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SCW. Conduct. People. The Nationalists. Gen. Fransisco Franco Leader of Moroccan troops – very competent Hated by Left for role in Asturian revolt Was sent to Canary islands as an internal exile by Popular front gov. Gen. Mola

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The Nationalists

  • Gen. Fransisco Franco

    • Leader of Moroccan troops – very competent

    • Hated by Left for role in Asturian revolt

    • Was sent to Canary islands as an internal exile by Popular front gov.

  • Gen. Mola

    • Nominally senior to Franco, second only to Sanjurjo among plotters


  • Largo Caballero

    • Replaced giral as PM, also became War minister

  • Juan Negrin

    • Made PM in may 1937, tool of Communists

  • Manuel Azana

    • President at start of war, lacked any real authority

  • Andres Nin

    • Leader of POUM, jailed and executed by gov after may revolt

  • Luis Companys

    • Catalonian leader – formed coalition of POUM and CNT

  • Indalecio Prieto

    • Socialist leader rival of Caballero


  • Hugo Sperrle

    • Comander of Condor Legion

  • Wolfram von Richthofen

    • Sperrle’s Chief of staff

  • Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko

    • Soviet consul general to Republicans

  • George Orwell

    • Most famous member of International Brigades

The beginning

  • July 17th several Generals attempt a coup against government

    • In response to actions of the Popular front government and political assassinations

  • Franco in Canary Islands Flies to Morocco

    • Assumes command of Spanish army there including the feared Riffians

The coup fails

  • Many garrisons refuse to participate

  • Anarchist, marxist and militias defeat rebels in Barcelona, Madrid and in southeast

    • Republican govt initially hesitant to give arms to militias because of radical activities

  • Navy remains under Republican control

    • Franco’s army stuck in Morocco

  • Coup leader Sanjurjo killed in plane crash

Areas of control July 1936


  • As many as 50,000 people killed as each side kills the supporters of the other side

  • Militias on each side responsible for most of killings on republican side

    • Anti-clerical violence is the most reported

    • Has very negative impact on support for republicans outside of Spain

  • Carlists and Falangists killed more people

Foreign involvement

  • Franco unable to move troops from Africa

    • appeals to Hitler and Mussolini

    • Airlift begins in late July

  • France stops arms sales to Republicans Aug 28

    • Non-intervention policy begins

    • Nominally accepted by Ger., Itl. and Port.

    • Some in British govt fear communist influence

Reasons for non-intervention

  • GB

    • Fear of communists and anarchists

    • Many in British gov think nationalist victory would be better

    • Don’t want to spark confrontation with Ger. And Italy

  • France

    • Many of the same domestic political probs as Spain – fear of rightwing revolt

    • Following GB lead in international affairs

  • Russian officials arrive in Madrid Aug. 27

  • Equipment from Ger., It. and USSR used by both sides by Oct.

  • Condor Legion formed in Nov.

  • International Brigades aid in defense of Madrid Nov

International Brigades

  • Idea of French Communist party leader

  • Organized by Comintern

  • Volunteers from Communist parties around the world

  • Brigades from all over the world

    • 2 from US

    • Orwell part of British brigade

  • Withdrawn in Nov 1938

Consolidation of leadership for the Nationalists

  • Sanjurjo killed in Plane crash

  • Jose Primo de Rivera executed in nov 1937

    • Leader of Falange

    • Was in prison at beginning of war

  • Carlists join rebellion early on, form own militias

  • FET formed by Franco in April of 1937

    Mola killed in Plane crash in June 3 1937

    - last rival to Franco

    Franco assumes control as sole leader of Nationalists in Oct 1937

Division among the Republicans

  • Largo Caballero finally made PM in sept 1936

  • Basques form own Government

  • Anarchists control Generalidad in Barcelona

  • Communists demand positions in Government for Russian aid

  • Spanish gold reserves sent to USSR for safe keeping

Nationalist offensive against Madrid

  • Franco aims for a quick end Nov 1936

    • Moroccan troops under Yague storm from SW to outskirts of Madrid

    • Several Southern cities fall to Nationalists

    • Stand off at Toledo relief of Alcazar by Nationalists

    • Republican Forces Hold Firm, Mostly Union Militias, and International brigades

Nov 1936

Franco takes his time

  • Reorganizes Army

  • Decides to take territory a little at a time

  • Moves to the North to secure access to mines

  • Condor Legion tries out new Tactics on Guernica in April 1937

April 1937

Crisis in Barcelona May 1937

  • Communists demand central authority

  • Telephone exchange in Barcelona taken by Communists

  • Fighting breaks out between Anarchist militia units and Communist controlled army units

  • Anarchists crushed

Republican offensives

  • Assault upon Brunette successful

  • Attack on Teruel not

Communist’s war 1937-1938

  • Caballero ousted May 17

  • Dr Jose Negrin forms Government with majority of Communist ministers

  • Secret police formed to root out oppsition

  • POUM leaders arrested

  • Supplies only given to Communist officers

  • Republican Capitol moved to Barcelona

Crumbling of the Republic

  • Mar 1938 Nationalist offensive in Aragon drives to Med by Apr 15

  • Republic split, tries offensive along Ebro River but held back

  • Stalin getting nervous about Hitler, Russian support wanes

  • International Brigades withdrawn in Nov

August 1938

Fall of Barcelona

  • Nationalist offensive begins in Dec 1938

  • Barcelona captured by Jan 26th 1939

Surrender of Madrid

  • Communists ousted from Republican Government Mar 10

  • Negotiations for term fail

  • Last loyal units surrender Mar 31,1939


  • 600,000 dead

    • Franco Signs Five year friendship treaty with Hitler, stays neutral during war

    • Purges of suspected Republican Supporters kill as many as 200,000

    • Guerrilla warfare lasts for several years

    • All separatist movements crushed, totalitarian regime established until 1975 when Franco dies.

Fundamental Issues

  • Why, despite its achievements, did the Second Republic prove so unstable?

  • Could democracy have survived or was it doomed from the start?

  • Was a dictatorship the only form of government possible in a society so divided?

  • Was it primarily a domestic civil war, or an international war?

  • Would there have been a civil war without the international involvement?

  • If it was primarily a DOMESTIC CIVIL WAR, what sort of war was it?

    • Between the right and left?

    • Between communism and fascism?

    • Over the form of government, democracy or dictatorship, republic or monarchy?

    • Regionalists war?

    • Religious war?

  • Or a combination of these with people taking the opportunity to vent their grievances, whatever they may be?

  • If it was primarily an international war, why did countries choose to involve themselves, or not, as the case may be?

  • Were there ideological principles or national interests that determined their course of action?

  • Was it a chance for the European powers to rehearse their positions and test their weapons prior to the greater conflict to come?

Military significance

  • Airpower

    • First use of air tranport to move army- tremendous boost to Nationalists

    • Guernica – very influential although overblown- more propaganda than reality

      • Germans became overconfident on abilities of Luftwaffe – don’t develop strategic bombers

      • Provides impetus for the development of RAF defenses – Radar and Spitfire developed

  • Italian soldiers perform very poorly as many as 60,000 Italian “volunteers” serve in Spain

  • Both SU and Germany gain technical knowledge on mechanized and air warfare

  • German and Soviet limit personal to technical advisors or pilots –they gain experience – served as training ground

International impact

  • USSR decides it cant trust Western LDs

    • Forms Non-aggression pact with Germany

    • Felt that West was trying to drive Hitler against USSR

    • Gave up on cooperation with west

  • Germany and Italy drawn closer together

    • Form Pact of Steel aka Rome-Berlin Axis

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