This Week in Spanish Civil War History – Weeks 133 – 137: 1 – 28 February 1939

February 1

Prime Minister Negrín, holding a meeting at Figueres Castle, suggests a surrender to Franco, on one condition – those left living would be respected and they  could vote on how a new government would be formed. Franco does not accept this surrender.

February 2

The Nationalists who took Barcelona have made the 100 kilometres hike north and take Girona, which no longer has any Republican protection.

Nationalists take Girona

February 3

The Nationalist troops from Girona hike another 15 kilometres north, to catch up with any refugees still trying to escape to France. They are now only 50 kilometres from the border to France, and will close the border once they arrive. German planes are still bombing refugees from the air.

February 4 

After a month of fighting, the Valsequillo Offensive comes to end, as Nationalist forces around Peraleda del Zaucejo on the Extremadura/Andalucia border recapture all the area the Republicans had initially captured. At one stage, the Republicans had 500 square miles of land taken, though none had any strategic benefit, and the Nationalists have quickly taken it all back. The Republicans have suffered 6000 deaths and casualties, only 2000 for the Nationalists in an utterly pointless battle.

February 7

The island of Menorca, still held by the Republicans, is captured by the Nationalists by ship, with no resistance. Mallorca has been Nationalist-held for most of the war, and now the smaller island of Menorca is simply brought into the fold. Only one person is killed, but the Republicans start planning  a coup with Prime Minister Negrin.

February 8

All Republican troops are ordered to get to the border and are now also allowed to cross into France, along with the hundreds of thousands of refugees trying to reach the border. On foot, or on carts or trucks, Republican Spaniards are facing sleet and snow to try to reach France.

Refugees crossing at Le Perthus

February 9

The Nationalist troops finally reach the border into France. Between 400,000 to 500,000 Republican refugees have survived to get into France. The Republican president Manuel Azaña, Prime Minister Juan Negrín, Republican Army chief of staff Vicente Rojo, and Catalonian president Lluís Companys and his Catalan government have all made it over the border. Most people have crossed in the region have crossed at Le Perthus, but Prime Minister Negrín crosses back into Spain.

Refugees crossing at Le Perthus

February 10

The final Republican troops of General Modesto’s Army of the Ebro cross into France, just in time, as the border into France is totally sealed by Nationalist troops. Anyone still on the Spanish side has to side with the Nationalists, or would be killed or oppressed. With Catalonia totally in Nationalist hands, the Republicans have lost 200,000 troops and the entire Catalan war industry. But the Republicans still hold thirty percent of Spain, and their Prime Minister is back in the country and confident they can continue to resist.

Refugees heading for the brutal refugees camps in France
February 12

The 10.30am train arrives in Xàtiva Railway Station, sixty kilometres south from Valencia, carrying the 49th mixed brigade of the Republican army, to be transferred north. The station was also filled with family and friends of the troops when five Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bombers arrive from Mallorca and drop twenty 250kg bombs from 13,800 feet. The bombing makes a direct hit on the train, killing 129 people, 109  instantly. Most are troops, though 14 women and three children are also killed. A few surviving troops are still sent on to join other brigades, as the 49th was too decimated to continue with any plans. Another 200 people are injured in the brutal attack.

Bombing Xativa from the air

February 13

From Burgos, Franco publishes his Ley de Responsabilidades Políticas (Law of Political Responsibilities). The law states that anyone who opposed the Nationalist rebellion and coup in July 1936, and anyone a member of any Republican party from October 1934, is guilty of military rebellion (ironically). As the law is backdated to 1 October 1934, all Republican sympathisers and members can be prosecuted for aiding the Republican rebellion (again, how ironic).

The Ley de Responsabilidades Políticas punishes people with fines ranging from 1000 pesetas through to confiscations of all assets. Anyone prosecuted could also be punished with restriction of movement and activities, forced to live where appointed and possible loss of Spanish citizenship, depending on their level of Republican association. Anyone dead or disappeared (either as refugees in France or those killed and dumped in the war) will have their remaining family members prosecuted on their behalf.

Between 1939 and 1945, 500,000 people, dead or alive, will be prosecuted, some two percent of the population.

February 27

Both France and Great Britain  decide to end their role in the Non-Intervention agreement and recognise Franco and his Nationalist government in Burgos. With the threat of European war, and half a million Spanish refugees in the south, France has their border with Spain blocked, with Franco’s ally Germany also causing strife. France needs to focus on itself and endorses fascism in Spain, as Germany and Italy have done throughout the war.

Britain has less reason to endorse Franco. Labour leader Clement Attlee, Leader of the Opposition, is furious with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s decision. He stated, the first voice to do so, that Britain was hypocritical after almost three years of “non-intervention,” yet their lack of intervention is instead the thing that has helped fascism spread through Europe.

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This is not a detailed analysis, just a highlight (lowlight?) of the month’s events. Things get lost in translation – Feel free to suggest an addition/clarification/correction below. The more the world remembers, the better. All photos and captions are auto-linked to source for credit, and to provide further information.

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This Week In Spanish Civil War History – Week 2: July 25 – 31 1936

 

Week 2: 25 – 31 July 1936

July 25

Hitler agrees to support Franco’s bid to take over Spain. Franco needs urgent supplies and Hitler needs a distraction from his plans to dominate Europe.

Reprisal killings are happening in the south, in and around Seville. Numbers of deaths are unknown; anyone suspected of supporting the Republicans is taken away to face a firing squad.

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Franco and Hitler

July 26

German and Italian planes land in Morocco, ready to help the Nationalist cause. With a naval blockade halting the transfer of soldiers from Morocco to the mainland, they can be flown instead.

July 27 

The Nationalists control Seville with reinforcements from Morocco on the German-donated airplanes. Seville is to be a main centre for the rebels to plan their sweep north to capture all of Andalusia in southern Spain.

Aircraft used by the Nationalists drop a bomb on a market in Malaga, killing mainly women and children.

Fighting between Republicans and Nationalists continues in the eastern cities of Valencia and Alicante, which haven’t been captured by either side yet. Both cities are Republican strongholds.

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Republicans fighting in the streets

July 28

First bulk arrival of German and Italian planes into mainland Spain. Masses of troops arrive, ready to help local military forces, now vastly outnumbering the Republican people.

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German donated aircraft used in Spain

July 29

Northern city of Gijon still fighting for control; military haven’t yet been able to claim the area.

July 30

Fighting still ongoing in Valencia as the large Republican population manage to contain the military in their barracks. Local people in support of the Nationalists are subdued by the worker’s Republican groups. Reports of old grudges between individuals being resolved with shooting, masked as executions due to the rebellion.

July 31

Great Britain bans the sale of weapons to the Republic. Most of Europe foolishly thinks that non-intervention is better than assistance.

400 Nationalist supporters killed by Republican supporters in Toledo as part of reprisal killings.

Reports from all locations of both Republicans and Nationalists being pulled from their homes and murdered, based on the perception of who they support. Reports of mass rape of women prior to being put before firing squads. Republicans are angry and trying to weed out ‘traitors’; Nationalists are killing the educated – doctors, lawyers, teachers, artists, government workers, anyone left-wing, and anyone suspected of voting Popular Front last February. Full-scale massacre has begun.

Republican prisoners about to be shot by Nationalist firing squad

Men being marched to firing squads

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