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International Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War - Essay Example

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International Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War

There are several views on what the war was about. Rather than expound in such a short paper the wide range of perspectives depending on which side of the political and social spectrum lies each viewer and opinion giver, it may be sufficient for our purposes to identify two of the extremist views about the Spanish civil war.
On one side are people like Beevor (1983) who view the civil war as a military uprising against a legitimate communist government that was carrying out a revolution as part of a Marxist class struggle aimed at reforming the corrupt economic and social structures of the time. Inspired by the success of the 1917 Russian revolution and driven by new ideologies for the liberation of peoples, several agents of change inside and outside Spain saw the Russian model as an applicable and pragmatic solution to social problems. The people (proletariat), therefore, fought back and waged war against a military force that wanted to topple the legitimately elected government.
On the other side you Arrars (1968) and Carroll (1996) who see the civil war as a crusade fought to preserve Spain's culture, mainly their religion, and poetically compares it with the country's long 700-year war against Islam (Artieta 33). Carroll claims (6) that contrary to declarations by the politician who would later on become the President of Spain, Manuel Azaa, who in a major speech in October 1931 stated that "Spain had ceased to be Catholic" (Payne 49), most Spaniards remained devoted to their Catholic religion. For Carroll, therefore, the majority of the people supported the military in the civil war.
Other books on the 1936-1939 Spanish civil war can be situated between these two extremes. Personally, what do I think about the war
Spain in the 1930s was in turmoil, as were other European nations after the first world war, due to ideological factors too numerous to mention. Compounding the problem was the loss and humiliation of colonies like Cuba and Mexico in the previous thirty years. One thing certain was that the Spanish people were not happy and were clamouring for change, giving rise to interest groups pulling from all directions: anarchists, socialists, communists, rightists, liberals, nationalists, separatists, Carlists, monarchists, traditionalists, falangists, etc.
A nation in turmoil needed only a spark to start a fiery revolution. The changes in governments from 1931-1936 culminating in the victory of the left-wing parties in a coalition with the anarchists and socialists was the match, but the government's persecution of religion that struck a deep chord in the other side of the social spectrum became the spark.
The side that supported the military, having seen a "clear" motive to react, precipitated the start of the civil war. Or is it, as historians like Preston (1996) claim, the political ambitions of army generals like Franco, Mola, and Sanjurjo; or the ambitions of Stalin and his eventual betrayal of the Loyalists (Koch 2005)
We may never know with absolute certainty.
Every book about the civil war attempts to justify the dissimilar ...Show more


This essay attempts to answer the question as to "whether it is justified to describe the international volunteers who fought for the Republic during the Spanish Civil War as the 'dupes' of Moscow." Proposing an answer is not easy when viewing the events from today's vantage point some seventy years after the war, thirty years after Franco's death, and fifteen years after the collapse of the communist government in Moscow.
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International Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War essay example
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