July 1936 military uprising in Barcelona

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Barcelona's 19 July military rising
Part of the Spanish Civil War
Date 19 July 1936
Location Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Result
  • Republican strategic victory.
Belligerents
Spain Second Spanish Republic
Catalonia Generalitat of Catalonia
CNT/FAI
Francoist Spain Nationalist Spain
Commanders and leaders
Spain General Francisco Llano de la Encomienda
SpainColonel Antonio Escobar Huertas
Catalonia President Lluís Companys
Catalonia Colonel Frederic Escofet
Buenaventura Durruti
Francisco Ascaso  
Francoist Spain General Manuel Goded Surrendered
Francoist Spain General Álvaro Fernández Burriel Surrendered
Strength
5,000 men (Civil Guard, Police, Assault Guard)
CNT Militia
5,000 men
Casualties and losses
200[1] 300

The July 1936 military uprising in Barcelona was a military uprising in Barcelona, the capital and main city of Catalonia, Spain on 19 July 1936 which contributed to the start of the Spanish Civil War. Most of the army officers in the city supported the coup, but the Civil Guard and the Assault Guard remained loyal to the government. Furthermore, Barcelona was one of the strongholds of the anarchist union, the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT). The rebel troops were defeated after bloody combats.

Background[edit]

On July 17–18 a part of the Spanish army, led by a group of officers (among them the generals Sanjurjo, Franco, Mola, Goded and Queipo de Llano), tried to overthrow the Popular Front government of the Second Spanish Republic. One of the main goals of the coup was to take control of the main cities of the country, among them Barcelona.

Opposing forces[edit]

In Barcelona, the plotters led by the General Fernández Burriel planned to use the troops of the garrisons in the periphery of the city, about 5,000 men of the IV division of the Spanish Army in order to march towards the city center and join up in the Plaça de Catalunya. Then they would occupy the city and wait the arrival of General Goded. The general Llano de la Encomienda, commander of the IV division, stayed loyal to the government, but most of the officers supported the coup. Nevertheless, the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) in Barcelona, led by General Aranguren; the Guardia de Asalto (Assault Guard); and the Catalan police, called Mossos d'Esquadra, led by Colonel Escofet, (around 5,000 men) remained loyal to the government.[2] Also remaining loyal was the air base of El Prat, commanded by Colonel Diaz Sandino, whose planes bombed the rebel troops.

On 18 July news about a rising of the Spanish troops in Morocco reached Barcelona, but the president of the Generalitat, Lluís Companys, refused to give weapons to the workers and ordered anarchists carrying weapons to be detained. Nevertheless, the CNT, led by Buenaventura Durruti and Francisco Ascaso, assaulted some army depots and the prison ship Uruguay, and started to manufacture home-made grenades and improvised armoured cars. Furthermore, Assault Guards handed out rifles to the CNT.[3]

The fight In Barcelona[edit]

Before dawn of 19 July, four in the morning, the officers in the Pedralbes Barrack told their soldiers that the government had ordered them to crush an anarchist rising in Barcelona. The troops left the Barracks and marched towards the Plaça de Catalunya, through the Avinguda Diagonal. Soon after, Companys received the news of the troops advancing towards the city. At five in the morning, the Montesa cavalry regiment, the Santiago dragoons regiment and a battery of the 7th light Regiment left their barracks and marched towards the Plaça de Catalunya, but the deployment of troops was badly co-ordinated and the junction of the rebels columns was never achieved. The rebel troops were attacked by snipers and with home-made bombs. The anarchists built barricades with paving stones in order to block the city center, and the Guardia Civil and the Assault Guards joined them against the rebel troops.[4]

Some units were forced to retreat into their barracks and others never broke into the streets, but an infantry column, led by Major Lopez Amor, reached the Plaça de Catalunya and occupied the telephone exchange,[5] and other units occupied the Hotel Colón and the Ritz and barricaded themselves. At 11 a.m., General Goded arrived from Mallorca, went to the captain-general's headquarters, and arrested the commander of the IV Division, General Llano de la Encomienda, but the situation of the rebel troops was hopeless.

After bloody combats in the Plaça de Catalunya and other parts of the city, the anarchists and the loyal troops surrounded all the rebel-held buildings in the city. The Civil Guards, led by the Colonel Antonio Escobar, assaulted the Hotel Colon and the Ritz and the anarchists occupied the telephone exchange. After that, Goded surrendered and broadcast a statement over the radio to prevent further bloodshed. By nightfall, the rebel troops only held the Drassanes barracks, near the port and the Andreu barracks.[6] The next morning the anarchists, led by Buenaventura Durruti, assaulted the barracks and the rebel troops surrendered. Ascaso died during the assault, but the CNT seized 30,000 rifles in the barracks. There were over 500 deaths and 3,000 wounded.[7]

Aftermath[edit]

After the defeat of the coup in Barcelona, the CNT was the real power in the city until May 1937, although the Generalitat's government remained. After the coup, the CNT had 30,000 armed men in Barcelona, while the government had only 5,000.[8]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas, Hugh. (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. p.237
  2. ^ Thomas, Hugh. (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. pp.221-223
  3. ^ Beevor, Antony. (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. Penguin Books. London. p.67
  4. ^ Beevor, Antony. (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. Penguin Books. London. p.68
  5. ^ Thomas, Hugh. (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. p.224
  6. ^ Beevor, Antony. (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. Penguin Books. London. pp.68-69
  7. ^ Thomas, Hugh. (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. p.237
  8. ^ Thomas, Hugh. (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. pp.237-238

Bibliography[edit]