Spain Before World War II

By | December 31, 2021

The end of the civil war. – With the battle of the Ebro the civil war entered its final phase.

It began with the offensive of the Ehalan army on 25 July 1938 against the lines held by Franco’s forces along the river; towards the middle of August the republican forces (gen. Vicente Rojo) managed to penetrate for more than 25 km. along a front of about 60; but, when the counter-offensive began on August 19, personally directed by Franco, the advance of the Republicans was contained; for two months they fought fiercely on both sides, until at the end of October the Catalan army, which had lost about 80,000 men, had to retreat to the right bank of the river. The last fights of the great battle of the Ebro took place in mid-November and about twenty days after the gen. Franco had already finished the preparations for his general offensive. L’ on the eve of Natale Franco gave the order for the attack on the whole front with six army corps, one of which was made up of Italian legionaries under the command of gen. Gambara. The gen. Roio was taken by surprise and could only offer a feeble resistance; on Christmas day the republican front had already been broken in various places in the provinces of Lérida and Tarragona; in the following days the main enemy positions fell one after the other, Borjas Blancas, Tortosa, Reus, Manresa, Sitges; on 25 January 1939 Franco’s troops crossed the Llobregat river, the extreme defense of Barcelona, ​​and on 26 they entered the Catalan capital. The Republicans attempted to stem the impetuous advance along the River Ter, but on 5 February Gerona also fell and on 10 the Spanish flag with the colors of the monarchy was hoisted on the Pyrenean border, at Bourg Madame. Negrín’s government, which had managed to leave Barcelona shortly before the city fell into the hands of the enemy, fled to France from which it returned a few days later to Madrid. For Spain 2017, please check

Commander of the Madrid army, replacing gen. Miaja, who had become supreme commander of the central area, had been appointed Colonel Casado, a career officer and regarded as one of the best Spanish military technicians. In him Negrín, who represented the extreme communist tendency of the struggle to the bitter end, found not a collaborator but an adversary; on the other hand, symptoms of fatigue and a great desire for peace were everywhere. On March 1, news came that President Manuel Azaña had resigned; and as the disorder increased in the capital, Colonel Casado promoted a “National Council for Defense”, which decided to start negotiations with Franco for a “worthy and honorable” peace. On 6 March Negrín resigned and flew to Toulouse together with Foreign Minister Alvarez del Vayo. However, the conflict between Casado and the Communists of Madrid, more determined than ever to continue the struggle, worsened and led to violent conflict in the streets of the capital. Having dominated the situation with arms, Casado began negotiations on 18 March, but Franco made it known that he would only accept an unconditional surrender and since the response was delayed he launched the final offensive. On the 28th his army entered the capital almost without encountering resistance; between 29 and 30 the last republican positions fell. On 1 April the last bulletin was published with the announcement of the end of the war and a few days later Franco made his entry into Madrid.

The international situation of Francoist Spain. – Even during the civil war, Franco’s government was recognized by the republics of El Salvador and Guatemala (8 November 1936), by Italy and Germany (18 November 1936) and by Portugal (11 May 1938). After long negotiations started after the fall of Barcelona (January 26, 1939), an agreement was also reached with the French government and from Paris sent, with ambassador credentials, Marshal Pétain, particularly appreciated by the Spaniards who remembered his collaboration in the Moroccan campaign of the 1924. Soon England too recognized Franco’s government and sent an ambassador in the person of Sir Maurice Peterson. On 17 March Franco concluded a ten-year pact of friendship and non-aggression with Portugal and on the 27th of the same month he signed up to the Anti-Comintern Pact. On May 8, following the policy of the Axis powers, Spain also left the League of Nations. In the same month the definitive repatriation of the Italian volunteers began. On 10 July G. Ciano left for Spain to meet Franco in San Sebastiano.

Internal politics. – The Phalangists, intoxicated by the victory, aimed to impose themselves in every sector of national life. The Spanish state assumed the name of “national-syndicalist” and it was decided that the caudillo as well as by the government, he was also assisted by the national council of the Falange; Count Jordana was replaced by General Beigdeber at the Foreigners; in the new government the Falangist ministers prevailed and a minister secretary of the party was also created in the person of gen. Muñoz Grandes. The problems to be solved were many and far from easy; the most urgent were the feeding and pacification of the country (in the early days about 300,000 political prisoners were locked up in Spanish prisons and the shootings were always very numerous), the resumption of normal relations with the powers that had always opposed the Francoist regime during the civil war, the restoration of the treasury, the reconstruction of the war-torn regions.

Spain Before World War II