What really happened under the "cloudless" sky of Seville and Grenada in those legendary days? Against whom and for what did our great-grandfathers fight there? Why did the Soviet Union intervene in this conflict and what did it lead to subsequently?
Encyclopedia of Delusions
In this article, I do not intend to examine in detail the causes and course of the Spanish Civil War. Let the local researchers and historians do this. We will talk about the many myths and misconceptions regarding this event that have accumulated in our country, which, believe me, can really be gathered up for a whole encyclopedia. Of course, we need to start with the fact that the vast majority of our fellow citizens (of those who generally know something about the Spanish conflict of the 30s) are sacredly convinced: on the one hand, some abstract republicans (that is, " good ”), and the fascists who rebelled against them, led by the ominous Franco. Progressive people and communists from around the world (including our country) fought for the Republicans in the ranks of the famous "inter-brigades", and Nazis Germany supported Nazis in company with fascist Italy. To say about such a perception that it is incomplete and schematic is to say nothing. In fact, everything was much more complicated, confusing and multifaceted. First of all, this concerns the real composition of the warring camps. Republicans were represented very motley political by the company - from left and right liberals (who, in fact, through their careless, inconsistent and half-hearted rule and brought the country to a pen, that is, to a military coup), to socialists and communists. As well as the Trotskyists and anarchists. We will have a separate discussion about what exactly this audience was like, but for now we will continue.
It would also be completely wrong to call everyone who fought against the Spanish Republic completely fascists. In the ranks of its opponents, in addition to representatives of the truly fascist "Phalanx", there were plenty, for example, monarchists or those who categorically did not like the attack launched by the left government on the Catholic Church. Do you know, when in 1936 in Madrid, after rumors were spread by some unknown person that “churchmen are feeding poisoned sweets to the children of workers,” local proletarians began to massacre priests and monks. In a country that for a long time was a stronghold of European Catholicism, many experienced a shock that turned into hatred of the authorities that had failed to prevent and stop this massacre. We should not forget about those who were against the conducted by the Republicans economic and social reforms - landlords who were deprived of their land, industrialists and merchants who lost everything they acquired, and other "exploiters of the working people" who were subjected to expropriation. Well, and, of course, about the military, in fact, and who became the main driving force behind the rebellion, as well as the war that followed. These were firmly convinced that only they knew how to arrange Spain - in an army manner, so that no one would dare to utter a word! The 1936 mutiny was far from the first coup staged by the local stripe-mongers. And, by the way, Francisco Franco became the head of the putschists only a couple of months after the events began. This is true, by the way. Let's add to all that has been said also the separatists there, like the Catalans and the Basques (who are not appeasing to this day), who fiercely fought solely for their own, only understandable to them, goals ... And what do we get? Quite right - absolute bedlam and total hell, into which Spain plunged for three whole years.
Condor vs. Interbrigades
Now for international support. Formally, no one intervened in the civil conflict. And in fact? Well, here, as usual, everything was exactly the opposite. The League of Nations, then the counterpart of the current UN (only perhaps a hundred times more infamous), quickly set up a "Committee of Non-Interference in Spanish Affairs" and washed its hands. This, however, did not hinder at all from providing massive financial and, above all, military assistance to the putschists of the Third Reich, Italy and Portugal. Britain and France, together with all the other members of the "world community", pretended that nothing like this was happening. The Americans acted as usual - they adopted the "neutrality law", the Republicans were not sold a single cartridge (although there were corresponding contracts), but the whole war provided the Francoists with fuel and transport. The French generally acted in the most vile manner - first they foiled the arms deliveries promised to the Republic, and then completely imposed a complete embargo on them. In the form of handouts, several planes lounging in the air were sent to Spain, and even without weapons. Interestingly, these cattle remembered their own filth when the Wehrmacht marched through the streets of Paris ?! However, I was distracted. The actions of the "European democracies" with respect to Spain have clearly demonstrated: they will support the most outspoken fascist regimes, at least by untying their hands, exactly as long as they slaughter the communists. There is no doubt that it was precisely in 1936 in Moscow that they completely understood this and since then they did not believe London or Paris a penny.
To stop the “brown plague” that was rolling on the world was real only under the red flag. And precisely for this reason, the Soviet Union could not remain aloof from the Spanish war. The USSR was the only country in the world that provided the Republic with real help and support. Inter-brigades, speak? The ones in which not only the French and Poles fought the putschists (who would have thought!), But even the Austrians, Italians and Germans? It was so. But let's turn to impartial figures. Speaking of about 30 thousand foreign fighters of international brigades (for all the years of the war), some historians bashfully remain silent about 6 thousand deserters and those who were shot by their own comrades-in-arms. The fifth part ... And also that already by 1937, 90% of the personnel of the inter-brigades were Spaniards themselves. The vast majority of volunteers who came to this war for “revolutionary romance” could not stand in its heat for more than 3-4 months, six months at most. For comparison, Germany, which sent the Condor aviation corps of more than 5 people to Spain, added five more warriors to the army of putschists five times as many - 50 in total. Delivered aviation, artillery, tanks, communications. Italy did participate on the side of the Frankists with strengths of 150-200 thousand bayonets. Again, supplying them with airplanes, guns, wedges and all the rest. Even the Portuguese fought against the Republic, at least 20 thousand. From 2 to 4 (according to various sources) thousands of Soviet "military experts" against this background look, it seems, modestly. But only at first glance…
¡No pasarán! in Russian
Pilots and tankers, sailors and gunners - all in Spain, according to reports, fought, as already mentioned, thousands of Soviet troops sent there by Moscow. On a voluntary basis, of course, our people considered going “to beat the fascists” as a high honor that still needed to be earned. The best of the best were selected. The main thing, however, was not this. About 650 combat aircraft, about 350 tanks, torpedo boats, fifteen hundred artillery and mortar barrels, hundreds of thousands of small arms, tons of ammunition, medicine and food, a loan of 85 million dollars - all this the Republic received from the USSR. It was Soviet military aid that helped thwart the fall offensive of the Franco on Madrid in 1936. The deliveries, which were carried out by specialists from the Foreign Department of the NKVD and the Intelligence Service of the Red Army, were carried out by sea, and three of our ships were sunk by Italian submarines. Dozens of ships were detained. Nevertheless, the help, without which the collapse of the Republicans would have come much earlier, came in a flood. And this despite the fact that the Soviet Union in those years itself lived, to put it mildly, not luxuriously. Industrialization was barely completed in the country; the deployment of industry, including the military, formation and strengthening of the army was still in progress. Each cartridge, each rifle (not to mention tanks and fighters) was literally torn off from its own combat power, which could be tested for strength by the enemies of the Soviet Union at any moment. And, nevertheless, today there are clever people trying to argue that the USSR and Stalin personally “did too little” for the Republic, or even “betrayed” it. Here with this nonsense should be dealt with in detail and in detail. Yes, initially Joseph Vissarionovich did not want to interfere in this conflict at all. Why? Yes, because I tried to get from the West every extra year, month, day, to strengthen the power of the country and the army before the great war.
Do not forget that by that time the main, perhaps, threat to the Soviet Union was not Nazi Germany, whose eagle had barely “operated” and was growing deadly claws, and imperial Japan, which had already come close to the borders of the USSR, and had quite specific plans. Samurai climbed two or three years later. Yes, they got it in the teeth, but it was precisely because we were preparing. To get involved in a European swara The leader did not see the point. And only when, as was said above, the same Britain and France very clearly indicated their intentions to support fascism and set it against the “Reds", Stalin decided to fight. At the same time, it seems to me that the desire not only to test the new military in battles played an important role machinery, but also to see what our pilots and tankers are facing in their case against their future opponents. The fact that Joseph Vissarionovich already saw the clash with the Third Reich, I have no doubt for a second. Some people reproach the USSR for the fact that help was supposedly “not entirely disinterested”. They remind of the gold reserves of Spain exported to our country and the like. Well, excuse me ... Joseph Vissarionovich was not engaged in bad charity. He was not inclined to such, and could not, if he wanted to. As I said, Moscow then had every ruble counted. Nobody built a single factory for us, did not put a single machine. Only for currency. We just did what we could. Armed, fought, saved Spanish children. About 3 and a half thousand small republicans were taken to the Soviet Union. And they didn’t just take them out - they created special orphanages for them, where, according to the recollections, the feeding was three times more satisfying than in the “ordinary” ones. Some of the liberal "researchers" are terrified: during the Great Patriotic War, the grown up Spanish immigrants were "driven to the front", where about five hundred of them died heroically. Or maybe they didn’t drive? Maybe it’s just that the children of the heroes of Madrid and Barcelona did not die of honor and gratitude ?!
Trotskyite Front of Spain
Here we come to the most, perhaps, the most mysterious aspect of Soviet participation in Spanish events. And to the most slandered, as usual. It is about confronting our aces of the “invisible war” not only to the Franco and Nazi Abwera, who felt at home in their camp, but also, from a certain moment, entrenched in the republic of Spain to the Trotskyists. Let me remind you that “with respect to the Stalinist USSR, a peaceful solution is impossible”, Lev Davidovich, expelled from sin far from our country, declared back in 1933. Since then, his supporters, both in the Soviet Union and beyond, began to prepare the most real conspiracies with the aim of carrying out a coup. However, realizing that they might not have enough of their own strength to seize power in the USSR, these bastards were preparing alternatives. In short, they can be reduced to the intentions of drawing our country into an armed conflict with Germany or Japan (or better, with both at once!) And ensuring military defeat, again, to take power into their own hands. No, exclusively for the subsequent device of the "world revolution", if you suddenly thought something else! What would end up in reality, a similar scenario for our country, I think, no need to explain. And, nevertheless, there were enough people who wanted to bring it to life at that time. Hence the large-scale lawsuits of 1936-1937, the tough “purges” in the Red Army, the NKVD and the parties that took place in those same years. One of the fronts of the mortal struggle against Trotskyism was Spain. “Stalin’s saboteur No. 1” Pavel Sudoplatov speaks rather sparingly in his memoirs about this period, but he directly indicates that this country has become a “training ground” for the NKVD and an excellent training school.
The whole point here is that, being, at first glance, almost the most “red” of the Republicans, the Trotskyists and their allies, like the anarchists in Spain, most often acted just in the hands of the Francoists. I, it seems, promised to dwell in more detail on the characterization of these comrades? Perhaps the best illustration of their activity is archival photographs of the crushed churches, from which relics (including relics) were thrown onto the streets. As well as pictures of smiling guys posing with hammers in one hand, and in the other with broken heads of statues depicting saints. What reaction do you think caused the peasants brought up in the severe Catholic spirit? But if only the statues had been acted in this way! The bloody terror of the putschists, who shot and hanged their opponents indiscriminately, who wiped entire cities with bombs from the face of the earth, has been written and said a lot. The atrocities committed by the anarchists or Trotskyists from the POUM (Spanish Workers' Party of Marxist Unity) are remembered much less often. But they also put against the wall, without ceremony, the same priests and other "kontrik". But that is not all! With their idiotic agitation, which was based on the thesis that “the victory of the world revolution is more important than the victory over fascism in Spain alone” (Trotsky’s phrase), they decomposed entire military units of the Republic, which were not yet brilliant with discipline. They made a bloody mess in Barcelona, as a result of which the Republicans fought with the Republicans. It cost hundreds of people killed and a foiled attack on the Franco at a strategically most important moment. There are a great many such examples. It all ended up that our NKVD had to liquidate the POUM.
Russians on both sides of the barricades
By the way, it was after Spain that a significant blow was inflicted on another extremely dangerous anti-Soviet organization - the Russian Allied Arms Union. There, with the beginning of this war, they didn’t just stir - they jumped with joy, anticipating a “world crusade against communism”. Well, they jumped ... In September 1937, the NKVD’s disaster agents managed to snatch the head of the ROVS, General Yevgeny Miller, almost from the steps of the organization’s headquarters in Paris and take them to Moscow. Well, shot, of course. So, it’s not even for the White Guard past, but because this figure began to actively seek contacts with representatives of the Wehrmacht and Abwehr. Well, was he awarded the order for such movements? After these events, the ROVS did not break up, but significantly lost ground. As soon as it turned out that the former commander of the Kornilov division, General Nikolai Skoblin, who had actually surrendered Miller to the NKVD, had already been working for Soviet intelligence for a long time, there was utter discord and confusion. Thus, another problem of the USSR was solved. However, to the credit of the white emigrants, it should be noted that on the side of the Republic, they were still fighting more against the fascists in Spain. Than for Franco - about five hundred people. From fifty later they were able to fulfill their cherished desire - to return to the Soviet Union as full citizens. The most interesting thing is that the captain of the army of the Republic was the son of the worst enemy of Soviet power - Boris Savinkov. As far as I know, he fought with dignity ... There were others - those who were called “Rosso Bianca”, or “White Russians”. They came under the banner of Franco, in their hatred of the "Reds", being ready to accept even the Nazis. According to various estimates, there were up to hundreds of such people. After the putschists won the military parade that they organized, they marched through the streets of Madrid in a separate formation under the Russian imperial banner.
The Spanish war really became a great test for many people and things, a huge school for the army and special services of the USSR. Its consequences, mostly hidden from us, have yet to be studied and studied. There is no doubt - Trotsky's death sentence was passed after Spain. In particular, after the tombs of the Trotskyites with Abwehr and other similar offices of the Third Reich began to open during the war there. Subsequently, it was Lev Davidovich’s supporters who would surrender the Gestapo to the French Communists in Paris occupied by the Germans, who supported the USSR ... Perhaps the main aspect in this situation was the fact that for Stalin the necessity of defeating the “fifth column” became clear (this definition, which later became winged, first sounded just in the days of the assault of Madrid in 1936) not during the war, when it was too late to do this, but ahead of time. Which was done by him, however, alas, not to the end. It was after Spain, where the defeat of the Republic was largely due to lack of discipline, unity of command, which reigned in the country as a political discord, Stalin at times tightened demand from "responsible" and "high-ranking", rethought and strengthened the work of special services. The main conclusion from these events for him, of course, was the thesis that a great war was inevitable for the USSR. And that it will be necessary to lead it, most likely, against the entire “Western world”, or at least most of its constituent states. In the future, the actions of the leadership of our country were dictated by the lessons learned in Spain.