François Godicheau

The Spanish Civil War Publication date : September 10, 2004

The Spanish Civil War began on 18 July 1936 with a military uprising involving part of the army. The rebel generals who sought to overthrow the government claimed that the Second Spanish Republic, which had been proclaimed in 1931, was leading the country straight to revolution. The civil war pitted democrats and workers’ organisations against the rebel military forces led by Franco and backed by the right wing, the far right and the Catholic Church. Both sides sought help from abroad. Hitler and Mussolini supplied Franco’s Nationalists with weapons and troops, but the French and British governments refused to help the Republicans, who received aid from the Soviet Union and from the thousands of volunteers who joined the International Brigades. In 1939, the Nationalists defeated the divided and more poorly armed Republicans. Franco’s dictatorship lasted until 1975.
The Spanish Civil War has often been considered as a dress rehearsal for World War II — which would also involve Fascism, Communism and democracy, and in which millions of civilians would also be the victims of repression, bombs and forced exile. The Spanish Civil War saw divisions and fratricidal struggle between the various revolutionary movements. The conflict was on a national scale and tore apart villages and families and resulted in a convulsion of all of Spanish society.
The book, which is centred on Catalonia, is one of the first studies to place this crucial conflict of the 1930s in a truly global context. Avoiding a militant approach, the author presents the struggle through its many aspects and reviews the latest scholarship, with a special focus on recent Spanish studies.
François Godicheau, a historian, is a lecturer at the University of Toulouse-Le Mirail.