The defence of Madrid : the Spanish Civil War (1936-39)
The role played by the Spanish Communist Party (Partido Comunista de Espana, PCE) during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 remains controversial to this day. Yet despite the wealth of work which exists on the PCE during the war, none has examined party activity in any detail. Furthermore, while events in the city of Madrid during the war provided the framework for both the rise and demise of the PCE, many studies have tended to focus instead on Barcelona and Cataluna. In contrast to the lack of secondary material on Madrid and the PCE, a wealth of Spanish archival material exists on communist activity within the city and province. The origins of communist dominance during the Spanish Civil War lie with the particular national and international conjuncture which enabled the PCE to fulfil a particular role when other organisations could not. Thus chapter one examines the origins of the PCE within the context of Spain's Second Republic and chapter two discusses the party's behaviour prior to and after the coup and the outbreak of civil war. Chapter three explores the party's role in the defence of Madrid and the effect of this on both the prosecution of the war, and the growth of the party. Chapter four examines the PCE's role in mobilising different groups in order to meet the needs of the war, while chapter five examines the fragility of the PCE's support base, further undermined as material privation worsened. Finally, in chapter six the party's demise is charted within the context of the Republic's poor military and material situation, and an unfavourable international political arena. Much more than a Soviet puppet, the PCE absorbed and channelled all the hopes and aspirations of the Spanish Republic, binding itself in the process to a cause which was increasingly doomed.