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


Communists attempted to wrest complete control of the situation in Barcelona from their allies, in 1938, with the Nationalists closing in on the city.10 The resulting civil war within the civil war was marked by great atrocities committed by the Communists, and the Germans were very quick to bring attention to those acts. Thus Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels painted the Communists as 'barbaric' while painting the Germans as 'honorable.' As Guernica in 1937 was to prove, this latter point, of course, was not the case. Yet Goebbels still attempted to, and no doubt did, convince many Germans and some non-Germans that the Nazi government was indeed the 'defender of civilization.'

Indeed, many in Britain and France became even more suspicious about the Communists because of the Spanish Civil War. Even Winston Churchill, by no means a supporter of Fascism, seemed to place greater blame on Communists for starting the war, as he stated in a July 19, 1937 House of Commons speech:

It is well known that ordinary guarantees for safety and order had largely lapsed in Spain, that it was not safe for people to go out at night over large areas, that murders and outrages were rife, and that constitutional parliamentary government was being used as a mere mask, a screen, to cover the swift, stealthy and deadly advance of the extreme Communist or anarchist factions, who saw, according to the regular programme of Communist revolutions, the means by which they could obtain power. It was when confronted with a situation like that that this violent explosion took place in Spain.11
Even if Hitler could not convince the democracies that Germany was free of barbarism, they could at least drive a wedge between the democracies and the Soviets, preventing the recreation of the alliance that hampered German war plans in World War I by forcing a two front war. Morever, by alienating the two sides, Hitler could more freely pursue an

10. Gerald Howson. Arms for Spain: The Untold Story of the Spanish Civil War (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998), 242-245.
11. Robert Rhodes James, ed. Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963: Volume VI, 1935-1942. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1974, 5874.
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