Advertisement

Paths to War pp 199-232 | Cite as

The European Great Powers and The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939

  • Glyn Stone
Chapter

Abstract

Historians now accept, contrary to the contemporary propagandist claims of Communists and Fascists, that the Spanish civil war was initially a domestic affair, and that foreign interference before the outbreak on 17 July 1936 was negligible.l The effect of foreign intervention or deliberate non-intervention after 17 July is another matter. While the ultimate consequences remain a matter of disagreement there is no disputing that it had a major impact on the course of the war. It was, for example, only through the provision of transport aircraft by Italy and especially Germany that General Franco was able to transfer Spanish Moroccan forces to southern Spain during the crucial early weeks of the conflict. And it was only as a consequence of the Soviet Union’s provision of arms and air-craft, coupled with the arrival of the International Brigades, that Madrid was saved for republican Spain in November 1936 and the war prolonged for another two years.2 The present essay examines the motives which led the European Great Powers to intervene or remain aloof and the impact of the war on their relations. As will be seen, the Spanish civil war, while not a direct cause of the subsequent World War, critically influenced the shaping of Great Power alignments in the years before September 1939.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For the origins of the Spanish Civil War see H. Thomas, The Spanish Civil War (3rd edition London, 1977);Google Scholar
  2. P. Preston, The Coming of the Spanish Civil War: Reform, Reaction and Revolution in the Second Republic 1931–1936 (London, 1978);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. R.A.H. Robinson, The Origins of Franco Spain: The Right, the Republic and Revolution 1931–1936 (Newton Abbot, 1970);Google Scholar
  4. G. Jackson, The Spanish Republic and the Civil War 1931–1939 (Princeton, 1965); andGoogle Scholar
  5. E. Malefakis, Agrarian Reform and Peasant Revolution in Spain: Origins of the Civil War (London, 1970).Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    For the airlift see R.L. Proctor, Hitler’s Luftwaffe in the Spanish Civil War (Westport, 1983), pp. 3–37;Google Scholar
  7. J.F. Coverdale, Italian Intervention in the Spanish Civil War (Princeton, 1975), pp. 85–87; and Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, pp. 939–940. For Soviet intervention in October and November and the arrival of the International Brigades see Thomas, pp. 439–497;Google Scholar
  8. D.T. Cattell, Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War (Berkeley, 1957), pp. 32–37;Google Scholar
  9. E.H. Carr, The Comintern and the Spanish Civil War (London, 1984), pp. 19–28; andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. J. Haslam, The Soviet Union and the Struggle for Collective Security in Europe 1933–1939 (London, 1984), pp. 114–120.Google Scholar
  11. 4.
    For details see Proctor, Hitler’s Luftwaffe, pp. 10–19; G.L. Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler’s Germany: Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933–1936 (Chicago, 1970), pp. 288–289;Google Scholar
  12. H. Abendroth, Hitler in der spanischen Arena (Paderborn, 1973), pp. 23–39;Google Scholar
  13. M. Merkes, Die Deutsche Politik im spanischen Bürgerkrieg 1936–1939 (2nd edition Bonn, 1969), pp. 23–30;Google Scholar
  14. A. Vinas, La Alemania nazi y el 18 de julio (Madrid, 1977), pp. 335–344; andGoogle Scholar
  15. G.T. Harper, German Economic Policy in Spain during the Spanish Civil War (The Hague, 1967), pp. 11–20.Google Scholar
  16. 6.
    Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918–1945, (D), vol. III (London, 1951), Doc. 783, pp. 892–894. Hereafter DGFP. Coverdale, Italian Intervention, pp. 392–393; C.E. Harvey, The Rio Tinto Company: An Economic History of a Leading International Mining Concern 1873–1954 (Penzance, 1981), n. 59, p. 289; andGoogle Scholar
  17. R.H. Whealey, ‘Foreign Intervention in the Spanish Civil War’, in R. Carr (ed), The Republic and the Civil War in Spain (London, 1971), p. 219.Google Scholar
  18. 7.
    See P. Broué and E. Témime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain (London, 1972), p. 346 andGoogle Scholar
  19. D. Mack Smith, Mussolini’s Roman Empire (London, 1976), p. 100.Google Scholar
  20. 8.
    Coverdale, Italian Intervention, pp. 78–83, 399–404 and Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, p. 353. For the Farinacci mission see H. Fornari, Mussolini’s Gadfly: Roberto Farinacci (Nashville, 1971), pp. 162–164.Google Scholar
  21. 9.
    Speech to Nazi Party officials, 29 April 1937. D. Smyth, ‘Reflex Reaction: Germany and the Onset of the Spanish Civil War’ in P. Preston (ed), Revolution and War in Spain 1931–1939 (London, 1984), p. 244.Google Scholar
  22. See also G.L. Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler’s Germany: Starting World War II, 1937–1939 (Chicago, 1980), pp. 155–156.Google Scholar
  23. 18.
    Abendroth, Hitler in der spanischen Arena, pp. 35–36. For the debate on Hitler’s ultimate objectives including discussion of the so called Stufenplan see K. Hildebrand, The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich (London, 1973)Google Scholar
  24. M. Michaelis, ‘World Power Status or World Dominion? A Survey of the Literature on Hitler’s ‘Plan of World Dominion (1937–1970)’, Historical Journal, vol. XV (2–1972); A. Hillgruber, ‘England’s Place in Hitler’s Plan for World Dominion’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. IX (1–1974); M. Hauner, ‘Did Hitler want a World Dominion?’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol XII (1–1978); and E.M. Robertson, ‘Hitler’s Planning for War and the Response of the Great Powers (1938– early 1939)’, in H.W. Koch, Aspects of the Third Reich (London, 1985).Google Scholar
  25. 19.
    CAB24/277, CP 163(38) ‘German Attitudes towards Events in Spain and Portugal: Memorandum by Lord Halifax’, 7 July 1938. See also the News Chronicle, 12 July 1938. For strategic issues see D.C. Watt, ‘German Strategic Planning and Spain 1938–1939’, Army Quarterly, 1960, pp. 220–227.Google Scholar
  26. For the strategic significance of the Portuguese Alliance for Britain at this time see G.A. Stone, ‘The Official British Attitude to the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, 1910–1945’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. X (4–1975), pp. 738–740.Google Scholar
  27. For German naval planning see J. Dülffer, Weimar, Hitler und die Marine: Reichspolitik und Flottenbau 1920 bis 1939 (Düsseldorf, 1973).Google Scholar
  28. 23.
    Ibid., pp. 76–77. J. Edwards, The British Government and the Spanish Civil War 1936–1939 (London, 1979), pp. 138–142.Google Scholar
  29. 25.
    R.G. Colodny, Spain: the Glory and the Tragedy (New York, 1970), p. 32 and Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, p. 951.Google Scholar
  30. 26.
    CAB24/277, CP 163(38). Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler’s Germany 1937–1939, pp. 164–165; Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, pp. 940–941, 977–979; Coverdale, Italian Intervention, pp. 394–398; Proctor, Hitler’s Luftwaffe, pp. 253–265; and M. Cooper, The German Air Force 1933–1945: An Anatomy of Failure (London, 1981), pp. 58–60.Google Scholar
  31. 30.
    For the view that economic considerations were a by-product of German intervention see H. Abendroth, ‘Deutschlands Rolle im spanischen Bürgerkrieg’, in M. Funke (ed), Hitler, Deutschland und die Mächte: Materialen zur Aussenpolitik des Dritten Reichs (Düsseldorf, 1978), p. 480. Abendroth’s view is shared to a large extent by Smyth, ‘Reflex Reaction’, pp. 256–257.Google Scholar
  32. For the significance of German intervention for the Four Year Plan see W. Schieder, ‘Spanischen Bürgerkrieg und Vierjahresplan’ in W. Schieder and C. Dipper (eds), Der spanische Bürgerkrieg in der internationalen Politik, 1936–1939 (München, 1976), pp. 162–190.Google Scholar
  33. 36.
    Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, pp. 940–941, 943, 980–984 and Broué and Témime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain, pp. 372–373. For NKVD activity in Spain see D.T. Cattell, Communism and the Spanish Civil War (New York, 1965), pp. 116–119; Haslam, The Soviet Union and the Struggle for Collective Security, pp. 116, 133–134; and Carr, The Comintern and the Spanish Civil War, pp. 35–44.Google Scholar
  34. 40.
    For the origins and adoption of the popular front strategy of Comintern see Haslam, The Soviet Union and the Struggle for Collective Security, pp. 52–59. E.H. Carr, Twilight of Comintern (London, 1982), pp. 143–155, 405–417;Google Scholar
  35. J. Degras (ed), The Communist International 1919–1943. Documents: vol. III 1929–1943 (London, 1971), pp. 355–365; and J. Haslam, ‘The Comintern and the Origins of the Popular Front 1934–1935’, Historical Journal, vol. XXII (3–1979).Google Scholar
  36. 46.
    Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, pp. 943–945, 952–953; J. Erickson, The Soviet High Command (London, 1962), pp. 429–431, 455–456;Google Scholar
  37. A. Boyd, The Soviet Air Force since 1918 (London, 1977), pp. 74–83; and Colodny, The Glory and the Tragedy, pp. 32–33. 47.Google Scholar
  38. For an illuminating discussion of the issue of the Spanish gold see A. Viñas, ‘Gold, the Soviet Union, and the Spanish Civil War’, European Studies Review, vol. IX (1–1979), pp. 105–128.Google Scholar
  39. 50.
    For a discussion of the domestic considerations see R.J. Young, In Command of France: French Foreign Policy and Military Planning, 1933–1940 (Harvard, 1978), pp. 139–141;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. J.E. Dreifort, Yvon Delbos at the Quai d’Orsay: French Foreign Policy during the Popular Front 1936–1938, (Kansas, 1973), pp. 38–43; andGoogle Scholar
  41. D. Carlton, ‘Eden, Blum, and the Origins of Non-Intervention’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. VI (3–1971), pp. 46–47.Google Scholar
  42. 51.
    For a full a discussion of Britain’s role in the context of the French decision to adopt a policy of non-intervention see Edwards, The British Government and the Spanish Civil War, pp. 1–37; Dreifort, Yvon Delbos at the Quai d’Orsay, pp. 35–38, 43–54; Carlton, ‘Eden, Blum and the Origins of Non-Intervention’, pp. 40–55; G.A. Stone, ‘Britain, Non-Intervention and the Spanish Civil War’, European Studies Review, vol. IX (1–1979), pp. 129–149; andGoogle Scholar
  43. G. Warner, ‘France and Non-Intervention in Spain, July–August 1936’, International Affairs, vol. XXXVIII (2–1962), pp. 204–205, 212–215, 218–220.Google Scholar
  44. 53.
    Ibid. ,pp. 136–137 and D. Little, Malevolent Neutrality: The United States, Great Britain and the Origins of the Spanish Civil War (Cornell, 1985), pp. 222–245.Google Scholar
  45. 54.
    Chatfield Papers CHT/3/1 and Simon Papers MSS.7 diary entry, 5 February 1938, L. Pratt, East of Malta, West of Suez: Britain’s Mediterranean Crisis 1936–1939 (London, 1975), n.35, p. 43;Google Scholar
  46. S. Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars II: the Period of Reluctant Rearmament 1930–1939 (London, 1976), p. 374; and Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, p. 258.Google Scholar
  47. 58.
    For the Foreign Office view see minutes by Sir Orme Sargent, Cadogan and Mounsey, 12–13 August 1936. DBFP, (2), vol. XVII, Doc. 84 and n.1, pp. 90–91. For Eden’s view see his conversation with Arthur Greenwood, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, 19 August 1936. F0371/20534 W9331/62/41. See also Lord Avon, The Eden Memoirs: Facing the Dictators (London, 1962), p. 463 andGoogle Scholar
  48. Lord Halifax, Fulness of Days (London, 1957), p. 192.Google Scholar
  49. 59.
    Franco-British efforts to reach a general settlement between March and August 1936 are well documented in W.N. Medlicott, Britain and Germany: The Search for Agreement 1930–1937 (London, 1969), pp. 25–30.Google Scholar
  50. 64.
    Eleventh session of the Comité Permanent de la Défense Nationale, 15 March 1938 in A. Adamthwaite (ed), The Making of the Second World War (London, 1977), Doc. 46, p. 182.Google Scholar
  51. 73.
    For the origins of the Italo-German rapprochement see E.M. Robertson, Mussolini as Empire Builder: Europe and Africa 1932–1936 (London, 1977), pp. 181–183, 186–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. For the impact of the Spanish civil war on the development of an official anti-semitic policy see M. Michaelis, Mussolini and the Jews: German-Italian Relations and the Jewish Question in Italy 1922–1945 (Oxford, 1978), pp. 93, 102.Google Scholar
  53. 76.
    For the Bérard-Jordana agreement see A. Adamthwaite, France and the Coming of the Second World War (London, 1977), pp. 261–262. General Francisco Jordana y Sousa was Franco’s foreign minister. Léon Bérard was a member of the French Senate and a friend of Pierre Laval. Later he became Vichy ambassador to the Vatican.Google Scholar
  54. 77.
    Edwards, The British Government and the Spanish Civil War, pp. 208–209. For the Labour’s party’s attitude concerning the civil war in Spain see J.F. Naylor, Labour’s International Policy — the Labour Party in the 1930s (London, 1969), pp. 161–168, 181–189, andGoogle Scholar
  55. C. Fleay and M.L. Saunders, ‘The Labour Spain Committee: Labour Party Policy and the Spanish Civil War’, Historical Journal, vol. XXVIII (1–1985), pp. 187–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 84.
    Edwards, The British Government and the Spanish Civil War, pp. 15–39, 172–175; Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, pp. 344–345, 387–389, 825; Dreifort, Yvon Delbos and the Quai d’Orsay, pp. 37–54; and D. Smyth, Diplomacy and Strategy of Survival: British Policy and Franco’s Spain 1940–1941 (Cambridge, 1986), pp. 12–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 85.
    A. Adamthwaite, ‘France and the Coming of the Second World War’, in W.J. Mommsen and L. Kettenacker (eds), The Fascist Challenge and the Policy of Appeasement (London, 1983), p. 250.Google Scholar
  58. 91.
    D.C. Watt, ‘Britain, France and the Italian problem 1937–1939’, in Les Relations Franco-Britanniques de 1935 à 1939, pp. 287–290 and R. Girault, ‘La décision gouvernementale en politique extérieure’, in R. Rémond and J. Bourdin, Edouard Daladier: chef de gouvernement avril 1938–septembre 1939 (Paris, 1977), pp. 213–214, 220.Google Scholar
  59. 92.
    J.E. Dreifort, ‘The French Popular Front and the Franco-Soviet Pact 1936–1937: A Dilemma in French Foreign Policy’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. XI (2 and 3–1976), pp. 217–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. For official British attitudes to the Franco-Soviet Pact see R. Manne, ‘The Foreign Office and the Failure of Anglo-Soviet Rapprochement’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. XVI (4–1981), pp. 727–730. 737–742.Google Scholar
  61. 93.
    See D.C. Watt, ‘The Initiation of the Negotiations Leading to the Nazi-Soviet Pact: A Historical Problem’, in C. Abramsky (ed), Essays in Honour of E.H. Carr (London, 1974), p. 155.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Glyn Stone 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glyn Stone

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations