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[[File:Spanish Map 1939.PNG|thumb|left|Spain after the conclusion of the Catalonia Offensive. Nationalist Spain is in gray and Republican Spain is in white.]]
The '''Catalonia Offensive''' was part of the [[Spanish Civil War]]. The [[Spanish State|Nationalist Army]] started the [[Offensive (military)|offensive]] on December 23, 1938, and rapidly conquered [[Second Spanish Republic|Republican]]-held [[Catalonia]] with its [[capital city]] from October 1937, [[Barcelona]]. Barcelona was captured on January 26, 1939. The Republican government headed for the French border. Thousands of people fleeing the [[Nationalists (Spain)|Nationalists]] also crossed the French border in the following month, to be placed in [[internment camp]]s. [[Francisco Franco|Franco]] closed the [[border]] with France by February 10, 1939.
After the defeat of the [[Battle of the Ebro|Ebro]] the Republican Army was broken and would never recover. The Republicans had lost most of their armament and experienced units. Furthermore, on October 1938 the republican government agreed to withdraw the volunteers of the [[International Brigades]]. On the other hand, the Nationalists received new supplies of ammunitions, weapons and aircraft from Germany. Furthermore, after the [[Munich Agreement]], the hope of an intervention of the Western democracies in order to aid the Republic against [[Nazy Germany|Germany]] and [[Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)|Italy]] vanished. [[Third French Republic|France]] had closed again the frontier in mid-June 1938 and froze Republican financial assets in French Banks.
At the beginning of December, the Nationalists concentrated an army of 300.000-340.000 men led by the general Davila in order to conquer Catalonia. The Nationalists assembled their best divisions all along the front from the [[Pyrenees]] to the Mediterranean. Along the [[Segre (river)|Segre]] the Nationalists deployed the Muñoz Grandes's Army Corps of Urgel, the Garcia Valiño's Army Corps of Maestrazgo and the Moscardo's Aragon Army Corps; in the confluence of the Segre with the [[Ebro]] the [[Gastone Gambara|Gambara]]'s Italian [[Corpo Truppe Volontarie|''Cuerpo Legionario Italiano'']] of four divisions (55,000 men) and Solchaga's Army Corps of Urgel; and in the Ebro the Yagüe's Moroccan Corps. The Nationalists also had, according to Beevor, 300 tanks, more than 500 aircraft (among them the [[Messerschmitt Bf 109|Me-109e]] and [[Heinkel He 112|Heinkel 112]] fighters) and 1,400 cannons.
Opposing the Nationalists the Republicans had the Colonel Perea's East Army and the Colonel Modesto's Ebro Army under the command of the General Hernandez Saravia, with 220,000–300,000 men, many unarmed (Hernandez Saravia said that the Republican army had only 17,000 rifles for all Catalonia), 106 airplanes (most of them [[Polikarpov I-15|''Chatos'']]), 250 cannons and 40 [[T-26 tank|tanks]] (many of them unserviceable due to shortage of spare parts). The [[Soviet Union|soviet]] government agreed to send to Catalonia a shipment of 250 aircraft, 250 tanks and 650 cannons, but the shipment did not reach [[Bordeaux]] until 15 January and only a small part of it crossed the border. Furthermore, because of the international isolation of the Republic and the lack of food (according to Beevor, in Barcelona the ration per day was down to 100 grams of lentils) the morale of the government troops and civil population in the Republican zone was very low. The people only wished the end of the war: "…just let it be over, it doesn’t matter how it ends, but let it end now."
==The Nationalist offensive==
The Nationalist offensive was planned for the 10 December, but was postponed to the 23 December. On 23 December, the Italians and the Navarreses crossed the Segre at [[Mequinenza]], broke the Republican lines and advanced sixteen kilometres, but they were stopped by the V and XV Republican corps led by [[Enrique Líster|Lister]] on 25 December. On the left flank, Muñoz Grandes and Garcia Valiño advanced towards [[Cervera]] and [[Artesa de Segre|Artesa]], but they were blocked by the [[Durruti Column|26th Republican Division]]. On the south, Yagüe's troops were held back by the Ebro's floodwater. The Republicans had stopped the first Nationalist attack, nevertheless, they had lost 40 aircraft in the first ten days of the battle.
On 3 January, Solchaga attacked [[Les Borges Blanques|Borjas Blancas]], Muñoz Grandes and Garcia Valiño occupied Artesa, and Yagüe crossed the Ebro. Moscardo attacked from Lerida and the Italians occupied Borjas Blancas on 5 January. The same day, the republican army started a [[Battle of Valsequillo|surprise attack]] in [[Extremadura]] towards [[Peñarroya-Pueblonuevo|Peñarroya]] in order to divert nationalists forces, but the offensive was halted after a few days and the Nationalist offensive in Catalonia continued. On 9 January, the Moscardo's Aragon Army Corps joined Gambara at [[Mollerusa]] and broke the northern part of the front. The V and XV Republican Corps collapsed and retreated in disorder. On 15 January the Aragon and Maestrazgo Corps conquered Cervera and the Morrocan Corps after a one day march of 50 km occupied [[Tarragona]]. By this day, the Nationalists had conquered a third of the Catalonia, had taken 23.000 prisoners and killed 5.000 Republican soldiers.
[[File:Ultima sesion de las Cortes en Figueras. Hablando, Negrin. Sentado detras, Martinez Barrio.jpg|thumb|Last session of the Republican cortes in Figueras, on 1 Ferbruary 1939, Juan Negrin speaking.]]
==Fall of Barcelona==
Then, the Republican government tried to organize the defense of Barcelona, ordered the general mobilization of all men to forty-five and militarized all the industry. Nevertheless, the successive defensive lines (L1, L2, L3) fell, the Republican forces were outnumbered six to one and the Nationalist air force bombed Barcelona every day (40 times beetwen 21 and 25 January). Then became clear that the defense of the city was impossible. On 22 January, Solchaga and Yagüe reached the [[Llobregat]] only a few miles west of Barcelona, Muñoz Grandes and Garcia Valiño attacked [[Sabadell]] and [[Tarrasa]], and Gambara advanced to [[Badalona]]. The chief of staff of the Republican Army, [[Vicente Rojo Lluch|Rojo]] told to the Republican prime minister [[Juan Negrín|Negrín]] that the front had ceased to exist and the government abandoned Barcelona, after release most of its prisoners. Also a large part of the Barcelona population fled from the city. On 24 January, Garcia Valiño occupied [[Manresa]], and on 25 January the Nationalist vanguard occupied the [[Tibidabo]] in the outskirts of Barcelona. The Nationalists occupied Barcelona on 26 January, and there were five days of looting by the Yagüe's ''[[Regulares]]'' and extrajudicial killings (''paseos'').
After the occupation of Barcelona the Nationalists troops, tired from the long marches, slowed their advance but soon resumed their offensive, pursuing the retreating columns of Republican soldiers and civilians. On 1 February, Negrin proposed, in the last meeting of the [[Cortes Generales|Cortes]] in the [[Sant Ferran Castle|Figueres Castle]], [[Capitulation (surrender)|capitulation]] with the sole condition of respecting the lives of the vanquished and the holding of a plebiscite so the Spanish people could decide the form of government, but Franco didn't accept. On 2 February the Nationalists entered [[Girona|Gerona]], on 3 February arrived within 50 kilometes of the frontier, on 8 February occupied [[Figueras]] and Rojo ordered to republican troops to withdraw to the French frontier. Hundred of thousands of Republican soldiers, women, children and old men marched to the French frontier on foot, carts, buses or trucks through bitterly cold sleet and snow. Their retreat was covered by units of the Republican Army which carried out [[Hit-and-run tactics|hit and run]] attacks and ambushes. The Nationalist air force and the [[Condor Legion]] bombed and straffed the roads leading to France. From 28 January, the French government announced that civilians could cross the frontier and on 5 February also the Republican soldiers. Between 400,000 and 500,000, Republican refugees crossed the frontier among them the president of the Republic ([[Manuel Azaña]]), the prime minister (Juan Negrín) and the chief of staff of the Republican Army (Vicente Rojo). Negrin returned to Spain on 9 February, but Azaña and Rojo refused to return. By 9 February the Nationalists reached the frontier, on 10 February the last units of the Modesto's Army of the Ebro crossed into France and the Nationalists sealed the frontier.
[[File:Soldados nacionales entrando en Barcelona el 26 de enero de 1939. Foto ante el convento de Pompeya, en la Diagonal.jpg|thumb|left|Nationalists troops in [[Barcelona]] on January 26, 1939.]]
With the fall of Catalonia, the Republic lost the second largest city of the country, the Catalan war industry and a large part of its army (more than 200.000 soldiers). On 27 February Azaña resigned and the same day [[French Third Republic|France]] and the [[United Kingdom|Great Britain]] recognised the Francoist government. A further military resistance was impossible and the war was lost for the Republic.
The [[Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia|Catalonia autonomy]] was abolished. The [[Catalan language|catalan]] language, the ''[[Sardana]]'' and the catalan christian names were forbidden. All the catalan newspapers were requisitioned and the forbidden books retired and burned. Even the inscriptions on tombs in the [[Montjuïc Cemetery]], commemorating [[Durruti]], [[Francisco Ascaso|Ascaso]] and [[Ferrer i Guàrdia|Ferrer i Guardia]] were removed.
The Republican exiles were interned in fifteen [[Concentration camps in France|improvised camps]] (mostly barbed-wire enclosures on the sand, without basic shelter, sanitary or cooking facilities) by the French government like [[Camp de concentration d'Argelès-sur-Mer|Argelès]], [[Gurs internment camp|Gurs]], [[Camp de Rivesaltes|Rivesaltes]] and [[Camp Vernet|Vernet]]. The living conditions in the camps were very harsh (in the first six months, 14,672 refugees died from malnutrition or dysentery), the French government encouraged the refugees to return and by the end of 1939 between 70,000 and 180,000 refugees had returned to Spain, but 300,000 never returned. Many fled to the Soviet Union (between 3,000 and 5,000), USA and Canada (about 1,000), and Great Britain, Belgium and other european countries (between 3,000 and 5,000). Many others managed to reach Latin America (30,000 to Mexico, 10,000 to Argentina, 5,000 to Venezuela, 5,000 to Dominican Republic, 3,500 to Chile, etc.) seeking asylum. Nevertheless, at least 140,000 refugees remained in the Metropolitan France and 19,000 in the [[French colonial empire|French colonies]] of the North Africa, and after the [[German occupation of France during World War II|fall of France]] 10,000-15,000 refugees were detained by the Nazis and deported to [[Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp|concentration camps]]. Another 10,000 joined the [[French Resistance]] and more than 2,000 to the [[Free French Forces| Free French Forces]].
== Sources ==
* Beevor, Antony. ''The battle for Spain. The Spanish civil war, 1936-1939.'' Penguin Books. 2006. London. ISBN 978-0-14-303765-1.
* Graham Helen. ''The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction.'' Oxford University Press. 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-280377-1
* Jackson, Gabriel. ''The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931-1939.'' Princenton University Press. 1967. Princenton. ISBN 978-0-691-00757-1
*Preston, Paul. ''Doves of War. Four women of Spain.'' Harper Collins. London. 2002. ISBN 9780-00-638694-0
* Preston, Paul. ''The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, revolution & revenge.'' Harper Perennial. 2006. London. ISBN 978-0-00-723207-9 ISBN 0-00-723207-1
* Thomas, Hugh ''The Spanish Civil War''. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-014278-0.