1st Edition

Fascist Italy in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

By Javier Rodrigo Copyright 2021
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    In this highly important book, Javier Rodrigo examines the role of Fascist Italy in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.

    Fascist Italy’s intervention in the Spanish Civil War to provide material, strategic, and diplomatic assistance led to Italy becoming a belligerent in the conflict. Following the unsuccessful military coup of July 1936 and the insurgents’ subsequent failure to take Madrid, the Corps of Voluntary Troops (CTV, Corpo Truppe Volontarie ) was created—in the words of an Italian fascist anthem—to ‘liberate Spain’, usher in a ‘new History’, ‘make the peoples oppressed by the Reds smile again’, and ‘build a fascist Europe’. Far from being insignificant or trivial, the intervention of Fascist Italy and Italian fascists on Spanish soil must be seen as one of the key aspects which contribute to the Spanish conflict’s status as an epitome of the twentieth century. Drawing on sources ranging from ministerial orders to soldiers’ diaries, this book reconstructs the evangelisation of fascism in Spain.

    This book is the first important study on Fascist Italy’s role in the conflict to appear in English in over 45 years. It examines Italian intervention from angles unfamiliar to English-speaking readers and will be useful to students of history and scholars interested in twentieth-century Europe, fascism, and the international dimension of the Spanish Civil War.

     Introduction: Fascist Italy and the Spanish Civil War 1

    1 Fascist intervention in the coup d’état of 1936 15

    Blind faith 16

    No turning back 37

    2 Fascist Italy at war, 1937 59

    From guerra celere to ‘Guadalahara’ 60

    A war in the North 81

    3 Italy, the CTV, and politics on the National side 102

    Fascistisation 103

    Evangelise by deed 120

    4 Identity, combat, rearguard 133

    He wrote, Viva il Duce! , and then he died 135

    The clean and the dirty 149

    5 A European war in Spain, 1938–1939 169

    Without inhibitions 171

    Sacred testament 186

    Conclusion 202


    Javier Rodrigo is ICREA-Acadèmia Researcher and Professor of History at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain. He holds a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence and currently coordinates a H2020 European Project on forced displacements in Europe.

    "In terms of boots on the ground, Italian soldiers constituted the largest non-Spanish military presence during a civil war noted for foreign interventionism. Readers looking for a new and nuanced view of Italian participation (military, political, diplomatic, and propagandist) in this conflict will not be disappointed. The author’s familiarity with the primary and secondary literature, nicely presented in a rich bibliography, is clear, and he is unafraid to challenge long-held suppositions about the conflict. Specifically, Rodrigo (Autonomous Univ. of Barcelona, Spain) argues that the historiography of Benito Mussolini’s intervention in Spain is grounded too much in geopolitical considerations (e.g., controlling the Mediterranean), which, although not denied, obfuscates a more variegated and changing set of motives and discounts Fascist ideological reasoning. He also questions negative historical judgments of Italian military performance predicated on its role in the lost Battle of Guadalajara and the scholarly failure to understand the motivations of those volunteering for the expeditionary CVT (Corpo Truppe Volontarie), rightly asking why being unemployed is incompatible with being Fascist. Regrettably, there is no discussion of Fascist propaganda efforts to shape average citizens' view of the war, in Italy and abroad" - R. T. Ingoglia, St.Thomas Aquinas College, CHOICE magazine