Today in World History: February 16th

On this day in 1936, the Popular Front was elected into the Spanish government. A coalition of parties, it sought to end fascism in Spain, allied with the Russian Communist Party. It led the Spanish nation through the beginning of Hitler’s rise as German Chancellor, until they lost the Spanish Civil War. Led by Francisco Franco, the Nationalists wanted a more fascist government, as they were largely allies of Hitler. They eventually won, ousting the Popular Front from their seat in Madrid in 1939, three years after the war began and the Popular Front was elected. It was a bloody fight, using bombs and new types of tanks, with mass killings on the Nationalist side and smaller yet still atrocious murders on the Republican side. Despite it being an internal conflict, both sides had outside help, with the Republicans allied to Mexico, the Soviet Union, and individual volunteers from around the world. Meanwhile, the Nationalists had help from Germany, Italy, and Portugal. Francisco Franco would rule Spain until his death in 1975. Spain transformed from a democracy to a dictatorship to a democracy in less than forty years.

“I am responsible only to God and history.”

-Francisco Franco

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