It is ever-important to excavate and preserve the history of struggles for justice – not to be nostalgic, but to find sources of inspiration and tactical knowledge to fuel positive social change. This post is about that.
The Spanish Civil War was the immediate forerunner of World War Two, and the front line of the popular struggle against global fascism. A 1936 coup against the Spanish Republic was led by right-wing generals, with support from an outsized officer corps, a domestic fascist party – the Falange – and much of the Catholic church. Faced by fierce resistance from Spain’s politicized working class, the coup faltered. Within weeks, however, Spain’s Army of Africa was airlifted by German planes from Spanish Morocco to Seville; and its generals gained financing from some of Spain’s wealthiest capitalists, as well as aircraft, armaments and soldiers from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. A failing military coup then transformed into a protracted civil war.
England, France, and the United States stood by, in the face of the Spanish Republic’s repeated pleas for support. Indeed, the Ford Motor Company supplied a fleet of trucks to the rebels while Texaco sent them fuel, both on credit. Appeasement – the official name for this policy was “nonintervention” – persisted until the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939. By then, five months after the fall of Madrid, it was too late.