France Stands Back From Spanish Civil War

Saturday 25th July 1936


The first significant international  response to the outbreak of the civil war came from France. The Cabinet emphatically rejected an appeal from the Spanish government to supply it with arms. As there was no possible legal or moral objection, this was purely a piece of political calculation. It was the first, and perhaps defining, step in the policy of "non intervention" in the civil war  conducted by the democracies and, in name, the Soviet Union. It doomed the Spanish Republic and helped to condemn the country to three years of warfare and atrocities

Leon Blum's motives for making the choice are uncertain. Siding with the Republicans would have been deeply divisive in an atmosphere where the Front Populaire was already facing savage opposition from the Right. Concern that French support for one side might inspire the Fascist powers to intervene on the other, may also have played a part. They intervened anyway. Blum might also have calculated that the Republicans would lose in the end, whatever France did.

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