Useful Notes: Spanish Civil War
The Falling Soldier, by Robert Capa
Your name and your deeds were forgotten Before your bones were dry, And the lie that slew you is buried Under a deeper lie;
But the thing that I saw in your face
No power can disinherit:
No bomb that ever burst
Shatters the crystal spirit.
's poem about an unknown Italian Republican volunteer, Looking Back On The Spanish War
The Spanish Civil War was fought from 1936-1939 by Spaniards, against Spaniards, with foreign powers directly assisting both sides. Though it is known as 'The' Spanish Civil War, it was but the last and bloodiest of four Civil Wars that Spain had fought in since Napoleon Bonaparte
was ejected from Spain in 1812.
The war first got going when the left-wing Republicans post-victory election celebrations got out of hand, with Republican supporters attacking members of the bourgeoisie in an escalation of the simmering ideological conflict that had been threatening to destabilise the social order in Spain for decades. A previously planned coup d'etat by the Spanish Army Generals Jose Sanjurjo and Emilio Mola was put into play against the Second Spanish Republic (which was only established just 5 years prior). Caught between a military revolt and a revolution of socialists and anarchists at the same time, the Republican government decided to throw its support behind the revolution. The army coup, which became the Nationalists, seized the northwestern, north, and a section of the southwest parts of Spain. The Republicans controlled most of the East coast as well as the capital Madrid in the center. This led to a conflict between the Nationalists and the Republicans fighting over the right to rule Spain. Short story: the Nationalists under Francisco Franco won and he ruled Spain as a dictatorship until his death in 1975.
Interestingly, while Franco played a major role in starting the rebellion, he was a latecomer, as he vacillated on whether or not he would support Sanjurjo and Mola. A short while after the revolution started he decided to support them as third in command of the rebel forces. During the war, both Sanjurjo and Mola died in semi-mysterious plane crashes. Another interesting note is that while Franco was undoubtedly authoritarian, most historians do not consider him to have actually been a fascist since he was more of a traditional conservative enjoying support of both the Catholic Church and the Carlists, whereas genuine fascists like Falange, Mussolini, and the Nazis subscribed to a revolutionary policy that was in many ways critical of both factions. In fact, once Franco came to power he suppressed most of the fascist elements of Falange, replacing it with his own, more traditionalist ideology.
It was noted that the Nationalists were supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and to a lesser extent their neighbor Portugal. The fascist and ferociously Catholic Blue Shirts in Ireland send volunteers to fight with the Nationalists, while some IRA members joined the International Brigades. Given this international involvement, the weapons used in the early stages of World War II were tested in the Spanish conflict, especially the German Condor Legion, a volunteer Air unit whose vets would eventually take part in World War II
. Oddly, Franco was fairly unenthusiastic about his Irish volunteers (after their initial propaganda use as Catholics ended), perhaps because they were volunteers
like the International Brigades, and thus not a regular military unit in the way his German and Italian allies were (at least they didn't unburden themselves in their own trenches like the anarcho-syndicalists). In the end O'Duffy (the Irish fascist leader) was forced to charter a ship of his own to even get to Spain and in 1937 the force withdrew. Presumably for similar reasons Franco also turned down offers of Belgian, Greek, and exiled White Russian volunteer brigades.
The Republicans, conversely, were placed under embargoes by France and the United Kingdom, which most nations followed. The exception came from the Soviet Union (which tried to keep its involvement secret) and Mexico (who also sent in financial aid). The Comintern also recruited volunteers from the US, UK, France, Poland and even Germany and Italy for the International Brigades. The sad/funny part of this is that different factions from the USSR sent different volunteers, often leading to clashes between the Republicans.
While all this was going on, Anarcho-Syndicalists, starting in 1936, pulled off the Spanish Revolution, one of the few historical examples of a genuine
workers' social revolution, with the workers taking control of the factories (for real), and agrarian areas collectivized and run as libertarian communes in Catalonia, Aragon and Andalusia. All this, of course, was not in line with Stalin's vision of centralized state socialism, and the increasingly Soviet-dominated government of the Republic ultimately crushed them, with another mini-civil war fought behind the Republican lines which severely weakened their resolve.
In the end, the Nationalists defeated the Republicans and managed to gain control and establish Franco as a dictator, ruling over Spain for a little over 35 years. Franco made the country something of a haven for Jews (especially Sepharadim, Jews originally from Spain, who had been expelled by Fernand and Isabel 500 years before), and stayed neutral in the war: being supported by Hitler against Stalin was one thing, supporting Hitler against the Western Allies was another. He remained entirely neutral until the fall of France, then shifted to non-belligerent support for the Axis, then shifted back to neutrality once France got un-fallen. Hitler thought Franco's debt of gratitude to the Axis cause extended further than that. Franco thought it didn't.
The classic Fascist leader was an "artist of souls," eager to reshape the world into his particular vision by whatever means necessary; Franco was a cop. He was most similar to the leaders of juntas in Latin America (and even referred to the Nationalist cause as a junta). Neutrality was probably inevitable for him; in the apocalyptic war between democracy and communism on the one hand, and fascism and monarchism on the other, his first concern was that none of it happened in Spain. He went on to become an American ally in the Cold War, and died peacefully in his sleep, still in power. He handed over power beforehand to the monarchy, hoping that it would keep a regime similar to his own, but it didn't stick. Spain is now a democracy-with a much smaller dose of crazy than in the 1930s.
Another notable incident in the war was the Bombing of Guernica, perpetrated by the German expeditionary force, the Condor Legion. It was the first widely-known example of carpet bombing of a civilian target, and inspired Pablo Picasso
's heart-wrenching and monumental mural Guernica
Tropes for this war include:
- Anachronism Stew: The war combined tactics and weapons from World War One and World War II.
- A Simple Plan: As intended by Emilio Mola (aka "The Director"), the plan was for the army to rise in all major cities and Spanish Morocco and march on Madrid at once (the government had smelled something and destined suspect commanders away from the capital). Excluding Zaragoza and Seville, the plan failed in cities with big labor movements and the rebels were suppressed by police and impromptu armed militias; furthermore, the intended Decoy Leader General Sanjurjo died in a plane crash while flying in from Portugal. Left with the conservative belt from Galicia to Navarre, Mola tried then to march four columns on Madrid (while counting on a "fifth column" of supporters to rise within the city), but he was defeated on the Guadarrama Mountains. Meanwhile, Franco seized Spanish Morocco and crossed his forces over the Straits with Italian and German help, advancing quickly through Extremadura and Toledo. While this saved the rebellion from early defeat, it also trashed Mola's position as a leader and made his co-conspirators turn to Franco.
- Ax-Crazy: Gonzalo Queipo de Llano - it wasn't even clear that he was in on the coup until he seized Seville, one of the most left-leaning major cities in Spain, with only a few thousand men that he dressed as Moroccans for psychological effect, and afterwards he cheered the rebels to Rape, Pillage, and Burn on the radio until Franco himself told him to shut up because it made his side look bad abroad. Then there's José Millán-Astray and his "Death to intelligence! Long life to death!"
- Black and Grey Morality: Fascists, Autocratic Monarchists, the religious, and Conservatives versus Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, and Liberals. The Republicans started out as A Lighter Shade of Grey because they were democratically elected, upheld democracy, and were much less brutal than the Nationalists in general but later in the war it became a case of...
- Black And Black Morality: When the Stalinists managed to take control of much of the Republican side and purged social democrats, liberals, anarchists, etc. the sides devolved into this. The fact that some radical leftists started to enact "Red Terrors" against the Church doesn't help matters.
- Blind Mistake: A ceasefire occurred at least twice a day during the siege of the Alcázar due to a blind beggar who regularly traversed a road between the battle lines.
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists - Simultaneously averted and played straight depending on which individual band of anarchists you're referring to; it's not exactly a unified ideology. The Spanish Civil War featured a large and active Anarchist contribution to the Republican side, but many of them were working to organize resistance against Franco rather than spread pointless terror and chaos. Odds are some of them probably threw bombs at the enemy in the literal sense during the course of the war, but that doesn't quite fit the trope. That said, tens of thousands of people died in Anarchist-inspired mob violence in the early days of the war. Churches and other clerical buildings were burned to the ground, along with the clergy being killed regardless of politics, alienating many potential Catholic Republic sympathizers. The anarchists also had a tendency to fight each other; there's evidence that the destruction of an anarchist commune, blamed on Soviet supporters, was actually done primarily by another anarchist band with which the commune was feuding.
- There were also literal bomb throwing anarchists known as the Dinamiteros, groups of mine and railroad workers familiar with explosives who mostly belonged to anarchist or anarcho-syndicalist factions.
- Butt Monkey: The Italians of the CTV got so badly pwned at Guadalajara that their own allies came up with a song, "Spain is not Abyssinia", to mock them.
- To be fair to them, Guadalajara was the very lowest point of the Italian participation, in which they fared more or less as well as any other Nationalist force - and certainly not like they suffered later. And it should be noted that they were fighting other Italians who had joined the Republican side... Besides, the Italian defeat was most likely caused by the Nationalists' failure to carry out a much-needed side offensive!
- Card-Carrying Villain:
- During an interview a war reporter asked Juan Yagüe about the massacre of 2000 civilians after the fall of Badajoz. His answer was "What did you expect me to do?".
- Mola laid it down pretty explicitely:
"It must be taken into account that the action will be violent in extreme to reduce the enemy as soon as possible [...] All directors of political parties, societies or syndicates not affiliated to the Movement will be incarcerated, applying exemplary punishments to these individuals in order to strangle the movements of rebellion or strikes."
"In this event of the war I have chosen already war without mercy. The militarymen that have not joined our Movement, throw them out and take away their pay. The ones that have taken arms against us, against the army, shoot them in firing squad. I see my father in the opposite lines and I shoot him."
"Anyone that is openly or secretly a defender of the Popular Front, must be executed by firing squad [...] We must spread terror, leave sense of domination without scruples nor vacilation to everyone that does not think like us."
"What will I do? I'll impose a very hard punishment to shut up those idiotic partners of Azaña. For this I enable all citizens to, when they run into one of these subjects, to shut them up with a shot. Or bring them to me, that I will give it to them."
"Our brave legionaires and regulars have taught the reds what is to be a man. On the way, also to the women of the reds, that now have finally met real men, and not neutered militias. Kicking and bawling will not save them."
"You know my system: For one of order that falls, I'll kill ten extremists at least, and the leaders that flee, don't believe they will get away with that; I'll take them from bellow the ground if necessary, and if they are dead I'll kill them again."
"We must erase the words pardon and amnesty from the dictionary."
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Completely averted in the first months of the war, with both sides using the Republican flag. Mola was planning on a swift coup, not a war, and his intended post-war regime was an authoritarian republic like Salazar's Portugal because he hated the Bourbon monarchy. This was taken to ridiculous levels by falangists and anarchists, both dressing in blue and waving red and black banners while fighting on different sides. Onésimo Redondo, one of the four founders of Falange and the only one to successfully break out of prison after the rising, was killed mere days later in the Guadarrama Mountains, when he mistook an anarchist troop for fellow falangists and drove up to them. After that, Falange switched to green uniforms with blue shoulder ensigns, and limited the blue shirts to parades.
- The Cassandra: General Cabanellas advised against choosing Franco as the new leader of the rebels following Sanjurjo's death, claiming that "he'll make Spain his and will not let it go until he is dead".
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Queipo de Llano supported Primo de Rivera's coup in 1923. Then broke with him and was disgraced in 1928. So he rebelled against Primo and the monarchy in 1930, was defeated and fled to Portugal until 1931, when the monarchy imploded and he returned. Then he became anti-republican in 1933, and rebelled against the republic in 1936. But he was also critical of Franco and nicknamed him "Paca la Culona" ("Paca the large-assed", Paca being the female form of Paco, diminutive of Francisco).
- Church Militant: The Carlist requetés, who fought on the Nationalist side.
- Civil War: ... yep.
- Decoy Leader / Decoy Protagonist: General Sanjurjo, the expected leader of the uprising (although Mola was planning on using him as a mere figurehead) died on the third day of the war when he attempted to fly from his exile in Salazar's Portugal. The reason? He packed too many uniforms in the plane for his expected victory parade.
- Defector from Decadence: The Internationales fighting alongside the Republican forces included the Garibaldi Brigade, a unit of Italian antifascists, as well as several units of German anti-Nazi activists.
- Democracy Is Bad: Many of the groups involved in the war believed this. The fascists and hardline monarchists rejected democracy outright. Most communists (particularly those loyal to Stalin) claimed to uphold it, but the reality was different. Anarchists and some state socialists rejected representative democracy, insisting that the only true democracy is a direct democracy. This was implemented with various peasant communes and worker syndicates. There were also many factions on both sides who actually didn't believe this, but their voices were mostly drowned out.
- Determinator: Millán-Astray, the leader of the Spanish Legion, had lost an arm and an eye fighting in Morocco prior to the war. The exit wound of the bullet that destroyed his right eye was also visible on his left cheekbone.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Eduardo Val, restaurant waiter at a 5-star hotel, was the elusive mastermind behind anarchist terrorist and militia groups in Madrid. Even most leaders of the anarchist movement had no idea this was his role; many, indeed, regarded him with suspicion due to his bourgeois dress sense and wealthy clientale, which they thought suggested bourgeois ambitions. Even those in the know often considered him a cipher and couldn't decide if he was deeply committed to the cause or if he was just a particularly cunning opportunist who saw which way the wind was blowing. He survived the war and vanished into obscurity once again, with the surviving anarchist leadership still in the dark about his activities.
- Downer Ending: A real-life subversion. The Nazi-allied Nationalists, who bombed Guernica into rubble, who after the war murdered a quarter of a million people with a blasé regularity that shocked the visiting German envoy (said envoy's name was Heinrich Himmler), won decisively and ruled Spain until Franco's death in 1975. However, once Franco was out of the way, his successor immediately went about dismantling everything he had built and peacefully rebuilt Spain into a democratic society, despite the protests of the remaining Francoists. Many former Republican politicians even returned to Spain and were elected to office, and the old left-wing parties were all legalized again.
- The new king even put down an attempted Francoist coup in 1981, rather famously causing the leader of the Communist Party to tearfully declare "God save the King!" on national television.
- Eagle Squadron: Fighting on the Nationalist side were the German Condor Legion, the Italian Corps of Volunteer Troops, Portuguese Viriatos and the Irish Brigade, as well as the Spanish army's "Foreign" Legion. Foreigners who fought on the Republican side included Soviet advisers, pilots and tank drivers as well as the International Brigades: an estimated 32,000 anti-fascist volunteers from 53 different countries.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The rebels didn't define themselves as anti-Republican at first and continued to use the red-gold-purple flag for a month and a half, after which they adopted the red and gold. The Francoist coat of arms with the black eagle wasn't even adopted until 1938. And Franco himself wasn't supposed to be their leader originally.
- Egomaniac Hunter: Franco said that he developed a taste for hunting because of the war. Let Fridge Logic sink in.
- Enemy Mine:
- The Republican side included democrats, Stalinists, Trotskyists, and Anarchists, groups not known for getting along with each other under ordinary circumstances, but mostly willing to fight on the same side against the Nationalists. As the Republican side's fortunes declined, the Stalinists, since they had the Soviet Union's backing, managed to force the others out of power in a series of coups-but one could see the Fascists doing the same on the Nationalist side, had they lost.
- On the other side we have (among others) the monarchist, highly conservative, pro-local-autonomy, arch-Catholic Carlists, and the National Socialist German Workers' Party-one of a handful of political movements to have been explicitly condemned by a Papal bull. You don't get stranger than that, although the United States cheering for the side backed by the Soviet Union does come pretty close.
- Actually, scratch that, you do get stranger than that: the Basque Nationalist Party, explicitly Catholic, pro-big-business, conservative, and fighting for the Republic. Because of them, the Pope held off on recognizing the Nationalists as the government of Spain until they'd conquered the whole of Navarre.
- The pre-war Falangists were anti-monarchists, anti-big business and even slightly anti-clericalists. Of course they hated the Carlists, and they were hated by them in turn. The two even had a couple of armed clashes after the war, when Franco had already forced them to unify in a single party.
- Failure Is the Only Option: None of the great Republican offensives launched during the Negrín government (Brunete, Belchite, Teruel, Ebro) was successful. Ebro, in particular, essentially destroyed the Army of the Spanish Republic as an effective fighting force.
- Fighting for a Homeland: The men of the Thälmann Battalion, a unit made up entirely of German anti-fascists either exiled or frightened off by the Nazis, fought for the Republic in the hopes that they might be able to one day call it home-most of them had already given up on the possibility of ever going back to Germany again.
- The Republic considered invoking this for the Moroccans, proclaiming the independence of Spanish Morocco and damaging the base of the rebels in North Africa, but ultimately decided against it. The rebels preempted that by telling the Moroccans that the Republic was planning to "abolish Islam".
- The Republicans themselves became this after the end of the war, mostly joining the Free French and hoping in vain that the Western democracies would reward them by overthrowing Franco. When it became evident that the 1944 liberation of France wasn't going to be followed by a liberation of Spain, some poorly armed 4,000 decided to take matters into their hands and invaded Navarre and Catalonia, but the popular uprising they expected did not materialize.
- White Russian émigrés, most of them veterans of the Russian Revolution, formed a small unit fighting with Franco's troops against the Republic, the latter being directly supported by the Soviet government which had forced them to go into exile. Apparently, they believed that this would be the first step in liberating their country from Soviet regime.
- Foreshadowing: One of the wars that foreshadowed World War II.
- Forever War: Not the war itself, which was of relatively "normal" duration even if it seemed like this sometimes, but the Prologue. Spanish Morocco was a hotbed of discontent and rebellion, and the Spanish Army of Africa spent somewhere on the tune of 28 to 34 years of nonstop bloodshed there.
- From Bad to Worse: Again, World War II.
- Except for Spain, who mostly sat it out despite Franco sending the Blue Division to assist Nazi Germany, and exiled Republican veterans who joined the combat in the Allied side.
- General Failure: The pre-war army in Spain was so ill-funded they didn't even go on exercises. If you joined the military and wanted to be a real soldier, you volunteered for Africa, which meant the dedicated and combat-experienced soldiers worked for the Nationalists. Not that they didn't have their own problems; when their German advisers demanded some of the more inept leaders be weeded out, the Nationalists replied that there weren't enough competent officers to replace them. On the Republican side, thanks to Stalin's purges the Soviet military advisers weren't able to take up the slack because they'd either been sent to Siberia for being too good at their job or were afraid to show any initiative as a result.
- Hoist by His Own Petard / Ironic Death: General Sanjurjo dying mere days in the war, because he packed too many uniforms for the victory parade and caused the plane to crash.
- Hopeless War: For the Republicans after the 1938 Munich Conference.
- Hypocrite: The rebels set up courts that sentenced loyalists to death under charges of "helping the rebellion". Franco continued to imprison dissidents for "helping the rebellion" right up to his own death, 40 years after the war.
- For the other side, Orwell denounced the sudden pro-war fervor of the left after they had spent the previous decade saying that war was evil and capitalistic. This continued through the Civil War and into WWII after it:
Orwell: There must be a quite large number of people, a sort of central core of the intelligentsia, who approved the ‘King and Country’ declaration in 1935, shouted for a 'firm line against Germany' in 1937, supported the People's Convention in 1940, and are demanding a Second Front now.
- I Lied: After the Fall of France, Franco told the Spanish refugees in France that they were amnestied and could come back. Those who took up the offer were imprisoned and executed.
- Improvised Weapon: The trench warfare saw the use of Molotov cocktails (before they were named that), dynamite and grenades thrown with slings made from belts, among other things.
- International Showdown by Proxy: The Spanish Civil War was, at its core, ultimately a war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, fought using Spanish supporters of their respective ideologies as puppets.
- Irony: Many, many examples.
- Due to many of the Republicans fleeing to France after the end of the war, the French Resistance eventually came to include an unit of Germans leftover from the International Brigades.
- One of the alleged goals of the attempted coup d'état was to prevent Communists from taking over the country. In reality, the Spanish Communists were not an important group prior to July 1936; they grew steadily in power and influence during the war, though, as their staunch anti-Fascism gained them popular support and the Republic became increasingly dependent on Soviet help. Good job breaking it, "heroes".
- The CEDA, despite being the most influential pre-war right-wing party and one of the main supporters of the military uprising, lost support quickly in the early stages of the war and was dissolved in 1937, its leader Gil Robles even going into exile and contacting exiled leftist politicians to conspire against Franco at some point.
- Franco likened his campaign to the Spanish Reconquista, while leading an army of Muslims (with Jesus' Sacred Heart embroidered on their tunics) from Morocco to Toledo along the very same route used by Tariq ibn Zyad in 711 AD.
- The war ended in 1939, while the beginning of World War II was just brewing at the time. Spain stayed out of WWII.
- The international left declaring war to be pointless and imperialist and never leading to any good result... suddenly jumping enthusiastically on the Republican bandwagon. George Orwell was utterly disgusted by this:
Orwell: All the stale old phrases! And the unimaginative callousness of it! The sang-froid with which London faced the bombing of Madrid!... Well, the same people who in 1933 sniggered pityingly if you said that in certain circumstances you would fight for your country, in 1937 were denouncing you as a Trotsky-Fascist if you suggested that the stories in New Masses about freshly wounded men clamouring to get back into the fighting might be exaggerated.
- When Heinrich Himmler visited postwar Spain in 1940, he expressed disbelief that the Franco dictatorship would devote so many resources to kill and maim its own citizens, rather than courting and adoctrinating them so they could fight other nations and expand their own successfully. He also though that bullfighting was cruel, by the way.
- I Will Fight Some More Forever: Many of the surviving Republican soldiers and leaders never stopped fighting against the Nationalists despite having absolutely no chance of victory, and as a result many of them were systematically hunted down and destroyed over the course of the next thirty years. A few of them were still around when Franco, on his deathbed, inadvertently appointed a covert supporter of democracy as his successor, and the new king proceeded to dismantle the dictatorship and restore democracy entirely non-violently, doing in months what his allies had been unable to do in thirty years.
- La Résistance: The Republicans became this after the Nationalist victory. Many of them fled to France, where they would join the ranks of the Trope Namer.
- The Last Straw: The murder of José Calvo Sotelo is widely considered to be the catalyst for the generals' revolt.
- Most historians, however, agree that Mola's plan was well underway and that Calvo Sotelo's murder was just seized as a convenient Pretext for War, speeding the coup by a few weeks at most.
- Load-Bearing Boss: A rare real-world example of a load-bearing city. The civil war went on for years until effective Republican resistance ended completely with the fall of Madrid. They fought on for some time after that, but after Madrid fell it was obvious to all involved that a Nationalist victory was now a foregone conclusion, it was only a matter of time.
- Loophole Abuse: Germany and Italy got around the naval arms blockade that they were supposed to enforce themselves by shipping weapons to Salazar's Portugal, which was mockingly nicknamed "Castile's port".
- The Man Behind the Man: Mola planned to be this but it didn't quite work.
- Military Coup: Its partial but not complete success in displacing the Republicans' control in July 1936 is what sparks the whole thing.
- Monumental Damage: Extensive during the sieges of the Alcázar de Toledo and the Cuartel de la Montaña, and the three years long battle for the University City of Madrid.
- Monument Of Humiliation And Defeat: After the war, Franco ordered a monument to honor the KIA for both sides. Named the Valley of the Fallen, the massive graveyard has the tombs of soldiers from both the Nationalists (and Germans and Italians) and the Republicans (with their allies from the International Brigades). The monument itself is an expression of Fascist ideology and everything that Franco believed in. Aside from the graveyard, it has a sculptural via crucis, an abbey statues of saints, a giant cross and Franco's mausoleum coated with the Falangist Eagle and the Catholic Kings' coat of arms. To build it, Franco used the republican POWs and it is estimated that about 27, 000 of them died while working on it. Logically, the nationalists were given a better treatment, since one half of those buried there just so happen to be unknown.
- My Government Right, Or Wrong: General Antonio Escobar Huertas, conservative and devout Catholic, fought on the Republican side even though his son (later KIA) was on the opposite side. He was also the only general of the People's Army to not flee the country after the defeat even though his captor Juan Yagüe offered him a plane to do so. Sentenced to death, Escobar directed his own execution by firing squad.
- The Napoleon: Franco measured about 1.60 meters and was nicknamed "Paquito" (Little Paconote ) behind his back.
- During his early years, he was also called "cerillita" (little matchstick) because of his small stature, thin body and big head.
- Nazi Gold: Inverted; the Republic's gold reserves vanished into the vaults of Joseph Stalin, in payment for military aid.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Britain and other democracies refusal to support the Republicans because of fear of leftists influence led to Stalin taking advantage of the situation and enriching himself while getting his faction to slowly but surely take control of the Republican side. Later, when the Nationalists won partly as a result of democracies not supporting the Republicans they mildly supported the Axis during World War 2.
- Playing Both Sides: Polish government sold (mostly obsolete) arms and equipment to both sides of the conflict. Although one could expect a right-wing military dictatorship to support Franco only, more weapons were actually delivered to the Republican side. This is understandable considering how dire was Poland's geopolitical situation at the time and how desperately it needed funds to modernize its own army.
- Post-Apunkalyptic Armor: The CNT's "tiznaos".
- Prequel: To World War II.
- Propaganda Machine: Both sides had very extensive information campaigns. The Nationalist one tended to be more efficient, since the Nationalists had a degree of ideological unity the Republicans lacked. Both sides extensively lied about each other and fabricated stories of daring and atrocity. Notable Republican propaganda outlets were the CPUSA's Daily Worker, New Masses, and the CPGB's Morning Star. The Nationalists could count on the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, and most notably the Catholic Herald, which became infamous for pro-Franco yellow journalism.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Queipo de Llano encouraged the rebels to do this in his radio program, as part of psychological warfare. Franco eventually forced him out of the radio to better his image in the international press.
- Red Right Hand: Like Hitler, Franco only had one testicle (the other was lost in Morocco, in 1916). Some even believe that he was sterile and his only daughter Carmen (b.1926) was actually born to his younger brother Ramón (KIA 1938).
- The Remnant: The Spanish Maquis, which like their French counterparts took to the mountains and tried to keep up the fight until the Western democracies overthrew Franco. This didn't happen. The Francoist press cunningly prevented the Streisand Effect by characterizing the maquis as bandits without ideology and glossing over that their objectives were limited to the gendarmerie and armed police. The last maquis was killed in Galicia in 1965.
- Scary African Man: The Moroccan Regulares were especially feared by Republican militias and civilians. Queipo de Llano took advantage of this when seizing power in Seville by dressing his Spanish supporters in Moroccan garb.
- Scavenger World: The Non-Intervention Committee left the Republicans with no choice but to recycle everything, even captured barbed wire. They ended up using 60 different types of rifles (versus 10 for the Nacionales), 19 callibers and half a dozen helmets.
- Scenery Gorn: Some towns were so devastated that, after the war, they had to be rebuilt almost entirely from the ground (see, for example, this picture of Brunete◊, a town close to Madrid that saw one of the fiercest battles of the war.). Still today if one knows where to go is possible to find bunkers in different states of preservation, that at their time were in the front, as well as trenches and even some craters caused by mines or exploding ammo.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Colonel Casado's coup and the rendition of Madrid.
- Secret Police: The Republicans' SIM and the Soviet NKVD.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: One of the reasons for the coup attempt was because the Nationalists feared the Communist Party, part of the Popular Front government, would turn Spain into a Spanish Soviet Republic. The Communist Party did not have any real power or influence until after the coup, thanks to their contacts with the USSR.
- Shot at Dawn: The infamous "paseos".
- Submarine Pirates: Italian submarines operating without identification-in the words of one historian, as pirates-sank several Soviet and other merchant ships attempting to bring weapons to the Loyalist side. This was further reinforced by the Nyon Conference in 1937, where the European powers formally discussed the ongoing piracy problem. They discussed piracy because simply stating that the Italians were carrying out unrestricted submarine warfare would have kicked off World War II several years earlier than anyone was prepared for.
- Uriah Gambit: The Blue Division has been quite strongly suspected of being Franco's way of getting rid of enthusiastic nationalists as soon as he no longer needed them.
- Villains Out Shopping: Emilio Mola was a photography nut, to the point that his decapitated body was identified because of the last-model photography camera that was hanging from his neck.
- Warrior Poet: Lots of them-the Republican cause attracted an extremely large number of academics and intellectuals, more so than almost any other military in recent history. These included Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell (Eric Blair).
- We Are Everywhere: As his forces approached Madrid, the Nationalist general Emilio Mola said that the four columns of soldiers who he commanded would be assisted by a "fifth column" of covert Nationalist supporters residing in the city. While this didn't provide any significant support to the attack, it did make the Republicans fiercely paranoid of each other.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Both sides got this to some extent, but whereas Franco took control of the Nationalists fairly easily and peacefully (which is to say that there's no conclusive evidence that he killed Generals Sanjurjo or Mola), the Republic was burdened down by obscenely costly infighting between Pro-Soviet and Anti-Soviet factions with Anarchists and Basques complicating the matter even further. The resulting purges probably sped up the defeat.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Despite the Nationalists' fascist leanings, the Western democracies refused to support the Republic due to fear of left-wing influence; the only major power that was willing to do so was the USSR, with the direct result of this being that the Stalinist wing of the Popular Front became increasingly influential.
- Early on, Britain's policy about the war was heavily influenced by faulty intelligence coming from Gibraltar, that painted the July coup as a Communist uprisingnote , and then by the desire to keep Gibraltar securely in British hands - which, with Franco's forces both in firm control of Morocco and Cadiz, meant playing cozy to the rebels. As for France, its own Popular Front government wanted to intervene in Spain, but couldn't risk triggering a war with Germany and Italy without firm British support.
- Refugees fleeing the fall of Catalonia were put in concentration camps upon entering France. Some were freed in exchange for joining the French forces against the Nazis in WW2. Others were handed over to the Nazis by Les Collaborateurs, who returned them to be shot in Spain or sent them to the extermination camps of Mauthausen and Gusen with Franco's knowledge and approval.
- Written by the Winners: Played straight inside Spain during Franco's regime, but zigzagged after his death. After democracy was established, a lot of historians tried to bring to light the atrocities perpetrated by the Nationalist forces, but they face a lot of resistance. In popular culture, however, nobody holds the Nationalists in a good light.
- Inverted outside of Spain and fascist countries: Thanks to the many authors and other artists fighting in the international brigades, their side of the story is much better known.
- In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find any literature or music supporting the Nationalist side at all outside Spain.
- As Tom Lehrer mockingly sang: "Remember the war against Franco, that's the kind where each of us belongs. Though he may have won all the battles, we had all the good songs."
- X Meets Y: Third Carlist War meets World War One meets World War II.
- You Have Failed Me: Most of the Soviet 'advisors' were liquidated by Stalin after their return to the USSR.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Franco did this all the time. He got rid of the leaders of the CEDA, (original) Falange and the Carlists by imprisoning or exiling them as soon as they had fulfilled their part supporting the rebellion and seizing the areas where they were stronger; he then unified all rebel groups under a single "Movimiento Nacional" with himself as its leader. Falange's Manuel Hedilla was even sentenced to death in 1937 but then this was changed to exile in the Canary and Balearic Islands for 10 years. After the war, Franco also appointed Queipo de Llano and Millán-Astray to missions in Italy and Portugal, and confined Juan Yagüe in his native Soria, miles away from his Moroccan troops, so they could not rally their own support away from Franco himself. He also agreed to send an unit of mostly Falangist volunteers to the Soviet front, in part to appease Hitler, but also to get rid of the more hardline Falangists so they could not plot to seize control of the state with Nazi support (which the Nazis did consider).
- You Shall Not Pass: "¡No pasarán!". Followed by a Take That from Franco after Madrid finally fell: "We have passed."
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: More like your criminals are our freedom fighters-the Nationalist government prohibited the country's media from reporting on the actions of Republican Maquis as anything other than isolated bandit attacks or crime sprees. One of the reasons the Maquis finally lost was that their political motivations-and, in some cases, their very existence-were usually completely unknown outside of the immediate area they operated in.
- In the final two episodes of When The Boat Comes In, Jack Ford takes a yacht to run rifles to the Republican forces. It doesn't end well. Jack's ultimately mortally wounded in a shootout.
- For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway. The main character is an American university professor who joined the International Brigades when the war started, and the plot deals with his idealism being eroded away by the realities of the war.
- Pan's Labyrinth is set just after the civil war, and the plot includes the fascist Captain Vidal weeding out the last few Republican holdout groups. It is a Spiritual Successor to the same director's The Devil's Backbone, which is also set during the Spanish Civil War.
- Del Toro was himself influenced by the 1973 film, The Spirit of the Beehive, which is also set just after the civil war and is told through the eyes of a young girl, who briefly befriends a Republican fugitive.
- Land and Freedom by Ken Loach, follows the tragic fate of a volunteer in the International Brigades. There are many similarities with George Orwell's book cited below.
- Libertarias, a film following the exploits of a group of women who together join an anarcha-feminist militia fighting for the Republic.
- It is mentioned as a bit of foreshadowing that protagonist Rick Blaine fought in the Spanish Civil War on the Republicans' side in Casablanca.
- Near the end of Peter Jackson's Mockumentary Forgotten Silver, it is revealed that New Zealand filmmaker Colin Mc Kenzie met his end during the Spanish Civil War, while fighting on the Republicans' side in northern Africa.
- Which is either a research failure or a clue as to the documentary's "mock" nature, since there was no such fighting in Spain's African territories: the rebels imposed themselves there without resistance, and any Republicans were promptly rounded up and summarily executed.
- More than one Axis Powers Hetalia (dark) fanwork involve the civil war in one way or another. Whichever side Spain chooses, he's bound to wind up an insane wreck by the end.
- In general, there are quite a few Spanish movies set during the Civil War, mostly human dramas and the like, but you can find most genres, even comedy. As a result, Memetic Mutation arose claiming every Spanish film is set on the Spanish Civil War.
- Condors, one of Garth Ennis' War Stories is set during a battle, in which a Spanish Republican and survivor of Guernica, a German pilot, an English International Brigades volunteer, and an Irish psychopath find themselves seeking cover in the same crater. They all declare an uneasy truce until the battle ends and tell each other their stories. The Spanish guy ends it with a "Reason You Suck" Speech to each of them: to the German because Germany is using Spain to test their equipment for the next one, the Englishman because he's a Naïve Newcomer believing in peaceful communism, and the Irishman because he's completely insane. They all split off after the artillery stops without shooting at each other, except for the Irishman who jumps back in waiting (in vain) for those bastards to ambush him.
- No Spanish Civil War in 1936 is an Alternate History where, well, it's Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The war is averted by the answering of a letter from General Franco by Prime Minister Casares which didn't go answered in our timeline. This leads to the coup attempt that sparked the civil war in the first place being neutralized before it happens.
- Winter of the World, a Ken Follett's historical novel set during The Thirties and The Forties (although mostly focused on World War II), has a chapter in which one of the protagonists (Lloyd Williams) fights in the International Brigades.
- The Last Circus plays against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War and Franco's Spain with the two main characters being representations of the Nationalists and the Republicans.
- Mourir à Madrid (To Die in Madrid), French documentary film directed by Frédéric Rossif.
- Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell's classic memoir of his volunteer service in the International Brigades on the Republican side. Moreover, Orwell's experience of the bloody opposition between the POUM militia he served in and the Stalinists of the Communist Party probably gave birth to his criticism of the USSR later expressed in Animal Farm and 1984.
- Franco's International Brigades, a book which proves there were actually more volunteers fighting for Franco than for the Republic, even if they did include gay Norwegian Nazis and drunken Belgian aristocrats.
- Mitos al descubierto, a TV documentary series created by the Telemadrid channel, is a rare example of moderately pro-Francoist stance in contemporary media. All 13 parts are available on Youtube
- Guernica, by Pablo Picasso.
- Premonition of Civil War, by Salvador Dalí.