Socialist Worker

Timeline of the Spanish Revolution

Issue No. 2010

  • September 1923
    King Alfonso XIII scraps parliamentary monarchy, installs a military dictatorship under General Miguel Primo de Rivera.
  • January 1930
    Faced with rising opposition, Primo de Rivera is replaced.
  • April 1931
    The left wins local elections. The king flees Spain. Crowds enthusiastically proclaim the new Republic.
  • October 1934
    Right wing government takes office. Armed miners rise and create the Asturian Commune.

    This is put down with immense ferocity - 80,000 jailed, 5,000 dead and 10,000 wounded.

  • 1934-36
    The “two black years” of repression against the working class, peasants and the organised left.
  • 15 January 1936
    Popular Front pact - the workers’ parties accept a purely republican programme which fails to deal with social and economic questions.
  • 16 February
    Popular Front wins election. General Francisco Franco and others insist that the government must never be allowed to assume office.
  • 17 February
    In Valencia workers storm prisons and force the release of left wing prisoners. Popular Front government takes office.
  • April
    General strike in Madrid, spreading throughout Spain. Extreme right wing turns to bombings and terrorism. In just four months, 269 are killed and 1,287 are wounded in street fights. Rumours of a coup.
  • 17-18 July
    Franco stages uprising. Popular Front government refuses to hand out arms. Socialist and anarchist union federations call general strikes.
  • 19 July
    Workers’ risings in several key cities defeat fascists. Armed workers control Barcelona.
  • 26 July
    Arrival of German Nazi and Italian fascist planes to support Franco.
  • 14 August
    Capture of Badajoz, the first major victory for Franco’s Nationalists.
  • 10 October
    Decree creating the Popular Army out of workers’ militias.
  • 26 April 1937
    Bombing of Guernica. The brutality and anguish of this attack was captured in Picasso’s painting.
  • 2-6 May
    Rioting in Barcelona brutally suppressed as the final act of restoring capitalist government.
  • 16 June
    Poum leaders arrested.
  • April 1938
    Nationalist forces divide Spain in two.
  • January 1939
    Franco marches into Barcelona unopposed.
  • 28 March
    Surrender of Madrid. The dark age of Franco’s fascism begins.
  • 1970 onwards
    Recovery of the workers’ movement in Spain.
  • 1975
    Franco dies. Worried about workers’ resistance, Franco’s heirs rush through democratic reforms.

Books on the Spanish Revolution

Revolution and Counter Revolution in Spain
by Felix Morrow £15

First published in 1938 and written by an American Trotskyist, this is a contemporary account and analysis of the key events of the Spanish Revolution and its tragic ending.

Orwell in Spain
by George Orwell £10.99

This collection contains the full text of Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia which records his experience of the civil war in Spain, along with associated articles, reviews and letters.

The Forging of a Rebel
by Arturo Barea £15

Originally published in three parts, this autobiography follows Barea from the slums of Madrid, through witnessing the rise of General Franco when Barea was conscripted into the Spanish army and sent to Spain’s colony in North Africa in the 1920s, to the experience of the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.

The Spanish Revolution 1931-1939
by Leon Trotsky £21

The exiled Russian revolutionary looks at the forces involved in the revolution in Spain and argues the way forward for the left. Writings cover the period from the overthrow of the monarchy in 1931 to 1939. There are many lessons about strategy and tactics that are relevant to today’s struggles.

Blood of Spain - An Oral History of the Spanish Civil War
by Ronald Fraser

Currently out of print but well worth looking out for. The book contains hundreds of stories from men and women involved in the civil war.

Available from Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QE. Phone 020 7637 1848 or go to

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