It declared could be argued that indeed history does belong to those who rein victory in a war. If this is the case then, what would become of a situation that sees two sides declaring that the victory belongs to them? In this book, ‘no simple victory’, Norman Davies attempt to unravel this explore the book is not so much revisionist history. On the contrary, Norman tries to offer novel insights through the evaluation of facts that have been well established (Hastings, 2006).
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At the same time, Norman also attempts to highlight those facts that seem to be less known. By exploring the issue of the Second World War and its causes, Norman also attempts to assess the key political ideologies that sought to gain supremacy during this war (Hastings, 2006). The issue of the civil war in Spain comes to mind here, considering that it ended when the Second World War was being ushered in.
Spanish Civil War as the beginning of World War II
The civil war in Spain was a key conflict that begun after a faction of the army attempted to overthrow the government by plotting a coup d’etat. This civil war that lasted from July 17, 1936, up to 1st April 1939 ruined Spain. The war ended with the conquest of the revolutionaries and the dawning of the authoritarianism led by General Francisco Franco, a fascist (Isby, 2004). The fascist leader, General Franco led in the defeat of those who supported the republic.
On the one hand, the republicans had the support of both Mexico and the Soviet Union. On the other hand, those who followed the revolutionaries received the backing of Germany, Italy, and Portugal. The civil war in Spain led to heightened tensions before the starting of the Second World War and has largely been referred to as ‘possible war by proxy’ between the fascist axis that consistent of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy on the one hand, and the soviet union and its communism on the other hand. (Isby, 2004).
The aerial city bombing, as well as the use of tanks, would later be used in the European war. Owing t6o the advent of the mass media, an unparalleled height of attention came into play, and this made the war inspire political division and passion, as well as the atrocities that were committed by the two divergent sides.
Fascism and Spain and their stance throughout WW2
In September of 1936, the senior generals of the nationalist movement had an informal general meeting, and they elected General Franco to be their leader. Initially, General Franco was meant to be just the commander–in–chief. However, following the demise of General Emilio Mola, who was the initial leader of the movement, this meant that now, General Franco was also the head of the state. As such, he had almost unlimited as well as absolute powers (Hastings, 2006).
The supposed provisional; government now under General Franco was meant to rule over those territories that were under the control of the nationalists at the time of the civil war. The nationalist movement was faced with a main political action at the time of the war; that of consolidating heterogeneous political movements in a bid to form a single rebellion party (Isby, 2004). In the years that preceded the Spanish civil war and those that followed it, the nationalist government acted to repress militants from the republicans, as well as their sympathizers.
This was meant to be a form of retaliation for the repressed clergy and the militants of the nationalists on the other side. During the entire period of the war, there were reported widespread killings from the two sides. The civil war of Spain, just like other forms of war, often put a strain on the relationships between members of one family, their trusted friends, and neighbors (Horges, 2000). Aside from the combatants, a lot of civilians also got killed, on grounds of their religious and political views. Following the end of the war in 1939, it was now the turn of the nationalists to persecute the republicans, after they had emerged victorious.
Before the start of the war, there were violent and brutal conditions of the political establishment. During the 1933 elections, the autonomous rights confederation of Spain (CEDA) took a majority of the seats. Nevertheless, the win was not large enough to warrant them to form a majority government. The then-president of Spain, Niceto Alcala-Zamora, refused to let the CEDA leader form a government. He instead opted to invite Alejandro Lerrox, the Republican Party radical leader to form the government. CEDA decided to support the radical government, thus sparking off the start of hostility amongst the two factions (Isby, 2004).
Conflicts and general strikes in Spain have become a common occurrence. Meanwhile, the Spanish loyalists, as the republicans came to be known, were supported by Mexico and the Soviet Union, both by weapon and manpower. From that point on the republicans came to be identified as the leftist zone. On the other hand, the nationalists were opposed to the separatist movements and thus came to be known as anti-communism. Under the rule of Franco, Spain may have adopted some aspects of fascism (Horges, 2000).
Nevertheless, there is no generally regarded rule that Spain was indeed practicing fascism during the regime of General Franco. For one, fascism involves a radical objective of transforming society. Unlike what many would have expected, the regime of Franco, though dictatorial, was nevertheless traditional and conservative. As Stanley Payne, a renowned scholar on the issue of Spain and fascism has noted, hardly any one of the analysts and historians of Franco have considered the Franco regime to have ever been the foundation of fascism (Isby, 2004).
Throughout his entire rule, Franco remained nationalistic, authoritative, and anti-freemasonry. On the whole, the regime of Franco illustrated a frontal rejection of socialism, communism, and the state of anarchy. These are some of the three ideologies that were especially prominent in Spain, and which received wide support from amongst others, the Soviet Union.
General Francisco Franco
When he overpowered the republican government in the civil war of Spain, General François Franco earned himself the title of Spain’s undisputed dictator. On the 1st of April, 1939, General Franco declared that the hostilities that had been seen throughout the war were now over. This has been seen by several historians as a new mark that endeavored to differentiate between the new regimes from the republics on the one hand and the monarchy on the other hand (Horges, 2000).
General Franco was not endowed with any particular and consistent ideology. Nevertheless, he did loathe communism. In the initial stages of his rule, General Franco sought to gain the support of the Roman Catholic Church and the ‘national syndicalism’. When Franco won the civil war of Spain, the FET-JONS came to be regarded as the single legalized party in Spain. Unlike the national fascist party of Italy, the FET-JONS was somewhat heterogeneous, with no ideological inclinations (Isby, 2004).
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Franco vs. Hitler
The Spaniards had to endure the killings of the republicans by the nationalist militants of General Franco. This went on throughout world war two, and the years that followed. General Franco sustained his dictatorial rule up to 1975 when he died (Horges, 2000). There are some pundits characterized by a right-wing inclination that have since paid homage to what they regard as ‘sound; governance of Spain during his reign, and also applauded his statesmanship. Staley Payne opines that Spain failed to feature in World War Two as a result of clumsy diplomacy, as opposed to the presence of wisdom.
General Franco had the full intention of aligning himself with the axis struggle to fight democratic nations. A few of us rarely notice that the neutral status of Spain during the Second World War was not in the truth, in the same magnitude as in the case of either Sweden or Switzerland. The history of Spain, at the time of General Franco, and the dealings it had with the Nazis under the rule of Hitler, is a mark of a remarkable entry into the annals of history; as far as world war two is concerned. It has even been claimed the British government had to bribe some Spanish generals, on the condition that they stayed out of the war (Isby, 2004).
General Franco, despite being an authoritarian ruler, was nevertheless opposed to communism. Spain’s supposed neutrality in the Second World War did not stop it from giving secret aid to Hitler and Mussolini. The Spanish helped build observation posts around Gibraltar for German spies and allowed German U-boats to be re-supplied at their ports and Italian bombers to refuel at their airfields. Spanish agents were also actively involved in Axis operations against the rock (Horges, 2000). Worse still was the intelligence information collected for Berlin by members of the Spanish embassy in London. When one diplomat refused to do so, he was summarily dismissed and prosecuted for insubordination.
Despite Spain remaining neutral during the Second World War, this however did not stop the country and general Franco from secretly providing help to Italy’s General Mussolini and Germany’s Hitler. The Spaniards aided in the building of observation posts for German spies, at the Gibraltar post. In addition, the Spaniards also let the Germans U-boats be re-supplied at the heart of their ports (Seaman, 2004). The Italian bombers were also allowed to have their jet bomber refueled on the fields located in Spain’s territory. Clearly, this shows that General Franco shared some political ideologies with both Hitler and Mussolini.
The double agent
Juan Pujol Garcia from Barcelona, better known as the double agent, happened to have been a veteran of the nationalists during the civil war in Spain. During the war, the double agent earned himself the nickname ‘Garbo’ he was both against communism and Nazism. In January 1941, ‘Grabo’ opted to volunteer as a spy for the British (Seaman, 2004). However, he could not track down an appropriate Spanish official from the embassy in Madrid. Pujol would later try to get in touch with the allies in the February of 1942 (Horges, 2000).
This would see him accepted as agent Garbo by M15 of the British. The codename was about one of the several spies of Germany. This was an operation by the British, a move that came to be regarded as the system of the double-cross. As a double agent, Garbo together with some of his associates enormously facilitated the success of the D-Day (Seaman, 2004).
- Seaman, mark. Garbo. Ontario, Dundum press ltd, 2004.
- Horges, Gabrielle. Franco: a concise biography. New York; Thomas Dunne Books, 2000.
- Isby, David. (2004). World War II: double agent’s d-day victory. Web.
- Hastings, Max. (2006)“Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany and the World War 11 by Stanley G Page”. The Sunday times.