The 'Red Terror' and the Spanish Civil War

The 'Red Terror' and the Spanish Civil War : Revolutionary Violence in Madrid

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This book deals with one of most controversial issues of the Spanish Civil War (1936-9): the 'Red Terror'. Approximately 50,000 Spaniards were extrajudicially executed in Republican Spain following the failure of the military rebellion in July 1936. This mass killing of 'fascists' seriously undermined attempts by the legally constituted Republican government to present itself in foreign quarters as fighting a war for democracy. This study, based on a wealth of scholarship and archival sources, challenges the common view that executions were the work of criminal or anarchist 'uncontrollables'. Its focus is on Madrid, which witnessed at least 8,000 executions in 1936. It shows that the terror was organized and was carried out with the complicity of the police, and argues that terror was seen as integral to the antifascist war effort. Indeed, the elimination of the internal enemy - the 'Fifth Column' - was regarded as important as the war on the front line.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 3 maps
  • 113999073X
  • 9781139990738

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. On the brink; 2. The military rebellion; 3. Antifascist Madrid; 4. Forging the new police; 5. The justice of the people; 6. If it is the will of the people...; 7. Popular tribunals and the Rearguard Vigilance Militias (MVR); 8. A fifth column?; 9. The prison problem; 10. Paracuellos; 11. The dirty war against the fifth column; 12. Dealing with the legacy of the terror: forced labor for fascists, 1937-9; Epilogue; Appendices.
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Review quote

'The purpose of Julius Ruiz's study is not to present a lurid description of atrocities, as does much of the literature in this area, but to offer an in-depth study of the institutions and mechanisms of the Republican repression in Madrid. This makes it possible to reveal the structure and functioning of the terror, rather than dwelling on the pathos of victimization alone. Ruiz provides a kind of political history of Madrid on the eve of the Civil War and during the first six months of the conflict, revealing in detail the interplay, competition, and cooperation of the various Republican political forces in organizing and carrying out repression. No previous account has achieved this depth and quality of analysis. Ruiz offers a major contribution to the history of repression in the Civil War, a genuine research breakthrough.' Stanley G. Payne, University of Wisconsin, Madison 'This excellent book carefully examines Madrid's 'Red Terror,' that is, the deaths of thousands of rightists in a city controlled by Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War. It provides new information and a convincing interpretation concerning many of the Terror's most important issues - the Soviet role, the Paracuellos massacres, Republican government complicity, participation of various forces of the left, and the influence of so-called uncontrollables. In an innovative manner, it demonstrates the cultural influence of Hollywood gangster films on the assassins, emphasizes the importance of the radio, and shows - in contrast to much of the literature - that the relationship between Nationalist and Republican atrocities was not direct, but rather was indirect. This is probably the best study of terror in a major city during the Spanish conflict.' Michael Seidman, University of North Carolina, Wilmington 'His thoroughly researched and clear-eyed analysis of revolutionary terror and politically motivated killings in the city of Madrid goes a long way toward filling a noticeable gap in the historiography of the subject ... The 'Red Terror' and the Spanish Civil War ... provides the fullest and most factually reliable portrait of a particularly murky chapter of the Civil War.' George Esenwein, The Journal of Modern History
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About Julius Ruiz

Julius Ruiz has written widely on the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime. His first book, Franco's Justice: Repression in Madrid after the Spanish Civil War, was published in 2005 and in Spanish translation in 2012. His second book, El terror rojo: Madrid 1936, was published in 2012 and is currently in its third printing. It won the 2012 Hislibris Prize for the best non-fiction title published in Spain and was widely reviewed in the Spanish press. Ruiz has published articles in British, American, and Spanish journals such as Contemporary European History, the Journal of Contemporary History, and Historia y Politica. He has reviewed books for a large number of titles, including English Historical Review and La Revista de Libros. He is a member of the British Royal Historical Society.
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