The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was a choice between two evil sides with an earned reputation for terror and tyranny. It is often portrayed today as a struggle between “leftists” and “rightists” (liberals, socialists, or communists on one side, versus conservatives on the other).

However, since fascists believe in the same kind of authoritarian central government/police state control over individuals as the communists, socialists, and many liberals do, it was actually a struggle between competing leftist gangs. Those who believed in a constitutional republic that guarantees freedom of speech, religion, conscience, assembly for all citizens, and a free economy…were completely left out of the equation in this fight.

In 1923, following a military coup the government became a military dictatorship. In 1931 King Alfonso XIII gave in to elections to form a republic, and in those elections, leftists won almost all provincial capitals. This new leftist-leaning republic had broad support all over Spain.

The socialists began reforms that they sincerely believed would help the poverty stricken masses. Their government ordered an increase in wages, the decrease of the number of hours in a work day, and they limited the use of machinery (in order to promote the hiring of more manual laborers). The leftists also promoted vandalism against all who objected to their ideas, and they promoted the destruction of Catholic churches and schools. In 1932 a new constitution was declared that would give the government power to seize land from private owners, and to close Catholic schools and charities. Landowners and business owners began responding by firing workers and telling them that if they go hungry, they should “go eat the Republic!”

By 1936, after another election, the battle lines were drawn between “Nationalists” (fascists) and “Republicans” (Communists, Socialists, liberals). The fascists in the military launched a coup on July 17 of that year, seizing control of the northern half of the country. The Republicans had control of territory near the Mediterranean.

The war was cast by the Nationalists (fascists) as a fight against Communism and for Catholic civilization. The Republicans (communists, et al) believed it was a struggle of the oppressed masses against superstition and income inequality.

This war was the first major “proxy war” of the 20th century in which other interested parties (most notably Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy on one side, and the Communist Soviet Union on the other side) chose sides and supported them with weapons and troops.

It was a dress rehearsal for World War 2.