On July 18, 1936, troops under the leadership of General Francisco Franco began an uprising against the democratically elected government of Spain. This revolt quickly escalated into a civil war. The Spanish Civil War is sometimes called a prelude to World War II.
 
Many foreign powers supported different sides of the Spanish Civil War. Republicans, who supported the overthrown democratic republic, were supported with munitions and money from the Soviet Union and Mexico. Volunteers, nicknamed the International Brigades, came from countries including Ireland, France, Poland, Canada, and the United States. (The group from the U.S. called themselves the “Abraham Lincoln Brigade.”) Many celebrities, such as British writer George Orwell and American novelist Ernest Hemingway, supported the Republican cause.
 
Germany and Italy supported Franco’s Nationalists. International volunteers from France, Portugal, Morocco, and Scandinavia also supported Franco. Celebrities who supported the Nationalists include British novelist J.R.R. Tolkien and American writer Gertrude Stein.
 
The Republicans were crushed. Franco remained Spain’s dictator for nearly 40 years. Spain was a non-belligerent during World War II, but supplied economic and military assistance to the Axis powers during the conflict.
assistance
Noun

help or aid.

Axis
Noun

alliance of countries that opposed the Allies during World War II. The Axis was led by Germany, Italy, and Japan.

civil war
Noun

conflict between groups in the same country or nation.

democratic
Adjective

having to do with a government led by its citizens, who vote for policies and/or representatives.

dictator
Noun

person with complete control of a government.

economic
Adjective

having to do with money.

escalate
Verb

to increase.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

military
Noun

armed forces.

munitions
Plural Noun

military equipment, especially weapons and ammunition.

non-belligerent
Noun

person or nation that does not participate in a specific conflict.

prelude
Noun

introduction, or event that comes before something else.

republic
Noun

system of government where power rests in citizens who vote and representatives who stand for those citizens. The United States is a republic.

revolt
Noun

rebellion or uprising.

Soviet Union
Noun

(1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

troop
Noun

a soldier.

World War II
Noun

(1939-1945) armed conflict between the Allies (represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) and the Axis (represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan.)