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Manual Fighting for Franco: International Volunteers in Nationalist Spain During the Spanish Civil War

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BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | The other volunteers

In certain respects, "los otros Internacionales"can be seen as a mirror image of the International Brigades - idealists motivated by anti-communism rather than anti-fascism or Christianity rather than secular republicanism - who played a premature role in an ideological civil war which would consume all of Europe in The dictators who supported intervention on both sides - Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler - were motivated by a similar self-interested cocktail of ideology, geopolitics and prestige.

But it would be wrong to regard Franco's supporters as idealists in the same way as the volunteers of the International Brigades. Few of the German and Italian combatants who made up the bulk of Franco's foreign supporters were volunteers. For Hitler, the small but effective Condor Legion the expeditionary force drawn from the Luftwaffe that was responsible for the bombing of Guernica provided a valuable testing ground for modern weapons and new tactics.

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Despite its name, Mussolini's much less successful Corpo Truppe Volontarie, was also a state-sponsored force, composed of regular Italian soldiers, Blackshirt militia men and some genuine volunteers. The motives of Franco's more genuine volunteers also tend to reflect poorly on the nationalist cause. Franco - as Othen vividly demonstrates - attracted an unsavoury collection of anti-Semites, fascists, adventurers and cranks.

Many, particularly from impoverished Morocco and Portugal, fought for money rather than principles. The involvement of almost 80, Islamic combatants demonstrated the hollowness of the Christian rhetoric of Franco's crusade. But it was this aspect of the conflict which most appealed to the Irishmen who volunteered for Franco, many of whom became disillusioned by the reality of life in nationalist Spain. In other respects, the Irish Brigade was more representative.


  • Fighting for Franco.
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  • Shining a light on Franco's genuine and unsavoury collection of volunteers.
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In contrast to the left, the far-right volunteer militias were not motivated by internationalism. Franco soon realised that the ineffective units that arrived in Spain were led by cynical opportunists who regarded the war as a means of advancing their own political ambitions at home. Christopher Othen provides an accessible introduction into this neglected aspect of the Spanish Civil War, but it is one which focuses on personalities and colour rather than analysis.

Despite the scholarly footnotes and bibliography, it is marred by inaccuracies and adds little to Judith Keene's more authoritative Fighting for Franco Volume Oxford Academic. Google Scholar.

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Associate Professor Judith Keene

Don't have an account? Moreover, Keene fails to compare these people with those who served the Republic The problems with this work begin early The book also betrays a lack of knowledge of Spanish military terminology Although Fighting For Franco has some interesting anecdotes about the experiences of some of the volunteers for the Nationalists, and should be read by specialists in the Spanish Civil War, it is not the definitive treatment of the subject.

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