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The Historical Guide to Dealing with Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine

Our Spanish Civil War?

by Victor Davis Hanson


Deep and brutal strife in 1930s Spain was a prelude to the barbarity of World War II. Now with the war in Ukraine, we’re reminded that the veneer of civilization is very thin.


From 1936 to 1939, the civil war in Spain became a European laboratory of new tactics, strategies, logistics, wartime morality, and weapons. Right-wing nationalists under General Francisco Franco finally defeated loyal supporters of an evolutionary socialist republic—but only after much of the Western world had variously weighed in.

The cost to the Spanish people of such brutal and vicious strife was horrific. Over 500,000 Spaniards would die in a little over two-and-a-half years. The country was left in shambles.

Dictatorships in Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and autocratic Portugal poured millions of dollars in military aid and money for Franco’s efforts to seize power. In turn, the Soviet Union often matched that aid with shipments to various communists, socialists, and anarchists of the Popular Front forces.

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