First World War (1914-1918) = The Great War = The War to End all Wars = Total War Long Term Causes: [animal]

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Failures timeline


Japan attacks and conquers Manchuria. The League objects, but can do nothing.


Hitler announces that Germany is leaving the League.


Italy attacks and conquers Abyssinia. The League objects, but can do nothing.


Hitler renounces the Treaty of Versailles and starts re-arming in defiance of the League.


The League's Disarmament Conference fails.


German army re-occupies the Rhineland in defiance of the League.


Italy leaves the League.


Germany informs the League that Germany and Austria are uniting, in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles.


Munich Agreement - Britain and France, ignoring the League, follow the policy of appeasement and give Hitler the Sudetenland.


The fascists win the Spanish Civil War and Spain leaves the League


Second World War

Paper 2:

Causes Practices and Effects of War

Case Study:

Spanish Civil War
Long-term causes of the Spanish Civil War: political instability (1920−1931)

  • Struggle between conservatism and liberalism.

Weakness of government

  • 1971 onwards Spain was a constitutional monarchy with a parliament that retained little power.

  • Political control shifted between the wealthy oligarchs and their various cliques.

  • Two main parties, Conservatives and Liberals, with very little difference between them.

  • Elections were rigged or decided in private.

The role of the Spanish Army

  • Army had powerful political position due to imperial past.

  • It intervened in politics if a crisis occurred to defend its interests.

  • It was unpopular, had a reputation for brutality, and was expensive and required heavy taxes.

  • It was ineffective, as proven by: the loss of the Spanish Empire during the 19th century; the American war in 1898; and the struggle to keep Morocco between 1906 to 1926.

  • It was too big with too many officers and overly middle class.

  • Army was conservationist, traditional, nationalistic and 'Africannistas.'

The role of the church

  • Catholic church was rich and powerful, with guaranteed role in education and the economy.

  • Its wealth was used to gain political and social influence.

  • It used its power for economic conservatism and to oppose modernizing and liberal forces.

  • Defended the upper class as many of the clergy were aristocrats, who helped fund.

  • In many urban areas and rural areas there were protests against the church.

Economic causes

  • Spain was mainly an agricultural economy, and it was inefficient, thus not providing sufficient food and its work was seasonal.

  • Most lived in abject poverty, with an enormous gap between rich and poor.

  • Rioting and disorder often broke out in the countryside, with the Civil Guard deployed to ruthlessly repress.

  • No support from Church made some groups support the anarchists who argued for land redistribution.

  • Many small landholders were conservative, resisted socialist/anarchist ideas, and were exploited by the Catholic Agrarian Federation who provided support for their beliefs, only to later support Franco.

  • There was a need for modernization and reform, and was limited by endemic poverty.

  • Workers in twos faced low wages, long hours, unregulated working conditions, poor housing, and little welfare provision.

  • This situation led to a growth in trade unionism, which, however, failed to achieve anything substantial.

  • The workers' political parties had no real political power, with no legal means and violent uprisings.

  • Spain's neutrality during WWI facilitated a short period of economic boom; however the increase in exports only increased inflation and shortages.

  • By 1920s, there were major economic problems.

The role of regions

  • Tension created by ongoing struggle between centralist state of Catalonia and Basque provinces, which wanted decentralization and independence.

  • The two regions had their own languages, cultures, economies and churches.

  • Primo de Rivera took back the self-governing rights of Catalonia, and separatists forces supported the Republican movement that overthrew Alfonso in 1931

Political opposition

  • Liberal movement achieved little in opposing conservative forces, though remained a political force and supported the revolution that ousted the King in 1931.

  • Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) had grown in rural areas but had minimal impact.

  • UGT was more visible in organizing strikes/protests in rural areas.

  • Following Bolshevik revolution, Communist Party emerged.

  • Anarchists demanded land redistribution; popular with peasants.

  • Anarchists argued for revolutionary methods and to boycott democratic processes.

  • More extreme anarchists (FAI) perpetrated bombings and assassinations.

The fall of the monarchy and the establishment of the Second Republic

  • Post WWI defeat and depression put pressure on King Alfonso XIII, and after 12 unsuccessful governments, a coup was thrown (1931, General Primo de Rivera).

  • De Rivera tried to establish authoritarian right-wing regime; started infrastructure programs for railways, roads, electrification, and irrigation.

  • Ended war in Morocco in 1925.

  • All his efforts created massive debt and was not good when Wall Street Crashed.

  • Resigned, and after municipal elections in April, there was support for San Sebastian Pact (republicans, liberals, socialists, catalans) coalition.

  • 'Velvent revolution' occurred and Second Republic was established as King went into voluntary exile.

Short-term causes of the Spanish Civil War: political polarization

  • Between 1931 and 1936 Spain became polarized due to the long-term structural problems and clear divisions.

  • Paul Preston: "no-one, except a tiny minority on the lunatic fringe on the extreme right or left, believe that Spain's problems could be solved only by war."

The Left Republic (April 1931−November 1933)

  • When Manuel Azaña became president he declared a "democratic republic of workers of all classes."

  • Key issue of tension before 'velvet revolution' in 1931 was the church's power.

  • Azaña removed powers from the Church, prevented its control in education, and state payments to the clergy stopped.

  • Army also affected; Azaña offered early retirement and closed military academies - this all backfired as those who remained where hard-core conservatives, nationalists, and Africanistas.

  • Depression exacerbated the economic problems; agriculture prices were falling, wine and olive exports fell, peasant unemployment rising, industry output fell by as much as a half (steel).

  • In 1932, law allowed estates to be taken over and redistributed to peasants, however it was expensive and ineffective; only 7,000 families benefited by 1933.

    • Right wing saw all this as threat and similar to Soviet style system.

  • Government introduced Assault Guard to increase left-wing military force to deal with civil unrest and violence.

  • Both the left and right were rising against the slow pace of change, however these were suppressed as the army were loyal.

  • Catalonia given its own parliament, some law-making powers, and dual control over education.

    • Right-wing saw this as a threat and the first step to break-up Spain.

  • Each reform was perceived as an attack on right-wing groups, causing new groups to protect against these changes.

  • Political divisions increased under Second Republic.

  • Historians see the land reforms as the central failing of the government in this period, however Paul Preston argues right-wing were never going to give Azaña a choice.

  • Azaña lost left-wing, working-class support and resigned in 1933 after government guards 'smoked out' anarchists, killing 25.

The Right Republic (November 1933−February 1936)

  • Republic swung right wing, members of CEDA (largest party) became war ministers.

  • These two years are known as the "black years" as right-wing systematically tried to reverse everything; curch regained power, education, and land program was halted.

  • Catalonia declared itself independent when CEDA joined government, but autonomy was suspended after Astrurian miners' uprising 1934.

  • Historians argued that valiant suppression of left uprising created likelihood for civil war.

  • Right lost support from Basques.

  • Caballero suggested CEDA was Spanish Nazi party, and seek solution to Soviet-style Spain.

  • Gil-Robles demanded shift to authoritarian approach of control, which led to ...

The Popular Front (February−July 1936)

  • February 1936, 'Popular Front' was an anti-fascist pact made up of various left-wing groups including socialists and communists.

  • Identical front as Stalin's policy in 1935.

  • For many, it was final attempt to uphold democracy and peace, others associated it with Stalin and extreme communism.

  • Government wanted to restore reforms of 1931-33 regime; political prisoners released.

  • Caballero's socialists did not join government and right did not accept restoration of old reforms.

  • Increase in violence in countryside as anarchists encourage peasants to seize land.

Immediate causes of the Spanish Civil War

  • Military officers began planning a coup as soon as Popular Front gained power

  • Catalyst of coup was the murder of popular CEDA leader on 13 July 1936.

  • Azaña knew about the coup and moved key military figures to remote posts.

  • When details about the coup were discovered, it was made a day earlier on the 17th of July, from Morocco.

  • Spread to mainland, took northern Spain and parts of Andalusia.

  • Rising failed to take main industrial areas, or Madrid.

  • Half of the army remained loyal to Republic, coup technically unsuccessful.

The course of the Spanish Civil War

  • With assistance of Nazi Germany, Franco airlifted 24,000 Spanish troops from Africa to Spain, using a policy of terror has the main force against Madrid.

  • Coup aimed to crush the 'left revolution,' but actually politicized and radicalized many Spaniards towards the left.

  • Supports of the Republican regime (1936) were 'Loyalists,' and rebels called themselves 'Nationalists.'

  • Workers supported Republic, and middle, upper class and the church supported Nationalists.

  • Nationalists did make some progress, but the Republic controlled major cities, key industrial areas, Spain's gold reserves, and important elements of the military (air force and navy).

  • Nationalists, slowly, pushed backed the Republic.

Why did the Nationalists win the Spanish Civil War?
Republican weaknesses

Political disunity

  • Republicans were politically divided and subscribed to different ideologies; between the Communists and Socialists who both believed the 'revolution' should be postponed until after the war and t he Anarchists who argued the war can only be won through a revolution.

  • Historians argue that the Anarchists' 'revolution from below' added a crucial hurdle for the Republic to regain centralized control, with more influence in Madrid and Valencia.

  • War increased in popularity with communists; July 1936 40,000 members, October 1937 400,000 members.

  • Republic had clear foreign support from USSR.

  • Communists wanted victory in war, anarchists wanted revolutionary regime.

  • Communists used 'terror' tactics.

  • Four days of street fighting in Barcelona 1937 - communists and socialists versus the anarchists illustrated the lack of unity.

  • After May Days (see above), the Worker's Party of Marxist Revolution took up an authoritarian regime.

Military problems

  • Lacked strong military and no unified command.

  • Anarchists and communists would not work together.

  • Basques refused to be led be a central command structure and would not permit their forces outside of their own territory.

  • Loyal army forces were not trusted by the Republic.

  • Military fought series of local battles instead of overall campaign and this meant they could not be supported by the air forces, or to sustain an offensive campaign.

  • Only until end of 1939 that Republicans started to replace militias with 'Popular Army'.

Economic problems

  • Areas under the anarchists were the industries, public utilities and transport - these were taken over by workers' committees, however they were unable to meet the demands of the war.

  • Historians argue that this was not due to a badly run government but due to the war; however the government is partially to blame.

  • Production fell by two-thirds between 1936 to 1939, with many food and raw material shortages.

  • Inflation was a problem; rose 300% during the war.

  • The Non-Intervention Committee (NIC) was set up by France and Britain in 1936.

    • Prevented an influx of support for warring parties in Spain, making the Republic lose all credit and USSR was the only willing trader.

  • Paul Preston: communist control ultimately improved the situation by centralizing control, but too late to save Republic.

Foreign assistance

  • Role of foreign aid was exaggerated, but aid given to Republic was far less than that of the Nationalists.

  • Republic's main ally was USSR, who saved them and enabled it to fight the civil war by supplying aircraft (1,000) and tanks (750), but the Republic had to pay for this.

  • No Soviet troops were sent.

  • International Brigades were another ally, organized by Soviet Comintern, with 35,000 volunteers sent to fight in Spain.

    • Had very little overall impact, only in Madrid.

  • 1938, Soviets withdrew support and International Brigades went home, major blow for Republic.

  • France sent aid initially, but stopped when it joined the NIC - this was driven by anti-communist sentiments.

  • Francisco J .Romero Salvadó (on NIC): "preserved consensus [in France] and [avoided] confrontation with Germany and Italy."

Nationalist strengths

Political unity

  • 1936, Nationalists almost dived as Republics; but had a common aim of overthrowing the government.

  • Franco assumed political and military control and became head of government and head of state.

    • Due to his position in command of the Army of Africa because important German aid came through him.

  • Merged two parties into the Spanish Traditionalist Phalanax (FET).

  • Franco used a mixture of propaganda and terror in areas under his control.

    • Historians argue that Soviet involvement led to this, however others suggest it was power and authority gained during the war.

  • Supported by the church which denounced atheist communism and called for a crusade to protect Christian civilization.

  • Nationalistic politics of Franco were not undermined by foreign support from Germany or Italy.

Military unity

  • Nationalists had similar problems to the Republicans with regard to 'columns' of militias, however these were quickly put into a regular army unit.

  • The Army of Africa fought for the Nationalists and were the most effective force in the Civil War.

  • Had unified command and Franco's leadership was accepted by other generals and right-wing parties.

  • Italian forces under Nationalist command.

  • Successful in pushing on and winning offensives, and adopted effective defensive tactics.

  • Had sound communications, and equipped the growing army.

  • Franco's concern for his troops ensured the majority were obedient.

  • Franco was a sound military and political leader.

Economic advantage

  • Business communist supported Nationalists; could buy supplies.

  • By September 1936, Nationalists in control of main food-producing areas.

  • 1937, in control of main industrial areas.

  • Benefited from International trade, with the USA giving about $700 million credit to Nationalists.

Foreign assistance

  • Hugh Thomas: conflict 'became an international crisis whose solution was decided by external circumstances.'

  • Rebels benefited from more aid, which were better quality than those of the Republicans, and had continuous supply.

  • German's airlifted Moroccan soldiers and sent 10,000 troops, 800 aircraft, 200 tanks.

  • Italians sent 70,000+ troops, 750 planes, 800 aircraft, 200 tanks.

  • Portuguese sent 20,000 troops.

  • All aid allowed Nationalists to fight, and gave them air dominance.

  • Most of Nationalist army was Spanish, and was modern and equipped.

Overview: foreign intervention

  • Foreign intervention lengthened and intensified the war.

  • It meant Spanish issues were submerged by wider ideological battles taking place in Europe.


  • Feared the war would become a general European conflict so set up the NIC.

  • However, 3 key members of the NIC ignored the NIC.

  • Britain's not interventionist policies were limited and generally supported the Nationalists.

  • December 1936, signed a trade agreement with Nationalists to allow for trade.

  • Britain did not want to damage relations with Italy or Portugal.

  • Spain was sacrificed to the policy of appeasement like Czechoslovakia.


  • Support for Republic was inconsistent, and reflected complexity of its position towards the war.

  • French did not want a right-wing border (joining Italy and Germany), but French politics were also polarised, fearing a revolt if it fully supported Spain.

  • France was reliant on Britain, which was anti-Republic for its foreign policies.

  • France restricted themselves to humanitarian assistance.

  • Republic would have benefited from France as it was on its border.

  • The Republic's reliance on the Soviet polarized politics and associated it with 'Soviet communism.'

  • France did not stop citizens joining the International Brigades, which was organized in France, just like the coordination of Soviet aid.


  • Support not just because of ideological reasons.

  • Emergence of another fascist state in Europe would strengthen Hitler's position - threat to Stalin.

  • Republic victory could panic Britain and France into an alliance with Hitler.

    • Wanted to form an alliance with Britain and France to contain Hitler.

  • Stalin originally welcomed the NIC, but Germany and Italy's treatment of NIC, Stalin withdrew in October 1936.

  • Some historians argue that Franco protracted the war to enhance his power, but Stalin had a tendency to drag fighting out.

  • Drained resources from Germany, making it less likely to turn into a general war.

  • Stalin withdrew support in June 1938, as the Republic seemed to be losing and Western democracies were appeasing fascist dictators.

  • Stalin wanted to create a block to resist Hitler ended with Czechoslovakia being blocked at Munich agreement, September 1938.


  • Germany not ready for general European war and was cautious when rebels appealed for help.

  • Hermann Göring decided to support rebels, as he and Hitler wanted to stop the spread of communism, and wanted to test out the Luftwaffe.

  • Economic and strategic benefits; raw materials (iron) could be gained, and could hamper Anglo-French maritime communications.

  • Hitler thought the war would not last long, committed limited aid.

  • Ignored NIC, even though it was a member.

  • Germany played a crucial military role at critical times and other governments deterred from getting involved due to its presence.


  • Gave most assistance as Mussolini was anti-communist/-socialist and democratic outlook, he wanted to enhance his influence in Mediterranean, and a fascist victory would weaken France and prevent French left-wing influence.

  • Another fascist power would encircle France, pressurizing French colonies in North Africa.

  • Contributed many planes, tanks, weapons, bombers, and submarines.

    • Historians argue that despite massive troop support, its most effective support was air and naval.

  • Italy ignored membership of NIC.

  • Relationship between Italy and Germany were cemented in Spain.


  • Only foreign force not compromised by membership of NIC.

  • Sent 20,000 troops and fundamental supplier of rebels in the south-west.

  • Provided a base for communications.

  • Britain's long-term alliance with Portugal made the British reluctant to count its support for Nationalists.

The nature of the Spanish Civil War

  • For foreign powers it was limited, for the Spanish it was total civil war.

  • Propaganda was used to dehumanize the enemy.

  • Atrocities were common.

  • The targeting of civilians was a premonition of what was to come in WWII - no lines drawn between civilian and combatant.

  • Some cases, cavalry charges proved effective, such as in Teruel in February 1938.

  • Other case, such as the crushing of Republican offensives in 1938 to 1938 with combined arms and air strikes showed the importance of technology.

  • Neither side could consistently gain air control.

  • Control of sea was important especially for supply routes.

  • Battles on land were similar to that of WWI with defense remained easier than attack.

  • Casualties were high, with attackers gaining little hand.

  • Blitzkrieg was evolving with application of tanks, artillery, and air bombardment.

  • It was not a guerrilla war because, from Antony Beevor, "the conditions for a universal guerrilla war simply did not exist."

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