Tuesday, January 6, 2015

La guerra civil en España


The civil war in Spain from 1936-1939 was the result of ideological confrontations between Fascism, Socialism, Communism, Republicanism and the traditional values of the Spanish Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish military leaders.

An estimated 500,000 people died from all causes during the Spanish Civil War. An estimated 200,000 died from combat-related causes. Of these, 110,000 fought for the Republicans and 90,000 for the Nationalists. This implies that 10 per cent of all soldiers who fought in the war were killed.

"Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death, Cerro Muriano"
Photograph by Robert Capa taken on September 5, 1936.

It has been calculated that the Nationalist Army executed 75,000 people in the war whereas the Republican Army accounted for 55,000. These deaths takes into account the murders of members of rival political groups. On August 18, 1936, the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca was taken from a jail cell in Granada and was executed in the hills outside the city, along with a teacher and two bullfighters. The murder of Lorca, and the many other citizens who opposed the Nationalists, remains one of Spain's open wounds.

It is estimated that about 5,300 foreign soldiers died while fighting for the Nationalists (4,000 Italians, 300 Germans, 1,000 others). The International Brigades suffered heavy losses during the war. Approximately 4,900 soldiers died fighting for the Republicans (2,000 Germans, 1,000 French, 900 Americans, 500 British and 500 others).

Around 10,000 Spanish people were killed in bombing raids. The vast majority of these were victims of the German Condor Legion. On 27th July, 1936, Hitler sent the Nationalists 26 German fighter aircraft. He also sent 30 Junkers 52s from Berlin and Stuttgart to Morocco to transport over 15,000 troops to Spain.

In September 1936, Lieutenant Colonel Walther Warlimont of the German General Staff arrived as the German commander and military adviser to General Francisco Franco. The following month Warlimont suggested that a German Condor Legion should be formed to fight in the Spanish Civil War.

On April 26, 1937, Gernika in the Basque region was the scene of one of the first aerial bombings by Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe. It inspired the painting Guernica by Pablo Picasso. According to the official Basque figures, 1,654 civilians were killed. One month earlier German and Italian pilots bombed two sites in northern Spain, the towns of Durango and Elorrio.


Picasso's 1937 painting "Guernica" captures the horror of the night bombing of this Basque town.

On 31 March 1937 the Nationalists started their offensive against the Republican held province of Biscay. The Nationalists, led by Emilio Mola, started the offensive against the Republican held, Vizcaya Province. Mola said that: "I have decided to terminate rapidly the war in the north: those not guilty of assassinations and who surrender their arms will have their lives and property spared. But, if submission is not immediate, I will raze all Vizcaya to the ground, beginning with the industries of war." That same day the Legion Condor and the Aviazione Legionaria bombed the town of Durango. Around 250 civilians died, among them one priest and fourteen nuns. Heinkel He 51 fighters strafed fleeing civilians.

Durango was the first defenseless European city bombed by the Facists. The Spanish Civil War is often considered the dress rehearsal for World War II because the Germans used this conflict to test new weapons.

The Nationalists won, and General Francisco Franco ruled Spain for the next 36 years, from 1939 until his death in 1975.

After the war it is believed that the Franco government arranged the executions of 100,000 Republican prisoners. It is estimated that another 35,000 Republicans died in concentration camps in the years that followed the war.

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