Spanish civil war happened just before the start of WW2, from 1936 to 1939. It was fought between the Republicans, who were loyal to the democratic, left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, and the Nationalists, a falangist(a form of fascism) group led by General Francisco Franco who ruled Spain from 1930 to 1975 as its dictator.
Scholars consider the civil war to be a dress rehearsal for WW2.
- Many countries got involved int he conflict:
- Officially, everyone was supposed to remain neutral, but in fact the German and Italian governments actively and blatantly assisted the Nationalist rebels with troops, material and other support.
- Allied countries such as Great Britain and the United States tried to maintain and enforce the policy of neutrality to a certain extent, and stayed out of direct involvement in the conflict, but thousands of British and American volunteers – as well as volunteers from elsewhere around the world – flocked to the cause of the Spanish Republic, forming the International Brigades.
- The Soviet Union supplied limited assistance to the government of the Spanish Republic and also inserted a lot of more covert agents of the Comintern into the country, who supported the Republican government
- Testing military tactics:
- Countries had a great opportunity to test their weapons and military tactics in an actual war. Modern weapons – tanks,dive bombers,strategic bombers,anti tank guns – were used extensively by both sides during the conflict
New formations and tactics were tried out that showed a lot about mid 20th century mechanized warfare, lessons that the Germans learned better than anyone else and that they used to formulate their Blitzkrieg tactics in WW2.
- Protagonists: Spanish Civil War was fought between forces of fascism (the Nationalists, assisted by Germany and Italian, both fascist at the time) and of democracy (the Republic, with assistance from people from around the world).
- Appeasement: British and France saw the threat of communist takeover of Spain more threatening than that of the nationalists and so they did not actively support the republicans. This is similar to appeasement of Japan and Nazi Germany.
But unlike in the Spanish war, WW2 was not won by fascist powers. And ironically, Franco choose to remain neutral during WW2.