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The taking of Seville

Sorry about the wordiness of this entry; that's how I roll.

Seville, the capital of Andalusia in the south of Spain, was the only large city captured by the Fascist rebels in the early days of the Spanish Civil War, and it served as their base of operations for the next three years. It was an unexpected victory; Seville was a stronghold of the republican* workers' organizations Unión General de Trabajadores and Confederación Nacional de Trabajo.

Note and caveat: the version of events I am relating here is what I got from Wyden's The Passionate War, backed up by some other 30-year-old books. Wikipædia says that while this narrative has attained mythic status, more recent research by Paul Preston contradicts it. I haven't read Preston's book yet but you probably should before you cite this account as authoritative or something.

General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, the happy fellow to the left, had recently joined the Fascist conspiracy among high-ranking officers of the Spanish army, probably out of resentment at the way his friend Zamora, the former president, had been treated by the republican government. He arrived in Seville on July 17, 1936, with only a couple of people with him.

Went into the army headquarters, where nobody was because it was too hot, and took an office over for himself. Then he tracked down the division commander General Fernández Villa-Abrille, and demanded that he swear allegiance to the Fascist cause. Villa-Abrille refused -- not out of any principle but because he was worried the rebellion would be unsuccessful -- so Queipo de Llano arrested him and his staff. No locks were handy so he ordered them to stay in the room, and not come out or he'd shoot them.

Then he walked over to the infantry barracks (presumably leaving someone behind to guard the prisoners), walked up to the commander there, whom he did not know, and said: "I shake your hand, my dear Colonel, and congratulate you on your decision to put yourself on the side of your brothers-in-arms in these hours when the fate of our country is being decided." His chutzpah went unrewarded however; the colonel said he was supporting the government. Queipo de Llano arrested him, then one by one arrested other officers until he finally found somebody who would take command of the regiment under Fascist colors.

They took the guns out into the central square of Seville and started shelling the Hotel Ingleterra, where the republican government officials were holed up. By the time the UGT and CNT got wind of what was happening and started resisting, governor Varela had already surrendered and the Fascists had taken over Radio Seville's transmitter, from where they were broadcasting notices that they were now in charge and everybody should take it easy and submit. The Fascists also took charge of the airport early on, and started getting reinforcements flown in from Morocco. In the meantime, Queipo de Llano had a couple of army trucks drive repeatedly down the main streets so it would look like there were a lot of soldiers ready to enforce.


Further reading

The Passionate War by Peter Wyden, 1983.
The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas, 1977.
The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain by Pierre Broué and Emile Témime, tr. Tony White, 1970.
A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War by Paul Preston, 1996

* (I know, weird: they were called "republican" but they wore white hats. Go figure.)


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 10th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
The democracies react: 1936

BRITAIN: What's all this, then? Something happening in Spain? Eh?
GERMANY: Nein! Uh. No, of course not! Silly. Go back to sleep.
UNITED STATES: Spain? Where? What? ...Hey, has anyone seen Ernest Hemingway?
GERMANY: I'm sure he's just writing a novel somewhere.
FRANCE: Oh I have had too much cheese.
GERMANY: Ja, you should have more cheese! And then a nap!
BRITAIN: Well, as long as you're sure nothing interesting is happening in Spain.
GERMANY: Nothing at all.
BRITAIN: All right then.
UNITED STATES: I'm sure Hemingway will turn up somewhere.
FRANCE: I love cheese.
Sep. 10th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)
RUSSIA: *silently grinding an axe in the corner*
Sep. 11th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
Ba ha ha! Brilliance.
Sep. 22nd, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
Excellent! XD
Sep. 10th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
Always interesting to know more about this war
From an American point of view, it's easy to overlook any aspect of modern history that we weren't overtly involved in. We're very nation-centric (seems there should be another word for that) in that way. Heck, look at my use of the word "American" as if there was no Canada or Mexico.

I was talking with some comic book fans about the Spanish Civil War and we had an interesting conundrum: who were the "good guys?"

One side is supported by Stalin, the other by Hitler.

This was relevant for a comic book discussion since Wolverine, a Canadian hero named Puck and Ernest Hemmingway (yes, him) teamed up to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and a 1940's era hero named, interestingly enough, Captain Terror fought in the war prior to his published adventures. We (as fans) were speculating on which side Captain Terror would have taken.

We came to the conclusion that, given his red costume with yellow highlights and his rich-man-helping-the-suffering secret identity, that he may have been a rich idealistic communist back when it was socially acceptable (or at least not prosecutable) to be one.
Sep. 10th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Always interesting to know more about this war
You can read some more about the war -- or at least about the reading I've been doing about the war -- at my non-LJ blog, READIN.
Sep. 10th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, wow that's ballsy. I suspect if, as someone above mentioned, Wolverine fought in the Spanish Civil War, he would be this guy.
Sep. 10th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
Man, you'd think the Spanish Civil War would be taught in schools more, since it seems to have a lot of effect on WWII. Instead, the most interest I gleaned about it came from Pan's Labyrinth, which made me feel foolish for not knowing that much.
Sep. 10th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah, totally. I didn't see Pan's Labyrinth; I got interested in it from The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis but I felt the same way, like how come I don't know anything more than very general stuff about this war?
Sep. 11th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)
For me it was Homage to Catalonia, which I most wholeheartedly recommend to anyone interested. (Not so much as a history book but as a book about people and idealism and war and revolution and George Orwell's total hotness.)
Sep. 11th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
Yeah, that one was recommended to me when I started looking for books about the Spanish Civil War -- reckon I will read it sometime soon. (BTW I know it's "theflyingfish" but every time I see your handle I think, "theflyinghotty". Nice avatar, is that Escher?)
Sep. 11th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
I am forced to admit that I actually pronounce it ['go.ti], because Shaw was wrong. And yeah, it's Escher's Tower of Babel.
Sep. 12th, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
Yeah, I went over to your profile after I posted that question and saw. It was part of what motivated me to do a post about towers today.
Sep. 13th, 2008 09:25 am (UTC)
Ha, I'm interested after studying Dario Fo (Accidental Death Of An Anarchist, author of) in drama class in high school. I keep meaning to get books out, I'll look up this Preston guy.
Sep. 11th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
haha pan's labyrinth taught me so much, mostly that it takes more practice to understand latin amerian spanish than that of spain, since i barely needed the subtitles and if i ever watch something on tv i NEED them.
Sep. 11th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
Wow. Too bad that guy was a fascist, he had some serious cojones.

As for your Republican asterisk - by definition, a Republican is any person who supports a government without a hereditary monarchy.

(P.S. where's the part where a curious girl teaches everyone about courage, individuality, and freedom of choice?)
Sep. 11th, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah I know -- I was just joking about "republican" -- for the first several chapters of reading this book, every time my eye crossed over that word I'd be like Oh no, not the fucking Republicans again. Took me a few days to get used to the new (old) meaning.
Sep. 11th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
(I think the curious girl was in the Pyrenees with Gary Cooper.)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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