The Spanish Civil War seen through the posters

The Spanish Civil War seen through the posters

  • Como ha sembrado la iglesia su religion en España, UGT ["How the Church spread her religion in Spain"]


  • ? Que haces tu para evitar esto? Ayuda a Madrid ["What should you do to avoid this? Help Madrid."]


  • International anti-fascist solidarity.


  • Kion vi faras por eviti tion ["What you will do to avoid this"]


Como ha sembrado la iglesia su religion en España, UGT ["How the Church spread her religion in Spain"]

© Contemporary Collections

? Que haces tu para evitar esto? Ayuda a Madrid ["What should you do to avoid this? Help Madrid."]

© Contemporary Collections

International anti-fascist solidarity.

© Contemporary Collections

Kion vi faras por eviti tion ["What you will do to avoid this"]

© Contemporary Collections

Publication date: January 2005

Historical context

Foreign intervention in the Spanish Civil War

The failed military uprising against the Popular Front government that won the elections in Spain in February 1936 paved the way for a protracted civil war, which quickly took on unexpected proportions and drew the intervention of major foreign powers. The Comintern also favored the creation of International Brigades, which were operational in Spain from October 1936.

Image Analysis

The poster, a means of propaganda

Visual propaganda played for the first time an essential role in the Spanish Civil War, through photographs and posters which helped to disseminate the ideological positions of both sides, with the aim of rallying supporters. Several posters from the Spanish Republican camp clearly reflect their concern to mobilize international opinion, through the use of anti-fascist iconography. The first of them, issued by the General Union of Workers, a Spanish socialist union, features a man in ecclesiastical garb wearing, instead of the Christian cross, the swastika around his neck and a sword on the side, in the process of sowing small crosses in the furrows of a field, where many crosses are already planted. This metaphor of Death, represented here in the guise of a man of the Church, is reinforced by the inscription which accompanies the image: "Como ha sembrado la iglesia su religion en España" ["How the Church spread his religion in Spain ”]. The association of Nazism and the Church alludes to the support given by the Spanish clergy to Franco's troops. For the nationalists, the Church was indeed to be one of the bastions of the new state they planned to found.

A second poster emphasizes the danger of the alliance between Nazism and fascism and calls for an alliance of all energies in the world against fascism, through the image of a map. from Europe from which emerge two threatening tattooed wrists, one with the German swastika, the other with the Italian beams, and each brandishing a bloody knife in the direction of Spain. The Republicans also used the poster to denounce the material destruction and loss of life during the siege of Madrid, a symbol of the heroic resistance of the Spanish people, as evidenced by a poster intended to launch an appeal for help in favor of the city, by means of a photomontage of a tearful mother holding her child in her arms, while in the background, a squadron of German airplanes of the Condor Legion fly over a gutted building.

In France, this iconography found an echo in a poster issued by the organization "Solidarité Internationale Antifasciste", responsible for collecting aid for Spain. Thus, conveying a strong emotional charge and addressed to all, the poster turned out to be an excellent vector of propaganda, which was widely exploited by both Francoists and Republicans, to raise awareness of international opinion and disseminate their political ideas.


The international dimension of the Spanish Civil War

These posters also reveal that Republicans, feeling neglected by democracies, have sought to emphasize the cruelty of their enemies, as well as the international dimension of the fight to demand foreign aid. The division of Spain into two zones quickly reflected that, political and ideological, of Europe divided into two camps: on the one hand, the Western democracies allied with Communist Russia, on the other Nazi Germany. and fascist Italy.

The Spanish Civil War thus became the arena for the rivalry between the great powers, through the aid given to one side or the other, constituting a prelude to the Second World War. After the Ethiopian war led by Mussolini in 1935, after Hitler's illegal remilitarization of the Rhineland in March 1936, Franco's coup d'etat supported by the fascist and Nazi regimes made the Democrats aware of the danger posed by the German and Italian dictators. But this awareness remained fairly limited, although it resulted in the departure to Spain of thousands of volunteer fighters of all nationalities grouped within the International Brigades and by the commitment of French intellectuals in favor of the Republic. , as evidenced by the famous novel by André Malraux, Hope.

  • Spain
  • fascism
  • war in spain
  • Nazism
  • propaganda
  • poster
  • Malraux (André)
  • Franco (general)
  • Comintern


Rafael ALBELLA La vida cotidiana durante la guerra civil Barcelona, Planeta, 1973. WINOCK, Michel (Introd.) The thirties. From crisis to war, Paris, Le Seuil, 1990. Fabrice d´ALMEIDA Images and propaganda in the 20th century,Paris, Casterman / Giunti, 1995. Pierre BROUÉ and Émile TÉMINE The Revolution and the Spanish Civil War, Paris, ed. de Minuit, 1961. Guy HERMET The war in Spain, Paris, Seuil, 1989. Laurent GERVEREAU History of the visual in the 20th century, Paris, The threshold, 2000.

To cite this article

Charlotte DENOËL, "The war in Spain seen through the posters"

Video: The Second Spanish Republic