I know very little about the Spanish Civil War - my understanding, though, is that towards the end the Republican side had become something fairly authoritarian in its own right. What would Spain have looked like if its civil war had gone the other way?
I think if the Great Powers had stood by the Republicans and not give Hitler a free trial of his war machine WW2 would have at the least been postponed.
It depends when. Later on, as the Republic had its back to the wall and as the European democracies betrayed it, it lurched to the left, or the hard left elements that were always present gained the upper hand.
I believe early, serious support for the Republic by the British and French could have salvaged the democratic regime, especially with involvement by the Royal Navy. The main effect on Spain would have been a hell of a lot fewer dead people, and more than likely a serious reduction in the influence (and wealth) of the Church. Spain would also likely have decentralized, though I don’t know how far and fast that would have gone.
A rather limte trial, given that the main tactic at the beginning of WW2 was blietzkrieg and it was not used in Spain
A Republican Spain would not have meant fewer dead. They would’ve been a communist (I know they were socialist) influence in western Europe. A Republican victory would’ve changed the role of Spain in WW2 and could’ve been invaded, easily, by Germany.
I’ve never seen evidence for this. The defeat of the Republic emasculated the moderate left in Europe. I’ve not seen any compelling evidence that had Franco been crushed early (with British and French help), Spain would have abandoned the moderate left parties and plunged into a far left dictatorship. There was no unity on the far left either - the Trotskyites, Stalinists and anarchists had no love for one another.
I’m not saying the far left would have rolled over and gone away, but it only came to dominate the Republic because the democracies in Europe had abandoned Spain. Remove that factor, give the Republic an early crushing victory over the fascists, and I see no reason why social democracy could not have succeeded in Spain.
His air-force got their big workout and he learned the western democracies not only had no spine they were happy to let him do their dirty work on the Republic.
A far more interesting question is what would have happened if the Republican government itself had not (on Stalin’s orders) crushed the Spanish Revolution.
From a propaganda point of view, the Spanish Civil War is one of the very, very few wars in history where the “Official” version of events was written by the losing side, FWIW.
Dunno about that . . . In the English-speaking world, the nearest thing to an “official” version is probably that of George Orwell, who fought for the losing side but still did not quite entirely approve of it. (See “Spilling the Spanish Beans” (1937), “Looking Back on the Spanish War” (1942), and Homage to Catalonia.) (And, no, Ernest Hemingway does not even run a close second in that regard.)
Have you read Antony Beevor’s The Battle For Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939? It’s the best overview of the SCW that I’ve read, and Beevor himself is a well-regarded historian who also says that the accepted version of events in the War was written by the Republicans, not the victorious Nationalists.
Me neither, but I don’t see social democracy as the political stance of the Republicans. They wanted to change lots of what Spain was about (good or bad). After the war, supposing they didn’t enter, the USSR would’ve been their guide.
Moreover, the COmmunists wouldnt’ve simply given up and gone home. There were already a lot of hardliners, the seeds were there, and they could have easily taken over Spain just as they did in Russia (and would have done it with Russian help). Don’t be fooled by the fact that they acted quietly when that was called for.
A Communist Spain would have so unnerved Britain that the Tories might have seriously considered Hitler’s offer to ally against Bolshevism, leading to a Nazi victory in WWII and, thus, the near total destruction of civilization as we know it. So all in all, probably a good thing that Spain turned out the way it did.
While Aji and SB seem to be equating the Republican government with Communism, they are not completely wrong – it was a “Popular Front” (Leftist alliance) government of a sort common in the '30s in which the SPanish Communists played a leading role. There’s a reason the Soviet Union backed the Republicans so strongly.
Against this the Phalangistas come out looking less anti-democratic and more like “we want stable free government”. There is a quote, obviously exaggerated but with pparently some truth to it, to the effect that Franco was the only dictator that at times during his dictatorship could have won a free election. (Nava may have some insight on this; I know there was always some strong opposition to him, but there was also a rightist strain of support for his regime, whose share of the population varied substantially over the years.)
Hundreds of thousands of deaths, the end of democracy in a major nation, the fourth largest gold reserves in the world falling into soviet hands, Spain and Portugal spending decades under murderous fascist dictatorships. A high price to avoid the chance of a few matilda tanks joining the blitzkrieg.
The fact is the democratic government of Spain had little chance right from the off, with the world arrayed against it. The Spanish army was on the fascist side (although to keep the soldiers obedient some had to be got drunk, others told it was all and exercise and still others told they were putting down a communist revolution against the government), American oil shipments to the government of Spain were immediately redirected to the fascists, British planes flew Franco to the mainland with his crack Moor troops, and obviously the Italian and German involvement is well known. Against all that stood a few foreign sympathisers, a few ambivalent army men and the armed trade unions.
If the Spanish had won, which would have been little short of a miracle, then what happened next would depend on when they won. If at the end it might have resulted in a civil war between Communists and Anarchists, Catalans and Basques. If it was at the start before too much bloodshed the fascists would probably have weaseled out of the just results of their actions and bided their time waiting for another chance to strike, as happened in Italy after the war with the creation of the Christian Democrat/Gladio permanent government.
It’s not like any of us can pull a lever and make it happen, so it’s not a question of the morality of actually making this choice, just a historical speculation about what the consequences might have been.
Democracy in Spain was doomed from the start of the war; the leftist governments that appeared between 1917 and 1945 in Europe were no more willing to hold real elections than Franco was, and there’s no reason, besides post-hoc romanticizing of the “freedom fighters,” to think that Spain would have been any different. Writing off the possible consequences of Britain switching sides in WWII as insignificant seems equally unsupportable.
I believe that by the time the war was underway, democracy was already lost. And Franco and his allies were not responsible for killing it. You can perhaps dismiss them as not having helped, but I consider the present HIstory of Spain the best practical response. That this may itself be sad is not something I have control over.
I think people in this discussion are ignoring one of the biggest (if not THE BIGGEST) rallying cry for supporting Franco: the Republicans were destroying the Catholic Church in Spain. The Republican government was seizing and/or burning Church property and executing priests.
You’re right to mention it.
I declined mentioning it because I feared the discussion becoming “catholicism sucks”. The attacks on the Church were numerous and while Franco was no saint his side was not the one burnig churches and had the support of church and laypeople.
Again, there is absolutely no evidence for this. I never understand the assumption that a fractured minority hard left would have taken over had the European democracies not abandoned the moderates.