Guardia de Asalto
|Assault Guard Corps
Cuerpo de Guardias de Asalto
|Common name||Guardia de Asalto|
Badge of the Assault Guard Corps
|Formed||January 30, 1932|
|Preceding agency||Compañías de Vanguardia|
|Superseding agency||Policía Armada|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Governing body||Ministry of Governance|
|Overviewed by||Directorate-General of Security|
|Parent agency||Cuerpo de Seguridad|
The Guardia de Asalto (English: Assault Guard) was the heavy reserve force of the blue-uniformed urban police force of Spain during the Spanish Second Republic. The Assault Guards were special police units created by the Spanish Republic in 1931 to deal with urban violence.
At the onset of the Spanish Civil War there were 18,000 Assault Guards. About 12,000 stayed loyal to the Republican government, while another 5,000 joined the rebel faction. Many of its units fought valiantly in the battlefronts against the Francoist armies and their allies. This display of loyalty towards the Spanish Republic brought about the disbandment of the corps at the end of the Civil War. The members of the Guardia de Asalto who had survived the combats and the ensuing Francoist purges were made part of the Policía Armada, the corps that replaced it.
Following the overthrow of the Spanish Monarchy in April 1931, the new Republican regime created the Guardia de Asalto as a gendarmerie style national armed police that could be used to suppress disorders in urban areas. Armed and trained for this purpose, the Guardia de Asalto was intended to provide a more effective force for internal security duties than the ordinary police or the conscription-based army. Since its creation in 1844 the 25,000 strong Guardia Civil had been available to be ordered into the larger cities in the event of unrest, but this efficient rural force —its officers drawn from the regular army and with an oppressive image— was not seen as being in sympathy with the new Republic or particularly suited for urban operations.
The Ministro de la Gobernación Miguel Maura accordingly reorganized elements of the existing police into a more heavily armed republican security force for service in the cities, leaving the countryside to the Guardia Civil. As an initial step Compañías de Vanguardia (Vanguard Companies) were created. These were subsequently redesignated as Sección de guardias de Asalto. As a part of the reformed Cuerpo de Seguridad they provided an instrument for controlling mass demonstrations; similar in function to modern riot squads. In 1932, the Cuerpo de Seguridad was renamed as the Cuerpo de Seguridad y Asalto.
The Civil War
Assault Guards played a critical role in preserving the republic during the early stages of the military insurgency that opened the Spanish Civil War, most notably by helping to crush the army uprising in Barcelona and through their heroic contributions to the defense of Madrid, where they did a disproportionate share of both the fighting and the dying. As noted by a Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) militant who also participated in the Siege of Madrid,
"The guards were the only efficient police corps created by the republic, and in Madrid they were a revolutionary force made up almost exclusively of socialist youth or other left-wingers. Their importance in the fighting that was about to come was equally decisive; it was they who, in the first couple of months, virtually saved Madrid... In the actual fighting it was the Assault Guards who again took the brunt, so much so that I can truthfully say that virtually not one Madrid Assault Guard or officer remained alive after six months."
The Carabineros and the Assault Guards were the Spanish police corps where the 1936 coup found the least support. When the Civil War began about 70% of the Assault Guards stayed loyal to the Spanish Republic. On the other hand, in the Guardia Civil the breakup of loyalists and rebels was distributed evenly at around 50%, although the highest authority of the corps, Inspector General Sebastián Pozas, remained loyal to the republican government.
Before the Civil War, eight-pointed and six-pointed silver stars were part of the officers' uniforms of the Guardias de Asalto. Following the Spanish coup of July 1936 and the ensuing reorganization of the Spanish Republican Armed Forces some changes were introduced and ranks were simplified.
|Subteniente||Subayudante||Brigada||Sargento Primero||Sargento||Cabo||Guardia Primero||Guardia|
Officers (Civil War)
Non-commissioned ranks (Civil War)
- Guardia de Asalto at Spartacus Educational
- Farrás, Salvador. Fuerzas de orden público y transición política (y II). La Policía Armada. Diario 16. 25/10/1977.]
- Fraser, Ronald (1979). Blood of Spain: An oral history of the Spanish Civil War. New York: Pantheon. pp. 107, 117. ISBN 0-394-73854-3.
- Ramón Salas Larrazábal (2001); Historia del Ejército Popular de la República, Volumen I. De los comienzos de la guerra al fracaso del ataque sobre Madrid, pp. 58-60
- Hugh Thomas (1976); Historia de la Guerra Civil Española, Ed. Grijalbo, p. 254
- La guardia de asalto. Policía de la República Archived 2008-05-29 at the Wayback Machine., por Alejandro Vargas González, Cuadernos Republicanos, nº 53, Otoño 2003.
- Media related to Guardia de Asalto at Wikimedia Commons
- History section of Subinspector Cartujo's personal page