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Thread: Rojo y Negro - Iberia in the 20th Century

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    Rojo y Negro - Iberia in the 20th Century


    This will be a mostly history book AAR, but there will be gameplay pictures. I will tell the story of the Iberian Peninsula, its countries and their friends and foes. I Hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it!

    Last edited by gll25; 22-08-2012 at 23:04.

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    Prologue
    The Turnismo


    Allegory of the short-lived First Spanish Republic


    The first republican experience of Spain was a very short and unstable one. In February 11, 1873, after the revolt of the army artillery corps and the subsequent Hidalgo Affair, the short reign of Amadeo I came to an end when, after the king’s abdication, the parliament declared the First Spanish Republic. However, serious internal problems like the Third Carlist War, the Cantonal Revolution and the Ten Year’s War in Cuba, together with the lack of support from the military officers led to a quick end of the republic. In 1874, less than two years after the beginning of the republic, the pronunciamento of General Martínez Campos in favor of the restoration to the throne of the Bourbon monarchy was the final straw, and in December 29, Alfonso XII was crowned King of Spain. Thus began the Restoration period.


    Arsenio Martínez-Campos and the restored king, Alfonso XII


    The restoration period began in Spain after almost a century of political instability and civil wars that made the country lose most of his massive colonial empire and lag even more behind the major European powers of the time, so it had the primary objective of achieving internal stability. This was accomplished using a system which received the name of Turnismo. It was the deliberate rotation of the Liberal and Conservative parties in the government, using massive electoral fraud, so no sector of the bourgeoisie felt isolated, and excluded all other parties from the scheme.

    This system initially fulfilled its main objectives, and so Spain entered a time of prosperity not seen since the Age of Discoveries. These years were marked by large economic progress, and the national industry grew fast and strong due to harsh protectionist measures. It was a time of widespread and profound modernization of the country, and Spain managed to partially make up for the lost time.


    The USS Maine and its wreckage in the harbor of Havana


    Fortunes began to change, however, when the USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor, taking the lives of 266 American sailors. Spain was already having problems with the Cuban rebels yet again since 1895, and US pressure for the independence of the island was mounting. The American media soon started to foster popular opinion into demanding a swift belligerent response. Spain refused an American ultimatum to leave Cuba on April 21, and the US Navy started a blockade of the island the same day. War was now inevitable, and Spain, against all odds, declared it on April 23.


    The destruction of the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Manila Bay



    The Spanish-American War, lasting not even four months in 1898, was a short and bloody one. Spanish forces were pushed back on all fronts, and the American forces soon conquered Guam and Puerto Rico, and effectively assisted the Cuban and Filipino rebels in expelling the Spaniards. Defeated in all fronts and with its fleet in disarray, Spain sued for peace, and hostilities were halted in the twelfth of August.

    The Treaty of Paris, signed in December 10, 1898, was a humiliation for Spain. The agreement gave control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, parts of the West Indies, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States in exchange for a payment of twenty million dollars. The once mighty Spanish colonial empire was now confined to a few remaining possessions in the western coast of Africa, and the nation was completely humiliated.

    Stripped of its rich colonies and politically and military disgraced, the situation of Spain took a sharp turn downwards. With the government credibility undermined, the Turnismo was nearly overthrown when General Camilo de Polavieja tried, but failed to take power, and however this was not the end of the Spanish domestic problems. Aiming to regain its international prestige, Spain started a conflict with the Berber tribes of the Rif, in Morocco, but met stiff resistance and the need for recruitment and shipment of troops increased dramatically. This led to increasing social unrest, which culminated in what is known as la Semana Trágica, when, in the last week of July 1909, the working classes of Barcelona, incited by anarchists, socialists and republicans, rose in revolt against the conscription of troops to fight in the 2nd Melillan Campaign. Martial law was soon declared in the city, and a week of clashes between the militia and the Guardia Civil caused a bloodbath, with dozens dying and hundreds arrested, including the anarchist Francesc Ferrer, who was later executed by firing squad, until order was restored on August 2. The socialist UGT and the anarchist CNT unions attempted to initiate a general strike across the country to spread the revolt, but ultimately failed.


    Remains of a Spanish garrison after the Disaster of Annual


    The Spanish government opted to remain neutral throughout the Great War, and this most certainly contributed to delay the fall of the Turnismo, since Spain was by all means not fit for war, but the political rotation system, in power since 1874, was already obsolete and doomed. The Rif War started in 1920 when General Dámaso Berenguer decided to expand the Spanish exclave in Morocco. He advanced against the eastern territory, controlled by the Jibala tribes, but met little success, facing stiff resistance from the skilled Berber leader Abd el-Krim. The Spanish efforts culminated with disaster in the Battle of Annual, where el-Krim inflicted in them one of the worst defeats in the history of colonial wars, killing 8.000 Spanish soldiers and officers. By late August 1921, all the territories Spain had gained in Morocco since 1909 had been lost, and Melilla was only spared because the Berber leader feared intervention from other, stronger European powers would happen if he took the city. Spanish fortunes in the Rif did not improve, and the government, already discredited, had to blame someone for yet another failure, and the Armed Forces were chosen as the scapegoat. The military top officers felt cheated, because they were ordered to move into the desert without proper supplies and equipment, and a feud, after years of growing disagreement, began between the parliamentary government and the military.


    Coupists announcing the new government to a crowd in Madrid


    The military discontent, the fear of anarchist terrorism or a proletarian revolution, and the rise of nationalism ended up causing great agitation amongst the civilians and the military. It culminated on September 13, 1923, when Miguel Primo de Rivera, Captain General of Catalonia, with support from the military leadership, which was inspired by Italian Fascism and Mussolini’s March on Rome, emitted a manifesto blaming the problems of Spain on the parliamentary system. Just as it happened in Italy with Vittorio Emanuele III, Alfonso XIII, probably seeing the coup would go ahead with or without his support, backed Primo de Rivera, and nominated him prime minister. His rise to power as de facto dictator of Spain ended the Turno system of alternating parties.
    Last edited by gll25; 12-08-2012 at 21:33.

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    Interesting concept, though how do you plan to tell the story of both countries, will you play as only 1, switch between both or do an handsoff and report what you see?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soulstrider View Post
    Interesting concept, though how do you plan to tell the story of both countries, will you play as only 1, switch between both or do an handsoff and report what you see?
    You'll see in due time

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    Prologue
    The Dictatorship


    Miguel Primo de Rivera, The Marquis of Estella


    Miguel Primo de Rivera, with widespread military support, overthrew the parliamentary government on September 13, 1923, and established a de facto military dictatorship that would last almost seven years. His government would enter history as a quasi-fascist one, its policies serving as the basis for the establishment of the fascist Falange, created by his own son José Antonio Primo de Rivera.

    The military dictatorship stepped in with one main reason: stabilize Spain. Martial law was quickly imposed, and a Directory of eight military leaders was established, with Primo de Rivera himself as its president. When members of the Cortes complained to the king, Alfonso dismissed them, and Primo de Rivera suspended the constitution and dissolved the legislative body.

    De Rivera was no traditional conservative leader, even though he despised socialism. He decided to care for the needs of the workers, while not antagonizing much the privileged strata of the country. His aim was to put a stop to the class struggle that was destroying Spain from within, thus uniting the population under a single objective, making the nation strong and prosperous again. To do this, he followed the example of Mussolini’s Fascism, forcing owners and employees to cooperate by organizing several corporations representing different economic sectors. These worked as state unions, with government arbitrators mediating disputes over wages, hours, and working conditions. The Spanish labor had more influence than ever under this new system, and Primo de Rivera gained the support of the masses and deprived the country’s major unions, such as UGT and CNT, of the great support they enjoyed with the working classes.

    The seven years of military rule saw a huge increase in government spending. Guided by the economic policies of his finance minister, José Calvo Sotelo, and taking advantage of the large availability of loans because of the period of international economic boom (The Roaring Twenties), de Rivera invested heavily in national infrastructure and industry for his backward country. His economic planners built dams to harness the hydroelectric power of rivers, especially the Duero and the Ebro, and to provide water for irrigation. A vast net of automobile roads was built, the car industry was encouraged, and the railroad network was vastly expanded, helping the Spanish iron and steel industry prosper. Foreign trade increased thirty-fold, and electricity for the first time reached some of the country rural areas; Spain prospered.


    Spanish troops landing at Al Hoceima, Rif, 1925


    Spain also met success in the military department. Initially Primo de Rivera planned to slowly withdraw from Morocco, believing the colony demanded too many resources to be properly conquered and pacified. This changed however, when Abd el-Krim attacked a series of observation posts established by the French army in disputed tribal territory, imposing a harsh defeat on them. France had no intention of being defeated by a tribal leader, and so a powerful intervention force was prepared. The Spanish government used this opportunity to join forces with the French, and together their vast superiority in numbers and equipment finally defeated the defiant Rif leader, and by 1926 Morocco was completely subdued.


    King Alfonso XIII opening the new National Assembly


    Encouraged by his economic and social successes, Primo de Rivera attempted to establish a new political structure, his own, enduring alternative to parliamentarism, which he believed was a corrupt and decadent system. In October 10, 1927, with King Alfonso XIII in attendance, he opened a new National Assembly. This new parliament was appointed by the prime minister, and could only advise him, having no legislative power. In 1929, following guidance from the dictator, the assembly finally produced a new constitution. Among its provisions, it gave women the right to vote because Primo de Rivera believed their political views were less susceptible to radicalism. He intended to have the nation accept the new constitution in a plebiscite, to be held in 1930.


    Crowd gathering on Wall Street after the 1929 stock market crash


    The fortunes of the regime however, changed in October 29, 1929, a day that would enter history as “Black Tuesday”. The Wall Street Crash would eventually affect the practically whole world (a notable exception being the Soviet Union, which emerged unscathed of the crisis), and Spain suffered the effects of it quite quickly. The government was deeply indebted due to heavy borrowing in the twenties, and the country soon fell in economic chaos. Inflation was rampant, 1929 brought a bad harvest, and Spain's imports far outstripped the worth of its exports. The people was tired after seven years of authoritarianism, and with the turnaround of the economic situation, there was no reason to support the dictatorship anymore. The conservatives wanted a return to the old system, and the radical left used the dissatisfaction of the masses to regain the support of the lower classes; revolt was widespread in the country.


    Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, president of Spain


    King Alfonso should’ve acted fast to recover his lost prestige, but he hesitated at a decisive moment, unwilling to sack his prime minister. In the end the monarch did not need to act, as Primo de Rivera, seeing he had no support in the country, resigned in January 28, 1930, and retired to Paris, where he would die less than two months later. Alfonso appointed Gen. Dámaso Berenguer, one of Rivera’s opponents, as his successor, aiming to reestablish the old political order, but he utterly failed to do so, resigning an year later, on February 14, 1931, his government marked by economic crisis and severe labor unrest. By this time, the king was also under heavy political attack, his image irreversibly damaged by the continuous backing of the dictatorship, and an increasing number of groups were calling for the abolition of the monarchy. To appease the opposition, the new Prime Minister, Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar-Cabañas, called for local elections on April 12. This move backfired as, although the monarchists had not lost all their support, the republican and socialist parties won a major victory. Street riots ensued, calling for the removal of the monarchy. The army declared that they would not defend the King and Alfonso XIII fled Spain, never to return. The Second Spanish Republic was immediately and with overwhelming support established under a provisional government, led by the liberal Niceto Alcalá-Zamora.

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    Interesting! It's so rare that you see an AAR that covers Portugal, which is sad. The Estado Novo was one of the first dictatorships of its kind, having the apolitical traits that would have traditionally been associated with a pure monarchy at the time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merrick Chance' View Post
    Interesting! It's so rare that you see an AAR that covers Portugal, which is sad. The Estado Novo was one of the first dictatorships of its kind, having the apolitical traits that would have traditionally been associated with a pure monarchy at the time.
    Thanks!

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    Prologue
    The Popular Front


    Hunger a was common feature of the Spanish countryside in the early thirties



    The popular euphoria caused by the establishment of a republic in Spain was short-lived. It soon became clear it was just a simple name change, from monarchy to republic, since the same elite remained in power and the same social inequalities that had already plagued the country for centuries only worsened. The Great Depression continued strong well into the thirties, and the popularity and electoral success of the left grew. The conservatives remained in power nevertheless, as the Spanish left-wing was one of the most deeply divided in Europe; a myriad of social democratic, communist and anarcho-syndicalist groups of variable power and influence vied for the support of the working classes, and cooperation between them was not on their agenda. Needless to say, it was easy for the right-wing to maintain the status quo.

    The whole situation changed however, with the coming to power of Hitler and his National Socialists in Germany in 1933. The NSDAP rapid ascension in Germany and the subsequent annihilation of the strong German communist movement shocked the Third International. The concept of “social fascism”, a term created in the 6th World Congress of the Comintern, was abandoned, and the communists, frightened by the rise of fascism, decided to make more room for cooperation with the rest of the left. The 7th World Congress, in 1935, formalized the new policy of the worldwide communist movement, an alliance of all left-wing organizations in a so-called Popular Front.


    Frente Popular propaganda in Catalunya


    The Spanish Communist Party was not a major party in the Second Spanish Republic. Even in the Marxist section of the political spectrum, it really lagged behind the social-democratic Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE), which was supported by the country’s largest trade union, the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT). The PCE however, guided by the Leninist democratic centralism, was perhaps the most organized party in Spain, and certainly the more traditionally unwilling to cooperate. Their cry for union between the leftist groups surprised and encouraged the rest of the left to cooperate, and this initiative finally bore fruit in January 1936, with the formation of the Frente Popular.


    Meeting of the CEDA leadership


    The 1936 general election was probably the most important one in the history of Spain. At stake were all 473 seats of the unicameral Cortes Generales, the economic crisis persisted, unemployment was high, and popular discontent was widespread. These conditions however, already existed in the previous election in 1933. The difference was that in 1936 the left, previously divided, was now united under one banner, a popular front. This major alliance was composed of several Marxists (PSOE, PCE, POUM) and left republican (IR, UR, ERC) groups, and it also received support from the socialist and anarchist unions, the UGT and the CNT, and from nationalist parties in the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia. They were opposed by a loose coalition of right-wing parties, the Frente Nacional, which was dominated by the Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas (CEDA).


    Results of the 1936 general election


    Election Day was February 16, and the campaigning before and in it was surprisingly peaceful. Several press restrictions were lifted, and it can be said that it was the fairest election of the Second Republic. Around ten million people voted, and the abstention rate was a high 28%. The result would only come in a few days, but the mood at the end of the day already made it pretty clear: the left had won. The official result came a few days later, and the Frente Popular victory, mainly in the Catalan Countries, Madrid, Andalusia and Galicia, was overwhelming. The new constitution of the Cortes gave the left-wing alliance a 285 seats vast majority. Manuel Azaña of the Izquierda Republicana (IR) was elected president, and the longtime leader of the PSOE and the UGT, Francisco Largo Caballero, was the new prime minister.

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    This is my sort of AAR.

    I love a good history book AAR and Spanish history is of course incredibly interesting in this period. I will also look forward to seeing developments in Portugal - I really don't know an awful lot about Portuguese history, so I look forward to you shining some light on them too.

    I'm reading Leon Trotsky's 'The History of the Russian Revolution' at the moment, it was written whilst the first phase of the Spanish Revolution (roughly 1930-1931) was underway and he draws a lot of interesting parallels between Spain and Russia, making some predictions of how things would develop in Spain that turned out to be true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy4ever View Post
    This is my sort of AAR.

    I love a good history book AAR and Spanish history is of course incredibly interesting in this period. I will also look forward to seeing developments in Portugal - I really don't know an awful lot about Portuguese history, so I look forward to you shining some light on them too.

    I'm reading Leon Trotsky's 'The History of the Russian Revolution' at the moment, it was written whilst the first phase of the Spanish Revolution (roughly 1930-1931) was underway and he draws a lot of interesting parallels between Spain and Russia, making some predictions of how things would develop in Spain that turned out to be true.
    Thanks! It's good to get some feedback, since I'm not sure there's a lot of people reading this

    Also, you're reading an amazing book! Probably one of, if not the best book about the Russian Revolution, written by someone who was a major player in this crucial historic event.

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    Iberia in Flames
    A Coup


    Drawing depicting José Sanjurjo's failed coup attempt in 1932


    The first months of the Popular Front government were troubled ones, and that was expected. After all, Spain not only had a myriad of leftist groups, it also possessed a large number of radical right-wing groups; Carlist, Bourbon loyalists, Falangists and other Fascist groups all plotted to overthrow the republic from its inception. Since 1931, several uprisings aiming to topple the republic happened, notably the one led by General José Sanjurjo in August 1932. Even though they all failed, they never stopped plotting, and the election of the Frente Popular in the general election of 1936 only hastened the preparations. From the moment the results came out on February 16, planning began to be made to overthrow the leftist government that threatened the interests of the ruling classes.

    The main conspirators were no doubt the leaders of the military, most of them affiliated with one of several anti-republican factions. The government tried to quell their efforts, but they could not take drastic measures, since that would generate an all-out revolt. Several suspected coupists were transferred to less important functions in the military, notably Francisco Franco, a Falangist that was removed from the post of chief of staff and assigned to the insignificant command of the Canary Islands. These measures however, proved fruitless, since the officer corps had become almost totally involved in the conspiracy, so practically any replacement chosen would also be a coupist. Eventually the movement centered on the leadership of a military triumvirate, composed of José Sanjurjo, Emilio Mola, and Francisco Franco. These were not chosen by chance, as they were not only respected generals, who easily obtained the support of almost the entire military leadership, but also had strong connections with the right-wing political factions, and so obtained the support of José María Gil-Robles, Manuel Fal Condé, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, and of the factions they led, respectively the CEDA, the Carlists, and the Falange.


    Sanjurjo, Franco, and Mola



    On July 12, 1936, in Madrid, members of the Falange murdered Lieutenant José Castillo of the Guardias de Asalto, a member of the Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE). The next day came the retaliation: members of the Guardias de Asalto arrested José Calvo Sotelo, a deputy in the Cortes Generales, and summarily executed him. Sotelo had been Primo de Rivera’s finance minister, and was a well-known critic of the government and a monarchist advocate of corporatism. It is not known if the Popular Front government had any direct involvement in the murder, but what it is known is that this episode made the coup leaders accelerate their preparations.

    The uprising began at 5:00 a.m. of July 17, in the remnants of the Spanish colonial empire. Francisco Franco rapidly took control of the Canary Islands, and then flew to Spanish Morocco, where the rebels took control with great ease. This happened because the troops there were extremely loyal to their coupist commanders, and the Moroccan native population was fed with propaganda stating that the republican government intended to “abolish Allah”. The few areas inhabited by Spaniards were quickly occupied, and the even fewer supporters of the republic, were rounded up and shot. With the easy victory in the colonies, Spain’s most experienced military unit, the Army of Morocco, was free to support the coup on the mainland.


    CNT militia celebrating their victory at Barcelona


    The coup began in Spain itself the following day, and it seemed its initial goal of taking the country quickly, without extending into an all-out conflict, would be achieved. Traditionally conservative and strongly Catholic areas such as Castilla la Vieja fell quickly and almost without bloodshed to the rebels. Resistance stiffened however, in the rest of the country. Even though military units rose in rebellion in all of Spain major cities, in some areas a considerable part of the army remained loyal to the republic, and bloodshed occurred within several barracks. It is important to note the quick action of the Popular Front government, which was decisive. Prime Minister Largo Caballero, who was also an important trade union leader, called the UGT militia to rise in defense of the country, and the government also struck a decisive but controversial deal with the CNT/FAI, authorizing their militias to join the fight in exchange for more freedom of action for the anarcho-syndicalists. The anarchist movement had effectively joined the Popular Front, and the action of both the socialist and anarchist militias, many of them veterans of the 1934 uprising, was decisive in securing several regions of Spain to the republican government. In places where the anarchist movement had a strong presence, such as in Andalucía and the Catalan Countries, rebel forces were completely crushed, with the notable exception of Valencia and Sevilla, where troops arriving from Spanish Africa turned the tide of battle in favor of the coupists. These two major cities would serve as important bridgeheads for further advances of the so-called “Nationalist” forces. When the dust settled, it was clear the coup was somewhat of a failure. The unexpectedly high popular resistance meant that the rebels took power only in a few isolated regions, but it was far from over. These areas were heavily occupied by well-trained units of the former Spanish Republican Army, extremely loyal to Sanjurjo, Franco, Mola and their allies. There would be war, the most frightful and terrible kind of it: civil war.


    The situation in Spain on July 19, 1936

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    That Nationalist position looks horrible.
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    Major gll25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy4ever View Post
    So which side, if any, are you going to play in the Civil War?
    I'm playing republican, but let's say I won't be following the game script completely
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivir Baggins View Post
    That Nationalist position looks horrible.
    The same thing occurred to me, but you'll see it changed a lot in the next update

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    Iberia in Flames
    Initial Movements


    Republican volunteers in Madrid


    The Spanish civil war began with both sides having clear objectives: the Republicans aimed to clear the several pockets of Nationalist control scattered all over Spain before they could regroup and reinforce, this way cutting short the rebel war effort and making a quick end to the conflict possible. The nationalists, on the other hand, had failed in their initial objective to take Spain quickly and in a somewhat bloodless way. It was pretty clear a long war was inevitable, so attempting a fast attack with the divided forces they had towards the country major cities was suicidal. Instead, the Nationalists focused on regrouping and uniting their separate forces, this way establishing a strong foothold in Spain from which they could slowly push back the Republicans and win the civil war.

    The Republicans quickly took the initiative in southern Spain. Counting with the broad popular support in this region of the country and applying a policy of ideological tolerance for the various leftist groups, several volunteer divisions were rapidly organized, and with the support of loyalist army troops who had recently secured Madrid to the government, the Republic was on the offensive.


    Republican offensives in the south


    Valencia was one of the first places where the Republican counter-attack began, as the city was attacked less than a week after the rebels took control of it. Even though well-trained troops from Morocco were able to capture the city for the Nationalists on the outbreak of the civil war, the city was quickly and completely surrounded by UGT and CNT militias, and reinforcements from Catalunya, probably the only place throughout Spain were the coupists did not have the slightest chance of success, were arriving daily. Fighting was still happening inside Valencia, as popular revolts were a common feature during the week-long nationalist occupation of the city, when Republican forces attacked. The rebels tried to put up a resistance but, attacked by all sides, their cause was hopeless. Recapturing Valencia quickly would be decisive for the Republican war effort.

    Numerous offensives similar to the one against Valencia were also launched by the Republic immediately after the coup. Rebel controlled areas completely surrounded by loyalist forces, without any connection to the sea, and this way unable to receive any kind of reinforcements, were doomed. Such was the case of Jaén, in Andalucía, and Cáceres, in Estremaura, which were easily recaptured. A second offensive of decisive importance took place in southern Spain, this time in Sevilla. The battle there happened in quite a similar fashion to the one in Valencia. Rebels captured the city with support from colonial troops, only to quickly find themselves surrounded, and soon they too were crushed. It was another costly strategic mistake of the coupists.


    Nationalist advances in the north


    The situation in northern Spain however, was much more favorable to the Nationalists. The bulk of rebel army units were there and the support of the population in León, Castilla la Vieja, Navarra and other conservative areas was widespread. The rebels established their command center in the historic capital of Castilla, Burgos, and from there began to spread like a virus throughout the region. To the east, Nationalist forces advanced along the Ebro, capturing Navarra and the majority of Aragón, until they were stopped by a successful loyalist defense of the Cinca River, which prevented the rebels from entering Catalan territory. To the west, León and the rest of Castilla were taken with ease, and a Nationalist offensive managed to capture south Galicia, creating a large pocket of Republican forces in Bilbao, Cantabria, Asturies, and north Galicia, while granting the Nationalist side a crucial connection to the outside world, as the important port of Vigo was now in their hands.


    No Pasarán: the defenders of Madrid held these words of hope and resistance close to them in moments of despair and difficulty


    Buoyed up by their victories in the north, the Nationalists started to believe again in a quick ending to the war. To achieve this, a daring offensive against Madrid was launched in late September. The rebels believed, and they were probably correct, that taking the Spanish capital would throw the Republican war effort into disarray. The vicious attack southwards of the Nationalist forces pushed the capital defenses back, and by October heavy fighting was already occurring inside the city. It seemed the Popular Front would suffer a blow from which it would be hard to recover. The tide turned however, with the arrival of reinforcements from the south, now completely under Republican control. Three infantry divisions joined the fight in Madrid itself, bringing the rebel advance to a standstill, while the only armored division of the Spanish military, which remained loyal to the republic, launched a furious counterattack in the enemy’s flank. The risk of encirclement and subsequent annihilation forced the Nationalists to retreat. The Republicans had won a decisive victory, and the capital was safe for now. The war however, was just beggining.


    Spain by Christmas, 1936

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    No Pasaran! No Pasaran!

    I remember reading a book called ''The Defense of Madrid'' which was written back in the 30s by a journalist who was in Madrid from the late Summer of 36 until ealry 37. I was really effective in getting across that sense of terror the people of Madrid had. The Fascists had been deliberately terror bombing working class districts as they advanced ever closer and the militias look like they were breaking and people feared that with the Moorish troops at the head of his army Franco was going to slaughter the working class population of the city wholesale. The sense of jubilation at the arrival of the Russian tanks of and International Brigades in the book was quite amazing. I hope your Madrid is spared the fate the capital suffered in real life. Looking forward to the International Brigades and the other foriegn intervention as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy4ever View Post
    No Pasaran! No Pasaran!

    I remember reading a book called ''The Defense of Madrid'' which was written back in the 30s by a journalist who was in Madrid from the late Summer of 36 until ealry 37. I was really effective in getting across that sense of terror the people of Madrid had. The Fascists had been deliberately terror bombing working class districts as they advanced ever closer and the militias look like they were breaking and people feared that with the Moorish troops at the head of his army Franco was going to slaughter the working class population of the city wholesale. The sense of jubilation at the arrival of the Russian tanks of and International Brigades in the book was quite amazing. I hope your Madrid is spared the fate the capital suffered in real life. Looking forward to the International Brigades and the other foriegn intervention as well.
    The resistance in Madrid against the fascists is one of the amazing parts of the civil war, so even though I do not know this book, I'm already liking it . Most of my knowledge of the spanish civil war comes from Paul Preston's books and Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.

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    Iberia in Flames
    Foreign Intervention


    Neville Chamberlain, one of the main advocates of non-intervention


    The intervention of foreign powers was a common feature in the Spanish Civil War. The first country to take part, even though this would only be known later, was Portugal. The fascist government in Lisbon sent a battalion of their military to help the coupists take control of Galicia, and their intervention was important in the capture of Vigo, in July 1936. They were only the first of many who participated directly or indirectly, officially or unofficially in the Spanish conflict.

    The outbreak of war caused different reactions in the world and the first to officially act were the United Kingdom and the United States. Both countries released a joint statement in July 20, just three days after the conflict started, released a joint statement urging all countries to a policy of non-intervention. The next day, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain invited Europe’s major powers and the United States to a meeting.


    Rejected British plan of naval control zones divided between the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy


    The summit of London began in the first week of August, and its clear intention was to convince the participants to adopt a policy of isolating Spain, not allowing the entry of weapons in the country. Needless to say, this congress was ill-fated. Some of its participants, like Italy, Germany and the Soviet Union, had already started preparations to intervene in the civil war. Nevertheless, to appease the British and the Americans, all participants committed to a Non-Intervention Agreement, signed on August 5, 1936. British further demands for an international naval blockade of Spain were harshly rejected by most of the participants, thus eliminating any chance of actual success the treaty had.


    Aircrafts of the Corpo Truppe Volontarie


    The Nationalist faction is the one who received most of the international support. The fascist governments of Italy, Germany, and Portugal were more than happy with the possibility of another fascist state, and so help was sent in several different ways, especially to the only avowedly fascist organization in the rebel forces, the Falange. Portugal sent supplies to the nationalists, and organized a small group of “volunteers”, the “Divisão de Voluntários Portugueses”, which had about five thousand soldiers. Italy sent the biggest intervention force in the whole conflict. The “Corpo Truppe Volontarie” was an expeditionary force assembled from all the three branches of the Italian military, and at its apex, it consisted of nearly 50.000 soldiers, hundreds of aircrafts and tanks, and even four destroyers and a cruiser. Germany used, or at least attempted to, Spain as a proving ground for their Blitzkrieg tactics. The “Legion Condor” had around 15.000 soldiers, and it deployed several modern bombers, fighters and panzer tanks, recently developed for the Wehrmacht. The Condor was a fearsome fighting force and the best military unit in the Nationalist side.


    Soldiers of the Legion Condor


    The Soviet Union was the greatest ally of the Republicans in the conflict. Even though Stalin was really uncomfortable with the participation of the Anarchist CNT/FAI and the Trotskyist POUM in the Popular Front, he initially deemed their support necessary, believing they could be effectively purged after the war was won. Soviet aid did not arrive in the form of numerous divisions composed of tens of thousands of soldiers, since this was completely impracticable. The only personnel sent by the Soviets were a corps of military advisors to train the Spanish army. Instead, the USSR supplied the Republican military with a huge amount of equipment, bought at low price by the Popular Front government. It is estimated that the Soviet Union sent half a million rifles, 700 tanks and 400 aircrafts to Spain. Apart from the USSR, the only other (and first) country which officially supported the Republicans was Mexico.


    Soviet tanks in Spain


    The intervention of France in the conflict was a unique case. France was ruled since June 1936 by a Popular Front similar to the Spanish one, comprised of the SFIO and the Radical Party, with parliamentary support of the PCF, but socialist Prime Minister Léon Blum believed that directly helping the Republican side would eventually cause a large scale right-wing revolt in France, and his coalition partners, the Radicals, also advocated non-intervention, as they feared the more radical wing of the Spanish government. Blum however, was determined to intervene in the conflict in a more subtle manner. He negotiated several confidential sales of military equipment at a low price for the Republicans, and encouraged, with the help of the socialist trade unions in his country, the organization of volunteer corps. These crossed the border disguised as civilian aid groups, only to be trained in Spain to join the fight for the Republican side. It is estimated that around ten to fifteen thousand Frenchmen entered the war this way, proving to be a valuable asset to the Republic.
    Last edited by gll25; 12-08-2012 at 21:36.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gll25 View Post
    The resistance in Madrid against the fascists is one of the amazing parts of the civil war, so even though I do not know this book, I'm already liking it . Most of my knowledge of the spanish civil war comes from Paul Preston's books and Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.
    I'm not familiar with the Preston books but I've read Homage to Catalonia. I think people who know a little but not a huge amount about the Spanish Civil War and Revolution tend to get a very Catalonia-centric view of the Civil War. Probably because the main sources of information on the subject are Homage to Catalonia (because George Orwell is popular as everyone reads Animal Farm and 1984 at school) and Land and Freedom (because its a good film by a well known director). But the view from Catalonia is very different to the view from Madrid. In Catalonia the revolutionary forces (Anarchists and POUM) were at their strongest whilst the region was initially under comparitively little threat. The Aragon Front was where the Catalan militias had to hold the line and in this mountainous territory even a less effective fighting force can hold the line. So the region was under less threat and had the most advanced revolution which was working rather well. If you're in Barcelona the actions of the the government and CP seem to be nothing but evil Stalinism as they supressed the revolution, purged the revolutoinary forces and professionalised the army. From the Barcelona perpective there is no obvious reason for this except for class collaborationism and the desire of the Soviets to cosy up with Britain and France in their own national interests.

    From Madrid it is a very different perspective. Here the militias barely held the line and the city was only saved thanks to the assistance of the international brigades and more professionalised (and more effective) military units. Whats more the city spent basically the whole war under siege with the very real threat of Fascist takeover and the slaughter everyone feared. In Barcelona the threat of the Fascists was more distant and the needs of the revolution took precedence, from Madrid the Fascists were on the doorstep and the needs of the war effort came above everything else. I think that getting the view from Madrid gives you a fuller view of why the government and CP acted the way they did. It wasn't because they were evil slaves of Stalin seeking only to further Soviet interests - it was because they put the war effort above everything else and saw the revolution as a threat to that war effort by causing divisions in the already class collaborationist Popular Front, by frightening off potential foriegn supporters in Britain and especially France and by relying on less effective militias.

    If you take the view from Madrid into account as well as the view from Barcelona it is clear that it is not a black and white case of good versus evil but a matter of priorities. Which is more important - everything for the war effort, or everything for the revolution?

    Anyway, I've rambled quite a lot.

    I see all the armies of intervention are in play. Let the games begin.

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