Madrid, the example of republican resistance

Madrid, the example of republican resistance

78 years ago began one of the most important and decisive battles of the conflict that has marked our most recent history. Is about the battle of Madrid, the turning point of the Spanish civil war and of which, however, very few know its great importance.

From the end of October 1936 to March 1939, the capital of the Republic resisted the siege of Franco's troops, showing the determination of those who defended a legitimate government, whose election came from the polls. Many and very diverse are the positions of the historians who over the last decades have tried to shed light on this episode but, without a doubt, the work par excellence is'The spanish civil war', from Antony beevor, the military historian which has paved the way for other researchers on the subject - such as Jorge M. Reverte with his detailed analysis in The Battle of Madrid - from the 1980s onwards, since previously the military aspect was practically unknown, in addition to the pro current -reigning Francoist until then in the bibliography on the civil war.

As we said, the battle of Madrid marks a turning point in the conflict, and this is due to the fact that it altered the plans of the rebellious military, who thought that after the coup of July 1936 victory would be easy and fast due to their military and armament superiority. But nevertheless, the resistance they encountered on the Republican side was greater than expected, especially in the city of Madrid, which was the most important point because it was the capital of the Republic and the nerve center of it. Faced with this resistance, General Franco was forced to change his war strategy, since, as we shall see, the successive offensives were useless and at the beginning of 1937 it became clear that the war and, specifically, the siege of Madrid was going to be longer than both contending sides imagined.

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From the end of October 1936 the national attacks on the capital followed one another; the July coup had failed but Franco believed in a quick war and easily victorious. This is because, from the beginning of the war, Franco's army was superior, better organized and with better resources, it also had the African army, effective and feared. But an aspect of vital importance is the constant help that the nationals received from Germany and Italy, essential to win the war.

However, democratic powers such as England and France, in which the Republic sought support until its last moments, they abstained from intervening in the Spanish conflict, invoking the Non-Intervention Treaty, which, luckily for the Republic, was ignored by the Soviet Union that did participate. Thanks to this help and the incorporation of international volunteers, the Republic was able to carry out a renewal of its army, which was based on militias made up of volunteers without experience on the battlefield. In such renewal, the creation of the International Brigades and the Mixed Brigades stands out, as well as the material and military strategies provided by the Soviets.

All this led to the fact that in March 1937, after the battle of Jarama, Franco decided to change his strategy when it became clear with the latest failure to take Madrid that this was going to cost more than planned, which is why he began to focus his military objectives in other areas, such as the industrial north, fundamental for the Republic for It was the most important steel and metallurgical center, to later re-focus the offensives on Madrid. Therefore, it went on to a war of attrition, of progressive victories, through which the rebel side gradually gained more territory in which it was building the bases of New Spain, originated by Franco from the beginning of the conflict. in the areas that fell into their hands.

Finally, despite the great resistance offered by the city of Madrid and despite the determination of the republican troops and the civilian population - without which it would not have been possible - the capital of the Republic fell. We must look for the reasons in various aspects, since hunger and successive defeats had greatly weakened the population and the Army, which had gone from a resistant attitude to a passive attitude, in addition, the city felt abandoned by the government leadership, which had already moved to Valencia in November 1936, during the start of the battle.

Likewise, on the republican side there were serious internal divisions and opinions about the path to be followed to end the war, especially in the last moments, when the defeat of the Republican side was already evident, which led to the coup of General Casado, in March 1939, who thought that a peace negotiated with Franco between the military was possible. This fact has generated diverse opinions in the historiography but what is evident is that it dealt a mortal blow for the Government of the Republic, which fell before the cohesive force under the iron control of Franco.

In this way, after almost two and a half years of resistance, Madrid, also a symbol of international resistance against fascism, fell on March 28, 1939, being the last great victory of Franco and joining the New Spain that it had been establishing since 1936. Shortly after, after reaching the last objectives in Alicante on March 31, the war ended. The Republic had been defeated and now a new stage was beginning marked by the dictatorship and the harsh repression for all those who defended it. A stage that would mark the contemporary history of Spain forever.

Twitter: @XandraaBC

I am Alexandra Balaguer and I am from Valencia. After starting my law degree, I decided to leave it to start studying what I was really passionate about: History, from which I graduated a few months ago although I am not going to stop studying for that, since I plan to continue with a master's degree. History aroused my curiosity and there are many books, articles, magazines, documentaries, etc., which I have been soaking up over the years. In recent times I have opted for archeology, specifically classical, since after my experience in Rome, where I studied my last year of studies, I found a really interesting specialty. Among my other hobbies besides history and archeology are Find the ability to travel, get to know other cultures, other people, other languages, and also be able to show your own to others. Also read everything that I find anywhere, whatever the subject, and spend the days off in a place where you can disconnect, such as the beach.

Video: Flag and anthem of the Spanish Republic 1931-1939