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The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, and Communism

The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, and Communism

Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, and Communism
    Book Description:

    In this compelling book Stanley G. Payne offers the first comprehensive narrative of Soviet and Communist intervention in the revolution and civil war in Spain. He documents in unprecedented detail Soviet strategies, Comintern activities, and the role of the Communist party in Spain from the early 1930s to the end of the civil war in 1939.

    Drawing on a very broad range of Soviet and Spanish primary sources, including many only recently available, Payne changes our understanding of Soviet and Communist intentions in Spain, of Stalin's decision to intervene in the Spanish war, of the widely accepted characterization of the conflict as the struggle of fascism against democracy, and of the claim that Spain's war constituted the opening round of World War II. The author arrives at a new view of the Spanish Civil War and concludes not only that the Democratic Republic had many undemocratic components but also that the position of the Communist party was by no means counterrevolutionary.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13078-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Soviet Policy and the Comintern in the Early Years 1917–1925
    (pp. 1-7)

    THE SOVIET REGIME was consolidated by revolutionary civil war and theoretically devoted to the expansion of the revolutionary process throughout the world. Lenin postulated that by 1917 the entire world had been brought into the capitalist sphere, and thus a great deal of it held or would soon hold the potential for socialist revolution, inaugurating what Arno Mayer has called the era of “international civil war.”¹ Consolidation of the Communist regime in Russia and the founding of the Communist International, accompanied by revolutionary agitation and outbreaks in other countries, provoked grave concern abroad, a preoccupation that strongly influenced European politics...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Communism and Revolution in Spain 1917–1931
    (pp. 8-21)

    AT THE TIME the Comintern was organized, Spain was not particularly high on its agenda, but Comintern agents were sent to Madrid at the close of 1919 to take the lead in setting up a Communist party of Spain one month later, earlier than Communist parties were organized in many other countries. In Spain the Comintern faced an unusual combination of circumstances, in which four factors may be identified as the most salient: Culturally, Spain was part of Western Europe, but of its most underdeveloped part. Economically, it was part of a largely agrarian and backward Southern Europe, a very...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Communism and the Second Republic 1931–1934
    (pp. 22-37)

    AFTER THE NEP stabilization period of the early and middle 1920s, the Soviet Union began to undergo its second major phase of radicalization as Stalin consolidated his personal power and undertook major new socialist initiatives, beginning with the collectivization of agriculture in 1928. Creating a sense of domestic and international crisis was fundamental to the new radicalization. Events of the preceding year had stimulated such an atmosphere, for in 1927 the Chinese Communists suffered catastrophe when their erstwhile Nationalist allies turned on them and drove them underground, while the Soviet government artificially contrived a war scare with Britain. By 1929...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR From Revolutionary Insurrection to Popular Front 1934–1936
    (pp. 38-82)

    THE ATTEMPT TO develop an independent, more original and imaginative Marxism-Leninism adapted to Spanish circumstances was carried on by Joaquín Maurín and the Bloque Obrero y Campesino (Worker-Peasant Bloc, or BOC), formed in Barcelona in March 1931. The name of the new group stemmed from the original Comintern ploy of 1923 to form a Groupe Ouvrier et Paysan (Worker and Peasant Group) as an electoral front for the French Communist Party. The BOC set itself the goal of forming “a Great Worker-Peasant Party,” with the political nucleus formed by the independent Catalan Communist FCC-B, while the BOC—as in the...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Communism and the Implosion of the Republic February–July 1936
    (pp. 83-108)

    THE IMPLOSION OF the Spanish Republic between the winter and summer of 1936 constituted a degenerative process without precedent. The nearest equivalents might be found in Italy, Germany, and Hungary in the immediate aftermath of World War I, but the comparability of such cases is limited, because the Central European countries were profoundly affected by the war and had not enjoyed five years of peacetime life as democratic polities, as Spain had done. The Austrian crisis of 1933–34 did take place in an established democratic republic, but, in addition to the basic left/right deadlock in internal politics (somewhat similar...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Communism and the Spanish Revolution July–August 1936
    (pp. 109-123)

    THE MILITARY REBELLION that began the Spanish Civil War was a preemptive strike by approximately half of the army, led by a diverse cadre of officers, primarily of middle and junior rank. It initially sought a new, more conservative and authoritarian republic that would put an end to the growing anarchy, the pervasive misgovernment or lack of government by the left Republicans, and the mounting threat from a profoundly disunified but ever-expanding and violent revolutionary left. Later, after the rebellion had begun, the insurgents would release forged documentation in an effort to show that the Comintern planned to take over...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN The Soviet Decision to Intervene Militarily July–October 1936
    (pp. 124-152)

    THE USSR WAS the only power that had been intervening systematically in Spanish affairs before the beginning of the Civil War, operating its own political party within the country and at long last achieving some success. By comparison, Nazi Germany limited itself to small-scale propaganda funding, and Fascist Italy, while engaging in more extensive cultural and propaganda activity, otherwise did no more than pay a small subsidy to the Falangist party from May 1935 to January 1936.¹ Rome and Berlin were both taken by surprise at the outbreak of the conflict; the surprise was slightly less in Moscow, where Comintern...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Soviet Military Participation 1936–1939
    (pp. 153-173)

    INTERVENTION IN the Spanish Civil War in some ways constituted the most extensive Soviet military action since the close of the Russian Civil War in 1921–22.¹ Many more troops had been involved in the domestic campaigns against Muslim rebels, who had finally been subdued by 1936, and more had also been used in the conquest of Outer Mongolia in 1921 and in the Manchurian operation of 1929, but other actions such as those in Iran and Sinkiang had involved no more than a handful of troops. Altogether, the number of military personnel was limited, and Soviet sources recognize little...

  13. CHAPTER NINE The Policy Struggle under the Largo Caballero Government September 1936–May 1937
    (pp. 174-220)

    SOVIET POLICY MAKERS were dissatisfied with the Largo Caballero government from the beginning, but accepted it as a reasonable start toward a viable Popular Front government. The development and comparatively rapid growth of the People’s Army were gratifying; September and October were a time of frenzied activity, both in military mobilization and in Communist expansion. The new prime minister tried to follow the official line, declaring that his government was merely fighting for the “democratic Republic” and sought to uphold the “Republican constitution.”¹ Within less than a month he even called the first rump session of the Cortes since the...

  14. CHAPTER TEN The Negrín Government 1937–1938
    (pp. 221-269)

    WITH THE FORMATION of the new government entrusted to Juan Negrín on May 17, the Communist strategy seemed to be crowned with success. As prime minister of the Republic from May 1937 to March 1939, Dr. Juan Negrín López would become the most controversial figure of the Spanish Civil War. By the winter of 1939 this Socialist politician, the principal war leader of the Republic and the champion of its policy of resistance, may also have become in some ways the single most hated personage in the Republican zone—even more than Franco. His fellow Socialist Luis Araquistain, the onetime...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN Defeat 1938–1939
    (pp. 270-289)

    URIBE PRESENTED the Comintern’s new line on the goal of the war—an understanding among Spaniards to end “the foreign invasion”—to the PCE central committee on September 29–30. The timing was fateful, for it coincided with the Munich agreement, which would demonstrate that the new line had no chance for success whatsoever. Some days later a telegram from Moscow informed Togliatti and Díaz that the Sudetenland settlement was a great blow and that the only means of assisting the Republic now lay in international worker mobilization, in itself a desperate sort of hope.¹

    The Soviet military presence was...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE Conclusion
    (pp. 290-318)

    THE TWENTIETH CENTURY was a great generator and destroyer of myths. By its end nearly all the major new political and ideological myths of the first half of the century had been discredited. Of them all, however, probably none has been more enduring than the myth of the Spanish Republic. The myth of fascism was rapidly destroyed, whereas myths connected with the varying forms of communism endured for years, with new forms emerging in the second half of the century. Nonetheless, by the end of the century they were dead or moribund. The myth of the Spanish Republic, by comparison,...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 319-378)
  18. Index
    (pp. 379-400)