Tom Goldstein,"Nazi Germany and the Spanish Civil War:
Continuity in Hitler's Foreign Policy"


politicians desiring to modernize Spain encountered stiff resistance from traditional elements in society such as the military, the Catholic Church, and large landowners. By 1936 the electorate was virtually split down the middle, and the leftist Popular Front coalition (including Socialists, Communists, liberal Republicans) barely defeated rightist parties in the elections that year. After their narrow electoral victory, the Popular Front attempted to instigate more social reforms. Disappointed with rightists' failure to gain power through political means, the army, under Generals Sanjurjo, Mola, and Franco, led a rebellion of "Nationalists" in July against the Republic.3 In short, the Republic failed, and as a result, both sides requested help from abroad.

The three generals, though, were actually not all in Spain at the start of the rebellion. Sanjurjo was in Portugal, and was killed in a plane crash en route back to Spain before any major military action could occur. Mola, meanwhile, had raised 6,000 troops in Pamplona in eastern Spain, but still needed Franco's Army of Africa, which was stationed in Spanish Morocco just across the Straits of Gibraltar. The Army of Africa was Spain's most effective fighting force, but because the Spanish Navy had remained loyal to the Republic, Franco, with only a small number of transport aircraft, could not get his troops to mainland Spain.4 Franco first turned to Italy for help, requesting its assistance in transporting troops. Italy declined for the moment, leaving Franco to try to obtain German help.

Franco knew that getting Germany to provide transport aircraft would not be easy. In order to improve his chances of obtaining German aid, Franco contacted Johannes

3. Ibid., 15-17.
4. Gerald Howson. Arms for Spain: The Untold Story of the Spanish Civil War (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998), 9-16.
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