The Badajoz bullring
Repository: Fundação Mário Soares, Lisbon
Creator: Neves, Mario
Fond or Collection
DRR - Documentos Ruella Ramos
Repository and Location
Fundação Mário Soares, Lisbon
Date Created: 1936-08-15
Extent: 1 item
Geographic Region: Lisbon, Portugal
The air shuttle between Morocco and the south of Spain created by the rebels and their German and Italian allies at the end of July not only made it possible for the rebels to consolidate their control over Western Andalucía, it also permitted them to organize the first columns that would advance on Extremadura. These troops fought aggressively. They also showed great cruelty in their repression of the people they defeated.
This was a brief, intense and highly unequal struggle. The rebels had well trained professional troops under a unified command. They faced a combination of worker militias, Civil Guards, Assault Guards, and soldiers loyal to the Republic, often commanded by men whose authority was tenuous. The battles during the conquest of Badajoz in August followed a similar pattern. In poorly designed and hastily constructed trenches, behind medieval walls, and in riverbeds, the heterogeneous Republican forces awaited the arrival of the enemy. The three Francoist columns of 1000 to 1500 men each advanced quickly and decided where to attack. Sometimes the Republicans were able to hold them off for a few hours, but they could not carry out any manoeuvres of their own. When they realized that they were about to be overrun, they undertook a disorganized retreat to the next village where they dug in again.
Under the command of Lt. Col. Asensio Cabanillas, the first column, comprising Moroccan troops and members of the Spanish Legion, left Sevilla for Extremadura on August 2. As it advanced it left behind a river of blood in the villages it captured, often without having to fire a shot. They carried lists of people to liquidate, and were advised by supporters in the places they conquered. A column led by Major Antonio Castejón set out on August 3. After a brief fight, it took Almendralejo on August 6 and immediately executed approximately 1,000 people. It did the same in Mérida four days later.
The northern and southern areas of rebel Spain were now connected. The next objective was the city of Badajoz. The attack was carried out by 3,000 Legionnaires and Moroccan troops under the command of Lt. Col. Juan Yagüe. The walled city was defended by a few thousand militiamen, soldiers, and police. After three days of aerial bombing, the rebels launched their assault on Badajoz on August 14. The militia’s machine gun units caused numerous casualties among the attackers and briefly forced them back, but the rebels eventually captured one of the gates and entered the city. They gave no quarter. At the end of the day, they had up to 4,000 men prisoner in the bullring and began to shoot them all. Yagüe was directly responsible for what became known as the Badajoz Massacre, but Franco was kept informed about all operations. The bodies of the victims were burned.