The Spanish Civil War (1936-39)
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© Cor Faber en Ellen Bijma
FDR and the Spanish Civil War The thesis goes that without the Spanish Civil War, Hitler's Germany would have won World War II. debatable? Secure. Unlikely? Not that either. The involvement of the United States deserves some extra attention. As one of the signatories of the non-intervention pact, that country was also not allowed to provide military aid. Not that President Roosevelt was waiting for that. The Civil War had been given various labels, one of which was that fascism would be against communism. Roosevelt didn't want anything from either of them, so they just sort it out there. If you also consider that during the 1920s and 1930s the United States had a policy of isolating itself from the rest of the world “Fortress America”, us and the rest – then the picture is a bit more complete. . Crucially, the Catholics, who sided with Franco, had significant influence in its policy and implementation. In the course of 1937 Roosevelt's picture of the situation changed. No longer was fascism against communism but now democracy against dictatorship. The influence of his wife Eleanor in particular played an important part in this. She was friends with people like Ernest Hemingway, who had cooperated in the film The Spanish Earth by the Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens. The film was shot in the middle of 1937 and gave an impression of the situation in Spain at that time. The film was screened in the living room of the White House. Also contributing to changing the image of Roosevelt was the news that reached him of the horrific bombing of the Basque town of Guernika (Gernika in Basque). The town was almost bombed to the ground by the German Condor Legion in particular. Hermann Goering wanted to know what 'carpet bombing' would psychologically do to the population. The Luftwaffe also tested incendiary bombs. Goering was the 2nd person next to Hitler and wanted to show that he had to stay that way. Also contributing to changing the image of Roosevelt was the news that reached him of the horrific bombing of the Basque town of Guernika (Gernika in Basque). The town was almost bombed to the ground by the German Condor Legion in particular. Hermann Goering wanted to know what 'carpet bombing' would psychologically do to the population. The Luftwaffe also tested incendiary bombs. Goering was the 2nd person next to Hitler and wanted to show that he had to stay that way. Roosevelt realized that the United States could no longer remain aloof from world events and has tried to get out of the non-intervention pact. The opposition from the Catholic quarter has always been able to stop this. That party has even blocked plans for humanitarian aid. As a result, Roosevelt tried to organize a number of actions in a personal capacity. Although this went through front men, publicity about these plans would have cost him politically. Unfortunately, these plans came to nothing. The United States was not yet a superpower at that time. Of course there was a military apparatus, but that was not much. Because of the turnaround in Roosevelt's thinking “we can't keep ourselves aloof from world events” the build-up of that military apparatus has been accelerated. It is therefore certainly not improbable that without the Spanish Civil War, the United States could not have played the part it did during World War II. For the republican government in Spain, however, that came too late.