The Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War, fought between July 17, 1936 and April 1, 1939, pitted the Republicans loyal to the Spanish Republic and the Nationalists, rebel forces led by General Francisco Franco. In many ways, the Spanish Civil War pitted communism (as Republican forces were aided by the Soviet Union) against facism (as Nationalist forces were aided by Germany and Italy).

Canada did not officially enter the war. However, like many other countries, volunteers travelled from Canada to take part in the war. By 1937, approximately 1200 volunteers from Canada were involved in the conflict, leading to the formation of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, named after the leaders of the 1837 Rebellions. Canadians also served in the American Abraham Lincoln and George Washington Battalions. All of the units served with the Republican side.

The Battalion fought in three major battles, the Battle of Teruel (December 1937-March 1938), the Aragon Offensive (March-April 1938) and Battle of the Ebro (July-September 1938. Afterwards, Spanish Prime Minister Negrin ordered the International Brigades (which included the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion) withdrawn. In March 1939, Madrid fell and the Nationalists declared victory.

Researched and written by John Milner.

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