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Could the end of the Spanish Civil War fuel a European crisis?

The Story

In February 1939, the Spanish Civil War seems to be ending. But the conclusion of this war could mean renewed crisis in Europe. "And by crisis, I presume we mean the choice between further concessions to the dictators or war," says historian R.G. Riddell in this half-hour-long CBC Radio panel discussion. Fellow historian Frank Underhill thinks crisis is indeed coming. But panellist J.L. Stewart thinks everyone is overreacting: "Now Underhill, I must say that I think that you're inclined to view this situation with too much alarm."

Medium: Radio
Program: The World Today
Broadcast Date: Feb. 26, 1939
Guests: R.G. Riddell, J.L. Stewart, Frank Underhill
Duration: 29:33
Photo: Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion / Library and Archives Canada / e002712798

Did You know?

• The Spanish Civil War began in July 1936 and officially ended on April 1, 1939. The rebel forces (called the nationalists, or nacionales) overthrew Spain's republican government in favour of a dictatorship led by General Francisco Franco.

• Franco had the support of fellow dictators Adolph Hitler of Germany and Benito Mussolini of Italy in his quest to establish a dictatorship in Spain. The Soviet Union and Mexico supported the republicans (republicanos).

• It's now generally accepted that the Spanish Civil War contributed to the outbreak of the Second World War. According to a 2008 Sunday Times (UK) article, "Many observers regarded the Spanish civil war as a dress rehearsal for the Second World War. General Francisco Franco's coup against Spain's legally elected government in 1936 seemed to be part of a global struggle between fascism and democracy."

• Germany also used the Spanish Civil War as a testing ground for its military tactics. For instance, the devastating bombing of Spain's Guernica in 1937 is now considered to have been merely a test run for "the Blitz" (the repeated bombing of London during the Second World War). "For the German air force, Guernica was a trial run on how one can spread horror and distress through attacks on cities and towns," said Wolfgang Schmidt, an air force expert at the Military History Research Institute in Potsdam, in Spiegel Online.




The Coming of the Second World War more