Hitler’s intervention in Spanish conflict
World War Two had a long and complex build-up towards the inevitable conflict of an all out War. Many of huge international changes were occurring in the years building up to the start of World War Two. The one we shall be focusing on today is the Spanish Civil War. It is a significant event even though Spain never officially entered the Second World War because Germany one of the major Axis powers intervened in it welts most other countries did not and even forbid interference. I will be arguing that the Germans intervened in the Spanish Civil war for self-centered military, political, and economic reasons more than looking to aid the Spanish rebellion. With the lack of action from the League of Nations who had opposed intervention in the conflict, gave the Germans even more confidence in their own strength and the lack that there of the Western powers. The Spanish Civil War began with a swift coup attempt on July 17th 1936 by Nationalist leader General Francisco Franco who was based in Spanish Morocco at the time. Franco's right winged Nationalist Spanish military had declared war on the newly-elected left winged Republic Popular Front government. With his initial failure to capture major Spanish cities amongst other predominant necessities Franco was forced to seek aid or have his uprising crushed. With Franco’s government being on the right side of the political scale he looked towards fascism regimes such as Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
The Nationalist were in desperate need of aid after the initial coup occurred. Most of the Spanish army, and naval fleet which Franco had hoped to commandeer during the coup were still loyal to the Republic. The Republic had control of over one battleship, three cruisers, ten destroyers, twelve submarines; versus the rebels which captured one battleship, two dry docks, one destroyer, and two submarines. With such odds stacked against Franco in the sea which he had to cross to get from Spanish Morocco to mainland Spain. Therefore to transport troops to Spain his only option was air transportation. Before requiring help he could only transfer a maximum of up to 200 troops a day and 10 tons of supplies. If Franco was to be successful he would need air superiority so that he could destroy the republics navy and have quick and vast transportation of troops. Hitler sympathized with the pleas of his fellow fascist Franco and decided to aid him by sending a special air force unit called the Condor Legion. The Condor Legion was a unit built of elite aviators who were tasked to provide air-cover for the Spanish rebels. The amount of troops being ferried over increased tenfold once the Condor Legion was put into action. Hitler decided to help Franco for multiple reasons which were mostly self-centered.
The opportunity to become involved in the conflict possessed many benefits economically, militarily, and politically for Nazi Germany. Military they benefited by being able to test many of the new tactics they were implying against real human opponents. Hitler knew that he couldn’t sustain a long War of attrition like World War One. The Nazis developed quick battle tactics where the enemy is suppressed by aerial bombardment then they crush through an enemy line with divisions of armored divisions (Panzer) and Mobile infantry (Wehrmacht) supported by air units (Luftwaffe) to take out and surround enemy divisions and capture strategic positions quickly. This technique was called Blitzkrieg. They also wished to further test out demoralization tactics by introducing new mass bombing patterns on civilian targets. The most famous account of this was Guernica. The bombing of Guernica was during the Basque campaign. The area of Basque was a very stubborn area; so the Condor Legion put to use the new strategy of destroying the public moral which was to support the Republic by massive civilian bombing. It was described as “a new...
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[ 3 ]. Filipe Ribeiro de Menses, Franco and the Spanish Civil War (London: Routledge, 2001), 41.
[ 5 ]. William R. Keylor, Jerry Bannister, Tracey J. Kinney, the Twentieth-Century World an International History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 131-134.
[ 6 ]. Filipe Ribeiro de Menses, Franco and the Spanish Civil War (London: Routledge, 2001), 49.
[ 7 ]. Harry Browne, Spain’s Civil War (Singapore: Longman Group Limited, 1983), 104.
[ 10 ]. Stanley G. Payne, Franco and Hitler (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 27.
[ 11 ]. Filipe Ribeiro de Menses, Franco and the Spanish Civil War (London: Routledge, 2001), 43.
[ 13 ]. David Wingeate Pike, Franco and the Axis Stigma (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 15.
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