Reluctant Warriors: Republican Popular Army and Nationalist Army Conscripts in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

TitleReluctant Warriors: Republican Popular Army and Nationalist Army Conscripts in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsMatthews, James
Number of Pages244
PublisherOxford University Press

This book is a comparative study of Nationalist and Republican conscripts during Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. It analyses the conflict from the perspective of those who did not embrace one or other side’s ideologies and were involved against their will. While militants on both sides joined the conflict voluntarily, the large majority of combatants went to war as conscripts.The book firstly examines the manner in which both sides implemented mass conscription. It then analyses the process of conscription from call‐up to placement in a unit. It also looks at the methods employed to motivate and maintain the morale of drafted men, as well as the approaches to discipline in the two armies. Finally, it examines situations in which men avoided military service. These accounted for constant manpower losses on both sides and were particularly marked for the Republic. The Nationalist Army managed its conscripted men better than the Popular Army, and this is vital to understand the outcome of the war. Despite lower wages, Nationalist soldiers suffered fewer shortages and their families were better cared for in the rearguard. The Nationalists used an effective combination of threats and rewards to ensure the adequate service of their conscript soldiers. The same technique was also used to turn more than half of Republican prisoners of war and incorporate them into the Nationalist Army. Republican wartime mobilization, however, should also be considered relatively successful given the severe strains imposed by the civil nature of the conflict.

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