The Spanish Civil War

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I’m reading The Battle for Spain by Antony Beevor on my little trip here, and thought I’d just pass along a little of what I’m seeing so far.

In America, we see things as so left or right, north or south, black or white — in other countries, that binary duality doesn’t quite exist. Spain had so many factions at the time trying for power in the country in the early 1930s that it’s hard to remember which was which as one turns the page in the book.

It’s always good to remember that not everything is 100% or 0%. Not everyone is on exactly the same side, that there’s different plays and coalitions at work all of the time. I tried to tell a buncha people this last year, but it fell on deaf ears, but we’re a bit smarter around these blog parts than most, so I think you’ll get it.

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8 thoughts on “The Spanish Civil War

  1. Jon,
    I also recommend Aurturo Perez Reverente’s La Guerra civil explicado a los ninos. I haven’t had a chance to read it but the Spanish press has positively reviewed it and the readers seems satisfied with it.
    Yup it was very complicated. Don’t forget that the Catalans and Basques were trying to get more autonomy and in 1934 the Catalans actually declared an epheremal independence.
    And even the Catholics didn’t totally support Franco. He was just the better choice in a sea of really bad dilemmas.
    I’ve been telling my American acquaintences that the situation in the U.S. reminds me of the 1934-39 period in Spain. Not identical of course but the polorization is erriely similar
    xavier

  2. With respect to Xavier, I do not recommend that book, of course the mainstream media has loved it, Reverte just repeats the usual leftist pablum.

    The decades leading up to the Spanish Civil War were enormously complex.

    The Spanish fought no less than three civil wars between 1833 and 1876; this is much more relevant than it might seem, as the carlistas who lost these three wars would then fight alongside Franco in the Civil War of 1936-39, as el requeté. Spain was attacked by the US in Cuba and the Philippines. Spain also fought several wars in Morocco (the generals of the Civil War were Morocco veterans), including the groundbreaking Alhucemas landing of 1925, the first amphibious landing in history with sea, air, and land units. Spain had a short-lived republic for the first time in the 1870s, a return to monarchy, a soft dictatorship “la dictablanda”, and then a very troublesome Second Republic. Between 1808 and the start of the Civil War, Spain went through a succession of over twelve different constitutions. The instability was such that Antonio Maura’s government was unironically called “el gobierno largo” after it lasted from early 1907 to late 1909.

    The first acts of violence did not begin in July 1936 with Franco’s National Uprising, but in 1931. And significantly worsened after the revolution of 1934.

    I highly recommend Pio Moa’s books, in chronological order:

    “El derrumbe de la Segunda República”
    “Los personajes de la República vistos por ellos mismos”
    “Los orígenes de la Guerra Civil Española”
    “Los mitos de la Guerra Civil”
    “Los mitos del Franquismo”

    I find the second one, “Los personajes…”, particularly interesting as it compiles what the statesmen of the Second Republic said of each other. What Azaña says of his own people is truly devastating.

    I also recommend:

    – “Los descontrolados de Companys” by Javier Barraycoa

    – The biography of South African poet Roy Campbell, the man who was the inspiration for Aragorn in LOTR. Titled “Roy Campbell: Spain Saved My Soul” written by Joseph Pearce. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/spanish-civil-war-seen-as-religious-conflict-biographer-says

    – “Las brigadas internacionales” by Cesar Vidal about the foreign volunteers against Franco.

    About the postwar and Franco’s National Regime:

    – “Los presos del Valle de los Caídos” by Alberto Bárcena Pérez

    – “Franco socialista” by Francisco Torres , here’s an interview with the author: https://www.ivoox.com/franco-socialista-audios-mp3_rf_24344748_1.html

    – “Franco” by Stanley George Payne & Jesús Palacios

    By the way, there is some very good material on youtube and in RadioYa:

    – Cita con la historia – 25 – Cómo se llegó a la Guerra Civil
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5235SLtzE8E

    – La Guerra Civil Española (tertulia de Lágrimas en la lluvia – 70) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDx4AX7uQ4A

    – Entrevista a Pío Moa, autor de ‘Los mitos de la Guerra Civil’
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR2KoSUM5l4

    – Especial Tiempos Modernos | El Terror Rojo en la Guerra Civil
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfM85s3fe3g

    – Jesús Laínz entrevista a Pío Moa sobre la revolución socialista de 1934 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpbM8IzUcTg

    – Franco, el hombre.
    https://www.ivoox.com/franco-hombre-audios-mp3_rf_28739649_1.html

    • Thanks for the recs. Sorry I have to approve comments from first time posters cuz I get a lot of trolls and I’m not always fast with it.

      • Ah, OK, I though I’d might have click some cancel button or something. Feel free to delete the earliest and this if you want. The second one is better, as it includes a yt list.

  3. With respect to Xavier, I do not recommend that book. Of course, the mainstream media loved it, Reverte just repeats the usual leftist pablum.
    There were indeed many factions in the 1930s. It is easy to underestimate the enormous complexity of the decades leading up to the Spanish Civil War.
    Between the early 19th century and the official start of the Civil War in 1936, Spain went through three civil wars, (1833-1840; 1846-1849; 1872-1876). This is very relevant because the losing side of those wars, the carlistas, went on to fight alongside Franco in the Civil War.
    Also, in that period, Spain went over a dozen different constitutions, two republics, and a soft dictatorship known as “la dictablanda”, to say nothing of coups. Indeed, coups d’etat became so common that the Spanish developed the “pronunciaminto” whereby a military leader just made a statement in favor of some political leader, and so the coups became sometimes bloodless. Political instability was such that Antonio Maura’s government was unironically called “el gobierno largo” because it lasted almost three uninterrupted years between 1907 and 1909.
    The 19th century, which had begun with the Napoleonic invasion, ended with the attacks by the USA against the Spanish province of Cuba and also the Philippines. The generals of the Civil War were veterans of the several Morocco wars of the 19th and early of the 20th century. It was in one of these Morocco wars when the Alhucemas landing took place, the first military operation in world history that combined sea, air, and naval units.
    These are the books I recommend about the Spanish Civil War:
    Pio Moa’s books in chronological order:
    – “El derrumbe de la Segunda República y la Guerra Civil”
    – “Los personajes de la República vistos por ellos mismos”
    – “Los orígenes de la Guerra Civil Española”
    – “Los mitos de la Guerra Civil”
    In the second one, “Los personajes…”, you can read what the statesmen of the Second Republic said and wrote about each other. What Azaña says of his own people is truly devastating.
    I also recommend these other books:
    – The biography of the South African poet Roy Campbell, titled “Roy Campbell: Spain Saved My Soul,” written by Joseph Pearce. Campbell was the inspiration for the character Aragorn in LOTR. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/spanish-civil-war-seen-as-religious-conflict-biographer-says
    – “Las Brigadas Internacionales” by César Vidal, about the foreign volunteers who fought against Franco.
    – “Los descontrolados de Companys” by Javier Barraycoa, about the Catalanist leader.
    – “Los presos del Valle de los Caídos” by Alberto Bárcena Pérez
    By the way, I’ve complied this youtube list, ordered more or less in chronological order:

  4. Monty,

    Thanks. I’m quite familiar with the Carlista wars and the immense complexity. But it ultimately comes down to the Liberals trying to modernize the country from the top down and Fernando VII betrayal of the Constitution of Cadiz . His successors just kept doubling down and pretty much alienated the majority of the country
    However, the Carlistas grudgingly supported Franco because of the vicious religious persecution. In fact they had to be forced into an amalgamation with the Falangists (the right wing anti clerical collectivists) and there was always bad blood between them
    For a Catalan perspective there’s Borja de Riquer’s memoirs as he was a soldier in the unit
    There’s a another memoir but written in Spanish
    plus a whole pile of historical monographs on the subject
    For a Catalan perspective on the religious persecution EL silenci dels campanars

    Also the Catalans who supported Franco did so unenthusiastically and really loathed his insufferable anti catalanism. So much so that as soon as he won the war, the Catalans were already sabotoging the regime
    Sabotage contra Franco delves into this previously unkown

    Perhaps one of the most significant historical documents written during the civil war is theCronica de la guerra civil Catalunya in 2 volumes. Pretty much highlights why the Republic doomed itself to defeat.
    Editorial Base has lots of books in both Spanish and Catalan on the war.

    • Monty,

      I’m talking about the winners who tries to gum up the internal workings of the regime.
      He was an anti catalanist. Josep Benet’s El genocidi cultural de Franco chronicles what the regime did to snuff out the culture and identity.

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