Nationalist planes bomb Barcelona.
The Republic complains before the League of the Nations about the support of Portugal, Italy and Germany for the Rebels and the political and economic isolation of the Spanish Republic by the Democratic Nations and the Non-Intervention Committee.
After the failure of Franco’s offensive on Madrid, Mussolini decides to send regular army forces to Spain.
Battle for La Coruña Road begins.
The Battle of Madrid in November 1936 had been fought to a standstill, with the Nationalists failing to take the city. They then started to besiege it, aiming to cut its links to the rest of Spain. José Varela attacked the road to Corunna and in early January held an 11 km section. The Republicans counterattacked, with a particular contribution from the International Brigade, leading to heavy casualties on both sides especially around Las Rozas, and the development of a further stalemate. But the Republican drive recaptured some territory west of Madrid including the towns of Majadahonda, Villanueva, Pozuelo and Boadilla. The threat to Madrid by the Nationalists was thwarted for the time being.
A new revolutionary government called the Consejo de Aragon is formed in Republican Aragon with a clear majority of Anarchists.
- Felix Morrow: Revolution and Counter Revolution in Spain – A somewhat partisan viewpoint
An editorial in Pravda on December 17 makes crystal clear Stalin’s plans for the Spanish revolution.
As for Catalonia, the purging of Trotskyist and anarcho-syndicalist elements has begun; this work will be carried out with the same energy with which it was done in the USSR. Here
The POUM is ousted from the Catalan Government due to pressure by the Communists.
The first 3000 Italian “volunteers” land in Cadiz, the main Nationalist port, under the name of Corps of Volunteer Troops (Corpo Truppe Volontarie). By the end of the war, 78,500 men were sent of which 3,819 were killed and about 12,000 were wounded. The aid represented an immense drain on the Italian economy. The high cost of Mussolini’s Spanish adventure severely handicapped Italy in the period leading up to World War II.
Katharine Stewart-Murray, tfrom her autobiography, Working Partnership (1958)
In another prison we visited, two hundred Italian prisoners-of-war, Mussolini’s so-called ‘volunteers’, were confined. We were allowed to talk to them freely and we asked them how they came to be here. Several replied that they had thought they were being taken to one ofthe Italian colonies. Others had come with their own officers, as a regiment. When we asked them how they were being treated, several ran off to fetch samples of the bread they were getting, which they obviously found satisfactory. They looked well cared for, and happy to be out of the fighting.
George Orwell arrives in Barcelona
George Orwell enlists in the POUM Militia to fight against fascism.
Miguel de Unamuno dies in his house in Salamanca, under house arrest. As soon as they receive news of his death, his two sons enlist in the Antifascist Militias.