Introduction to the Spanish Civil War

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International Brigaders and Spaniards in the Second World War

Many of the International Brigaders from around the world continued their fight against fascism during the Second World War, though until the invasion of the USSR in 1941 official Communist Party policy was to regard the conflict as an imperialist war. And as 'premature anti-fascists', ex-brigadistas were not always admitted into the regular armed forces, despite their combat experience. Despite this, many served with distinction in the allied forces throughout the war in a wide variety of roles.

Many Spanish Republicans fought with the French army until France fell in July 1940. Of these, over 6,000 died and between 10,000 and 14,000 were taken prisoner when the Germans defeated France. Captured Spaniards were not treated as prisoners of war but sent to concentration camps, usually Mauthausen. As many as 30 000 Spanish refugees were deported from France to Germany, perhaps half of whom ended up in Nazi concentration camps.

During the course of the war thousands of Spanish Republicans fought with the allies in various theatres and a number fought in the Red Army and Soviet Air Force. A number of Basques fought in the Pacific with the US Army. Over 60,000 Spanish exiles fought with the French Resistance and more than 4,000 Spaniards took part in the Maquis uprising in Paris that began on August 21st 1944. Spanish Republicans were able to rejoice in a moment of triumphant when the vehicles of the first units to liberate Paris carried Spanish Republican flags and bore the names Ebro, Madrid, Teruel and Guadalajara.

In total during the Second World War, 25,000 Spaniards died in concentration camps or fighting in armed units.