|Part of the Spanish Civil War|
Map of Spain in March 1939.
|Commanders and leaders|
Council of National Defense:
| 250,000 −500,000 men |
| 1,000,000 men |
|Casualties and losses|
| Casado's coup: 230 –2,000 dead |
Final offensive: 150,000 captured
|1,223 dead (sinking of the Castillo de Olite)|
The final offensive of the Spanish Civil War took place between 26 March and 1 April 1939, towards the end of the Spanish Civil War. On 5 March 1939, the Republican Army, led by Colonel Segismundo Casado and the politician Julián Besteiro, rose against the Socialist prime minister Juan Negrín, and formed a military junta, the National Defence Council (Consejo Nacional de Defensa or CND) to negotiate a peace deal. Negrín fled to France but the Communist troops around Madrid rose against the junta, starting a civil war within the civil war. Casado defeated them and started peace negotiations with the Nationalists. Francisco Franco, however, was prepared to accept only an unconditional surrender. On 26 March, the Nationalists started a general offensive and by 31 March, they controlled all of Spanish territory. Hundreds of thousands of Republicans were arrested and interned in concentration camps.
The Spanish Civil War was a civil war in Spain fought from 1936 to 1939. Republicans loyal to the elected, left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, in alliance with anarchists, fought against a revolt by the Nationalists, an alliance of Falangists, monarchists, conservatives and Catholics, led by a military group among whom General Francisco Franco soon achieved a preponderant role. Due to the international political climate at the time, the war had many facets, and was variously viewed as class struggle, a war of religion, a struggle between dictatorship and republican democracy, between revolution and counterrevolution, between fascism and communism. It has been frequently called the "dress rehearsal" for World War II.
The Spanish Republican Army was the main branch of the Armed Forces of the Second Spanish Republic between 1931 and 1939.
Segismundo Casado López was a Spanish Army officer in the Second Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War, commanding the Republican Spanish Army in 1939.
After the fall of Catalonia in February 1939, the military situation of the Republic was hopeless. Despite still having the capital city and approximately 30% of Spanish territory, it had lost 220,000 soldiers, the second most populated city in the country and the industrial resources of Catalonia.Furthermore, on 27 February, President Manuel Azaña resigned. The United Kingdom and France then recognised the Nationalist government.
The Catalonia Offensive was part of the Spanish Civil War. The Nationalist Army started the offensive on December 23, 1938, and rapidly conquered Republican-held Catalonia with Barcelona. Barcelona was captured on January 26, 1939. The Republican government headed for the French border. Thousands of people fleeing the Nationalists also crossed the frontier in the following month, to be placed in internment camps. Franco closed the border with France by February 10, 1939.
Manuel Azaña Díaz was a Spanish politician who served as Prime Minister of the Second Spanish Republic and the last President of the Republic (1936–1939).
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
The Republican army still had between 250,000and 500,000 men but only 40 aircraft (three Natasha and two Katiuska bomber squadrons, and 25 Chatos and Moscas fighters), little artillery and few automatic weapons. Many soldiers were unarmed (in December 1938, the Republican army had only 225,000 rifles), and lacked shoes and overcoats. In Madrid, there was food for only two months and no water, heating, medicine or surgical dressings. On the other hand, the Nationalist army had more than a million men at the end of 1938, with.35,000 Moroccans, 32,000 Italians and 5,000 Germans, as well as 600 aircraft.
The Polikarpov R-Z was a Soviet reconnaissance bomber aircraft of the 1930s. It was a revised version of the Polikarpov R-5 which was built in large numbers between 1935 and 1937. It was used in combat during the Spanish Civil War as well as the Winter War and Battle of Khalkhin Gol.
The Tupolev ANT-40, also known by its service name Tupolev SB and development co-name TsAGI-40, was a high speed twin-engined three-seat monoplane bomber, first flown in 1934. The Tupolev design was advanced but lacked refinement, much to the dismay of crews, maintenance personnel, and Stalin, who pointed out that "there are no trivialities in aviation".
The Polikarpov I-15 was a Soviet biplane fighter aircraft of the 1930s. Nicknamed Chaika because of its gulled upper wings, it was operated in large numbers by the Soviet Air Force, and together with the Polikarpov I-16 monoplane, was one of the standard fighters of the Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, where it was called Chato (snub-nose).
On 16 February, the high command of the Republican Army told Prime Minister Juan Negrín that further military resistance was impossible.Most of the members of the Republican Army, the PSOE, the UGT and the CNT believed that it was necessary to initiate peace negotiations. Nevertheless, Negrín, backed by the Communist PCE, wanted to continue fighting because Franco rejected giving any guarantee against reprisals and a continental war against fascism was believed to be imminent. Furthermore, Negrín wanted to organise the evacuation of those who were most at risk.
Juan Negrín y López was a Spanish politician and physician. He was a leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) and served as finance minister. He was President of the Council of Ministers of the Second Spanish Republic several times between 1937 and 1945, already in exile. He was the last Loyalist premier of Spain (1937–39), and presided over the defeat of the Republican forces by the rebel faction under General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. He died in exile in Paris, France.
The Unión General de Trabajadores is a major Spanish trade union, historically affiliated with the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE).
The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo is a Spanish confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labour unions, which was long affiliated with the International Workers' Association (AIT). When working with the latter group it was also known as CNT-AIT. Historically, the CNT has also been affiliated with the Federación Anarquista Ibérica ; thus, it has also been referred to as the CNT-FAI. Throughout its history, it has played a major role in the Spanish labor movement.
From the end of February 1939, Colonel Segismundo Casado had been preparing a coup against the Negrín government to start peace negotiations with the Nationalists, believing that the government was too subordinate to the Communists. Colonel José Cendaño, a fifth column agent in the Republican army, promised to him that Franco would guarantee the lives of the Republican officers who had committed no crimes.Most noncommunist elements of the Popular Front in Madrid supported the plot, including one of the leaders of the PSOE, Julián Besteiro, because they believed that continuing the war was useless. Furthermore, after the surrender of Menorca, many Republican officers in the central zone believed that they could negotiate a deal with the Nationalists.
A coup d'état, also known as a putsch (German:), a golpe de estado (Spanish/Portuguese), or simply as a coup, means the overthrow of an existing government; typically, this refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.
A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. This term is also extended to organised actions by military personnel. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathizers with an external force.
The Popular Front in Spain's Second Republic was an electoral coalition and pact signed in January 1936 by various left-wing political organizations, instigated by Manuel Azaña for the purpose of contesting that year's election. In Catalonia and today's Valencian Community the name of the coalition was Front d'Esquerres.
On 2 March, Negrín announced a number of new appointments in the Central Zone.Colonel Casado and the communists Juan Modesto and Antonio Cordón García became generals, General Manuel Matallana was appointed as head of the central general staff and communist officers were appointed to command the ports of Murcia (Manuel Tagüeña), Alicante (Etelvino Vega) and Cartagena (Francisco Galán). (according to Beevor, Francisco Galán was appointed military governor of Cartagena, Etelvino Vega governor of Alicante, Leocadio Mendiola commander of Murcia and Inocencio Curto commander of Albacete). The noncommunist elements believed that the communists wanted to control the evacuation harbors and joined the plot against Negrín.
Juan Guilloto León, usually referred to as Modesto or Juan Modesto, was a Republican army officer during the Spanish Civil War.
Antonio Cordón García. was a Spanish soldier, born in Sevilla, who commanded during the Spanish Civil War.
Manuel Matallana Gomez was a Spanish officer and lawyer. A son of a military officer, he joined the Spanish army and participated in the Rif War. He supported the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War. In November 1936 he was a member of the general Miaja’s staff during the battle of Madrid. After that, he was promoted to colonel and on July 1937 he was the chief of staff of Miaja during the battle of Brunete, and then later promoted again to general. On February 1939 he said to the prime minister Negrin that it was impossible to continue the war and on March 1939 he joined Casado's coup against the Negrin government. After the end of the war, he was detained and imprisoned by the Nationalists. He died in Madrid in 1952.
On 5 March 1939, Colonel Segismundo Casado, supported by General Matallana, the CNT(Cipriano Mera), the secret service of the Republic (the Military Investigation Service, Servicio de Investigación Militar, or SIM ), a section of the PSOE (Julian Besteiro) and a section of the UGT (Wenceslao Carrillo), deposed Negrín and formed a military junta, the National Council of Defense (Consejo Nacional de Defensa) in order to negotiate a peace deal with Franco. On 6 March, Miaja joined the rebellion and was appointed president of the junta. The other members of the junta were Casado, Julian Besteiro, Wenceslao Carrillo, Gonzalez Marín and Eduardo Val (CNT), Antonio Perez (UGT), and the republicans Miguel San Andrés and Jose del Río.
Colonel Adolfo Prada was appointed commander of the Army of the Centre, the communist commanders of the I, II and III Army Corps of the Army of the Centre were relieved, the PCE's newspaper Mundo Obrero was closed and Casado ordered massive arrests of communist commissars and militants.Ironically, Casado's justification for the coup was that Negrín and the PCE wanted to carry out a communist takeover, an identical justification to that of the Nationalist uprising, which began the Civil War, but in fact, he rose against the government because he wanted to negotiate peace and believed that removing Negrín and the communists was a precondition to negotiations with Franco. In addition to other assurances, the British government said to him that Franco would guarantee the lives of the Republicans. Casado had said to the commander of the Republican Air Force, Hidalgo de Cisneros: "I give you my word...that I can obtain better terms from Franco than Negrín ever can. I can even assure you that they will res our ranks".
After a failed attempt to negotiate with Casado, Negrín fled to France from the Monovar's airfield, near Elda, with Hidalgo de Cisneros, the leaders of the PCE (La Pasionaria and Vicente Uribe), and the foreign minister Julio Álvarez del Vayo on 6 March to avoid capture by the supporters of Casado(Casado wanted to arrest the government and the PCE's leaders and to hand them over to the Nationalists).
Casado's coup was supported by the commanders of the other three Armies of the Republican Army (Leopoldo Menéndez López, commander of the Levante Army; Antonio Escobar, commander of the Estremadura Army; and Domingo Moriones, commander of the Andalusia Army).Nevertheless, the army units settled around Madrid and controlled by the PCE (the I corps of the Army of the Centre led by Luis Barceló and the Emilio Bueno’s II and Colonel Antonio Ortega’s III Corps), rose against the junta on 7 March, starting a brief civil war inside the Republic. Barceló appointed himself as commander of the Army of the Centre, and his troops closed all the entrances to Madrid, occupied most of the city centre and detained and shot three of Casado's colonels. Casado's supporters held only some government buildings and the southeast of the city. Nevertheless, Mera's IV corps counterattacked and occupied Torrejón and Alcalá de Henares as the Nationalists started an offensive towards the Manzanares. By 10 March, Barceló's troops had been surrounded, and a ceasefire was arranged. On 11 March, after days of bloody combat, Casado, backed by the IV corps of Cipriano Mera, defeated Barceló’s troops. Barceló and his commissar, José Conesa, were arrested and executed. There were hundreds of dead (Thomas: 230, Jackson: 1,000, and Beevor: 2,000 dead ).
There was also combat in Ciudad Real and Cartagena. In Ciudad Real, Escobar's Extremadura Army crushed the communist resistance led by the deputy Martínez Cárton.Nevertheless, in Cartagena (the main base of the Spanish Republican Navy), where the supporters of Casado, backed by elements of the a fifth column, had started the uprising against Negrín's government on 4 March, they were defeated by the PCE's 206th Brigade, of the IV Division, led by colonel Joaquín Rodríguez, after a brief battle, on 7 March. Nevertheless, on 5 March, the Republican Navy (three cruisers and eight destroyers), led by Admiral Buiza, had fled to Bizerte after a Nationalist aerial bombardment. One Nationalist transport ship, the Castillo de Olite , sent by the Nationalists in order to support the uprising, was sunk by the coastal batteries of Cartagena, killing 1,200 Nationalist soldiers.
After the defeat of Barceló's troops, the Council tried to start peace negotiations with Franco, hoping to achieve a guarantee against political reprisals. On 12 March, the Council proposed a peace deal with a guarantee against reprisals and a period of 25 days to allow anyone who wanted to leave Spain to do so. On 16 March, Franco answered that he would only accept an unconditional surrender.On 23 March, the Council sent two negotiators to Burgos (Colonel Antonio Garijo and Major Leopoldo Ortega), and the Nationalists told them that on 25 March, the Republican Air Force had to be surrendered and by 27 March, the Republican troops had to raise the white flag. Nevertheless, on 25 March, the Republicans did not surrender their Air Force because of bad weather and Franco then broke off negotiations with the junta.
On 26 March, Yagüe’s troops advanced in Sierra Morena. There was no resistance, and in one day they captured 200,000 km2 of land and 30,000 prisoners.The Junta ordered its soldiers not to resist the Nationalist advance, and the Republican soldiers threw away their weapons and abandoned the front. By 27 March, the Nationalists were advancing on all fronts without resistance. Solchaga's Navarra Corps, Gambara's CTV and Garcia Valiño's Army of Maestrazgo advanced from Toledo. On 28 March, Colonel Prada, commander of the Army of the Centre, surrendered to the Nationalist troops, who occupied Madrid. Casado and the other members of the junta, except Besteiro, fled to Valencia. On 29 March, the Nationalists occupied Jaén, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Albacete and Sagunto. 50,000 Republican refugees gathered at the harbours of Valencia, Alicante, Cartagena and Gandia but without the Republican navy, an evacuation was impossible since the French and the British governments refused to organise an evacuation. Only a minority, those who had money to pay for passage, were evacuated by British ships (between 650 and more than 3,500 ), Casado among them. On 30 March, the Nationalists occupied Valencia and Gambara’s troops entered Alicante, rounding up 15,000 Republican refugees. Italian General Gambara was prepared to permit the evacuation of political refugees, but on 31 March, the Nationalist troops arrived and took over jurisdiction from Gambara. As a result, many refugees committed suicide to avoid capture by the Nationalists. On 31 March, the Nationalists occupied Almeria, Murcia and Cartagena, controlling all Spanish territory except for an area of the port of Alicante, where thousands of Republicans expecting evacuation had assembled. They began giving themselves up on 31 March, but the operation was suspended for the night. The last 2000 surrendered the next morning, and approximately 25 committed suicide. By 1 April 1939, the war was effectively over.
On 1 April 1939, the day the war ended, the Soviet Union was the only major power that had not yet recognized Franco's government.The new regime had signed a Non-Aggression Pact with Portugal and a treaty of friendship with Nazi Germany on 31 March, and on 6 April, Franco made public Spain's adherence to the Anti-Comintern Pact. On 20 April, the Non-Intervention Committee was dissolved, and by June, both Italian and German troops had left Spain. The Francoist dictatorship remained in power until Franco's death on 20 November 1975.
Casado remained in exile in Venezuela until he returned to Spain in 1961.Cipriano Mera fled to Oran and Casablanca, but he was extradited to Spain in February 1942. In 1943, he was condemned to death, a sentence that was changed for 30 years in prison; he was set free in 1946 and fled to France , where he died in 1975. Matallana was detained and imprisoned by the Nationalists and died in Madrid in 1956. Besteiro, still at his post in the basement of the Revenue Building at 7 Alcalá Street in Madrid, was arrested by the Nationalists when they entered the city and faced a court martial. Sentenced to 30 years in prison, he died there of an infection that resulted from an injury to his hand in 1940.
The Nationalists arrested hundreds of thousands of Republican soldiers and civilians, with 150,000 soldiers captured in the final offensive, and herded them into improvised concentration camps. There were between 367,000 and 500,000 prisoners in 1939.In the first years after the war, 50,000 Republican prisoners were executed.
Casado's coup and the last days of the war are the background of the Max Aub's novels, Campo del Moroand Campo de los Almendros.
The Battle of the Ebro was the longest and largest battle of the Spanish Civil War. It took place between July and November 1938, with fighting mainly concentrated in two areas on the lower course of the Ebro River, the Terra Alta comarca of Catalonia, and the Auts area close to Fayón (Faió) in the lower Matarranya, Eastern Lower Aragon. These sparsely populated areas saw the largest array of armies in the war. The results of the battle were disastrous for the Second Spanish Republic, with tens of thousands of dead and wounded and little effect on the advance of the Nationalists.
Cipriano Mera Sanz was a Spanish military and political figure during the Second Spanish Republic.
This article covers the Spanish Civil War in the period from the start of 1938 to the end of 1939. For a historical context, see Timeline of Spanish history#20th century.
Julián Besteiro Fernández was a Spanish socialist politician, elected to the Cortes Generales and in 1931 as Speaker of the Constituent Cortes of the Spanish Republic. He also was elected several times to the town council of Madrid. During the same period, he was a university professor of philosophy and logic, and dean of the department at the University of Madrid.
The Battle of Málaga was the culmination of an offensive in early 1937 by the combined Nationalist and Italian forces to eliminate Republican control of the province of Málaga during the Spanish Civil War. The participation of Moroccan regulars and Italian tanks from the recently arrived Corpo Truppe Volontarie resulted in a complete rout of the Spanish Republican Army and the capitulation of Málaga in less than a week.
The Siege of Madrid was a two and a half year siege of the Spanish capital city of Madrid, during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. The city, besieged from October 1936, eventually fell to the Francoist armies on 28 March 1939. Madrid was held by various forces loyal to the Spanish Republic and was besieged and subject to aerial bombardment by the rebel faction under General Francisco Franco. The Battle of Madrid in November 1936 saw the most intense fighting in and around the city when the Nationalists made their most determined attempt to take the Republican capital.
The Aragon Offensive it was an important military campaign during the Spanish Civil War, which began after the Battle of Teruel. The offensive, which ran from March 7, 1938, to April 19, 1938, smashed the Republican forces, overran Aragon, and conquered parts of Catalonia and the Levante.
The Asturias Offensive was an offensive in Asturias during the Spanish Civil War which lasted from 1 September to 21 October 1937. 45,000 men of the Spanish Republican Army met 90,000 men of the Nationalist forces.
The Segovia Offensive was a Republican diversionary offensive which took place between 31 May and 6 June 1937, during the Spanish Civil War. The main goal of the offensive was to occupy Segovia and divert Nationalist forces from their advance on Bilbao. After a brief initial advance the offensive failed due to Nationalist air superiority.
The Cartagena uprising took place 4–7 March 1939 during the Spanish Civil War. The troop transport SS Castillo de Olite was sunk during the revolt.
Luis Barceló Jover was a Spanish military officer.
The Levante Offensive, launched near the end of March 1938, was an attempt by Nationalist forces under Francisco Franco to capture the Republican held city of Valencia during the Spanish Civil War. The Nationalists occupied the province of Castellón, but the offensive failed due to bad weather and the dogged resistance of the Republican troops at the XYZ defensive line.
Events from the year 1939 in Spain.
The National Defence Council was the governing body in Republican Spain at the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). The council seized power with Colonel Segismundo Casado’s coup on 5 March 1939 when it was clear that the Republicans had lost the war. The leaders hoped to negotiate an end to hostilities with the rebel forces led by General Francisco Franco. Franco insisted on unconditional surrender, and on 26 March 1939 launched the final offensive of the Spanish Civil War. By the end of the month he controlled the whole country. Most of the council members escaped into exile on British warships.