|Causes of the Spanish Civil War
Document Based Questions
An excerpt from an academic journal article, written by Peter Anderson, from the March 2004 edition of History Review.
On the night of 17 July 1936, the Spanish army, inspired most of all by General Franco, started the Spanish Civil War by rebelling against the Second Republic. A central goal of the rebels was the destruction of left-wing organisations. Franco's fellow officer, General Queipo de Llano, instructed his subordinates on how to treat the 'Bolshevik' activist with this chilling sentence: 'I authorise you to kill him like a dog and you will be free of all responsibility'. Attitudes such as this made the war a terrible tragedy: before its end, in April 1939, 325,000 had died in battle and from disease. Historians estimate that Francoists executed at least 150,000 during and after the war. Victory for the Francoist side brought economic and political isolation for Spain until the 1950s and the denial of basic rights until the late 1970s. Only in recent years have relatives of the executed started to learn where their loved ones are buried.
An excerpt from Burnett Bolloten’s monograph, The Grand Camouflage: The Communist Conspiracy in the Spanish Civil War, 1961.
ALTHOUGH the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July, 1936, was followed by a far-reaching social revolution in the anti- Franco camp -- more profound in some respects than the Bolshevik Revolution in its early stages -- millions of discerning people outside Spain were kept in ignorance, not only of its depth and range, but even of its existence, by virtue of a policy of duplicity and dissimulation of which there is no parallel in history.
Foremost in practising this deception upon the world, and in misrepresenting in Spain itself the character of the revolution, were the Communists, who, although but an exiguous minority when the Civil War began, used so effectually the manifold opportunities which that very upheaval presented that before the close of the conflict in 1939 they became, behind a democratic frontispiece, the ruling force in the left camp.
The overthrow in May, 1937, of the government of Francisco Largo Caballero, who was the most influential and popular of the left-wing leaders at the outbreak of the Civil War, marked the Communists' greatest triumph in their rise to power.
An excerpt of a speech given by Francisco Franco on 17 July 1936.
Spaniards! The nation calls to her defense all those of you who hear the holy name of Spain, those in the ranks of the Army and Navy who have made a profession of faith in the service of the Motherland, all those who swore to defend her to the death against her enemies. The situation in Spain grows more critical every day; anarchy reigns in most of the countryside and towns; government-appointed authorities encourage revolts, when they do not actually lead them; murderers use pistols and machine guns to settle their differences and to treacherously assassinate innocent people, while the public authorities fail to impose law and order. Revolutionary strikes of all kinds paralyze the life of the nation, destroying its sources of wealth and creating hunger, forcing working men to the point of desperation. The most savage attacks are made upon national monuments and artistic treasures by revolutionary hordes who obey the orders of foreign governments, with the complicity and negligence of local authorities. The most serious crimes are committed in the cities and countryside, while the forces that should defend public order remain in their barracks, bound by blind obedience to those governing authorities that are intent on dishonoring them. The Army, Navy, and other armed forces are the target of the most obscene and slanderous attacks, which are carried out by the very people who should be protecting their prestige. Meanwhile, martial law is imposed to gag the nation, to hide what is happening in its towns and cities, and to imprison alleged political opponents.
A political cartoon, published 9 August 1936.
1. a) In Source B what does Burnett Bolloten mean by the following statement, “Foremost in practising this deception upon the world, and in misrepresenting in Spain itself the character of the revolution, were the Communists, who, although but an exiguous minority when the Civil War began, used so effectually the manifold opportunities which that very upheaval presented that before the close of the conflict in 1939 they became, behind a democratic frontispiece, the ruling force in the left camp”? [3 marks]
b) What message is conveyed in Source D? [2 marks]
2. Compare and contrast the views expressed about the causes of Spanish Civil War in Sources A and C. [6 marks]
3. With reference to their origin and purpose, discuss the value and limitations of Source B for a historian studying the causes of Spanish Civil War. [6 marks]
4. Using the sources and your own knowledge, evaluate the role that political instability plays in the causes of the Spanish Civil War. [8 marks]