Spain’s darkest hours are still fresh in the memory of many who had family members who fought in the conflict and are still living, and that is why honoring the many who perished in the conflict is still a delicate concern. This is far different than remembering the dead of WWI or some other past war that was between different countries and a time long gone.

Spanish loyalists charge up a hall near Somo sierra, Spain, Aug.12, 1936 to wipe out a rebel machine gun nest. The Guadarama Mountains were the scene for firece battles between forces loyal to the government and rebels in the civil war. (AP Photo)

There is still a scar across the landscape of Spain that has not healed, it still is tender when picked by those who try to unravel it. It was also not just a case of the Republicans against the Nationalists, there were brothers and sisters on opposing sides in a bloody war.

In this blog series we look at the geographical impact on the Spanish Civil War and what regions were worst hit. We look at the role of Andalusia during the war years and how it affected great historical cities such as Granada and Seville.

The Opposing Sides

Simply put, the war was between two factions: the Republicans and the Nationalists. The republicans supported a democratically elected government, whilst the Nationals wanted to oust the government and to build a stronger Spain. The Nationals also had the support of the army and, in particular, the highly ambitious General Franco.

A Dress Rehearsal

For a great part of Europe, the Spanish Civil War was a prequel to WWII, and in particular Germany and the Nazis. The Spanish Nationalists were fully supported by the Axis forces of Germany and Italy, and the Russians aided the Republican side.

These outside parties tried out new war strategies and techniques that would be seen all over Europe a few years later. Germany was particularly fascinated by the use of planes and air power and some of the greatest atrocities of the conflict rained down from the sky. And in 1937, the small town of Guernica was bombed by the Condor Legion of the German Luftwaffe on behalf of the Nationalists.

The Spanish Civil War was far from being an internal conflict, it would help to shape European politics for years to come. It had huge nations giving military aid to both sides and was a catalyst for volunteers from all over the globe to come to fight for causes they believed in.

The Political Cauldron

Spain has always been a confusing nation when it comes to understanding the politics of the country. And this was the case prior to the civil war, there was a sort of socio-political stew in Spain. King Alfonso was in power on the throne in 1902 and his rule was becoming increasingly autocratic, seven years later in 1909 he was widely condemned for ordering an execution of a radical political leader. King Alfonso was also responsible for not allowing liberal reforms before WWI, and he seemed in continuous bitter dispute with the more liberal of Spain’s politicians.

We investigate more of the background to why the Spanish Civil War started and the commencement of hostilities in part two of this series. We will also see the affect the conflict had on the people from different regions of the country.