By Jerome Baldwin After years of social upheaval, political unrest, and violence, Spain erupted into all-out civil war on July 18, 1936, when General Francisco Franco led a junta of right-wing army officers in a revolt against the democratically elected government of the Spanish Republic. Since 1931, when King Alphonso XIII abdicated his throne, waves of reforms by the Republican government had drastically reduced the immense power and wealth held by the landowners, the military, and the Roman Catholic Church. Franco’s cabal wanted to stop the changes taking place in Spain. After the revolt began in Morocco, Franco expected a swift victory. He was wrong. The International Brigades The world’s eyes were riveted on Spain. Many considered the Spanish war to be the forerunner of an inevitable worldwide conflict between the forces of fascism and democracy. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, eager to establish another fascist state in Europe, saw an opportunity in Spain to test new weapons in battle and train their men for war. They immediately began sending guns, tanks, soldiers, and other aid to Franco’s Nationalists. Meanwhile, the western democracies followed a cautious policy of appeasement and refused to send aid to the beleaguered democracy. The Soviet Union, however, was not so squeamish. The Soviets sent war matériel and advisers to the Republicans, and ordered all Communist parties worldwide to begin recruiting volunteers to fight for the Spanish Republic. Canada


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