On the night of 17 July 1936, the Spanish army, inspired most of all by General Franco, started the Spanish Civil War by rebelling against the Second Republic. A central goal of the rebels was the destruction of left-wing organisations. Franco's fellow officer, General Queipo de Llano, instructed his subordinates on how to treat the 'Bolshevik' activist with this chilling sentence: 'I authorise you to kill him like a dog and you will be free of all responsibility'. Attitudes such as this made the war a terrible tragedy: before its end, in April 1939, 325,000 had died in battle and from disease(Paz). Historians estimate that Francoists executed at least 150,000 during and after the war. (Spanish).
The Spanish Civil War continues to shape people's lives. At the time, too, people recognised the significance of the war. The struggle in Spain came to represent the fight against fascism. Thousands volunteered from around the world to join the International Brigades and to defend the Second Republic, including famous writers such as George Orwell. Picasso produced his famed Guernica painting to highlight the horrific bombing by Franco and his Nazi sponsors of the infamous town(Spanish). The chaotic instability of the nation was brought about by a variety of factors, most notably the overabundance or complete lack of interference from the international community. .
The immediate origins may be found in the failed military coup of July 1936 which left part of the country in the hands of Franco and his fellow rebels and the rest under the control of supporters of the Second Republic(Beevor). Above all, however, it was the use of Spain's countryside as a testing ground for brutal new military devices and strategies by Hitler and Mussolini, the international policies of non-intervention and appeasement by nations such as Britain, and intense internal social disarray and unrest that left Spain the isolated, unstable nation wracked by civil war.