Stalin and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939: The new historiography

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The principal rationalization for the July 1936 generals’ uprising was the alleged Sovietization of the Spanish Republic. Central to the creation of the myth of antebellum Soviet intervention in Spain was a lavishly illustrated, in-depth report produced in Nazi Germany and overseen by Joseph Goebbels. Das Rotbuch über Spanien (1937) was only the shrillest of a steady stream of publications that situated the Spanish Civil War in the context of Soviet and Communist aggression. George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia (1938) tweaked the formula to assert that the Republic’s fortunes in the war were sabotaged by a reign of Stalinist terror. This chapter will explore how, over the past twenty years, a new historiography on the Soviet Union in Spain has allowed scholars to leave behind Goebbel’s insidious lies and Orwell’s equally unfounded thesis. The new historiography emerges from the declassifications of post-Soviet archives in the 1990s and the dedicated research of a handful of international scholars whose work first appeared at the turn of the millennium. In the intervening two decades, the field has become one of the most rapidly expanding in modern European history. The organization of colloquia and conferences and the publication of monographs, anthologies and special journals have provided a platform for a new generation of researchers who are rewriting the history of Stalin and the Spanish Civil War.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRevisioning Stalin and Stalinism
Subtitle of host publicationComplexities, Contradictions, and Controversies
EditorsSusan Grant, James Ryan
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781350122949
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2020


  • Stalin
  • Spain
  • Spanish Civil War
  • USSR
  • Interwar Europe


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