"Spanish nationalists" is an informal name given to a collection of Spanish generals and their supporters, largely fascist in nature, who launched an insurrection against the Republican government in 1936. After a period of civil war, the nationalists, under the leadership of General Francisco Franco, defeated the Republicans, and established the authoritarian Spanish State.

Spanish Nationalists in Southern Victory[]

The Nationalists were a political faction in Spain in the 1930s. With the support of the United Kingdom and France, the Nationalists rose up against King Alfonso XIII, triggering the Spanish Civil War. Despite belated support from Germany, the king's supporters were defeated. Alfonso was overthrown and the monarchy was abolished. The new Nationalist government became loosely aligned with the Entente, but did not participate in the Second Great War.

Spanish Nationalists in The War That Came Early[]

The Spanish Nationalists, primarily under the leadership of José Sanjurjo, fought an ongoing civil war against Spanish Republican forces from 1936 on. The Nationalists received aid from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. By 1938, Sanjurjo's forces held roughly half the country. This did not include Madrid, however..[1]

Sanjurjo in turn supported Adolf Hitler's demand for the Sudentenland in 1938. When that demand led to a Second World War Sanjurjo also declared war on Britain and France.[2] He personally led the siege of Gibraltar, with the aid of German and Italian forces, and oversaw its fall in early 1939.[3] After this, however, foreign aid to both sides dried up, as Germany and the Allies were concentrating all their efforts on the fighting in France.[4] Nonetheless, in March 1939, Sanjurjo decided to concentrate on taking Madrid.[5]

Initially, the Nationalists gained some momentum, taking the University City District within a few weeks.[6] However, they could not get into Madrid proper. The Republicans succeeded in pushing the Nationalists out of University City by the middle of the summer.[7] Sanjurjo maintained the offensive on Madrid for the remainder of the year, and into the next, but the line outside Madrid continued to hold on into 1940.[8] Even the "big switch" of Summer of 1940 didn't particularly advantage the Nationalists; while Britain and France now aligned with Germany and were no longer supplying the Spanish Republic, Germany was not in a position to help the Nationalists much more than they had been.[9] The Republic also gained one unexpected advantage: the arrival of a regiment of Czechoslovak troops who had been fighting in France, and refused to join the war against the Soviet Union.[10]

As fighting dragged on into 1941, the Spanish Civil War was once again a stalemate. Gradually, things began to turn against the Nationalists through 1941. The British military launched a coup that deposed the appeasement-minded government of Horace Wilson in the spring.[11] Britain promptly withdrew from the Soviet Union, and began bombing German territory while fighting Italy in North Africa. While France continued its alliance with Germany for the time being, the French government also began supplying weapons to the Republic.[12] And in December, Czech sniper Vaclav Jezek killed Francisco Franco, one of Sanjurjo's most talented generals.[13]

The Nationalists managed to hold their positions throughout 1942 and into early 1943. Vaclav Jezek actively pursued Sanjurjo, but for the longest time, Sanjurjo didn't oblige him.[14] Finally, on a rainy day in the Fall of 1943, Sanjurjo visited the front, and Jezek shot him in the face.[15]

The Nationalists fell to infighting almost immediately, allowing the Republicans to rapidly retake the country. Several Nationalist officers fled to Portugal. Others were caught by the Republicans and summarily tried and executed. Finally, in early 1944, José Millán Astray became the last overall commander of the Nationalists just long enough to formally surrender and end the war.[16] The Nationalists were broken, and the Republic began hunting down Spanish citizens who'd supported Sanjurjo.


  1. Hitler's War, pg. 434.
  2. Ibid., pg. 20.
  3. Ibid., pgs. 206-209.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 327-328.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 434-435, 441-444.
  6. West and East, pg. 50.
  7. Ibid., pg. 176.
  8. The Big Switch, pg. 155.
  9. Ibid., pg. 245.
  10. Ibid., pg. 352.
  11. Coup d'Etat, pgs. 151-152.
  12. Ibid., pgs. 205-206.
  13. Ibid., pg. pgs. 408-409.
  14. Two Fronts, generally.
  15. Last Orders, pg. 144-146.
  16. Ibid., pgs. 287-289.