Spanish Civil War – July 1937

July 1

A joint letter of the Spanish bishops in Franco’s support is issued to the Bishops of the Whole World concerning the rar in Spain;

Coinciding in the same initial moment of the conflict the [civic-military Movement and the Communist revolution] mark, from the beginning of the war, the deep division of the two Spains which were to contend on the battlefields . . . The War is therefore like an armed plebiscite . . . But, above all, the Revolution was anti-Christian. We do not believe that in the history of Christianity and in the interval of a few weeks there has occurred such an explosion of hatred, in all forms of thought, will, and passion, against Jesus Christ and His sacred religion. So great have been the sacrilegious ravages suffered by the Church in Spain that the delegate of the Spanish Reds sent to the Congress of the Godless in Moscow was able to say: ‘Spain has surpassed in a great degree the work of the Soviets, as the Church in Spain has been completely annihilated.’

July 6

The Battle of Brunete

see also July 8, 9, 11, 19 and 26

The Republican Army including the  International Brigades begins an important offensive in Brunete in an attempt to break the Siege of Madrid and draw some pressure off the Basques. Despite early successes, the Republicans were forced to retreat from the town, suffering terrible losses.

Around 50,000 men took part in the Republican offence, along with 100 modern Russian tanks and 100 Russian planes (about half the Republican air force). The armament of the soldiers themselves is poor: they are supplied with machine guns, grenades and artillery dating from World War I. The tactics also remind one of this war.

July 8

Franco sends reinforcements to the Brunete front, thus achieving for the Republic one of it main goals, the relief of the Basque army. The entire Condor Legion is sent (some 70 planes and several motorized units).

July 9

The International Brigades take the village of Quijorna.

July 11

Republican troops capture Villanueva del Pardillo, but Nationalist reinforcements reach the Brunete Front, and batter the Republican troops without pause; both sides suffered awful losses.

July 12

France finally opens the border to Spain for a short window of time, angry at the permanent and obvious breaks of the Nonintervention by the Fascist states. This enables large quantities of armaments from several countries which had building up at the border to pass into the Spanish Republic.

July 14

The Republic bans criticism of the Soviet Union. This censorship is aimed especially against the CNT/FAI and POUM-friendly press after numerous articles denounce Stalinism.

July 19

Battle of Brunete (Wikipedia)

The Republican army retreats at Brunete, overwhelmed by the Nationalist forces. Until today the Republic, at terrible cost, held the bulge they created in taking Brunete. During this period, the Nationalists concentrated overhelming artillery and air power on the bulge, drawing upon supplies that had been accumulated for the Santander offensive; the Republican had no uncommitted reserves of men or weapons upon which to draw. Hundreds of retreating Republican soldiers, whose lives could have been saved by retreating while the Republican air force was still able to limit the freedom of the Condor Legion, die under the machine-gun fire of Heinkels and Messerschmitts.

Gerda Taro, ex-companion of Robert Capa, is fatally injured in an accident during the retreat. Tens of thousands turned out for Gerda Taro’s funeral in Paris on 1 August 1937 organised by the French Communist Party. It would have been her 27th birthday. Years later, behind the Iron Curtain, she would be hailed as a martyr of the worldwide anti-fascist struggle. Streets in the German Democratic Republic were named in her honour.

New Statesman story on her death

She was fatally injured when a Republican tank, reportedly out of control, struck the car in which she had hitched a ride to escape from the battlefront. The details of what happened that afternoon remain obscure, and the accepted version of events has been stitched together from several accounts, some reliable, others less so.It seems that Taro was standing on the running-board. Her equipment (she had also been using a movie camera) was slung inside the car, next to three wounded Republican soldiers. The tank, probably a Soviet-made T-26, struck her a glancing blow as it hit the car, crushing her abdomen. Still conscious, she was taken to hospital in Madrid but died early the next morning. One of her first questions after the crash was, “Can I have my cameras?”

July 26

End of Battle of Brunete: Republican forces are pushed back to just 5 km from where they started the offensive. For this, thy have lost some 20,000 men and half their air force, the Nationalists lost some 17,000 men.

Aftermath of the battle – Wikipedia

  • At the close of the battle, the Republicans failed to cut the Extremadura road, but they still held Villanueva de la Cañada, Quijorna and Villanueva del Pardillo from the Nationalists. From this point of view, both sides were able to claim victory.
  • The losses of men and equipment in the battle were much heavier for the Republicans than the Nationalists. Indeed, the Republican army lost much of its indispensable equipment and so many of their best soldiers in the International Brigades that the battle can be seen as a strategic Nationalist victory.
  • Politically, the communists suffered a loss of prestige because the offensive failed to stop the Nationalist troops from completing the conquest of the north.
  • The frenetic conditions at Brunete for the Nationalists enabled the Germans to acquire favorable trade concessions because of the effectiveness of the Condor Legion. The Nationalists granted most favored nation status to Germany and acquiesced to send raw materials to Germany as repayment for the debt incurred.

LUIS SILVA, Battle of Brunete

Neither side conducted itself well; 300 men from El Campesino’s column were surrounded and taken prisoner. They were later found dead, with their legs cut off. El Campesino shortly after captured a tabor of 400 Moroccans, they were all shot. These are just two examples of the many atrocities that occurred after the battle and throughout the war. Manuel Azana y Dias, President of the Republic, on hearing the news of these atrocities asked himself,” Is this the birth of a new Spain?”. On the contrary the old Spain, with all its troubles, was preferable.

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