Spanish Civil War Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
The Spanish Civil War was a civil war between 1936-1939. In this lesson, you will read about how volunteers from around the world joined in the fighting. For all the fighting and death, read how in the end, Spain became a democracy.

A War Like No Other

Spain with the Spanish flag

Lots of families have fights, but most don't end in war. A civil war, like the American Civil War, is when people who are from the same country or territory fight each other. That's what happened in Spain in 1936-1939. Spain had a king, and when people decided to elect a government that got rid of the king, a group of soldiers under a general named Francisco Franco decided to fight to take over Spain. They were called the Nationalists.

The Nationalists surprised the Spanish government and took control of much of Spain. The government of Spain lost half the country. The government controlled Spanish cities, especially Madrid, the capital of Spain, and Barcelona, Spain's second biggest city. These people were called the Republicans.

The Nationalists were afraid that if the Republicans would win, Spain would become a communist country, meaning there would be no king, no private property and all aspects of life in Spain would be controlled by the government. The war was horrible. People fought each other in the streets. Families were separated and many people had to run away from Spain.

Help for Both Sides

The world was getting a taste of what was about to come in World War II (1939-1945). Like looking into a crystal ball, people thought the Spanish Civil War was only a test for the world to fight each other on a much bigger scale. Nazi Germany, Portugal and Italy went to the side of the Nationalists. The Soviet Union (today, that is Russia) and Mexico went to the side of the Republicans. Nazi Germany sent airplanes and supplies, and Italy sent many soldiers. Both sides had volunteers, mostly ordinary people, from around the world join in the fighting. People fighting against communism went to the side of the Nationalists. People fighting for democracy went to the side of the Republicans.

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