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Available information suggests that there were about 500,000 deaths from all causes during the Spanish Civil War. An estimated 200,000 died from combat-related causes. Of these, 110,000 fought for the Republicans and 90,000 for the Nationalists. This implies that 10 per cent of all soldiers who fought in the war were killed.
It has been calculated that the Nationalist Army executed 75,000 people in the war whereas the Republican Army accounted for 55,000. These deaths takes into account the murders of members of rival political groups.
It is estimated that about 5,300 foreign soldiers died while fighting for the Nationalists (4,000 Italians, 300 Germans, 1,000 others). The International Brigades suffered heavy losses during the war. Approximately 4,900 soldiers died fighting for the Republicans (2,000 Germans, 1,000 French, 900 Americans, 500 British and 500 others).
Around 10,000 Spanish people were killed in bombing raids. The vast majority of these were victims of the German Condor Legion.
The economic blockade of Republican controlled areas caused malnutrition in the civilian population. It is believed that this caused the deaths of around 25,000 people. About 3.3 per cent of the Spanish population died during the war with another 7.5 per cent being injured.
After the war it is believed that the government of General Francisco Franco arranged the executions of 100,000 Republican prisoners. It is estimated that another 35,000 Republicans died in concentration camps in the years that followed the war.
History - Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil War was triggered by a complex range of events that were highly significant not only for the future of Spain, but also for the development of European politics in 20 th century. Far from being just an internal event, the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 also had a great deal of global influence, attracting left-wing volunteers from all over the world to help defend the constitutionally-elected Second Republic government from the coup d'etat of nationalists led by General Francisco Franco, who was supported by Hitler and Mussolini. Franco's eventually victory established him as Europe's longest ruling dictator until his death in 1975.
3. The Republicans suffered from severe infighting.
While the Nationalists largely united behind Franco, the various Republican factions were constantly at each other’s throats. Tensions came to a boiling point in May 1937, when a police raid on the anarchist-controlled central telephone exchange in Barcelona sparked days of street fighting that left hundreds dead. This so-called civil war within the civil war, which pitted anarchists and anti-Stalin Marxists against Soviet-backed communists and the regional government, resulted in the communists𠅊nd hence Moscow—increasing their control over the war effort. Anarchist and anti-Stalin Marxist organizations were suppressed, and the revolutionary egalitarian fervor that had once gripped Barcelona died out.
Spanish Nationalist soldiers stand atop the rubble of the town of Guernica, destroyed by German aircraft during the Spanish Civil War, May 1937.
ullstein bild/Getty Images
All the Major Facts Surrounding the Spanish Civil War
Listed as one of the most devastating conflicts of the 20th century, the Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936 and lasted till 1939. The 3-year conflict broke out when Spanish Nationalists (rebels) under the command of General Francisco Franco, took it upon themselves to seize power from the incompetent Republican government of Manuel Azana.
Here are all the interesting facts about the Spanish Civil War that ultimately ended the Spanish Second Republic.
Both Sides Were Guilty of Committing Heinous War Crimes
Right from the word go, General Franco and his rebels embarked on evil campaigns targeting their opponents. This enmity led to killings and torture. For instance, in Badajoz, the rebels fatally shot about 4000 people perceived to be Republicans. Reminiscent of events that could have happened in the Dark Ages, General Franco’s men went ahead and torched the corpses of the dead in a cemetery. In the words of one rebel leader, he asked his men to “eliminate anyone who held contrary views”. Another general remarked, “I command you to slay opponents like wild beast”. In totality, the rebels killed about 150,000 captives and civilians during the war. Even after their victory, 20,000 more victims were sent to their makers.
Regarding Republican atrocities, a number of innocent lives were killed, but far Iesser than what the Nationalists did, although this assessment is very much debatable. Completely disregarding any form of rules of engagement, Republican troops had no mercy on the Roman Catholic clergy – the number of slain priests, nuns, and monks, counted in thousands. On the outskirts of Madrid, Republicans mass-killed many suspected fascists. In all, about 49,000 people died from Republican atrocities.
The total estimate of the deaths from the three-year civil war stood at around 500,000. But Nationalists claim that the total death count hovers around the one million mark.
Some Foreign Countries Partook in the War
The Spanish Civil War was actually more than a civil war some foreign countries sent volunteers or technical aid to the Spanish factions.
Italy and Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany backed the rebels Russia supported Republicans European and American volunteers (the International Brigade), in turn, aided Republicans. The funny thing about foreign interference in this conflict is that the foreign troops and fighters suffered higher casualties than their Spanish associates.
In any case, the war ended in April 1939 Republicans woefully lost the war, despite getting assistance from powerful nations such as Russia and Italy.
A Host of Factors Caused the Spanish Civil War
Tensions in Spain lingered on for years before bursting into an all-out civil war in July 1936. The chain of circumstances that eventually gave birth to the war can be attributed to sharp culture divisions in Spain, inequality, political failure, religion, the Great Depression and many other factors.
In summary, the war came as a response to hardships that plagued Spaniards for years. There was a loss of respect, trust, and unity between the Republican government and the Nationalists. In the end, the rebels picked up their weapons to resist the government’s flawed land reforms which worsened their plight.
Guernica was Air-bombed
On April 26, 1937, Guernica (in Basque, Spain) was air-bombarded by the Condor Legion (of the German Luftwaffe in support of the Nationalists). The air attack destroyed a greater part of the town and also killed civilians. Pablo Picasso’s popular painting “Guernica” was themed on this aerial bombing.
Torture in the Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was an astoundingly brutal war. Fueled by a frenzied hate between opposite political spheres, the civil war was filled with torture, executions and all sorts of ugly atrocities on both sides of the conflict. For those who have not studied the Spanish Civil War, here is a brief description of the sides involved in the conflict. The war began when a large conservative contingent of the Spanish military (eventually led by Generalissimo Francisco Franco) rebelled against the left-wing government of the Second Spanish Republic. To the confusion of many readers from the United States, historians often label the supporters of the left-wing government in the war as ‘Republicans’ and Franco’s forces are often called the ‘Rebels’ or the ‘Nationalists.’
While hardly any war can be called pleasant to study, the Spanish Civil War is an especially discouraging topic. Some historians and statisticians propose that around the same number of people died off the battlefield as those who fell on the war front. Possibly 200,000 deaths were caused by regular warfare, and another 200,000 caused by execution, terror and reprisals. While unimaginable violence, murder and post-mortem mutilation was prevalent in the Spanish Civil War (again, on both sides) this short article will focus on another gruesome topic—torture.
The first problem posed by this undertaking is how to define torture. That is a question still very much in debate, today. For the purpose of this article, an act will be labeled as ‘torture’ when violence and pain was inflicted on a victim with an intention of not merely causing punishment or death, but of a prolonged, unjustifiable suffering, both physically and mentally. Fair warning: some of the acts described below will likely be disturbing. They will escalate from the least gruesome to the most horrific, some ending in a slow, drawn-out death.
Humiliation and Beatings
Franco’s forces had a standard torture that was used prevalently throughout the war—victims were forced to drink castor oil (often mixed with sawdust or dry crumbs) to cause severe abdominal pain. After the victims drank the oil, they were usually beaten, shot, or both. Another common torture used by Franco’s troops involved shaving women’s heads, sometimes leaving only a tuft on which they would tie a ribbon. Many of these women would also be forcibly separated from their children—a simple, but extremely effective torture.
Sexual and Psychological Torture
In Republican territory, religion came under heavy attack. Priests and military officers were frequent victims of torture and execution. Monks and priests were often stripped naked and paraded around, or driven through rough and jagged terrain. There are many accounts of priests being tortured through mutilation and castration of the genitals. Nuns, for the most part, were spared horrific death—but that did not mean they were safe. There were multiple (but fairly rare) accounts of nuns being sexually tortured, raped and murdered. In one of the worst incidents, five nuns were attacked in Riudarenes village, Girona. Three other holy women suffered at Peralto de la Sal in 1936.
Franco’s soldiers surpassed the Republicans in rape. There are accounts of captured women being locked in rooms with twenty-to-fifty hardened, merciless soldiers who had lost any sense of morality in Spain’s brutal colonial wars in Morocco. John T. Whitaker recorded one soldier’s observation after two captured women were handed over to around 40 soldiers from Morocco: “Oh, they’ll not live more than four hours” (Whitaker, We Cannot Escape History). The soldiers also seemed to use some intense psychological torture, as there are reports of victims being driven to commit suicide.
Dismemberment And Graves
The Republicans, too, would inflict psychological terror on their victims. There are accounts of prisoners being forced to dig their own graves, after which they would be killed with their own pickaxes or shovels. The Republican executioner, Santiago Aliques Bermúdez, is known to have used this particular method of execution. There was also at least one account of nuns being dismembered, and priests, as said earlier, often were put under the knife, with the extreme being the amputation of their genitalia and the possibly of decapitation.
Franco’s troops matched the Republicans here, too. In one instance, a military chaplain named Juan Galán Bermejo captured five people (one was a woman) in a cave. Convinced they were Republicans, the chaplain—who was a deputy priest of the Church of La Candelaria—had his captives dig their own graves. When the graves were dug, he shot them and buried his victims while they were still alive. As for dismemberment, the execution of Juan Sosa Hormigo in January of 1937 demonstrates the brutality of the Spanish Civil War. He had basically been drawn and quartered—his arms and legs had been ripped from his body.
Spanish Civil War, 1936 – 1939
Coups are not always successful, as the Spanish Civil war displays. The Spanish Civil War was a military revolt against the Republican government. It was supported by conservatives throughout the country. However, it started as a coup that failed to gain control of the entire country.
The civil war was between the Nationalists (the rebellion forces) and the Republicans. The Nationalists were mostly Roman Catholics, and they were landowners and businessmen. The Republican people, on the other hand, were most of the educated middle class, including urban workers and agricultural laborers. At the time of the uprising, a democratically-elected Republican government was in place. However, they were not supported by those on the right and the middle, since the Republicans were on the left. The Nationalists received support from Germany and Italy while the Republicans were supported by the Soviet Union and the European democracies. However, the Soviet Union did not offer as much support as Germany, and the Republicans were somewhat divided by internal conflicts regarding which form of government would be best for Spain.
The Spanish Civil War casualties were great, resulting from executions, murders, and various assassinations. It is apparent that the passions of both sides were extremely high. The actual number of casualties, however, is relatively uncertain. A recent estimate states that it was roughly 500,000 people, but this number does not include those who were killed as a result of starvation and war-engendered disease. Ultimately, the Nationalists were successful after a long war, and it marked the beginning of a 40-year dictatorship in Spain. Spain would not regain its democratic form of government until 1982.
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The Spanish Civil War, 80 years after
During the early hours of 18 July 1936, General Francisco Franco declared a state of war and his opposition to the Second Spanish Republic. In undermining the Republican government’s ability to keep order, the ensuing coup d’état precipitated unprecedented open violence. Thus began the Spanish Civil War.
In the first few months of 1936, Spanish society was highly fragmented. There was uneasiness between factions and, as was happening all over Europe with the possible exception of the United Kingdom, the rejection of liberal democracy in favour of authoritarianism was rife. None of this need have led to a civil war. The war began because a military uprising against the Republic undermined the ability of the State and the Republican government to maintain order. The division of the army and security forces thwarted the victory of the military rebellion, as well as their main objective: the rapid seizure of power. But by undermining the government’s ability to keep order, this coup d’état transformed into the unprecedented open violence employed by the groups that supported and those that opposed it. It was July 1936 and thus began the Spanish Civil War.
The civil war came about because the military coup d’état failed to achieve its basic objective at the outset, which was to seize power and overthrow the republican regime, and because, unlike the events in other republics of the time, there was comprehensive resistance, both military and civil, to counter any attempt at imposing an authoritarian system. Had it not been for this combination of coup d’état, division of the armed forces and resistance, there would never have been a civil war.
This coup d’état met resistance because the Spanish society of 1936 was not the same as that of 1923, when the September uprising led by General Miguel Primo de Rivera was favoured by the general abstention of the army, the weakness of the government, the apathy of public opinion and above all, the consent of King Alfonso XIII.
In 1936 there was a Republic in Spain, whose laws and measures had given it the historical opportunity to solve insurmountable problems, but it had also come across, and caused, major factors of instability, which successive governments could not provide the proper resources to counteract. Against such a widespread level of political and social mobilization as had been set in motion by the Republican regime, the coup d’état could not end, as had occurred so many times in Spain’s history, in a mere return to the old order, based on traditional values. To overthrow the Republic, what was needed was a new, violent, antidemocratic and antisocialist order, such as had previously been established elsewhere in Europe, to end the crisis and repair all the fissures that had been opened, or widened, by the Republican regime.
There is no simple answer as to why the climate of euphoria and hope in 1931, when the Second Republic was founded, transformed into the cruel, all-destructive war of 1936-1939. The threat to social order and the subverting of class relations were perceived with greater intensity in 1936 than in the first few years of the Republic. The political stability of the regime was also under greater threat. The language of class, with its talk of social divisions and incitements to malign one’s opponents, had gradually permeated the atmosphere in Spain. The Republic had tried to change too many things at once: land, the Church, the army, education and labour relations. It raised major expectations that could not be met, and it soon made many powerful enemies.
In charge of the organization of the plot were various right-wing officers, including some from the Unión Militar Española (UME), a semi-clandestine anti-leftist organization consisting of several hundred officers. A group of generals, including Francisco Franco, met on 8 March in Madrid, and decided to mount “an uprising to re-establish order in the interior as well as Spain’s international prestige”. General José Sanjurjo, who had led the first attempt at military rebellion against the Republic in August 1922, and who was living in Portugal after his pardon in April 1934, was appointed head of the uprising, although the leading role was played by General Emilio Mola, who coordinated the entire conspiracy.
The assassination of José Calvo Sotelo, the rightwing monarchist leader who defended an authoritarian and corporative State, committed at dawn on 13 July 1936 by members of the Republic’s police force, convinced the plotters of the urgent need to intervene, and brought into the fold many of the undecided, who were waiting for things to become clearer before agreeing to participate in the coup and risk their salaries and lives. Among them was General Franco, stationed in the Canary Islands, who took command of the garrisons that rose up in Spanish Morocco on the evening of 17 July 1936. In the early hours of 18 July, Franco declared a state of war and pronounced himself in opposition to the government of the Republic. On 19 July he arrived at Tetuán. Meanwhile, many other military garrisons in the Peninsula joined the coup. Peace was over in the Republic.
There were several distinct conflicts during this war. Firstly, a military conflict, initiated when the coup d’état buried political solutions and replaced them with arms. It was also a class war, between differing conceptions of social order, a war of religion, between Catholicism and anticlericalism, a war revolving around the idea of patria and nation, and a war of ideas, beliefs that were at that time at loggerheads on the international stage. It was a war that was impossible to reduce to a conflict between communism and fascism, or between fascism and democracy. In short, the Spanish Civil War was a melting pot of universal battles between bosses and workers, Church and State, obscurantism and modernization, set in an international context that had been thrown out of balance by crises of democracies and the onslaught of communism and fascism.
The Spanish Civil War has gone down in history, and in the memory that remains of it, for the way it dehumanized its adversaries and for the horrific violence that it generated. Symbolized by the mass killings, it served the two sides in their struggle to eliminate their respective enemies, whether natural or unforeseen. While carrying out this extermination, the rebels were also given the inestimable blessing of the Catholic Church from the very beginning. The clergy and sacred objects, however, were the prime target of popular rage, of those who took part in defeating the military rebels and who played leading roles in the “popular terror” that took place in the summer of 1936. Thus, Catholic religion and anticlericalism were passionately bound up in the battle over basic themes related to the organization of society and the State that was being unleashed in Spanish territory.
Guernica in ruins in 1937 following its aerial bombardment by the German Condor Legion. Source: Wikimedia
Lawless, arbitrary shootings and massacres eliminated enemies, real or presumed, on both sides. In the three months following the July 1936 uprising, the war was a struggle between armed militias, who lacked the basic elements of a conventional army, and a military power that concentrated all its resources in authority, discipline, the declaration of martial law, and almost from the start was able to employ the services of the well-trained troops of the Army of Africa.
The Battle of Madrid, in November of that year, saw the arrival of a new form of waging war and transformed this group of militiamen into soldiers in a new army. After the failure of various attempts to take Madrid between November 1936 and March 1937, Franco changed his strategy and chose to unleash a war of attrition, the gradual occupation of territory and total destruction of the republican army. His material and offensive superiority led him to the final victory two years later.
The military uprising of July 1936 forced the Republic, a democratic and constitutional regime, to take part in a war it had not begun. What followed this military coup was the outbreak of a social revolution that the Republican State, in losing a large part of its strength and sovereignty, was also powerless to prevent. This revolutionary process began suddenly and violently, its objective being to destroy the positions of the privileged classes, the Church, the army, the rich, but also the Republican authorities who were trying to maintain legitimacy.
Until it was defeated, on 1 April 1939, the Republic went through three different stages, each under a different prime minister. The first government, led by the republican José Giral (1879-1962), was marked by its resistance to the military uprising and the revolution. Since Giral did not represent the new revolutionary and trade union powers that emerged in the summer of 1936, he was forced to resign and hand over to the workers’ and socialist leader Francisco Largo Caballero (1869-1946), who began, with the collaboration of all the political and trade union forces, the reconstruction of the State, created a regular army and took over control of the revolution. After the serious events of May 1937, he handed over to Juan Negrín (1892-1956), a socialist member of parliament and university professor who resolved, as one of his main objectives, to change the democratic powers’ non-intervention policy. These three prime ministers died in exile: Giral in Mexico and Largo Caballero and Negrín in Paris.
Those who rose against the Republic did not have so much difficulty in finding a single military and political leader. As of 1 October 1936, Francisco Franco was “Head of Government of the Spanish State”. His military colleagues who put him there thought that this post would be temporary, that the war would soon be over with the conquest of Madrid and that then would be the time to think of a political framework for the new State. However, after various frustrated attempts to take the capital, Franco changed his military strategy and what might have been a rapid seizure of power became a long, drawn-out war. He was also convinced, particularly after the arrival in Salamanca of his brother-in-law, Ramón Serrano Suñer, who had managed to escape from the “red confinement” in Madrid in mid-February 1937, that all the political forces needed to be united in a single party.
“Head of Government of the Spanish State”, Caudillo, Generalísimo of the Armed Forces, undisputed leader of the “Movement”, as the single party was known, Franco confirmed his absolute dominance with the creation on 30 January 1938 of his first government, in which he carefully distributed the various ministries among officers, monarchists, Falangists and Carlists. The construction of this new State was accompanied by the physical elimination of the opposition, the destruction of all the symbols and policies of the Republic and the quest for an emphatic, unconditional victory with no possibility of any mediation.
In this quest, Franco had the support and blessing of the Catholic Church. Bishops, priests and the rest of the Church began to look on Franco as someone sent by God to impose order in the “earthly city” and Franco ended up believing that, indeed, he had a special relationship with divine providence. Thus emerged Franco’s Church, which identified with him, admired him as Caudillo, as someone sent by God to re-establish the consubstantiality of traditional Spanish culture with the Catholic faith.
The international situation at the end of the 1930s was hardly conducive to peace, and this played a decisive role in the duration, progress and final result of the Spanish Civil War, a conflict that was clearly internal in its origin. International support for both sides was vital for fighting and continuing the war during the early months. As the war progressed, non-interventionism, imbalances in the material resources of the two sides, the participation of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and, in most cases, the non-involvement of the western democracies were, together with disunity in the republican camp and unity among the Francoists, decisive factors in tipping the balance towards the final victory of the military rebels.
The Spanish Republic therefore had to wage war against an army favoured by the international situation. Dictatorships under the rule of a single man and a single party had substituted democracy in many countries and, except in Russia, all these parties were on the Right. Six of the continent’s democracies were invaded by the Nazis the year after the Civil War ended. Spain, then, was no exception in a continent ruled by the authoritarian Right. But this cannot excuse a wide sector of Spanish society, the political and union leaders, soldiers and churchmen, who did nothing to develop a civic culture of respect for the law, for electoral results, for freedom of expression and association, and for civil rights.
Many Spaniards saw the war as a horror from the start others felt they were in the wrong zone and tried to escape. Some figures in the Republic did not take sides, forming a “third Spain”. But millions of people were forced to take sides, some getting their hands dirtier than others. Spain began the 1930s with a Republic and ended the decade under an authoritarian right-wing dictatorship. Whatever we may say of the violence that preceded the Civil War, it is clear that in Spanish history there is a before and after to the coup d’état of July 1936.
Nationalists and Republicans had such different ideas of how to organize the State and society, and were so committed to their aims, that settlement was difficult. Franco’s victory was also a victory for Hitler and Mussolini, and the Republic’s defeat a defeat for democracies. Following this, there was no attempt at reconstruction in Spain, as had occurred in western Europe after 1945.
The war lasted almost a thousand days, leaving long-lasting scars on Spanish society. The total number of dead, according to historians, was nearly 600,000, of whom 100,000 were due to the repression unleashed by the military rebels, and 55,000 due to the violence in the republican zone. Half a million people were crowded in prisons and concentration camps.
The Spanish Civil War was followed by a long uncivil peace. The official end of the war on 1 April 1939 did not end the violence. Thus began a new period of mass executions, prison and torture for thousands of men and women. Death was unleashed with total impunity, the same impunity that had guided the massacres undertaken by the military rebels since July 1936. At least 50,000 people were executed in the decade following the end of the war, to say nothing of the thousands of deaths caused by hunger and disease in the various prisons. It was a purge that dismantled the culture and social foundations of the Republic, the labour movement and secularism.
From April 1939 onwards, Spain experienced the peace of Franco, the consequences of the war and of those that caused it. Spain was left divided between victors and vanquished. The churches were filled with plaques commemorating those who had “fallen in the service of God and the Fatherland”. On the other hand, thousands of Spaniards killed by the violence initiated by the military rebels in July 1936 were never registered nor even had an insignificant tombstone to remember them by their families are still searching for their remains today.
The reformist discourse of the Republic and all that this form of government meant was swept up and scattered over the graves of thousands of citizens and the workers’ movement was systematically eliminated along with its organizations and its culture, in a process that was more violent than that suffered by other anti-Fascist movements in Europe. This was the “surgical operation on the social body of Spain” so vehemently demanded by the military rebels, the land-owning classes and the Catholic Church.
The climate of order, patria and religion overrode that of democracy, the Republic and revolution. In short, in Franco’s long and cruel dictatorship lies the exceptional nature of Spain’s twentieth-century history if it is compared to that of other western capitalist countries. It was the only dictatorship, apart from that of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar in Portugal, set up in interwar Europe to survive World War II. With Hitler and Mussolini dead, Franco continued for another thirty years. The darkest side of this European civil war, this time of hate, that ended in 1945, was to live on in Spain for a long time yet.
Impact on Europe
The Spanish Civil War underlined opposing political sentiments that existed throughout Europe. The right and the Catholics supported the Nationalists as a counter measure to the expansion of Bolshevism.
Meanwhile, labor unions, students, intellectuals, etc. united on the left to support the Republicans to stop the spread of fascism.
Moreover, anti-war and pacifist movements were widespread as well. Many countries in Europe were concerned that a Civil War in Spain could spark a Second World War. In fact, the Spanish Civil War was an indicator of the growing instability within Europe.
Many non-Spanish citizens also participated in the war, either as soldiers or advisors. Britain and France, as the heads of a political alliance of 27 nations, promised not to intervene in the Spanish Civil War. The USA unofficially aligned themselves with this stance.
Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union singed the non-intervention agreement officially, but still participated in arms deals with Spain.
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was a military rising originating in Morocco, headed by General Francisco Franco.
Over twelve hundred Canadian soldiers supporting Republican Spain took part in the Spanish Civil War to defend the Spanish Republic against the military rebellion led by General Franco and aided by Hitler and Mussolini. These men created a unique military unit: the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion of the XVth International Brigade of the Spanish Republican Army: ‘the Mac-Paps.’
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade (The Lincolns) fought alongside approximately 35,000 anti-fascists from fifty-two countries. In keeping with Popular Front culture, the Americans named their units the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, the George Washington Battalion, and the John Brown Battery. Together with the British, Irish, Canadian, and other nationals they formed the Fifteenth In- ternational Brigade.
The International Brigade consisted of, for example, US volunteers in the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, German volunteers in the Thaelmann Battalion, and Canadians in the MacKenzie-Papineau Battalion. The International Brigades were 40,000 strong coming from 52 countries
When the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion arrived in Spain it was incorporated into the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. Later it became part of the 15th International Brigade.
The battalion first saw action at Fuentes de Ebro on 13th October 1937. In this offensive 60 were killed and 200 were wounded. The Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion also took part in the battles at Teruel in December 1937 and Ebro in July 1938. By the end of the Spanish Civil War almost half of the Canadian volunteers had been killed.
Some 16,000 gave their lives fighting fascism. The contingents were approximately:
U.S. and Britain, 2,500 each
Latin America, 1,000
An International Non-Intervention Committee, and the Foreign Enlistment Act prohibiting travel to Spain cut down on relief troops for the International Brigade. In October 1938 the International Brigade was withdrawn from combat and disbanded. The financial problem of getting home to Canada was solved by two private citizens.