History is not a collection of unrelated events, but it is instead an account of various causes and their effects. World War II was not an isolated event. It was a product of various events in Europe which included the Spanish Civil War. Spain in the mid-1930s was an area of crucial political and strategic importance. By analyzing the events of the Spanish Civil War, the events of World War II can be understood in greater detail. Hitler’s confident foreign policy, the quick surrender of France, the forging of unlikely alliances, and the diverse ideological state present in Europe can be understood more comprehensively by looking at the Spanish Civil War. The events of the Spanish Civil War changed the political atmosphere of Europe; these events influenced the beginning of World War II.
In order to understand the effects of the Spanish Civil War, the atmosphere of Spain prior to 1936 needs to be understood as well. Spain, unlike major European powers, never experienced a bourgeois revolution and was therefore still dominated by a significant aristocracy. However, Spain had gone through several civil wars and revolutions making violence the most common device for change. It, also, had undergone several cycles of reform, reaction from the opposition, and reversal by military uprising led by a dictator before 1936 (Preston 18).
The Second Spanish Republic was founded on April 14, 1931 with popular support. However, politics quickly became severely polarized to the Left or Right between 1931 and July 18, 1936. In the 1933 general election, CEDA (The Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right) which was founded by Gil Robles after fascist models made coalitions and garnered the largest support. (Preston 18,62) In 1934, three CEDA members were appointed to the Lerroux Cabinet (Lerroux had been a compromise choice for prime minister). Subsequently, a revolutionary uprising was violently oppressed in Asturias by General Franco. The Republic began to systematically persecute anarcho-syndicalist trade unions such as the C.N.T. and F.A.I. by imprisoning thousands of its members. Also, Southern Spaniards continued to live in very poor conditions. In the course of a few years the Republic had lost its reputation with the people. Despite Gil Robles and CEDA’s model of a Fascist uprising similar to Germany’s uprising it would not be possible due to the resistance based in the lower class (Rocker)
Discontented with the conservative government, the Popular Front wins the election of 1936 (Preston 82). This victory was not a vote of support for the Republic, but it was a declaration against a rightist takeover (Rocker). Disappointed with the results, Generals Mola, Franco, and Sanjuro began military plotting in 1936 (Preston 82). Despite the anti-Fascist press warnings of an impending conflict, newly elected president, Manuel Azana, and his government did nothing to avert the crisis (Rocker).
On July 18, Franco and his allies lead a military coup of...