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‘In origins and outcome, the Spanish Civil War was a Spanish and not a European affair.’ Discuss.

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Introduction

'In origins and outcome, the Spanish Civil War was a Spanish and not a European affair.' Discuss. Even 60 years after the Spanish Civil War no conformity can be found in the historiography about the events in the run-up of the Second World War. Dissension exists in particular not only with regards to the foreign influence on the preparations, process and outcome, but also towards the time, interests and the scale of foreign interventions. Domestically, Spain had to face two political extremes. On the one side, there was anarchism, a movement close to Marxist ideals and the other side Franco's fascism. In Europe, policies not only made the fascist controlled states Germany and Italy, and the communist organized Russia, but also France and Great Britain were involved in the conflict. The fact is that foreign interventions had effects on the process and outcome of the civil war. In the course of that essay I would like to present not only the reasons for the war and the consequences of the foreign influence, but also the reasons and purposes of the individual state, that were involved. Besides this, it seems to be of vitally importance to disprove the claim, that the Spanish Civil War was a Spanish and not a European affair. In order to point out, why the conflict among the Spanish population was a domestic consequence, I therefore want to define the former Spanish circumstances and the history of origins. At the time of Queen Isabella's abdication, Giuseppie Fanelli founded an anarchistic movement in 1868 that preferred Bakunin's ideology rather than Marx's. Anarchism meant the opposition to hierarchical authority. That movement rejected not only the private ownership, but also the state and the church. ...read more.

Middle

After the elimination of Guernica by the German 'Legion Condor' and several appropriations in the north, the republican zone was divided in two parts. After the fall of Madrid and Barcelona, Negrin, the leader of the republican cabinet, and president Anzana resigned. On 1 April 1939, Franco announced the end of the civil war and the Nationalist's victory. However, the outcome of the war was massively promoted by interventions of foreign states, in the first place by the military support of Germany and Italy, secondly by the appeasement-policy of France and Great Britain and thirdly by the anti-anarchistic attitude of Russia. In order to create a better understanding of the international involvement in the civil war, I would like to portray the political situation of this era. At the time of the Spanish crisis, the world faced two expanding ideologies - fascism and communism. After the First World War Germany had to get along with reparations, the treaty of Versailles and several economic problems, which mainly enabled Hitler and the fascists to come to power. With regards to Spain, Hitler was not interested in territorial expansion, but in economic, military and strategic, and alliance matters, although he put the ideological factor to the forefront. He emphasised in his 'Vier-Jahresplan' the importance to avoid the spread of communism, but mentioned at the same time, that he does not care about the future political system in Spain, but the only important thing is that it is not close to Paris, London or Moscow.7 Hitler decided to support the Nationalists and meet Franco's inquiry for transport planes on 25 July 1936, along the advice of Hermann Goering, the German minister for war and the officer of the 'Vier-Jahresplan'. ...read more.

Conclusion

That resulted in the forming of international brigades that fought on the side of the Republic. Brigades like the Thaelmann, Garibaldi, Lincoln and Marseillaise Brigades were recruited of German, Italian, Irish, French, Russian, American and Baltic fighters14. 'In a decade of worldwide depression and spreading fascism, the revolution in Spain signaled a message of renewed hope to the scattered forces of working-class emancipation throughout the globe'15. Many people saw in the Republic the last hope to repel the fascists. 'Approximately 35,000 anti-fascists from fifty-two countries [...] joined the student, unemployed, union, and cultural movements that were influenced by the Communist Party'16. In conclusion, I want to emphasise that the origin of the Spanish Civil War was defeinitely an internal affair. The civil war was the consequence of the deep polarisation in the population between the capitalists and the working class. However, the process was massively influenced by previous mentioned European powers. Without the massive fascist support of Germany and Italy, Franco would not have been able to win the war and establish his fascist regime. Hitler enabled him to start his coup properly in providing transport planes to circumvent the sea blockade. At latest with the outbreak of the 2nd World War, the British and French appeasement policy proved as unprecedented failure17. ( doesn't really fit into with previous sentence) In refusing the intervention of the Spanish Civil War, they lost a chance to limit Hitler's power and discourage the fascist movement. Contrary to this, the French confiscated Russian material deliveries for the Republic. The communist counter-measures to undermine the anarchistic revolution emerged as a kind of disillusionment and division in the republican area, what weakened the anti-fascist movement. All this together led to following conclusion: 'The effects of the neutrality of the United States, Britain, and France combined with the fascist support of Germany and Italy proved disastrous to the Spanish Republic'18. ...read more.

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