The Spanish Civil War: If the Republic Had Won

It is often said that the 'ifs of history' are fascinating but fruitless. Here, Rob Stradling shows that a counter-factual consideration of what might have happened allows us new insights into the significance of what did happen.

Artillery piece and crew at Guadalajara, 1937.On 1st April 1939 General Franco, the leader of the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, drafted a report on the military situation was the last in a series of bulletins were issued by both Republican Nationalist authorities on each day of the civil war in Spain. This particular message was short and to the point:

'Today, with the Red Army captive and disarmed, our victorious troops have achieved their final military objectives. The war is over.'

To the majority of surviving Spaniards the message brought if nothing else a sense of relief after three years of ferocious and devastating warfare. To millions of mentally and physically exhausted citizens, the mere fact of peace offered some kind of hope for the future. For others, however, the effect of Franco's words was to unleash less positive emotions, such as an enduring triumphalism and a spirit of vengeance.

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