There were many factors which led to the Republic losing the Civil War. At the outset of the war, the outcome of the war was unpredictable due to the way the two sides were so evenly matched. However as the war progressed the balance began to tip in favour of the Rebels.
The way Spain was split after the attempted coup was reflected in how the population had voted in the elections. The East, South and Industrial north, including most of the major cities where the workers mobilised to thwart the rebels, remained loyal to the Republic leaving a small number of cities in the north-west and largely conservative areas to the Rebels.This left 60 per cent of Spain under Republic control. The army split equally between the Republic and the Rebels, however 65 per cent of the Officer corps, who felt disgruntled by the way they had been treated by the Republic as it came to power sided with the Rebels, giving the rebels a ready-made army which benefitted from having the structure of a military command in place along with trained officers and professional combat-ready soldiers from the Army of Africa. The structure and experience of the Rebel forces gave them a clear purpose and high level of organisation, providing them an advantage over the Republic.
Franco was able, with the aid of some luck, to become Supreme Head of the Army and State for the Rebel zones providing a clear figurehead and chain of command, eliminating the infighting and rivalry that plagued the Republic. Franco also unified his supporters by creating the feeling that they were rescuing Spain and Europe from Communism through his use of propaganda and by providing his followers a feeling of duty similar to that of the crusades from his open ‘extermination’ of the republic ‘evil’. The Republic army faced many problems.
Unlike the Rebels, the Republic did not have the advantage of a ready-made army and experienced officers, and although some officers remained loyal, this was often not down to choice, but out of necessity due to their geographic location. Examples of betrayal from supposedly loyal officers were frequent, e. g. Oviedo, leading to genuinely loyal officers being mistrusted. Although successful against the Rebels at first, the lack of experience and discipline of the makeshift armed forces of the Republic, and the political divisions within the ranks led to inefficiency and delays in battles.This inefficiency was exemplified by the lack of supplies to the Republic, which often led to initial victories where nationalist advances were cut short, not being followed up.
The political situation within the Republic was also problematic to their cause. Unlike the Rebels, the various factions within the Republic engaged in fierce political disagreements, sometimes leading to violence and infighting. This led to a breakdown of law and order which the government could not easily overcome.Revenge taken by groups who felt they had been repressed and exploited by the Church is a prime example of this. One of the greatest factors in determining the outcome of the Spanish civil war was the impact of foreign intervention.
Both sides appealed for assistance from foreign governments, however 1936 saw Britain and France instigate the formation of the non-intervention Committee, to which ambassadors from other countries attended. This committee tried to create a voluntary agreement from all countries they should not interfere with, or supply arms to, Spain whilst it was in Civil War.France initially gave assistance to the Republicans due to her need for an ally on its borders, through which it would have access to its North African colonies. However France soon withdrew their support after various concerns began to emerge.
The French Popular Front government was under pressure from the Right, threatening anarchy if the aid sent to the Republic continued and the French high command also openly sympathised with Franco’s rebels, arguing that the continuing support could provoke a European War, which France would go into divided and lacking British backing.Along with these internal motives, the British government had exerted pressure on Paris them that any impartiality to come from France in this situation would damage relations between the two governments. Britain had two main motives for non-intervention, antipathy towards the republic and also appeasement.
Britain, followed by France, felt any conflict with Germany and Italy over Spain could escalate making a European war more likely, especially after the Abyssinia Incident and Hitler’s decision to remilitarise the Rhineland.This left a quick Franco victory the best option from the British point of view. The prominently Conservative Government in Britain was mostly interested in protecting Britain’s strategic and economic interests in Spain. They felt that Franco was a good Spanish Patriot, and a quick victory for the Nationalists would provide the best protection for British property and capital investments within Spain. They also felt that the Republicans, supported by the USSR, were becoming progressively influenced by Communism, an ideology which was treated with universal hostility by the British upper-classes.
This shows that although Britain supported non-intervention, they did little to enforce it and stuck with it, even as it was failing. This was exemplified when Maisky called it ‘diplomatic spaghetti – words, words, words’. Germany provided Franco’s Rebels transport planes and fighters at the start of the War. This directly led to the airlifting of the Army of Africa to the Spanish mainland after Franco’s attempted coup had failed.
Germany later sent pilots and experts required to operate the equipment they were providing.The equipment that was provided to Franco from Germany was far superior to that which the republic could build. In October they decided to officialise their role in the Spanish air combat Condor Legion, which consisted of various types of aircraft and also several thousand pilots from the German Luftwaffe. With the advancement of the war, Condor Legion became increasingly vital to the Rebels endeavours. Along with the increased tactical support, they also helped the Nationalists gain air superiority, effectively tipping the scales of many campaigns towards them in the final year and a half of the war.
Hitler used the Spanish Civil war as a chance to provide experience for some of his troops, like Condor Legion for example, but also to develop new weapons and techniques, e. g. the Blitzkrieg or ‘lightning war’ strategy used by Germany in Poland was tested in Spain using the ground troops coupled with the air support of the Condor Legion.
Hitler took his chance to use the Civil War in Spain to gauge the level of resistance his aggressive policies were likely to come upon.One example showing this is when Germany took the opportunity to bolster its influence in central Europe after seeing that Britain and France were not willing to risk conflict by getting involved in the situation in Spain. Mussolini decided to intervene in Spain for a variety of reasons. By helping Franco’s pro-fascist rebels he hoped to fortify Italy as an imperative part of the Mediterranean. He believed that the accomplishments made by the Italian military in Spain would impress other countries of its value as an ally.Mussolini was proved right in this when Italy and Germany grew closer forming Rome-Berlin Axis alliance that would form the basis of the Axis Powers for World War II.
Where Germany turned the tide for air superiority, Italy changed the balance at sea with the Italian Navy. With the provisions of submarines and ships, Franco was able to effectively sustain a blockade against the Republic. This then meant that the Republic was unable to take advantage of their greater number of ships with the lack of trained officers and oil.It has been reported that approximately 75000 Italian and 16000 Germans fought with the Nationalists. Seeing Italy and Germany continuing to support Franco, the Soviet Union sent help to bolster the Republicans. In return they sent large amounts of the Spanish gold reserves in payment. In the early stages the Tanks and planes sent by the Soviets were key in the Republicans defence against Franco’s initial attacks sue to their air superiority, however these supplies were insufficient to ensure victory for the Republic.
Due to the non-intervention of France and Britain, the Republic government faced the problem of supplies whilst trying to resist the Rebels. The weapons and supplies they were able to get hold of, mostly from the Soviet Union and Mexico were of largely variable quality and there were often compatibility issues. This was also shown in the way Germany and Italy were able to reinforce their armies in Spain, however the naval embargo put in place by France and Germany only seemed to hamper the Soviets efforts to help the Republic.These supply problems forced the Republic into spending further money, which was not as easy to come by for them as Franco found due to their lack of credit and the greatly inflated prices they paid. I feel that the main factor which led to the Republic losing the war was the ineffectiveness of the non-intervention agreement. Towards the end of the Civil War most countries who were involved in the situation favoured a Rebel victory as an outcome.
This meant that the enforcement of the agreement was not enforced as it should have been.At the outset of the war, the Republic had the advantage, but due to the lack of supplies and inferior support this advantage was eventually overturned and a Franco victory became inevitable.http://en.
wikipedia. org/wiki/Spanish_Civil_War_and_Foreign_Involvementhttp://en. wikipedia.
org/wiki/Non-Intervention_Committeehttp://uk. encarta. msn. com/sidebar_781565385/Foreign_Intervention_in_the_Spanish_Civil_War. html? partner=orp#appearsin http://www. users.
dircon. co. uk/~warden/scw/scwindex. htm