Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1939

Franco captures Barcelona

During the Spanish Civil War, Barcelona, the Republican capital of Spain, falls to the Nationalist forces of General Francisco Franco.

In 1931, King Alfonso XIII approved elections to decide the government of Spain, and voters overwhelmingly chose to abolish the monarchy in favor of a liberal republic. Alfonso subsequently went into exile, and the Second Republic, initially dominated by middle-class liberals and moderate socialists, was proclaimed. During the first five years of the republic, organized labor and leftist radicals forced widespread liberal reforms as independence-minded Spanish regions such as Catalonia and the Basque provinces achieved virtual autonomy. The landed aristocracy, the church, and a large military clique increasingly employed violence in their opposition to the Second Republic, and in July 1936, General Francisco Franco led a right-wing army revolt in Morocco, which prompted the division of Spain into two key camps: the Nationalists and the Republicans.

Franco’s Nationalist forces rapidly overran much of the Republican-controlled areas in central and northern Spain, and Catalonia became a key Republican stronghold. During 1937, Franco unified the Nationalist forces under the command of the Falange, Spain’s fascist party, while the Republicans fell under the sway of the communists. Germany and Italy aided Franco with an abundance of planes, tanks, and arms, while the Soviet Union aided the Republican side. In addition, small numbers of communists and other radicals from France, the USSR, America, and elsewhere formed the International Brigades to aid the Republican cause. The most significant contribution of these foreign units was the successful defense of Madrid until the end of the war.

In June 1938, the Nationalists drove to the Mediterranean Sea and cut the Republicans’ territory in two. Later in the year, Franco mounted a major offensive against Catalonia. In January 1939, its capital, Barcelona, was captured, and soon after the rest of Catalonia fell. With their cause all but lost, the Republicans attempted to negotiate a peace, but Franco refused. On March 28, 1939, the victorious Nationalists entered Madrid, and the bloody Spanish Civil War came to an end. Up to a million lives were lost in the conflict, the most devastating in Spanish history.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Republic of India born

On January 26, 1950, the Indian constitution takes effect, making the Republic of India the most populous democracy in the world. Mohandas Gandhi struggled through decades of passive resistance before Britain finally accepted Indian independence. Self-rule had been promised ...read more

Pinzon discovers Brazil

Spanish explorer Vicente Yanez Pinzon, who had commanded the Nina during Christopher Columbus’ first expedition to the New World, reaches the northeastern coast of Brazil during a voyage under his command. Pinzon’s journey produced the first recorded account of a European ...read more

Baird demonstrates TV

On January 26, 1926, John Logie Baird, a Scottish inventor, gives the first public demonstration of a true television system in London, launching a revolution in communication and entertainment. Baird’s invention, a pictorial-transmission machine he called a “televisor,” used ...read more

Australia Day

On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip guides a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia. After overcoming a period of hardship, the fledgling colony began to celebrate the anniversary of this date with ...read more

Ukraine declares its independence

Soon after the Bolsheviks seized control in immense, troubled Russia in November 1917 and moved towards negotiating peace with the Central Powers, the former Russian state of Ukraine declares its total independence. One of pre-war Russia’s most prosperous areas, the vast, flat ...read more

Audie Murphy wounded

On this day, the most decorated man of the war, American Lt. Audie Murphy, is wounded in France. Born the son of Texas sharecroppers on June 20, 1924, Murphy served three years of active duty, beginning as a private, rising to the rank of staff sergeant, and finally winning a ...read more