Counter-factual: Spanish Civil War

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thoreau
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Counter-factual: Spanish Civil War

Post by thoreau » 07 Jan 2019, 23:57

I'm reading a collection of essays by Orwell, and one of them is "Looking Back on the Spanish War." In it he claims that even modest British support for the Republicans would have been enough to swing the war against Franco. I know precious little about that war, except that Franco was friendly with Nazi Germany and Italy. So, a few questions for the hive-mind:

1) Is Orwell right? Would it have been easy for the Brits to tip the war the outcome the other way? Or would Germany and Italy have just stepped up their support for Franco?

2) If the Brits had successfully helped the Republicans, would Spain have entered WWII on the Allied side? I know that Spain was neutral in WWI; would they have joined WWII on the Allied side if the Brits had helped their government in the Civil War?

3) Would it have mattered if Spain had entered WWII on the Allied side?

I know zilch that is relevant to the first 2 questions. On the 3rd, I understand that Spain was hardly a military juggernaut, but location-wise they would have had a lot to offer the Allies: A large colony in Morocco that would have made a useful staging ground in the North Africa campaign. Mediterranean ports from which to supply ships in the Mediterranean naval war. Air bases from which to attack Germany and Vichy targets in France. And smuggling routes in the Pyrenees to supply the French resistance.

Any thoughts?
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Aresen
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Re: Counter-factual: Spanish Civil War

Post by Aresen » 08 Jan 2019, 00:37

I do not see how it would be possible for a Tory (Baldwin and then Chamberlain) government to support the republicans in Spain.

Rightly or wrongly, the Republicans were perceived to be dominated by Stalinists and the Third Internationale, whom the Tories hated even more than they hated Germany.

TBS: Assuming the contra-factual, a Spanish Republican government that had just defeated Franco and the Nationalists in 1939 would have been too weak and faction-ridden, as well as riven by separatist movements in Catalonia, Andalusia and the Basque country to have gotten involved in WW2 in September 1939. Certainly the Stalinist factions would have resisted any such involvement prior to June 1941.

Even so, I think the Spanish Republic would not have declared war, though they might have been passively supportive of the allies. Being on the European mainland, they were vulnerable to the Nazis and distant from any prompt aid from either England or the United States. By 1943, they would have seen the war in Italy after Mussolini was ousted and not wanted to be fought over.

Passive support: Maybe after June 1941
Active declaration on the allied side: I don't think they would have, at least not until June 1944 when Germany was clearly on the ropes.
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Warren
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Re: Counter-factual: Spanish Civil War

Post by Warren » 08 Jan 2019, 10:00

The only thing I know about the Spanish Civil War is Hemingway and Picasso fought in it by getting drunk and writing novels and painting pictures, and Maggie Smith rooted for the wrong side.
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Kolohe
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Re: Counter-factual: Spanish Civil War

Post by Kolohe » 08 Jan 2019, 12:11

I agree with Arsen, but even despite a Spanish Civ course in college (and watching some movie set in the time period that I can't remember the title of and I don't think it's on this list, I don't think I have enough fine grained knowledge to really be sure of myself. (though that's rarely stopped me) (that is, never stopped me)

I think Orwell is basically correct, in that direct British assistance to the Republican side most likely would have shifted to victory to them. I doubt that Germans and Italians were at that point willing to really go all in to support Franco and the Nationalists, if push came to shove. Maybe Italy would have, but I doubt they would have been any more effective. But, bottom line, it was politically impossible for Britain to deeply involve itself in Iberian pennisula, both for the afore stated red scare reasons, but also for the isolationist WW1 hangover reasons.

I also think the red scare reasons can't be dismissed out of hand. 'classical liberals' were not really part of left wing political movements by the time the 20th century got in full bloom, and most of the intra-side battles among the democratic socialists and the authoritarian communists were (almost?) always won by the authoritarian side.

So if the Republicans do win the civil war, it's possible they would have fallen into the Soviet orbit - though they could do the Tito thing, but that would require someone similar in stature to Franco but on the other side. In any case the country was a wreck, and wasn't in great shape even before the civil war started, so WW2 neutrality is almost guaranteed I think in any scenario.

I could easily see some Molotov-Ribbentrop type thing between the Nazis and the Spanish Republican Government wherein the Germans promise to take over Gilbraltar and hand it back to the Spanish in return for free passage through the Straits.
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Dangerman
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Re: Counter-factual: Spanish Civil War

Post by Dangerman » 08 Jan 2019, 13:19

I don't get much out of counterfactual musings, but this has thread has motivated me to read the copy of 'Homage to Catalonia' that my mom gave me this year.

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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: Counter-factual: Spanish Civil War

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 08 Jan 2019, 13:39

Sounds like someone needs to do a Netflix pitch for "El Hombre En El Castillo."

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thoreau
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Re: Counter-factual: Spanish Civil War

Post by thoreau » 08 Jan 2019, 13:59

D.A. Ridgely wrote:Sounds like someone needs to do a Netflix pitch for "El Hombre En El Castillo."
We wind up building a border wall to keep out a resurgent Spanish Empire. Spain also has the Philippines, the Anglo Alliance has Australia, and Indonesia is the contested Neutral Zone.

Then somebody shows up with film reels showing a three hour Castro speech...and La Resistancia decides that maybe their timeline is pretty groovy after all.
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JD
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Re: Counter-factual: Spanish Civil War

Post by JD » 10 Jan 2019, 15:59

I'm not an expert on the Spanish Civil War, but I pretty much agree with what's been said here. Firstly, the Nationalists were just way more organized than the Republicans, who were riven by internal divisions, so it might have taken some pretty substantial assistance. Also, large parts of the Republican side were anywhere from moderate socialists to outright Stalinists to anarchists, which would have made British support for them unlikely and unpopular. Remember that a lot of people saw Franco as essentially the protector of Christianity and decency from the ravenous anarchist hordes. And certainly Germany and Italy might have stepped up their support, although I know less about how much they could or would have.
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