Hitler and Stalin Used This Civil War as a 'Mini' World War II

Michael Peck

Key point: It belonged in a different era.

A Mediterranean nation beset by military coup and civil war. A savage struggle marked by atrocities and fanaticism. Proxy war waged by outside nations pumping in men, weapons and money.

Today’s Syria or Turkey? No, it’s sunny Spain, now a peaceful member of the European Union, but eighty years ago the arena for one of the most vicious conflicts in history. The Spanish Civil War of 1936–39 is remembered today as a sort of Second World War-in-training, a playoff game before the championship match between Team Axis and Team Allies a few years later.

The Spanish Civil War began in July 1936 when Francisco Franco led a dissident group of staunchly conservative and Catholic generals, as well as half the Spanish Army, against the liberal, elected Spanish government. What should have been an internal military revolt like the recent attempted coup in Turkey swelled into an international struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, liberalism and conservatism, and communism versus fascism. In the end, fascism won.

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