The Spanish Civil War: A Modern Tragedy

The Spanish Civil War: A Modern Tragedy

The Spanish Civil War: A Modern Tragedy

The Spanish Civil War: A Modern Tragedy


This exciting collection of primary sources on the Spanish Civil War uses military and political documents, media accounts, and contemporary propaganda to create a representative and illuminating survey of this enormously complicated event more than sixty-five years after it ended.

Structured chronologically from a full introduction which delineates the field, this book ranges from the origins of the uprising against Franco through to its turbulent aftermath. It clearly outlines key points in the conflict and highlights the little-known roles of race and gender in determining the war's outcome.

The book also unearths many rare sources for the first time and reveals the variety of perspectives held by those immediately involved in the war. This is an ideal resource for all students of history and military history.


It is customary for scholars to offer reassessments of watershed events at regular intervals, not least because our historical perspective of them is constantly changing. This is especially true of events such as the Spanish Civil War (1936), which, because of its multiple political and ideological dimensions, has been the focus of numerous revisionist histories since it ended over sixty-five years ago. When it broke out in July 1936 most people outside of Spain paid scant attention to a conflict that seemed remote to world affairs. Nor did many know or even care about the origins or possible consequences of the conflict. Yet all this changed when Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union got involved in the fighting and Spain’s internal war was overnight transformed into an event of much wider significance. Because the Civil War was now being viewed as the stage on which the major ideological struggles of the day – particularly between fascism and communism – were being played out, many foreigners believed that they, too, had a stake in the outcome of the struggle. At the time, there was no end to the interpretations given it: for some it was a contest between Christianity and atheism, others saw it as a showdown between fascism and democracy, while still another group pictured it as a dialectical confrontation between capitalism and socialism. Given that both outside observers and participants alike were intent on depicting the war in such dichotomous terms, it was to be expected that early interpretations of the war tended to be reductionist and twodimensional. More surprising, perhaps, was the fact that the ideological overtones of the conflict would persist long after the war had ended.

Historiographical trends

Above all, this persistence was due in varying degrees to the long shadows that the Second World War (1939–45), Franco’s dictatorship (1939–75), and the Cold War (1948–89) cast over its historiography. The fact that the political passions and ideological struggles of Spain’s war mirrored those of the Second World War, for example, has contributed to a view that has long been popular with Western liberal and Marxist historians, namely, that the two events should not be regarded as distinct historical episodes. Rather, it is assumed by this group that both formed part of the same general movement in Europe during the interwar period in which the defenders of democracy were locked in a life-and-death struggle with the supporters . . .

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