The Unlovely Republic

The most respected historian specializing in the Spanish Civil War and the history of fascism, Stanley G. Payne has never hesitated to challenge received opinions in his field.  Like his mentor and friend Burnett Bolloten, Payne has been properly critical of the Spanish Republic, the regime against which the Spanish military and much of the Spanish middle class rose up in revolt in 1936.  Payne notes the murders and violence this government winked at; observes the failings of its leaders, Manuel Azaña, Largo Caballero, and Joan Negrín Lopez; and repeats Bolloten’s sarcastic remark at the expense of the Spanish Cortes’s first gathering after the civil war had commenced:

[I]t was a strange parliament because so many of the opposition leaders had either fled or been executed [in some cases before the uprising].  Nonetheless, the left Republican Polìtica would declare on December 2, that “the Republic confirms the existence of a flourishing and vigorous constitutional life,” even though mass arbitrary executions had not yet come to an end.

Payne is at least equally cold toward the Soviet Comintern and Stalin, who provided limited aid to the Republican side at an exorbitant price, using the 5,000 or so Soviet soldiers and Soviet agents sent to Spain partly to wipe out leftist revolutionary rivals and to force through, by the end of the conflict,...

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