Aggression, Appeasement, and War

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Essential Question

How did dictators and the Spanish Civil War challenge world peace?

Summary of Research

Challenges to peace followed a pattern throughout the 1930s. Dictators to aggressive action but met only verbal expostulation and pleas for peace from the democracies. I was Mussolini and Hitler who viewed the desire for peace as infirmity and responded with inventive acts of aggression. With hindsight, we can see the shortcomings of the democracie' policies. We must remember however, that these policies were the production of a long and careful deliberation. By this time, people strongly believed they would work.


Detailed Chronology of Spanish Civil War

February 16: Popular Front Electoral Victory

July 17: Army uprising in Morocco

July 18: Uprising expands to Iberian Spain

July 19: Franco flies from the Canary Islands to Tetuan and takes command of the army in Africa. Santiago Casares Quiroga resigns as chief of the Republican government. Diego Martinez Barrio tries to form a new government, but cannot obtain broad enough parliamentary support. Jose oral forms a government, which orders that arms be issued to the general populace.

July 20: Start of the siege of the Alcazar de Toledo.

July 21: The Nationalist insurgents have control of the Spanish zones of Morocco, the Canary Islands, the Balearic, the part of Spain north of the Sierra de Guatemala and the Rio Ebro, the north of the Paris Vasco, and Catalonial. Among the major cities, the insurgents hold servile, but the Republicans retain Madrid and Barcelona.

July 23: The Nationalists declare a government in the form of the Junta de Defensa Nacional, which meets for the first time in Burgos.

July 24: The commencement of French aid to the Republican side.

July 28: First arrival of German and Italian planes in aid of the Nationalist side.

July-August: The " spontaneous social revolution, collectivizations.

August 8: France closes it's border with Spain.

August 14: Nationalist forces under Colonel Yague take Bafajoz, uniting the two parts of the Nationalist territory.

September 4: The Socialists take over leadership of the Republican government under Francisco Largo Caballero.

September 9: London Conference on non-intervention in Spain.

September: Com intern approves the creation of the International Brigades.

October 1: Franco declares himself head of state and Generalisimo.

November 4; With the Nationalists at the gates of Madrid, the anarchist CNT joins the Largo Caballero government.

November6: The defense of Madrid is organized under the newly created Junta de Defensa directed by General Jose Miaja.

November 8: Start of the battle of Madrid and the arrival of the first International Brigades.

November 18: Italy and Germany recognize the Franco government.

November 19: Anarchist leader Buenaventura Durruti is gravely wounded during the fighting in Madrid. He dies the next day

November 20; Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, son of dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera and founder of the Falange, is executed in a jail in Alicante, where he had been held prisoner since before insurgency.

November 23: Battle of Madrid ends, with both sides exhausted a front stabilizes.

The Beginnings

The Spanish Civil War had it's beginnings in Spain's elections of February 1936. The Republicans which included the Communists, Socialists, and Basque, and Catalonian separatists. While under the control of Jose Calvo Sotelo the right wing persisted to oppose the elected government. In the month of July th republicans arrested and then later assassinated Sotelo. Then on July 17 the year 1936, General Francisco Franco and soldiers faithful to him seized a Spanish Army outpost in Morocco. In Spain other Nationalist troops quickly seized other garrisons.Lead by Franco, a myriad of generals declared themselves the legal government, and the war officially began.

Endeavor for Peace

During the years of the 1920s, the western democracies tried to strengthen the framework for peace. In the 1930s, the structures crumbled. Dictators in Spain, Germany, and Italy, along with militarists in Japan, pursued ambitious goals for empire. They scorned peace and glorified war. Unlike these dictators, leaders of the western democracies were haunted by memories of the Great War,spurred by voters who demanded avoid conflict through diplomacy. During the 1930s the two sided tested each other's responsibility and will. Aggression and appeasement dominated international relations in the 1930's; liberal democracies failed to stand up to blatant aggression by military and Fascist states.

The Spanish Civil War

In the year 1936, Spain plunged into civil war. Although the Spanish Civil War was a local struggle, it soon drew other European powers into the fighting. The movement that contained the military right wing uprising in Spain triggered one of the most profound social revolutions of the twentieth century. The Spanish Civil War was a major conflict in Spain that started after an attempt to overthrow the government committed by part of the army against the government of the second Spanish Republic. This civil war devastated Spain form July 17, 1936 to April 1, 1939,ending with the victory of the rebels and the founding of a dictatorship led by the Nationalist General Fransisco Franco.


Dictators Challenge World Peace

Japan on the Move

Japanese military leaders and ultra nationalists thought that Japan should have an empire identical to those of the western powers. In pursuit of this intent Japan strikes Mnachuria in 1931. When the league of Nations condemned the belligerence, Japan retracted from the organization. Japan's easy success fortified the militarists. In the year 1937, Japanese armies overran much of eastern China. Once again, western remonstration had no end product on the victor.

Italy Rades Ethiopia

In Italy, the year 1935, Italy invades Ethiopia. Although the Ethiopian resisted bravely, their outdated weapons were no match for the Mussolini's tanks, machine guns, poison gas, and airplanes. The Ethiopian king Halie Selassie appealed to the League of the Nations for aid. The League voted sanctions against Italy for having violated international law. However, the League had no authority over to enforce the sanctions, and the early 1936, Italy had conquered Ethiopia.

Hitler's Provocation

Hitler was one of the many that had tested the will of the western democracies and found it weak. First, he established the Germany military in defiance of the Versailles treaty. Hitler's successful challenge won him greater popularity at home. Western democracies denounced his moves but took no real action but rather, they adopted a policy of appeasement giving in to the demands of an aggressor to keep the peace.

Appeasement and Neutrality

The development of the western policy was brought up for a number of arguments. France was demoralized, afflicted from political divisions at home. It could not move against against Hitler without British buttress. However, the British had no desire to confront the German dictator. A few even thought that Hitler's actions constituted a justifiable response too the terms of the Versailles treaty, which they believed had been too harsh against Germany.

Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis

The countries Germany, Italy, and Japan formed what eventually became known as the munism. These countries coincided not to interfere with one another's plans for expansion. This agreement cleared the way for these anti-democratic, aggressor powers to take even audacious steps.

The Spanish Civil War

From Monarchy to Republic

In the early 1920s, Spain was a monarchy dominated by a landowning upper class, the Catholic Church, and the military. A mass majority of Spaniards were poor peasants or urban workers. In the year 1931, popular unrest against the old order forced the king to leave Spain A republic was set up with a new, more liberal constitution. The republican government passes a series of controversial reforms. It redistributed some land to the peasants, gave women the right to vote, and ended some privileges of the old ruling class. However, Spanish public opinion was segmented. Most Spaniards wanted a serene democracy, clashes between leftist and rightist created derangement.

Nationalists Versus Loyalists

In the year 1936, a conservative general named Francisco Franco led a revolt that touched off a bloody civil war. Fascists and supporters of right-wing policies rallied to the banner of Franco's forces, which included, communists, socialists, and supporters of democracy. Hitler and Mussolini sent arms and forces to aid Franco. Nearly 37,000 volunteers from Germany, Italy, the Soviet Union, and the western democracies joined the International Brigades and fought alongside the Loyalists against fascism. The governments of Britain, France, and the United States, however, remained neutral.

German Aggression Resumed

Austria Subjoined

By 1938, Hitler was ready to engineer the Anschluss. When the Austrian leader balked at other exactions, Hitler sent in the Germany army " to preserve order". To Homburg Palace, the former residence of the Hapsburg emperors. The Anschluss violated the Versailles treaty and created a brief war panic. But Hitler quickly quietened any Austrians who opposed him. Since the western democracies took no deed, Hitler effortlessly had his way.

The Czech Crisis

Germany's next victim was Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was one of only two remaining democracies in Eastern Europe. Yet Britain and France were not willing to go ot war to save it. British and French leaders again chose appeasement. They caved in to Hitler's demands and then persuaded the Czechs to surrender the Sudetenland without a fight. In exchange Hitler assured, littler assured Britain and France that he had no further plans to expand his territory.

Incursion of Poland

The date of September 1, 1979, a work after the Nazi-Soviet Pact, German forces invaded Poland. Two days later, Britain a nd France honored their commitment to Poland and declared war on Germany. World War ii had begun. One British poet caught the overwhelming mood of gloom in these lines:

" In the nightmare of the dark

All the dogs of Europe bark,

And the living nations wait,

Each sequestered in its hate."

-W.H Auden, "In Memory of W.B Yeats"


Many factors contributed to the outbreak of World War II. Today historians often see the war as an effort to revise the 1919 peace settlement. Some historians even assert that Britain and France could have stopped Hitler in 1936 by helping Loyalist Spain before Germany was fully rearmed. But neither country was willing to risk war. The devastation of World War I, combined with the awareness of the destructive power of modern technology, made the idea of more fighting unbearable. Unfortunately, when war came, it proved to be even more horrendous than anyone had imagined.


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