"Capture of Madrid" board game
Repository: Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica, Salamanca, Spain
Creator: Armero, José Mario
Fond or Collection
Date Created: 1931 to 1939
Extent: 1 item
On February 10, Prime Minister Juan Negrín returned to Spain from France determined to continue the fight against the rebels. A large supply of Soviet weapons that could help extend the war until the expected European war broke out had arrived in France. Not everyone agreed with Negrín. The anarchists and many Socialists and Republicans believed that the war was lost. The civilian population was starving and exhausted. Negrín’s faith in the international situation took a new blow on February 27: Great Britain and France officially recognized the Franco government. In this context, a plot centred on a group of politicians and military officers in Madrid to depose Negrín and ask Franco for a negotiated surrender emerged. The leader of the conspiracy, Colonel Segismundo Casado, was in contact with the Francoist Fifth Column that claimed to represent Franco.
The Casado uprising began on March 5. In the midst of a confusing situation, the Republican fleet abandoned Cartagena for North Africa, depriving thousands of Republicans of a way of being evacuated and avoiding Francoist repression. The next day, the National Defence Council was established in Madrid. General José Miaja was its official head, but the strongmen were Col. Casado and Socialist politician Julián Besteiro. The Council contacted the Francoist high command about the possibility of negotiating a surrender that included guarantees for Republican politicians and soldiers. Negrín left Spain the same day. He would never return. Meanwhile, Madrid was the scene of fighting between Communist units and Casado’s supporters that lasted until March 12. Thousands died in this civil war among Republicans.
The negotiations between the Council and the Franco government went nowhere. Franco was not going to make concessions and treated the Republicans as the vanquished dependent on his mercy. All he had to do was wait for them to collapse entirely. On March 26, he ordered his troops to advance on Republican lines. They encountered no resistance as Republican soldiers surrendered en masse or deserted and many of their officers and political commissars fled towards the ports on the Mediterranean hoping to avoid the implacable repression they rightly feared was coming.
Madrid surrendered on March 28. Over the next three days, the ports remaining in republican hands were occupied. The war ended officially on April 1. Tens of thousands of republicans trapped inside Spain would soon find themselves in concentration camps or in front of a firing squad.
Franco had won the war but what came afterwards could hardly be described as peace. Republican soldiers, and especially their officers, were treated as criminals rather than a defeated army. Those who surrendered had hoped that Franco would integrate the Republicans into his New Spain, but he had no such intention. His goal was to eliminate them, terrorize them, and silence them.