Tag Archives: Spain

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German involvement in the Spanish Civil War

This revision podcast was originally created for IGCSE History students completing a Paper 2 (sources) exam based on the Spanish Civil War.  However, it is appropriate for other students who wish to gain an overview of Germany’s involvement as it looks at three key issues.  Firstly a quick background to the Civil War itself, secondly a consideration of why Germany got involved, and finally a discussion of what Germany contributed to the Spanish Civil War.

The first part of the podcast presents an overview of General Franco’s nationalist uprising with reference to the republican government, the forces on each side in the conflict, and the Non-Intervention Committee.

The second section looks at reasons for why Germany got involved in the Spanish Civil War.  The causes assessed in the revision podcast are Hitler’s hatred of communism, the opportunity to test new equipment, the possibility of developing an alliance with Italy, and access to Spanish raw materials.

The final part of the episode considers the impact of German involvement.  Particular attention is given to the impact of the Condor Legion at Guernica.

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Germany and Italy support Franco

Why did Germany and Italy agree to support Franco?

On the 26th July 1936, Adolf Hitler informed General Francisco Franco that Germany would support his Nationalist rebellion in Spain.

Benito Mussolini, the leader of Italy, also agreed to intervene in the war on the Nationalist side after being encouraged to do so by Hitler. Although both countries later signed the Non-Intervention Agreement, they continued to send troops and equipment to support Franco’s forces.

The Spanish Civil War broke out on the 17th July, when an army uprising against the Spanish Second Republic that began in Morocco spread to the mainland. In the face of early rebel gains, the Republican government sought assistance from France and the USSR. Meanwhile the Nationalists turned to the right-wing governments of Germany and Italy.

Hitler in particular had a number of reasons for getting involved. As well as giving him the opportunity to take action against what he called “communist barbarism”, assisting Franco would win Germany an important ally and access to Spain’s natural resources. Militarily, German involvement also provided an opportunity to test the new equipment developed since the Nazi rearmament programme began in 1933.

Both Hitler and Mussolini were concerned about the risk of the Spanish Civil War escalating into a European-wide conflict, so at first their support for the Nationalists was small-scale and consisted mainly of transporting existing Spanish troops from Morocco to the mainland. However, as the war progessed their involvement grew. The German Condor Legion in particular began to take an active role in the aerial bombing of Republican areas, most notably the Basque town of Guernica, on the 26th April 1937.

Germany in the Spanish Civil War

Spanish Civil War – intervention and non-intervention

These two clips present the reasons for international intervention and non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War.

PART 1

PART 2

Bombing of Guernica

The bombing of Guernica

A short but focused overview of the bombing of Guernica on 26th April 1937.

Bombing of Guernica

The bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War – Picasso documentary