The Red and the White 'Terror' in the Spanish Civil War

MARCH 26, 2007

Quotations taken from Antony Beevor, The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 [Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2006].

The Red Terror

Op cit. p. 87:

In all, the victims of the red terror in the Republican zone during the civil war rose to some 38,000 people, of whom almost half were killed in Madrid (8,815) and in Catalonia (8,352) during the summer of 1936. On the republican side there was strong mixture of feelings when the worst of the rearguard slaughter was over. The majority of republicans were sickened by what had happened. The anarchist intellectual Frederica Montseny referred to a ‘a lust for blood inconceivable in honest men before’. Although La Pasionara intervened on several occasions to save people, other communists took a more fatalistic attitude to the violence. … The dubious rationale that the atrocities had been far worse on the other side was not used until the Republic’s propaganda campaign became effective in 1937. And yet the different patterns of violence were probably even more significant than the exact number of victims.

The White Terror

Op. cit p.94:

In the course of the last ten years, detailed work has been carried out region by region in Spain to establish the number, the identity and the fate of the victims. Accurate statistics have now been compiled on 25 provinces and provisional figures on another four. For just over half of Spain, this comes to a total of 80,000 victims of the nationalists. If one takes into account the deaths which were never registered and allows for the provinces not yet studied, we are probably faced with a total figure for killings and executions by the nationalists during the war and afterwards of around 200,000 people. This figure is not so very far from the threat made by General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano to republicans when he promised ‘on my word of honour as a gentelman that for every person that you kill, we will kill at least ten’.