This Week in Spanish Civil War History – Week 14 and 15: 17 – 31 October 1936

Week 14 and 15: 17 – 31 October 1936

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Week 14

October 18

The Republican government creates the ‘Mixed Brigades’. This combines the army units which remained loyal during the initial rebellion, and militia groups of all forms fighting around Spain. This mix is titled the Popular Army, the name coming from the Popular Front party in government. While anarchist groups are not art of the government (yet), their militias are still able to be part of the Popular Army.
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Week 15

October 24

The first shipment of gold arrives in the Soviet Union; the first shipment of over half the Spanish supply which will be sent to Moscow. It is worth around $35 per ounce, a total of around almost $600 million, though Spain only gets half its worth.

October 27

Russian tanks finally get to Madrid to defend the city. T-26 tanks, around 10 tonnes in weight each, are dispatched from Madrid main’s train station and head straight to the front. The Nationalists outside the city already have tanks, supplied by Italy and Germany. The Republicans have been using Molotov cocktails to hold back the Nationalists until now and are in desperate relief to save the city.

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T-26 tank outside Seseña

October 27

The Nationalist unleash an air raid on Madrid. Six bombs are dropped in Plaza Colón, a major square in the city, heavily populated. A queue of women and children are waiting to get milk and a bomb lands directly on them. A total of 16 are killed, another 60 seriously injured. The air raid comes from a Junker Ju-52 with a German pilot. The bombing is labelled the first bombing in history that served no purpose. It was designed solely to bring terror to 900,000 Madrileños. Madrid has no way to stop planes flying overhead and bombing them as they are becoming surrounded by Nationalists, setting the stage for the coming mammoth siege of Madrid.

October 28

A squadron of Soviet Tupolev ANT-40 planes, named Katiuska bombers, drop bombs over the city of Seville, which has been in Nationalist hands since July. This Republican-supported bombing leads the Germans to send more planes and supplies, and set up the Condor Legion in Spain, to overcome the Soviet forces.

Aftermath of the air raid in prep for the Madrid siege

October 29

The town of Seseña is 30 kilometres (18 miles)  south of Madrid, near destroyed Toledo. The Nationalist army, who have marched and massacred their way north are now ready to take Madrid. The Republicans who hold Seseña attempt to hold their town. The new Mixed Brigades, led by Spanish and Russian colonels, lead their mixed-nation/loyalty troops with newly arrived tanks. However no one has any training, other than one Russian tank expert. The Nationalists have their highly trained Spanish and Moroccan troops and Italian tankettes on their side. The Republicans head south of Seseña to engage with the Nationalists about only gain around 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) before they are attacked.

The Republican were able to destroy 11 Italian tankettes and kill 600 soldiers, losing only eight men and three tanks in the fighting. However numbers were on the Nationalists’ side and they won the battle of Seseña when the Republicans were forced to retreat.

The showdown for the siege of Madrid is ready to begin.

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This is not a detailed analysis, just a highlight (lowlight?) of the week’s events. Feel free to suggest an addition/clarification/correction below. All photos are linked to source for credit

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This Week in Spanish Civil War History – Week 13: 10 – 17 October 1936

October 12

University of Salamanca’s rector, writer Miguel de Unamuno, gives a speech at their Columbus Day celebration. The western city, in the Nationalist-held area, has many important right-wing audience members, including Franco’s wife. Unamuno speaks out harshly against General Millán Astray, who leads the Spanish Legionaires. While Unamuno had previously said he was a supporter of the Nationalist, he changes his mind and calls Astray inhuman, and an example of the terrible rebel uprising.

Unonumo said – It torments me to think that General Millán Astray could dictate the norms of the psychology of the masses. A cripple, who lacks the spiritual greatness of Cervantes, hopes to find relief by adding to the number of cripples around him.

Astray cried from the crowd – Death to intelligence! Long live death! to the praise of the Nationalist-loving crowd.

Unamuno finished his time on stage by replying – This is the temple of intelligence, and I am its high priest. You are profaning its sacred domain. You will win because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. In order to convince it is necessary to persuade, and to persuade you will need something that you lack: reason and right in the struggle. I see it is useless to ask you to think of Spain. I have spoken.

Unamuno left the meeting with Franco’s wife Carmen polo, which secured his immediate safety. But he is soon removed from his job and put under house arrest. He will die, humiliated and ruined, two months later.

October 14

The first 500 international volunteers arrive in Albacete, the eastern town set up as the training base for all international volunteers.

October 15

The first ship from the Soviet Union, carrying Republican bought weapons arrives in the port of Cartagena. The weapons are sorely needed as the Nationalist army continues their bloody march towards Madrid.

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This is not a detailed analysis, just a highlight (lowlight?) of the week’s events. Feel free to suggest an addition/clarification/correction below. All photos are linked to source for credit

This Week in Spanish Civil War History – Week 12: 3 – 10 October 1936

Week 12: 3 – 10 October 1936

October 3

Franco sets up a new Civil Junta, or civil government, for the areas the rebels have captured, named the National Zone. This is done to try to legitimise the uprising. The Civil Junta is only a facade and has no power or control, as the country is covered in a state of war already. This new group gives Franco no extra power over the German and Italian forces, though their decisions are similar to Franco’s anyway.

October 6

The USSR decides it no longer wants to be part of the Non-Intervention Agreement. As Germany, Italy and Portugal are openly intervening whilst signed to the agreement, the Soviet Union decides it can intervene too, except instead for the Republicans. The Nationalists’ area is supplied with weapons and supplies over the Portuguese border, but as France will not break the agreement, the Republicans have no way of getting supplies.

International Brigade flag

October 7

The International Brigade volunteers set up a base in Albacete, in the Valencia region. To men are selected to run the organisation – André Marty, a French Communist, and Palmiro Togliatti, an Italian Communist. Both men are well experienced in running left-leaning groups. Volunteers start arriving, some over the French border. Anarchists control the border and don’t want communist volunteers, but need the manpower. Others make their own way into the country, not contracted or obliged to fight in any way.

October 9

The Spanish Republican government officially forms the Popular Army. As most left-wing groups are militias of workers and/or peasants, these need to be grouped more effectively and have commanders who are sharing information. Also part of the civilian militia joins those army men who remained loyal, along with any Guardia Civil and assault guard men, who are already trained to fight.

The flag three pointed star of the Popular Front

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This is not a detailed analysis, just a highlight (lowlight?) of the week’s events. Feel free to suggest an addition/clarification/correction below. All photos are linked to source for credit

 

This Week in Spanish Civil War History – Week 11: 26 September – 2 October 1936

Week 11: 26 September – 2 October 1936

September 26

The Generalitat de Catalunya (government of Catalonia, based out of the capital of Barcelona) increases in size to incorporate more factions fighting for the Republican case. The anarchist CNT-FAI (workers unions) sends ministers, along with the communist POUM (Marxist workers group).

September 27

After a siege lasting over two months, Toledo is finally won by the Nationalists. The Legionnaires and Moroccan soldiers (Moros, as they are nicknamed) who have been murdering their way north, reach the city, and 100 men take Toledo, ending the siege on the Alcázar. A group of anarchists set fire to their own buildings and are burned alive so they are not captured and executed. The invading soldiers take the hospital, killing doctors and nurses, as well as the patients. All the Republican hostages that were taken at the start of the siege by Nationalist leader Colonel Moscardo are already found to have been long killed, and all Republicans are either killed or flee the area.

A full ‘This Week In Spanish Civil War History: Extra’ will be published on September 27

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Generals Verela, Franco and Moscardo in Toledo after the rebels capture the city

Also…

The Non-intervention Committee is doing a stellar job of not doing nothing to help Spaniards, and doesn’t bother to argue with Portugal over their continued support for the Nationalists. Germany and Italy are also sending weapons and equipment in defiance of the Non-Intervention agreement and the committee doesn’t lift a finger.

September 28

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is named head of the Spanish State by the Junta de Defensa Nacional (Nationalist militarised government) in Burgos, even though Spain has a Prime Minister and government still functioning in Madrid.

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Franco: A small man with a heinous attitude and a penchant for massacre (and rumour has it, sporting mangled testicles)

September 29

The Battle of Cape Spartel breaks out over control of the Strait of Gibraltar. The navy has been pro-Republican, but Nationalists have held the Galician naval base since the outbreak of war. A Republican ship is sunk and others badly damaged, and just one escapes the battle as the Nationalists also now control this crucial sea passage.

The Almirante Ferrándiz just prior to sinking in battle

September 30

Enrique Pla y Deniel, the Bishop of Salamanca, publishes his famous pastoral letter titled ‘The Two Cities’. He praises the decision of the rebel Nationalists to rise up and start the war. He defends the actions of the rebels and the need to destroy Republicans. He states the war is not a civil war, but a crusade to restore order and crush the ‘heretics’ in government. He also issues a pastoral latter claiming Franco as Spain’s leader, and sends him a telegram to congratulate him for the ‘glorious resurrection of Christian Spain’.

Enrique Pla y Deniel – a bishop with a small mind and a heart filled with hate and control, Catholic style

October 1

The Brigadas Internacionales (International Brigades) are officially formed. It gives a name and organisation to work with the foreign volunteers flocking to Spain to help out. People from 53 nations want to give their help to the Republican cause against the rebels. The group will swell to up to 35,000 fighters, plus 10,000 non-combat roles and up to 5,000 foreign CNT or POUM members. These brave individuals are true heroes, risking their lives for strangers in a strange land, thinking they can save the world from fascism while governments sit idle.

The famous International Brigades become official

Also…

Francisco Franco officially declares himself the Generalissimo in public, and settles into life as the controller of a country out of control. This formally gives him power over the entire Nationalist cause.

And…

The Republican government gives the Basque Country full autonomy, and Jose Antonio Aguirre is elected as leader of Euzkadi a week later. The Basque country is getting little support or outside help, surrounded, and already partly invaded, by the rebels. Autonomy gives them more control over their moves and their own army as they fight to control their region.

Jose Antonio Aguirre – politician, activist, leader

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This is not a detailed analysis, just a highlight (lowlight?) of the week’s events. Feel free to suggest an addition/clarification/correction below. All photos are linked to source for credit