[9] Both sides were able to acquire this from different countries, the Republicans from the Soviet Union and the Nationalists from the Germans and Italians.
Though it is often assumed that the Republicans received limited aid from the Soviets, the reality is that the Republicans received substantial aid starting in late autumn of 1936 and ‘…totaling 600–800 aircraft, around 350 tanks, 1200 to 1500 artillery pieces, 500,000 rifles…’[10] at the end of the war.[11] Up until the Civil War, the USSR hadn’t focused on Spain. However, ‘After Hitler came to power in 1933, Stalin, fearing an alliance between capitalist and fascist countries, radically changed his policy [and]…decided to support the Spanish Republican government…’[12] They were supplied weapons, military advisors and the International Brigade,[13] which was a group of 40000 – 60000 volunteers[14] from different countries ready to fight for the Republic. This included countries such as France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and many more.[15] Many of these created their own units to fight under, for instance the Americans’ unit was called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.[16] The majority of the volunteers in the International Brigade volunteered because of idealistic beliefs, believing the war was a fight against fascism, and most did not have much military experience. However, when in 1938 it seemed clear to many that the Nationalists were going to win, the International Brigades retreated. Also, in March 1938 the ‘Soviet supply shipments declined…’[17] Also, unlike the Nationalists, the Republicans had to pay for the shipment of supplies the Soviet Union sent them in Spanish gold from the Bank of Spain. Thus, the impact on the Spanish civil war was that the Nationalists had a more rounded aid, lasting them the whole war.
The Nationalists received substantial aid from the Italians, supplied by Benito Mussolini, and from the Germans, supplied by Adolf Hitler.[18] The Spanish Civil War gave both the Italians and the Germans the opportunity to try out new weapons and tactics.[19] The Nationalists received roughly ‘…10,000 military personnel, 600-800 aircraft and 200 tanks.’[20] from the Germans, as well as the Condor Legion, which was made up of almost 12,000 men.[21] The German air force was important for the Nationalists at the beginning of the war, as the ‘…German JU-52 transports allowed for the initial transfer of soldiers from Africa to Sevilla, securing western Andalusia as a bastion for the rebels.’[22] Also, some German units trained many Spanish nationalist soldiers, bringing with them new war strategies. It is difficult to fight a war without equipment, and with the help of the Italians and Germans, the Nationalists were able to get what they, as the rebels, lacked, helping them in turn to win the war. 
In 1934 Mussolini had made an agreement that if a rebellion broke out he would offer immediate assistance.[23] Mussolini failed to keep that promise, but on the 27 of July he sent Black Shirts numbering around 30,000 by the end of the war.[24] The Italians also took part in the bombing of Malaga, Valencia and Barcelona.[25] The Italians sent approximately ‘130 aircrafts, 2500 tons of bombs, 700 mortars, 50 tanks, 500 cannons, 1200 machine guns and 38000 vehicles.’[26] Also, Mussolini sent roughly 50,000 ‘volunteers’.[27] This force was called the Corpo di Truppe Volonraie or Corps of Volunteer Troops.[28] Unlike the volunteers fighting for the Republicans, the ‘volunteers’ fighting on the Nationalists’ side were professionals and had a military experience. This was due to the fact that they were not really volunteers. ‘At the Battle of Guadalajara the Republic won a propaganda coup when captured documents showed that the members of the Italian Corpo di Truppe Volontarie were in fact regular Italian army units and Fascist blackshirts.’[29] This is important, because it shows that the Nationalists had experienced fighters on their side, where as the Republicans had mostly volunteers with no military background, only joining due to their of political beliefs. The fighters on the rebels’ side gave the Nationalists the upper hand in war because of their military experience. The foreign intervention was crucial in Nationalist victory as the support gave them the numbers and equipment needed to perform a successful putsch.

Military Aid
The military also played an important role in the victory of the Nationalists.  On the 19 of July 1936, Franco went to Tetuan, the Spanish Moroccan capital and took command of Spain’s elite military situated there.[30] Once he was in Spain, the ‘…Republic failed at retaining the loyalty of the junior officers of whom more than 2/3’s had joined the conspirators.’[31] Not only did some of he young officers leave the Republicans to fight on the Nationalist’s side,[32] but ‘…the commitment of local Army garrison to the rebellion and also the willingness of security forces, the Civil Guards and Assault Guards, to abandon their allegiance to the Republic…’[33] also helped the Nationalists gain the numbers they needed to fight the war.
Franco’s main goal was to capture Madrid, the Spanish capital. The Nationalist’s efforts to do so dominated the time up until March 1937. However after multiple unsuccessful attempts at capturing Madrid, Franco decided to seize northern Spain. Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen, commander of the Condor Legion, lead raids on the 26 of April 1937 to support the Nationalist advance towards Bilbao. He also planned and executed attacks on vital railroad stations and bridges in Guernica to prevent Republican reinforcements from being transported and so making it more difficult for the Republicans to retreat. By bombing Guernica on Market day, the Nationalists not only killed around 250 civilians, but ‘…the pilots of Hitler’s Condor Legion reduced the Basque’s holy city of Guernica to rubble…’[34], the heart and soul for the Basques. Franco also made a strategic move to weaken his enemies. After recapturing Teruel, the Nationalists ‘…reached the Mediterranean…and cut the Republic in half.’[35] in April 1938. This hindered the Republicans from being able to help each other. The Republicans were not very united as it was, as they had internal strife and splitting their forces in half weakened their military force and thus were more likely to lose. As Julius Caesar said: “Divide and conquer.”[36] Though the Nationalists military is generally seen as more united and organized than that of the Republicans, according to Franz, a German writer, they also had struggles. There was ‘…distrust and rivalry between Germans and Italians…[and the]…Spanish nationalists… profoundly dislike[d] the interference of the foreigner.’[37] However, it should be recognized, that Borkenau only spent two months in Spain during the war, giving him a limited perspective on the situation as he was not there for the whole war and was not actually fighting in it. The dislike between many people on the Nationalist side did lead to a Republican victory in the Battle of Jarama. Military aid was vital to the Nationalists, as it allowed for new strategies and an increase in military soldiers and equipment used to win the war.

The Non-Intervention Agreement was an important factor in the defeat of the Republicans. The French Prime Minister worried that the international aid would cause the war to also become international and didn’t want France to be dragged in. With Britain’s support a Non-Intervention Agreement was written up in September 1936 and signed by 27 countries.[38] This included France, Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union all of whom later ignored the Agreement and gave their support in the Spanish Civil War.[39] The French Prime Minister, Leon Blum, agreed to aid the Republicans at the start, as he feared a nationalist Spain under Franco would ally with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. [40]However, after being pressured by Stanley Baldwin, the British Prime Minister, as well as some right-wing members of Baldwin’s cabinet, Blum revoked his support. [41]Also, at the beginning the Germans tried to disguise their support by sending it through Portugal. Without the help of the French, British and the United States the Republic relied on the Soviet Union for help as well as the volunteers from the International Brigade.[42] Where the Republic was being partially supported by one great power, two were aiding the Nationalists. Non-intervention was an important factor for the victory of the Nationalists because if France and Britain had ‘intervened’, they would have been on the Republican’s side, as they didn’t like Germany (Hitler) and Italy (Mussolini) at the time. This would have meant more support for the Republicans.[43]

Battle of Jarama  
A vital combat was the Battle of Jarama from the 6 to the 27 of February 1937. This battle was one of the fights the nationalist’s army lost. By crossing the river Jarama, Franco attempted to isolate Madrid from Valencia (which is where the Republican government had moved to in November 1936)[44] as well as from the rest of the Republicans. While the Italians led by General Mario Roatta fought at Guadalajara, a nationalist unit lead by Mola were supposed to cross the Jarama and fight the Republicans back. This however did not work, as the Italian unit was not ready in time and Mola decided to go through with the plan even without their help. There was  ‘…rivalry between Spanish Nationalists and Italian commanders…’[45] which is one of the reasons Mola went ahead with the plan without the Italian unit. Lenin once said: “You should not glory in victory before you come out of the battle.”[46] It seems that at this point in the war, the Nationalist forces were used to winning their battles and were not prepared for strong counter attacks. ‘As soon as [Franco] came up against something like organized resistance…he had to stop.’[47]  The Republicans counter attacked and at the end of the battle, though the Nationalists had been able to cross the river, failed in completing their plan. Though this battle’s outcome was in favor of the Republic, the Nationalists had many successful fights and after several more tries were able to finally capture Madrid. Thus, this demonstrates the Nationalist’s perseverance.

Battle of Ebro
Another important battle was the Battle of Ebro, 1938, being the longest battle in the civil war, lasting from July 25 to November 16. This is seen as ‘…a final heroic effort carried out by a republic split in two by Nationalist forces and lacking the means to supply troops.’[48] During the night of the 24th to the 25th of July the Republicans in Catalonia crossed the river Ebro to try to regain some of their lost territory and to reunite the Republican troops. They crossed by any means necessary ‘[The move was made with any boat that would float]…’[49] The Republicans were ready to get their territory back in whatever way they had to. The Nationalists were quick to respond and Franco had the Condor Legion bomb the Republican’s supplies, which they had been transporting over the Ebro. ‘…the Nationalist Army’s aerial and materials superiority allowed them to attack the Republican unit frontally and therefore completely destroying it.’ [50] This left Catalonia vulnerable and the Nationalists broke through the Republican’s fronts in November, continuing their advance. This further shows the Nationalist’s perseverance and strength in war strategies.

Internal Factors
The political factors were important for the Nationalist victory. Throughout the war the Nationalists were more unified and were politically stronger than the Republicans. In areas like Catalonia there was a social and economic revolution in 1936, lead by anarchists.[51] The revolution meant, “…land and industry properties were collectivized…”[52] People became enraged that they had to share their profits. In May 1937 fighting broke out in Barcelona among the Republicans (anti-Stalinist Marxists and Communists). The socialist government under leadership of Francisco Largo Caballero was becoming weak[53] and, as the government lost power,[54] it was taken into the hands of different political parties as well as unions.[55] The Republicans were in a chaotic state, conflicts emerged between political groups as well as militia groups fighting between themselves. ‘The Madrid government and general staff have shown a startling incapacity for the elementary organization of defense. So far they have not achieved agreement between the parties.’[56] The Republicans are often described as being disorganized and incapable of unity during the Spanish Civil War. When things got completely out of hand Largo Caballero abdicated and his second in command, Juan Negrin came to power. Though Negrin started out as a socialist, with time he slowly became a communist. The Republican government was in turmoil, not only because of the fights between different political parties, but also because the government itself had changed. According to Borenau, ‘Franco has lived by the mistakes, even by the stupidity of his enemies. He has been successful…because neither the republicans nor the socialists were able to organize an army.’[57] Franco used the Republican’s weakness of not being organized to win most of the battles between the two sides; hence it can be said that foreign intervention wasn’t the most important factor.
In contrast to this ‘ …it was the Nationalists who were most successful in enforcing unity.’[58] Four days after the death of General Jose Sanjurjo on the 20th of July 1936 military leaders created the ‘Junta de Defensa Nacional’, the National Defense Council. On the 1st of October 1936, four month later, Franco was designated as leader. The Caudillo, as Franco was sometimes called, got rid of all the political parties and merged the Carlist and Falangists so that Franco ruled over one united political party instead of many. This prevented different political parties from conflicting with each other and kept the Nationalists unified, unlike the Republicans. By October 1937 Franco had already established a unified political and military leadership over the Nationalists, and to enhancing his political power even more, combined the roles of legislative, judicial and executive branches of the government in himself and therefore was completely in charge. Also, due to the chaotic state Spain was in because of the ‘revolutionary outbreak’, ‘The Daily Mail…was able to represent Franco as a patriot delivering his country from hordes of fiendish ‘Reds’.’[59] The country was politically divided, and because of the increasing communist influence, Franco was seen, to many, as a loyal Spaniard who wanted to defend his country from the Communist sphere of influence. This representation of him helped unite many people under Franco, who didn’t want communism in their country, increasing Nationalist support.

In the Spanish Civil War political and military factors as well as the provided and refused foreign intervention were fundamental in determining the outcome. From the start it can be seen that the Nationalists were politically and militarily more organized and united than the Republicans, as Franco lead one political party yet the Republicans had to deal with hostility between the many political parties as well as the reforms and a change in their governmental leader. The Nationalists were also militarily better organized than the Republicans. Though the Republicans were doing much better at the beginning of the war, and even though all didn’t go according to the Nationalists plan, for example not annexing Madrid sooner or losing the Battle of Jarama, they were able to get to their end goal nonetheless. Also, by dividing the Republican forces the Nationalists’ fight was easier. However, even though they were politically and militarily better organized and unified, the Nationalists wouldn’t have been able to win if Germany and Italy hadn’t come to the Nationalist’s aid. With the German’s help Franco was able to move his army from Morocco to mainland Spain and bombed Guernica. The Italian units helped throughout the war for example in the Battle of Ebro. Even if a group is politically and militarily better organized and united, if they do not have the equipment and or masses there is not much that can be done. It was a combination of the politics, military factors and foreign aid that made it possible for the Nationalists to win, however the Nationalists would not have been able to win if it had not been for the Italian and German aid. Therefore it was the foreign intervention received that was the deciding factor in their victory on the 1st of April 1939.

Footnotes:    [1] Brown, Harry. Spain's Civil War. 2nd ed. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1983. Print.  [2] Forrest, Andrew. The Spanish Civil War. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.  [3] Cf.: Socialist Party (PSOE), Communist Party (PCE), Esquerra Party, Republican Union Party  [4] BORKENAU, Franz. The Spanish Cockpit. An Eye-witness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts of the Spanish Civil War. [With Plates.]. London: Faber & Faber, 1937. Print.  [5] Bernecker, Walther L. Spanische Geschichte Vom 15. Jahrhundert Biz Zur Gegenwart. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1999. Print.  [6] Brown, Harry. Spain's Civil War. 2nd ed. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1983. Print.  [7] BORKENAU, Franz. The Spanish Cockpit. An Eye-witness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts of the Spanish Civil War. [With Plates.]. London: Faber & Faber, 1937. Print.  [8] Forrest, Andrew. The Spanish Civil War. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.  [9] “Spain’s Civil War 2nd Edition”. Harry Brown. Addison Wesley Longman 1983, New York, USA. Pg. 77  [10] ‘The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)’ by Erik Blaine Riker-Colema. University of North Carolina, USA.   [11] De, Meneses Filipe Ribeiro. Franco and the Spanish Civil War. London: Routledge, 2001. Print.  [12] “The Condor Legion: German Troops in the Spanish Civil War” by Carlos Jurado. Osprey Publihing Ltd., 2006, Great Britain. Pg.5  [13] Bernecker, Walther L. Spanische Geschichte Vom 15. Jahrhundert Biz Zur Gegenwart. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1999. Print.  [14] Forrest, Andrew. The Spanish Civil War. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.  [15] ‘Spanish Civil War’. The New Book of Knowledge. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier Online, 2012. Web. 25 July 2012.  [16] Heandrick, Daniel R. ‘Spanish Civil War.’ Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier Online, 2012. Web. 5 July 2012.  [17] Headrick, Daniel R. “Spanih Civil War.” Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier Online, 2012. Web. 5. July 2012.  [18] Bernecker, Walther L. Spanische Geschichte Vom 15. Jahrhundert Biz Zur Gegenwart. Chapter 3. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1999. Print  [19] Brown, Harry. Spain's Civil War. 2nd ed. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1983. Print.  [20] Access to history in depth – “The Spanish Civil War” by Patricia Knight, Hodder & Stoughton 1998, London, UK. Pg. 74  [21] “Franco and the Spanish Civil War” by Ribeiro de Men. 2001 Routledge, London, UK. Pg. 94  [22] “Franco and the Spanish Civil War” by Ribeiro de Men. 2001 Routledge, London, UK. Pg. 91  [23] Seidel, Carlos C. Der Spanische Bürgerkrieg - Geschichte Eines Europäischen Konflikts. Munich: C.H. Beck, 2006. Print.  [24] Bernecker, Walther L. Spanische Geschichte Vom 15. Jahrhundert Biz Zur Gegenwart. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1999. Print.  [25] Bernecker, Walther L. Spanische Geschichte Vom 15. Jahrhundert Biz Zur Gegenwart. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1999. Print.  [26] BORKENAU, Franz. The Spanish Cockpit. An Eye-witness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts of the Spanish Civil War. [With Plates.]. London: Faber & Faber, 1937. Print.  [27] Marty, Andrew. Letter to General Consul of the Soviet Union in Barcelona. 11 Oct. 1936. Spartacus Educational. Peter McMillan, n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2012. .  [28] Bernecker, Walther L. Spanische Geschichte Vom 15. Jahrhundert Biz Zur Gegenwart. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1999. Print  [29] “The Spanish Civil War” by Andrew Forrest. Routledge, 2000, London, UK. Pg.60  [30] Seidel, Carlos C. Der Spanische Bürgerkrieg - Geschichte Eines Europäischen Konflikts. Munich: C.H. Beck, 2006. Print.  [31] “Spain’s Civil War 2nd Edition”. Harry Brown. Addison Wesley Longman 1983, New York, USA. Pg. 39  [32] Thomas, Ann VW, Jr. Proceedings of the American Society of International Law at Its Annual Meeting. Vol. 61. United States of America: American Society of International Law, 1967. Print. Monographic Ser.  [33] “Spain’s Civil War 2nd Edition”. Harry Brown. Addison Wesley Longman 1983, New York, USA. Pg. 38  [34] “Madrid 1937: Letters of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade From the Spanish Civil War” by Cary Nelson. Routledge 1996, New Yourk, USA. Pg. 3  [35] Access to history in depth – “The Spanish Civil War” by Patricia Knight, Hodder & Stoughton 1998, London, UK. Pg. 4  [36] Julius Caesar  [37]The Spanish Cockpit: An Eye-Witness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts’ by Franz Borkenau. Faber an FaberLtd.,  pg. 265  [38] Thomas, Ann VW, Jr. Proceedings of the American Society of International Law at Its Annual Meeting. Vol. 61. United States of America: American Society of International Law, 1967. Print. Monographic Ser.  [39] Brown, Harry. Spain's Civil War. 2nd ed. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1983. Print.  [40] Simkin, John. "Non-Intervention Agreement." Spartacus Education. Spartacus Educational Publishers Ltd, n.d. Web. 23 June 2012. .  [41] Simkin, John. "Non-Intervention Agreement." Spartacus Education. Spartacus Educational Publishers Ltd, n.d. Web. 23 June 2012. .  [42] Orwell, George. Homage to Catalonia. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1952. Print.  [43] Gómez López, Manuel. Personal interview. 23 August 2012.  [44] ‘Political Turnmoil, Civil War and Franco Dictatorship 1898 – 1975.’ 2006.  23 June 2012.  [45] “The Spanish Civil War” by Andrew Forrest. Routledge 2000, London, UK. Pg. 60  [46] ‘The Spanish Cockpit: An Eye-Witness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts’ by Franz Borkenau. Faber an FaberLtd., 1937.  Pg. 266  [47] The Spanish Cockpit: An Eye-Witness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts’ by Franz Borkenau. Faber an FaberLtd., 1937.  Pg.271  40 ‘The ebro 1938: Death knell of the Republic’ by Chris Henry. Osprey Publishing Ltd. 1999 pg. 6  [49] Ramon Puche Macia, El paso se hizo con cualquier embarcacion que flotara…”  [50] Ramon Puche Macia, la superioridad aeria y material del Ejercito nacional les permetia atacar frontalmente y asi destruir de manera complete las unidaded republicanas.”  [51] Forrest, Andrew. The Spanish Civil War. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.  [52] Access to history in depth – “The Spanish Civil War” by Patricia Knight, Hodder & Stoughton 1998, London, UK. Pg. 4  [53] Seidel, Carlos C. Der Spanische Bürgerkrieg - Geschichte Eines Europäischen Konflikts. Munich: C.H. Beck, 2006. Print  [54] De, Meneses Filipe Ribeiro. Franco and the Spanish Civil War. London: Routledge, 2001. Print.  [55] BORKENAU, Franz. The Spanish Cockpit. An Eye-witness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts of the Spanish Civil War. [With Plates.]. London: Faber & Faber, 1937. Print.  [56] Letter from Andre Marty to the General Consul of the Soviet Union (11th Oct. 1936)  [57] The Spanish Cockpit: An Eye-Witness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts’ by Franz Borkenau. Faber an FaberLtd., 1937.  Pg.271  [58] [58] Access to history in depth – “The Spanish Civil War” by Patricia Knight, Hodder & Stoughton 1998, London, UK.  [59] “Homage to Catalonia” by George Orwell. Houghton Mifflin Books, 1952, USA. Pg. 49 It should be taken into account, that Lord Rothemere owned the Daily Mail at the time and was a friend of Hitler and Mussolini’s. Therefore it is possible to assume that Rothemere would paint Franco in a good light. (Griffiths, Richard. ‘Fellow Travellers of the Right: British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany’. Oxford Paperbacks, March 17, 1983) 

Extended Essay in History

What were the reasons for the bombing of Guernica on the 26th of April of 1937?

Guernica then and now
Guernica then and now


My Extended Essay Research Question is what were the reasons for the bombing in Guernica on the 26th of April of 1937? The topic of this essay is the bombing of the city of Guernica, and the investigation of what the possible reasons were. Rather than saying whether it was the Germans or the Spanish who bombed the city, I would rather just explore, analyse and support the different reasons for this catastrophe. I would thought be very focused on the German involvement in the Spanish Civil War and to what degree this destruction was horrific and what effect it had on the Spanish as well as the whole world.

I read Spanish and English books, as well as Germans documents and newspapers. By reading different kinds of sources, I got different idea  A book which really made me understands the different reasons and how they were all connected to one theory is the book “Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil Española” by Ricardo de la Cierva.

 I started reading the article about Guernica from George Steer and I thought that his evidence that it had been the Germans who bombed the city for hours to test their planes was a good reason and made sense. However when I started reading more books about it, I realized that this journalist was paid by the Republicans so that he would write their propagandist version In the conclusion all of these reasons were added up together and come to be only one, as they are all related and if they are added up together they form the conclusion that it was a puzzle and the entire pieces match.

Word count: 285

The bombing of the Basque city of Guernica was something that left the whole world in shock, when on the 26th of April of 1937, “as a result of 185 minutes’ bombing, the market town was left a smouldering and bloody skeleton- an act of grotesque perfection by over fifty aircraft of the Condor Legion and Italian Aviazione Legionaria”[1]. Though it happened more than seven decades ago, there are still investigations and books being written about this atrocity that destroyed the most ancient and significant Basque city during the Spanish Civil War.

The Spanish fascist had asked Italy and Germany for help to go against the communist band, the Republicans, and they had agreed to destroy the bridge which entered the city, so that no access was possible for the Republicans to conquer the city of Guernica and thus, the Basque land. It was said that was a market day that Monday, this happened to be when the city’s population was at its highest point. Some argue and state that the Germans used Guernica as an excuse to test their planes[2].  They took advantage of the Spanish Civil War because they saw it as “an exploitable opportunity to test destructive technologies and terror strategies”[3] to get ready for the Second World War. This backs up James Corum’s statement, who is an American air power historian and authority on counter-insurgency, who says that the Luftwaffe, and so the German air force, adopted a doctrine of terror bombing. Others like George Steer a journalist from the English “The Times”, suggested that Guernica’s bombing objective was “the demoralization of the civil population and the destruction of the cradle of the Basque race”[4], because then it would make the communist band in Spain demoralized, which seems to be consistent since the bridge and a war factory outside the city was untouched. .

However, the fascists initially said that the Republicans had fired the city and make the nationalists guilty to cover their weak situation in losing control of the north, afterwards they added that it was a mistake and that the Germans planes were not aiming to destroy the city, but an unwelcome fog came by and would not let them see[5]. These are all the most common reasons for Guernica’s bombing, but it is still not clear what really the reason was. Though destruction and bomb-testing are the most heard and discussed reasons with  Spanish fascist leader in the North, General Mola, or Franco not knowing about this or  planning to do this or the Republicans potential participation. So therefore what were the reasons for the Guernica bombing on the 26th of April of 1937?

Word Count: 517

The bombing of Guernica was aiming for bomb-testing for the Germans

Hitler wanted an ally like Spain for the coming World War due to its geographical position, and the Spanish nationalists needed international help from a fascist country like Germany in the Spanish Civil War to balance the international support of the Republicans[6] (Russia, United Kingdom, France, USA…). Germany contributed with 500 planes in total to help Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the majority of them ended up piloted by Spanish, except for the Condor Legion. This one started fighting in November 1936 in the Battle of Madrid and never went over 100 planes, as the contract stated[7]. The Condor Legion was always piloted by the Germans, but the command was taken by the Spanish. However, the Luftwaffe took advantage of the situation and decided to use the Spanish Civil War as his playground to test the Condor Legion’s planes, arms and bombs. It was agreed with General Mola plans   to bomb a certain bridge, however General Hugo Sperrle or his boss Lieutenant colonel Wolfram von Richthoffen was in charge of the bombing of Guernica, and he selected this precise city because it was one on few untouched cities in Spain. This shows that a possible reason why Guernica was bombed was because they wanted to try their planes and see what the effect was in a non-destroyed city and also the effect of people in cities and villages. By bombing Guernica, the Germans could see the horrible effect it had, and how they could improve their tactics. “A total of 31 tons of munitions fell on Guernica that day”[8] and more than a thousand people were killed and around 800 were wounded[9]. The Germans intentions to test their planes, was successfully finished as they came back intact and the city was completely destroyed. Again, stated by Wolfgang Schmidt, the commander of the Condor Legion: "For the German air force, Guernica was a trial run on how one can spread horror and distress through attacks on cities and towns". This theory is also supported by Indalecio Prieto, the representative of the parliament of Bilbao, who was very determined to his theory that Guernica was a deliberate bombing. He says that since the Condor Legion, which were German planes, played a role in Spain, Goering[10] was anxious to have “un banco de pruebas”[11]  (a place where to test) to rehearse the effects of massive bombardment.

Word count: 495

The bombing of Guernica was aiming German strategic for destruction

“A Spanish Nationalist victory could divide France’s in time of war by burdening it with the defence of a second front. It could also block the pass of French colonial troops by sea and land”[12] . This would suggest that it was convenient for Hitler to have a respectable and decent relationship with Spain and therefore with Franco. By having Spain as an ally, Germany could protect their future colonies in Morocco from any French colonial troops as Spain would not make it easy for France to pass through. To have Spain blocking the pass to Africa by land and sea would give Germany a better self-defence as well as more tranquility that France would not have it easy to attack or conquer Morocco. Germany did not only have France as an enemy, Russia was also an enemy, and the Spanish Republic was allied to Russia[13]. The Communist from Russia wanted to extend their Communism along Europe and Spain was the best and most strategic point in which they could finish their task of putting Communism along Europe. Spain was at the end of Europe and had access to all seas, The Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean, which would also give Russia more access to the Western World. For Russia it was a very significant and an essential country to have Communism in, it would mean for them to have Communism influence until the last country in Europe. However, this Spain-Russian alliance for Germany was very damaging because it would mean that Spain could fall Communist and Germany was Fascist and that would not be compatible then. Germany wanted to protect Spain from those Communist interventions, but Russians were helping the Spanish Republicans in the Spanish Civil War to end with Fascism and the Spanish Republicans were delighted, “The help you are providing us to the Spanish people… considering it as your duty… has been and continues to be greatly beneficial[…] we assure you our gratitude”[14]. But Franco was by that time the “father” of Spain; he loved his people and did not want anyone to be murdered. That is why after Guernica was bombed Franco was indignant about the act and the relationship between Spain and Germany “turned cold”. This then advocates than Franco possibly did not have anything to do with this massacre.

Word count: 430

The reason for Guernica’s bombing was destruction: “the demoralisation of the civil population and the destruction of the cradle of the Basque race”[15]

It was the official version of the Republican side and was published by several international journalists such as George Steer; who state that, as Monday was market day, it was when most people were on the streets and the Guernica’s population grew. Especially by 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon, this was the time in which peasants came into the city. It was the exact time when the first planes flew down to Guernica’s sky. They were also aiming for destruction and did not follow the orders they were told, they did not destroy the bridge they had to or the arms factory, those were left intact. Hundreds of people were killed; the city was absolutely destroyed and burned except for the Casa de Juntas, the famous oak of Guernica, and the church of Santa Maria, these happened to be the most famous and significant monuments for the Basque race (this key untouched elements sound a bit strange for the credibility of this hypothesis) . They bombed the water pipes and pumps, therefore people could not put the fire out, this was not a coincidence, for obvious reasons, and therefore another prove of destruction (another element that sounds strange).  Furthermore, Von Richthoffen (boss of Sperrle in charge of German side of Legion Condor), again states indirectly the obvious, that Guernica’s bombing was aiming for destruction: “Guernica, city with 5,000 residents, has been literally razed to the ground. Bomb craters can be seen in the streets. Simply wonderful[16]".  The city was nearly completely destroyed that day, most of the buildings were destroyed and the center of the city was ruined. Thus, Guernica was not mistakenly bombed, it was very intentionally and purposely bombed. If it would have been a mistake, then the bombing would not have lasted 185 minutes[17].

James Corum, states that the Luftwaffe was aiming for their doctrine of terror bombing. Though the Luftwaffe rejected the term “terror bombing”, they did it again in Rotterdam in 1940[18], but it was not accepted until 1942 that the Luftwaffe practiced terror bombing. This is a strategy of deliberately bombing and/or strafing civilian targets in order to break the morale of the enemy, make its civilian population panic, bend the enemy's political leadership to the attacker's will, or to "punish" an enemy[19]. This was though the best excuse to bomb the city of Guernica as there were no specific reasons to do so, just a terrorist attack. As Wolfgang Schmidt said: "Of course the bombing of Guernica was a blatant violation of human rights and had a terrorist character”[20], this points out that the Germans were aiming for a terrorist attack. However, it is questionable whether this was Schmidt’s own plan, or Germany’s deliberate terrorist attack. On one side, Hitler and the Spanish Nationalists had a good relationship that needed to be kept in order to have good political allies. Hitler wanted to establish another authoritarian state next to his enemy, France, but he also used Spain for Guernica’s bomb/plane-testing. The reasons why everyone thinks that it was the Germans is because this information was banned and censured by the nationals and so, Franco. So it was surely not Schmidt’s decision to bomb Guernica, it could have been an accorded pronouncement between Hitler and Franco.

Assuming that these were Franco’s intentions, then Guernica was just a simple massive-murder to make a free and easy pathway for Franco so set his future Dictatorship. However, it is very significant as well to see that Guernica did not play a big role in the Spanish Civil War or simply Spain, because people around the world know more about this event than the actual Spanish people. Again, the same open issues as above, these facts cannot support the argument that the atrocious crime over a civil population could not be supported by nationalists. The massacred populations were formed by republicans and nationals, without discrimination and would be considered unpopular by the affected nationals in the Basque land. Moreover, another relevant consideration is that despite the international relevance of the bombing in Spain this was never considered a key step in the internal control of the war positions. Also, it is very significant that Franco was not in the north of Spain by that time, he was leading in the zone of Jaen, in south of Spain. The General Mola was the one leading on the North of Spain by that time. So, the bombing of Guernica did not have a big impact in Spain and its position in war, and Franco could not have been involved because he was not lead up the north, and thus he had no intention of bombing Guernica.  As well as his textual words as he heard about the bombing were: “¡Qué error! ¡Qué terrible error!”[21](“What a mistake! What a terrible mistake!”) Once Franco discovered who was leading the Condor Legion, which was Sperrle, he fired him who was substituted by Von Richthoffen and was ever forgiven. So the theory that it was Franco who planned it, is not possible for those reasons, he could not have possibly been involved in something that happened in the north when he was in the south.

Word count: 954

Guernica bombing was a mistake of Legion Condor and the firing massacre was created by own Republicans, this was the official nationalists/fascist version with the journalist as Luis Bolin[22], boss of the national Propaganda, as his first sponsor.

 “A mistake can be committed by anyone”, this is a famous Spanish that people say in everyday life (in Spanish: “Un error lo tiene cualquiera”) that can be linked to Guernica’s bombing. Some people think, Guernica’s bombing was a simple mistake caused by a fog during that Monday morning. “The German and the Franco governments vehemently denied that the atrocity had taken place, claiming that fog had grounded their planes at the time of the attack”[23]. Another point of view from an interview with Petra Diaz-Guerra Sánchez[24], a woman who lived during the Spanish Civil war, was that the German’s intentions were to bomb France but they mistakenly bombed Guernica.

The Germans always wanted to conquer France and always tried to invade it years before like during the First World War[25], for that reason, this time probably just wanted to bomb France and then mistakenly bombed Guernica. This is apparently what was being told by the media (radio, newspapers) by that time[26]. In Spain it was forbidden to say that it had been Franco the one that said that Guernica was to be bombed, as people were tortured, imprisoned or simply shot just for expressing their opinion and what the actual and real truth was[27]. Franco wanted the Spanish to believe that the Anarchists, which were part of the Republican side, were the ones who bombed Guernica. Therefore, some agree that Franco created the clever plan of making the Condor Legion bomb with incendiary bombs[28], which were what the Anarchists would have used. This was done so that Franco could debilitate the Revolutionaries in order to settle his Dictatorship.

People started to know more about the bombing of Guernica as time went pass, as information in Spain was censured during the Civil War. This can be seen from the statement that Petra Diaz-Guerra Martinez said[29], that she still thinks that it was a mistake because this is what Franco had made them think. To understand why people thought so differently than how people think now about Guernica, it is to be considered that the Spanish government only said what was good for them to say and the rest was censured. This is the same as the Holocaust in Hitler’s regime; Germans never knew the entire truth about the Jewish massive-murderers until years after it had happened. Not as such a horrible atrocity, the bombing in Guernica had a similar approach. People only found out about the truth of it, many years after it had taken place. Though the actual truth is not known either nowadays.

Notwithstanding, it is very suspicious that monuments like La Casa de Juntas and the Oak tree in Guernica were not destroyed though they were by its position the perfect place to be bombed. Therefore, it suggests that as Luis Bolin[30], boss of the national Propaganda proves Guernica was bombed by Basques themselves, and that is why the freedom symbols and monuments were kept untouched. Luis Bolin states the possible theory, in which he is very determined that Brigades were sent with Asturias’ dynamiters who were supposed to fire and bomb the houses as they had previously done in 1934. After, the Basques then assured that it had been the Condor Legion who did it.  The purpose of Guernica was to hide the inevitable defeat by the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and by making propaganda about something else which involved the nationals and not the defeat of the Republicans.  The opposing theory, which has been repeated over and over the years, that it was the Condor Legion who bombed Guernica, was supported by the journalist of the Times as well as other journalists around the World. Thus, the whole world thinks that the Condor Legion bombed Guernica, though they do not know the other side of the story. 

On the 29th of April, just 3 days after Guernica, it was published in the newspaper ABC from Seville that the bombing was caused by the Basques. It was very short time after Guernica had been bombed when this article was published, stating that Aguirre, the president of the Euskadi or Basque Republic, was the criminal who lied to the whole world about Guernica saying that it was the Condor Legion[31] . Aguirre’s astonishing lies, say that “la aviación nacional no voló ayer” [32] (“Our planes did not fly yesterday”), but this yesterday is talking about the 28th not the 26th. The reasons why they apparently did not fly around Guernica or any point close to the Basque land were because it was foggy. However, there were explosions after the bombing, these explosions were caused by fire, and as Ricardo de la Cierva, states it could have the republicans from Oviedo, in Asturias, which were told by Aguirre to fire Guernica with its same intentions. But still, Aguirre had invented the most terrible, tragic and despicable lie to such a horrible event.

Word count: 952


To answer my research question: What were the reasons for the bombing in Guernica on the 26th of April of 1937?, and after reading all of these theories about Guernica’s bombing, I come to the conclusion that there is not a simple answer to this terrible event. It has all been so manipulated by the different propaganda, missing information and absurd statements by different historians and witnesses for years. Ricardo de la Cierva, the famous Spanish historian of the Spanish Civil War showed that the events of Guernica happened in a way that all theories can possibly match and therefore make the puzzle of this whole tragedy.

Ricardo de la Cierva  states that: Guernica was bombed on the 26th of April of 1937 and Herrán states that most of the cavities done in the floor of Guernica by the bombs were close by the bridge which Franco wanted to destroy so the Republicans wouldn’t be able to enter the city and get to Bilbao[33]. After the bombing there were some fire explosions[34] which then support the theory that it was the Asturians who put Guernica on fire as they had done before in Irún, Potes, Éibar and Amorrebiera[35]. The Casa de Juntas and the Oak tree were never destroyed, which is very mysterious as those were the Basque’s freedom symbols in Guernica and they had been kept intact[36]. The city was bombed by the Condor Legion and it is also true that the Republicans put it on fire afterwards, which explains the full massacre result.

Franco was not directly involved in this bombing, as he was presiding up in the north of Spain, it was the General Mola who controlled the north of Spain[37] until his also mysterious death in June of 1937[38].It couldn’t have been Franco as he was in the north and also had a bad reaction to when he found out about the bombing. Then as George Steer from The Times says that the numbers of deaths were not as high as they were said to be. This shows those propagandist journalists and reporters make up results or that the real story has never been shown. As well as the number of deaths, the legend that it had been Market day like Ricardo de la Cierva said was not true either.

There is many different types of stories about this massacre, but what really is fascinating to see is that Republican, National and Propagandist journalists or reporters, they all have different points of view and different stories. That is why there is no answer to who bombed Guernica and no real reason. Only that all the actual reasons that have been found out, they all match together and make sense. So what happened was that the Germans wanted to bomb Spain to test their planes, then the Asturians came and put the city on fire like they had done before, and that is why the city had apparently be bombed for that many hours. Because people from other villages could see fire coming out of the city and thus they thought it was because of the bombs. Therefore the concurrences in Guernica that 26th of April made those entire possible theses about the event possible, because all theories matched what actually happened.

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Total Word Count: 3978

[1] Andrew Forrest. The Spanish Civil War. London, England, UK; New York, USA: Routledge. Print.[2] "The Bombing of Guernica, 1937." EyeWitness to History - History through the Eyes of Those Who Lived It. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[3] La Tertulia. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[4] "Times: The Tragedy of Guernica | Nationalencyklopedin." Nationalencyklopedin – Uppslagsverk | Svensk Ordbok | Engelskt Lexikon. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[5]  Southworth, Herbert. Guernica! Guernica! A Study of Journalism, Diplomacy, Propaganda and History, 1977[6] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 163). Editorial Danae 1973.[7] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 314). Editorial Danae 1973.[8] Diehl, Null. "Hitler's Destruction of Guernica: Practicing Blitzkrieg in Basque Country - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International." SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[9] The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion. 27 Nov. 2011. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[10] "Biografia De Hermann Goering." Biografias Y Vidas .com. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[11] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 154). Editorial Danae 1973.[12] Andrew Forrest. The Spanish Civil War. London, England, UK; New York, USA: Routledge. Print[13] Andrew Forrest. The Spanish Civil War. London, England, UK; New York, USA: Routledge. Print[14]( Source F: Prime Minister Largo Caballero writes to Stalin, Molotov and Voroshilov, 12 January 1937. ) Andrew Forrest. The Spanish Civil War. London, England, UK; New York, USA: Routledge. Print[15] "Picasso Guernica - the Horror behind the Painting." Spain Travel Guide - The Definitive Guide to Travel in Spain. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[16] Diehl, Null. "Hitler's Destruction of Guernica: Practicing Blitzkrieg in Basque Country -SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International." SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[17] Andrew Forrest. The Spanish Civil War. London, England, UK; New York, USA: Routledge. Prin[18]"Articulos." 15 Aniversario Panzernet. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[20] Diehl, Null. "Hitler's Destruction of Guernica: Practicing Blitzkrieg in Basque Country - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International." SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[21] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 154). Editorial Danae 1973[22] Bolin, L. España los años vitales, 1967[23] "The Bombing of Guernica, 1937." EyeWitness to History - History through the Eyes of Those Who Lived It. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[24] Petra Diaz Guera Martinez. Personal Interview by Cecilia Beltran. 2 November 2011[25] "The Franco Prussian War." World History International: World History Essays From Prehistory To The Present. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[26]"GUERNICA." VIVE LA RÉVOLUTION. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[27] "GUERNICA." VIVE LA RÉVOLUTION. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[28] "GUERNICA." VIVE LA RÉVOLUTION. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. .[29] Petra Diaz Guera Martinez. Personal Interview by Cecilia Beltran. 2 November 2011[30] Bolin, L. España los años vitales, 1967[31] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 154). Editorial Danae 1973[32] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 154). Editorial Danae 1973[33] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 155). Editorial Danae 1973[34] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 155). Editorial Danae 1973[35] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 158). Editorial Danae 1973[36] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 158). Editorial Danae 1973[37] De la Cierva, Ricardo. Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil (page 162). Editorial Danae 1973[38] "LA AVENTURA DE LA HISTORIA." Líder De Información En Español. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. 


Evaluate the role of ideological differences in the Spanish Civil War
In July 1936, in parallel to German troops marching in the Rhineland and the Rome-Berlin Axis being signed, the Spanish Civil war broke out. A consequence of complete opposite ideologies, unhappiness towards democracy and an appeal to extreme solutions, Spain soon fell under the same situation happening in neighboring countries, Germany and Italy, where Fascism was taking over. From 1923 to 1930 General Primo de Rivera ruled the country after years of an incompetent government in power. Following the 1929 Wall Street Crash and Great Depression, Spain and many more countries suffered a severe economic crisis, which led Alfonso XIII to abdicate and the end of a monarchy. As unhappiness and lost hope increased among the population in Spain, the popularity of two main opposing groups grew, the right-wing Nationalists and the left-wing Republicans. Professor Alaric Searle describes the civil war as a war that “had a clear division between the major totalitarian participants and the democratic observers.” This essay will in fact analyze and evaluate the difference in ideologies of the two main forces fighting in the Spanish Civil war and how their role and additional complications affected the victory of the Nationalist right-wing party.

José Calvo Sotelo, a leading member of the monarchist and conservative right-wing party in the parliament, was murdered on July 13th, 1936 by a close connection to the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), Indalecio Prieto. This event was the spark that started the previously planned military coup by the Nationalists, which later failed and officially marked the start of the Spanish Civil War. The so-called Nationalist group led by General Franco was amused by the totalitarian fascist ideology whose popularity was growing in both Italy and Germany around the same time. Supported by the Army, the Church and many landowners, this political group had the tendency to only focus on the military aspects of a conflict. As they all claimed they were fighting for law and order, they also felt the need to protect the Church from godless political parties like the Communists. The Nationalists was how the numerous right-wing groups decided to call themselves prior of the war. However, even though the name may suggest that they all share the same ideology, they didn’t. In fact, it was a group made up of the Carlists, who demanded a restoration of monarchy; the Falange, a fascist group favoring a dictatorship; the Nationalists, who fought for a strong government and a national attitude; and finally the Military and the CEDA, group of right-wing parties leaders. Clearly, all groups had different aims and ideologies in mind, however they shared one similarity which was the enemy, specifically the Communist party. The role of ideology within the Nationalists was crucial, with only one aim connecting all groups it had to be strong, passionate and clear enough for them to fight together. Foreign interest was as equally divided, in fact countries like Britain decided to follow non-intervention. Nevertheless, countries such as Italy, Germany and Russia joined either side due to their immense interest in who would win the war and therefore affect any political, economic or social connections with Spain. I believe the support to the Nationalists from such charismatic fascist countries such as Italy and Germany, definitely played a role in uniting the differences in ideologies from all right-wing countries. The belief of fighting alongside such passionate totalitarian states that shared some of the same ideals and definitely the same enemy, had an impact on how much the groups believed in one another as they fought against the same enemy. Therefore, observing all ideology differences part of the Nationalists the chances of internal fighting was high, however the fact that they shared the same enemy and threat tightened the bond between them.

Foreign investment also played a major role in maintaining fanatic loyalty within Nationalist members and all ideology differences may have become secondary to them while fighting. As Eric Hobsbawm claims, these times, such as the Spanish Civil War years can be defined as “Ages of extremes”, this can suggest how the Republic ideology was the complete opposite of any right- wing beliefs from the Nationalists. After the abdication of the King Alfonso XIII and the fall of the monarchy, the atmosphere of republicanism was growing. The republican left-wing government was elected at the start of 1936, whose ideology wanted radical change after years of instability and skepticism in the government. Supported by army officers, workers and peasants, their ideology to solve problems was based on the organization of strikes, riots and assassinations. Some of their first radical changes, included Catalonia being allowed to be a self-government, attacks on the Church and its power and the nationalization of large states, which were against all different right-wing party’s ideologies. Also known as the Popular Front, the Republican opposition was made up of 3 main left-wing ideology-based groups  whose differences severely weakened their position later in the war. This group was made up of the Anarchists, who believed in no borders, and complete freedom; the Syndicalists, who was a powerful group of trade unions and wanted to overthrow the capitalist system; and finally, the Socialists, who in fact were despised by the two previously stated left-wing groups, because of their ideology appeal to the middle-class groups instead of the workers. Led by Largo Caballero, the Socialists party in charge, decided to not support the government anymore, which gained the support of the communists as well, hoping the government would fail and they could seize power. The clear and tragic differences in ideologies between these 4 left-wing groups, had little to no equal ideologies, similarly to the Nationalist groups. However, unlike the Nationalists, the Republican’s foreign interest and intervention played a weak role in keeping the different ideologies together to fight against the same enemy. Even if the USSR, a communist state, offered intervention to the Republicans, their support was weak, underequipped and old-fashioned. The USSR decided to provide the left-wing army in Spain with old ammunition, aircraft and military resources reserves, which were no longer needed or wanted in the USSR. Stalin also firmly believed that all Anarchists and Socialists should be weakened since they did not support communist ideology completely. As a result, he considered them as enemies as well and murdered many of them. This weak, violent and unstable connection between groups part of the Popular Front, started to affect the final outcome fighting against the Nationalists, leading to Republican defeat in March 1939.

Looking beyond the ideology conflicts which caused the civil war, factors like the Great Depression added pressure and unhappiness among the Spanish population. Just like in numerous other countries, like Britain, Italy and Japan, the Great Depression after 1929 severely caused problems within these nations. Prior to the war, as Spain was still a monarchy, the country was considered quite backwards, with very few industries based on the production of steel and iron, and it mostly relied on the agriculture market. As a result of the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and the Great Depression, in Spain, agricultural prices were drastically falling due to the drop in important trades with outside countries in economic instability. Both wine and olive exports declined, as a result peasants and workers unemployment increased. This can explain the support and appeal to the left-wing ideology at the beginning of the 1930s, who prioritized workers, their positions and wages. Although, all solutions  presented by the left-wing parties, soon resulted in little to no change to the worker’s conditions and problems, therefore causing the support loss of many workers contributing to the start of the civil war. Consequently, the small industrialized market in Spain of iron fell by a third, while steel production fell by a half. Looking a few years forward, foreign intervention was very much needed in order to fight a war, since such metal production had drastically fallen, unable to provide ammunition and resources to both Nationalists and Republicans. Just as we can observe a similar situation happening in Weimar Germany, the population was clearly unhappy, exhausted and had lost belief in the government, here the extreme and drastic solutions that both the right-wing and left-wing parties proposed, turned out to be very appealing to the population. In Spain, the lost trust in the government resulted in political and social infighting from different groups in the population, leading a tragic division of ideologies.

In conclusion, after carefully analyzing and evaluating how the ideology differences from the right-wing Nationalist party and the left-wing Republican party contributed to the start of the civil war, it is clear to see that there was a great threat posed by opposing ideologies. Such extreme ideologies as these, clearly caused conflicts and severe disagreements within the population and the groups themselves, which could only be heard by the organization of violent attacks or assassinations. While ideology differences inside the numerous groups forming the Nationalists could be kept together with the help of foreign fascist intervention and the aim of defeating the same enemy, the Republican army fell apart due to the same reasons. Both opposing parties appealed to very different approaches of totalitarian states, where the military aspect had a tendency to only be focused on. In addition to these great differences in ideologies, the Great Depression certainly played a major role in the building up to such extreme divisions in the country. Results of the depression such as unhappiness, economic and political problems led the population to follow and believe in extreme ideals, dividing the population further.

 In 1936 a civil conflict broke out in Spain between the country's republican government and a nationalist movement led by Francisco Franco, after over 100 years of social, economic and political disputes. Both Republicans and Nationalists could be considered amalgamations of different political groups, each with differing ideologies. Furthermore, there was great ideological polarization in Europe at the time, which marked the reactions of the other countries when it came to the conflict. Due to this “Evaluating the role of ideological differences in the Spanish Civil War” can be considered quite a broad and vague prompt as said ideological differences found their way into all aspects of the conflict. In order to analyze their role more effectively this essay will describe their influence in starting, fuelling and deciding the victor of the conflict. This essay will argue that while ideological differences played a major role in starting and, on a more minor scale, fueling the war, it was the overwhelming power difference granted to the two combatting sides by the military support of foreign countries, or lack thereof, that ultimately sustained the war and decided its outcome.
While Ideological differences were clearly a crucial factor in starting the war, it is not a stretch to argue that they might have had little importance in commencing the conflict. The motivation that most likely sparked the war on July 17th 1936 was the pent up frustration and displeasure on the part of all the exponents of conservatism in Spain, built up by a series of radically liberal reforms made by the government. One of these major exponents being the CEDA party (Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas), the most influential catholic force in Spanish politics, who were naturally perturbed by the government’s “separation of the church and the state” which denied, under article 26 of the constitution, funding for the catholic church; repurposing some of their properties, and banning clerics from teaching in schools. Likewise, integral conservative and nationalist parties such as Acción Española, as well as the aristocracy, strongly  disapproved the nationalization of large estates, such as land, banks and railways, in addition to the agrarian reforms and the strides that were being made to give more freedom to Catalonia and the Basque Country. Additionally, the Spanish Military Union (Unión Militar Española), of which Franco was a part of, felt betrayed by the government’s amnesty of left wing political prisoners and the discharging or transfer of various military leaders. Furthermore the fascist Falange group was intent on establishing a fascist government in Spain under the example of Italy and Germany. Lastly, groups like the Alfonsists and Carlists, who advocated for the reinstitution of the Spanish monarchy, were ideologically opposed to the idea of a democratic government in the first place. The rise to power of the Popular Front in the elections of 1936 and their immediate radical liberal reforms, thus forced a strong communion of interests among all the differing right wing ideologies. And together with the structural weakness, due to the clash of ideologies, of the Popular Front, which included a heterogeneous mixture of parties such as the socialists, syndicalists and communists (with the addition of the anarchists), that made a possible war more appealing to the right, a conflict was made inevitable. However the straw that broke the camel's back was the murder of right wing polititian Calvo Sotelo by the Republican guard which led the right wing to believe that force was the only option. On the other hand, it can also be argued that, as AJP Taylor said referring to Hitler rather than the war, the Great Depression put wind in the Spanish civil war’s sails, as the 1929 stock market crash was what caused the great ideological divide present in Spain in the first place. Due to the depression unemployment skyrocketed and the Republic lost support of the working class. Due to this the government was forced to give into the people’s demands more to regain their support, this led to a much more “socialist” way of governing, as well as all the aforementioned reforms. Furthermore, it can also be argued that what truly moved the right wing to action  were the economic interest of different social classes. The military officers were simply moved by their forced premature retirements that caused them trouble economically and in terms of social status. The conservative representatives, who were largely landowners, and the members of the church were hit economically by the nationalization of their estates as well as a general loss of power, which, for the landowners, also came largely due to the agrarian reforms. While the Industrialists were hit hard by the nationalization of railways and the government enforced increase in worker rights and salaries. And while this economic argument does explain the actions that led to the start of the war in a similar way to the previous one, it still represents the polarization of opposite ideologies involving the conceptions of social order, the roles of Church and State, the battle between obscurantism and modernization.
As the war progressed, the ideological conflict attracted the interest of major international powers with similar ideologies (Italy and Germany on the side of the Nationalists and the USSR on the side of the republicans). To some extent Hitler and Mussolini chose to get involved in the conflict in order to stop the spread of communism and spread their own Fascist ideology. Much like his fascist counterparts, Stalin was concerned with the recent rise of fascism in europe and offered his help to the republicans in order to marginalize its advance and increase the influence of communism. Stalin however was not alone as the anti fascist sentiment had spread throughout the world, which led to the formation of the International Brigades counting over 40000 men from 53 different nations. These soldiers truly believed in their ideology and risked their lives for it; they believed they were fighting a crucial battle against evil as shown in the Irish song “​Viva la Quinta Brigada​'' in which lyrics like “truth and love against the forces of evil” truly carry the sense of determination and passion these men felt during the conflict. This shows how ideological differences played a key role in turning a civil
 war into a global conflict that would affect the lives of people the world over as well as in extending the conflict and fueling the bloodshed. However Hitler and Mussolini’s motivations ran much deeper and were much more strategically based than simply supporting a war of ideologies. The two dictators hoped that a nationalist Spain would be a valuable ally against France and Britain, an alliance that would give them control over much of mainland Europe and an especially strong advantage against France. In addition, well agreed upon sentiments regarding Hitler and Mussolini’s motivations are that of historian and author Eileen Heyes who argues that for Hitler the Spanish civil war was merely “a chance to test the weapons and planes Germany was building” and that of the Naval War College (U.S.) which states that Mussolini “coveted access to bases from which he could easily ravage vital French strategic routes in the western Mediterranean”, access that he would later obtain. This, together with the fact that Franco wasn’t actually a pure Fascist, thus reducing the importance of ideological influence, shows how these countries' motivations for fueling the war were much more tactical than ideological. To further reinforce the idea that pure ideological motivation wasn’t enough of a reason to further fuel the conflict, on the other side Stalin only offered minimal support and mainly focussed his efforts on encouraging the Comintern to act, while France, Britain and the US refused to act out of domestic issues, military incapability and lack of strategic interest respectively.
Ideological Differences also played a minor role in deciding the victor of the Spanish civil war. While the nationalists were unified in their aim, had a common enemy and a charismatic leader in Francisco Franco, the republicans were divided by Ideological differences, often clashing with each other. The anarchists and communists fought each other in Barcelona, the communists themselves being divided into Stalinists and Trotskyites. There was even a change in leadership as Caballero was replaced by Juan Negrín. Showing how ideological differences
 ended up playing a limited, secondary role in deciding the victor of the civil war. Ultimately, it is evident that the prime reason for the Republican loss in the spanish civil war was the overwhelming discrepancy in military resources between the two armies. As discussed before the Republican army was offered only a fraction of the military support the Nationalists received. Italy offered around 80000 men, 157 tanks and 458 aircrafts and much more while Germany supported the Nationalist army by air dropping them to the continent from Morocco with the use of the Condor Legion, a special aircraft unit, as well as also offering equipment and men. Crucially, the international community signed a non-intervention agreement. The US had their own non intervention policy and therefore refused involvement in foreign countries’ affairs. The United Kingdom was struggling with the consequences of the Great Depression, public opinion was extremely anti war and the army was in no shape to fight a large scale conflict. France on the other hand was already worried by a possible conflict with Germany and thus opted not to participate in the war. Even the aid the Republicans received was limited and subpar. It only included the 40000 international brigade volunteers as well as obsolete weapons and aircrafts from the Soviet Union all heavily priced and whose payment was to be immediate and in gold. Further adding insult to injury, Nationalist war leaders were highly skilled, experienced soldiers as a large part of the experienced army officers aligned themselves with the right wing cause. This exemplifies the relative non importance of ideological differences in deciding the victor of the Spanish civil war as even without internal turmoil, the Republicans were left at an insurmountable military disadvantage.
In conclusion, while ideological differences played a crucial role in starting the civil war; as a whole, they did not contribute in a significant manner to the events that followed, and thus played an overall supporting role to that of foreign intervention that was key in fuelling and deciding the outcome of the conflict.