The Spanish Civil War: Military Campaign (1936)

Spanish Civil War
Figure 1--This press photo shows a little Spanish girl has lost her hime, but survived the Battle of Irún. Nationalist artillery and Luftwaffe bombers of the Condor Legion proved decisive. Hitler and Göring announced the Lufwaffe a year early. The Spanish Civil War was its first testung ground. Spanish cities did not have air defenses. The Japanese had begun bombing Chinese cities several years earlier. This was an important battle early in the Civil War, part of the Gipuzkoa campaign laying the foundation for the War in the North. Irún is a town located along the northeastern coast of Spain, situated between the French border and the town of San Sebastian. Nationalist Commander Alfonso Beorlegui, Irún and thus made in impossible for Republican forces in the north (Gipuzkoa, Biscay, Santander, and Asturias) to obtain military equipment from France. Tragically this would be a scene repeated thoughout Europe and Asia in the coming years.

The Republic held Catalonia, Barcelona and the northern Basque provinces which proved to be the center of Republican support. As the situation unfolded after Franco's revolt (July 1936). The Republic found its two center's of support divided by Nationalist controlled areas. Catalonia (northeastern Spain) and Madrid (central Spain) were connected, but separated from the Basque country and northwesterm Spain. In the Republican areas, Anarchist-syndicalists took over the factories. Peasants organized communes on the land seized from the aristocratic families. Factories in northern Spain were taken over by the workers and run by a form of direct democracy. Both workers and peasants armed to fight Franco's advancing army. From the beginning, obtaining modern weapons was a problem for the Repoublic. The police in the cities were replaced. The backbone of the Republic's forces were civilian self defense forces of armed workers and peasants. Franco marched on Madrid but was stopped at the outskirts of the city by hastily assembled Republican self-defense forces. Franco concluded that Madrid could not be taken, the Republican forces there were too strong. He decided that instead to focus on the north. The resources and industry thre would be vital for a long war of attrition. The Basque Country had imprtant resources including, iron and steel as well as industry (steel and chemicals) would be a welcome addition to the Natinalist wae ecnomy. In addition the northen areas held by the Republic were politically divided and Republican control had been weakened by conflict betwen the Basque nationalists and Republicam leftists. The north was vulnerable because it was cut off from the Republican controlled stronghold of Madrid and Catalonia. The Nationalists were able to isolate the north by contoling the area between Madrid and the Basque Country. This meant that the Republican north had to obtain supplies from France or by sea and the Nationalists had naval forces to blockade Basque ports. Franco ordered his commanders at the stalemated Madrid front to end the offensive there and shift men and supplies to a major effort in the north--the War in the North. The first step was to cut the Rpublican north off from France. This was achieved through the campaign in Gipuzkoa, taking Irún and San Sebastian (September 1936). These were small towns, but by cutting off access to the French border, towns of enormous stratehgic importance. This would lead to the War in the North and a major Nationalist victory. With the Republican north conquered, the Nationalist no longer had to fight a two-front war.


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Created: 7:51 AM 11/17/2014
Last updated: 7:51 AM 11/17/2014