The major strength of the nationalists was unity. After initially being divided,
franco emerged as the leader over Mola and Sanjurjo and established a
unified command, with the common aim to overthrow government.
Franco decided to merge the Falange and Carlists, creating the FET under
his control. Franco's methods were a mixture of propaganda and terror.
Franco was assisted by the church who denounced communism
and called for a crusade to protect Christian civilisation.
Some say Soviet involvement extended the war, others say it was Franco, to enhance his dictatorial powers
Initially had the same problem as Republicans, with columns
of militias attempting to operate alongside regular army
units. However, they were effectively drawn into the army.
The Army of Africa had a significant role, it contained the best
troops in the country and ensured cover whilst other forces were
being trained and equipped. In open and mobile offensive
operations, it was the most effective force in the war.
Unified command and the use of Italian forces were key.
they were successful in pushing on and winning
offensives, and were able to adopt effective defensive
tactics during the Republican 1937 offensive campaigns
Had sound communications and their growing army was well equipped., under a strong leadership
Backed by the business community, the Nationalists got credit to buy war supplies.
They also controlled main food producing areas and gained key industrial areas
Benefited from unrestricted trade and credit.
Recieved $700 million in credit from US.
Thomas (key factor) - the crisis became an international crisis whose solution was determined by external circumstances
Rebels benefited from more and better quality aid, with continuous supply.
Germans crucially airlifted Franco's army from Morocco to the mainland.
Germans committed the Condor Legion - 10,000 men, 800 aircraft and 200 tanks.
Italians sent 75,000 troops, 750 planes and 150 tanks
Portuguese sent 20,000 troops and permitted air pass over their long border.
Assistance allowed them to fight in the first place, owing to the
German airlift, and German planes gave them control of the air.
Most importantly, they recieved modern equipment.
Weakness of the republicans
Caballero became head of a coalition government. His rule was weakened by the fact that the Republicans
were politically divided with widely different ideologies. The key divisions were between the
Communists/Socialists who believed the revolution should be postponed until the war was won, against
the anarchists. This added a crucial hurdle for the Republic, as they had to regain centralized control
The war generally increased popularity of the communists, with
members rising from 40,000 to 400,000. The communists exploited the
fact they were the only party with clear foreign support (the USSR)
The lack of unity is exemplified in the four days of street fighting in Barcelona in
May 1937, between communists and socialists vs anarchists and POUM. Known
as 'May Days'. As a result of this turmoil, Caballero was replaced by Negrin
The republic lacked strong military leadership, with no unified command
and anarchists and communist forces refusing to work together. Basques
would not permit their forces to defend areas outside of their own territory.
In the first vital weeks of the war, the Republic was dependent on
ineffective militia units that formed haphazardly, fighting a series
of local conflicts rather than one clear overall campaign.
Different fronts operated separately, many battlefields were
not within range of their air force and they failed to sustain
offensive campaigns eg. Brunete, Belchite and Teruel.
Areas under Anarchist control had industry taken over by workers and
collective farms were set up in the countryside. Neither of these systems
supplied the needs of the Republic to fight the war, impairing the war efffort
Production in Catalan fell by two thirds and the Republic became increasingly affected by food and raw marerial shortages
Inflation was also a problem, peaking at 300% whilst wages only increased by 15%
NIC prevented foreign influx of support to the warring parties in Spain,
starving the Republic of all credit. The USSR was the only country
willing to trade, and this had to be paid using the gold reserves
Preston - the economy and centralised control improved
under the communists, but this happened too late
Republicans had limited foreign assistance, the main ally being the USSR. Soviets
didn't send any men but committed 1,000 aircraft, 750 tanks and some advisers
Comintern organised International Brigades, with 35,000
volunteers being sent to fight. Had a significant role in the
defence of Madrid but overall their impact was limited.
France sent aid initially but ended support once joining Britain in
the policy of non-intervention, driven by anti-communists
sentiments and to avoid confrontation with Germany and Italy
Lengthened and intensified the war
Meant the Spanish issues that caused the war were overtaken
and submerged by wider ideological battles in Europe
Took the lead in establishing the NIC in an attempt to
avoid the war spreading into a general European conflict
Did not want to damage relations so stayed relatively neutral
Britain had budgetary limitations and wanted to restrict war to the Peninsula
Supported the Republic inconsistently, wasn't in their interest to be encircled by Right regimes.
Restricted themselves due to relationship with Britain and political uncertainty domestically.
Their decision was a great blow for the Republic, resulting in reliance on the Soviets,
polarizing the politics of the Left. Did open itself for coordination of Soviet aid.
French had ideological sympathy and wanted a friendly government on their southern border but
didn't want to provoke a European war especially with its own political uncertainty and wanted to
maintain positive relations with the British
Supported the Republic for ideological reasons and to stop Hitler gaining an ally.
Although he was worried it would result in an anti-communist pact between B,F,G,I.
Stalin encouraged the fighting to drag out to drain the
resources of Germany and to increase the possibility of it
developing into a general war, away from their borders.
Wanted to stop the spread of communism and test out the Luftwaffe
in live conditions. Economic benefits of raw materials existed too.
Supplied Nationalists through Portugal. Condor Legion played a pivotal role in taking Catalonia
Gave the most assistance. Became involved because of ideological reasons,
to enhance their influence as a key power and to weaken France, encircling
them and putting pressure on their colonies in North Africa
Greatly contributed many men, planes, tanks and weapons. Bombers
attacked cities and submarines were a constant threat to supplies. Most
significant influence was through air and naval support.
Not only did it supply troops but it was fundamental to supplying rebels
along the border and providing a base for communications
Causes were essentially internal but its outcome was largely determined by
foreign intervention. The war would mean a diplomatic realignment of
enormous importance at a critical juncture in international politics.
War effort was totally subordinated to winning the support of the democracies
However, strategic and political preferences meant that
France and Britain opted for a policy of non-intervention,
allowing fascit powers to aid the nationalists unhindered
Phases of war
With the assistance of Nazi Germany, General Franco airlifted
24,000 experienced troops from the Army of Africa to Spain
Once on the mainland, he used a policy of
terror as his forces moved towards Madrid
The army coup had aimed to crush the 'left revolution', but had
instead politicized and radicalized many Spaniards towards the left.
The nationalists made steady progress in pushing back the Republic and making gains in the first weeks but the
Republic remained in control of most major cities and key industrial areas, and the air force/navy stayed loyal to it.
Republicans/loyalists tended to be supported by the workers and people of the Basque/Catalans
Nationalist/rebels tended to be supported by the middle/upper classes and the church.
Atrocities were common with no lines drawn betweeencivilian and combatant
Targeting of civilians in bombing raids, eg. attack on Guernica.
A total war in the eyes of the Spanish
Propaganda was used on both sides to dehumanise the enemy
Fought at a crossroads in the evolution of modern warfare. In some cases,
cavalry charge proved effective eg. Tereul. However the importance of new
technology, particularly the dominance of airpower, became clear.