This week we are uploading an amazing film set during the SPANISH REVOLUTION also known as the SPANISH CIVIL WAR, 1936-1939. The film was made by British director Ken Loach in 1995. The film loosely imitates the real-life exploits of writer George Orwell, who like many non-Spaniards, made the journey to fight alongside the anarchists and communists of the republic. Loach appears to have borrowed heavily from the pages of Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia to describe a warts’n’all look at life during a revolution. The film’s protagonist is likewise a British member of the communist party. The movie offers a well-rounded look at the internal conflicts, the sudden changes in political power and sheer barbarity of the violence involved.
SHORT SUMMARY OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR
The Spanish Civil War took place in Spain between 1936 and 1939.
How did it begin?
In 1936, Manuel Azaña, a democratically elected Republican, was serving as the president of Spain when a group of the most influential generals from the part of the Spanish army based in Morocco carried out a coup d'etat led by General Francisco Franco.
Who were the main protagonists?
The peoples’ side, known as the Republicans, was formed by (at times) the Spanish government as well as unions, communists, anarchists, workers, and peasants.
On the other side were the Nationalists, the rebel part of the army, the bourgeoisie, the landlords, and, generally, the upper classes and ruling elites. Although it was a civil war, several foreign entities also joined the conflict. For different reasons closely linked to the European context of the time, the Republican side was supported by the Soviet Union and the European democracies, while the Nationalist side had the support of fascist Germany and Italy, which meant that the latter was far better armed than the raggle-taggle people’s army defending the main Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona.
Who won? (Spoiler alert!)
After General Franco’s Nationalist victory, in 1939 Spain became a dictatorship and stayed that way for almost 40 years, from 1939 to 1975, when the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco died.
What happened after the civil war?
In the immediate aftermath, occurred one of the world’s most brutal holocausts as the Franco regime executed, en masse, the anarchists and communists who had tried to defend the democratic republic against the coup d’etat. Not only that, but they had all recently surrendered. The subsequent slaughter (sometimes known as the ‘White Terror’) produced more peace-time deaths than had occurred during the civil war itself. The number usually cited sets the figure between 60,00 and 400,000.
The holocaust was seldom spoken about, first because of the Francoist repression, but also later after Spain became a democracy in 1975, when the government passed the Pacto del Olvido (the Pact of Forgetting) which forbade any public discussion, supposedly to help ease the country’s transition to democracy. Paul Preston has done some impeccable work into exposing the atrocities.
Read more about this soon in the Penny Post.
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