- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 1, 2005


Spain marks the beginning of its civil war as July 18, 1936, when Gen. Francisco Franco mounted a military uprising against the leftist government in Madrid.

For three years, Spain was split in two, with Franco’s Nationalists backed by Nazi Germany and the government’s Republicans by the Soviet Union.

The war also rallied fighters from about 50 other countries, many of them intellectuals without military training.

French novelist Andre Malraux fought for the Republicans, and Ernest Hemingway wrote pro-government newspaper dispatches from Spain. Of the 16,000 foreigners killed, about 900 were American.

One of the worst atrocities was the German air raid on Guernica, a Spanish Basque town, which killed more than 1,000 civilians. Pablo Picasso immortalized it in one of his masterpieces — “Guernica.”

After Gen. Franco’s victory — on April 1, 1939, in the Spanish calendar — his dictatorship lasted until his death in 1975, when a democracy was established.

Historians estimate 500,000 people died in the war and an equal number afterward in mass executions or of malnutrition.

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