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Spain had been neutral during the First World War. However, this had not made the country peaceful or prosperous. In the wake of the ending of the WWI, there was a major economic slump.<ref>Beevor, ''Battle for Spain''</ref> The working class and the rural poor suffered greatly at this time and they began to organize themselves and they were often led by Communists and Anarchists. At this time the Trade Unions in Spain became very strong and there were widespread strikes. In the countryside impoverished peasants began to seize land. To many in the elite it seemed as if the country was on the brink of Communist revolution. Miguel Primo de Rivera, with the support of the monarchy and army launched a coup and came to power in 1923, and he became dictator of Spain. He was a monarchists and conservative and did nothing to reform the country and especially to alleviate the plight of the poor.<ref>Beevor, ''Battle for Spain''</ref> De Rivera soon became very unpopular and tensions in the country increased and he was forced to resign. In 1931, The Spanish monarch resigned. It seemed that Spain had an opportunity to begin a new era and to become a true democracy, after elections were held.
The proclamation of the Second Republic in Madrid
It was clear by 1936 that Spain was on the edge of a major confrontation between the left and the right and between the regions. There began a series of political assassinations. The right openly called for the military to stage a coup to oust the left wing government, which some saw as only the puppets of the Soviet Union. Much of the Spanish Army was stationed in the country’s last colonies in Morocco.<ref>Beevor, ''Battle for Spain''</ref> The left-wing government believed that the military as they were too far away from Spain. The government was losing control of the situation and there was fighting between the Falange militia and the police on the streets of several cities, resulting in many deaths. Then the Spanish Army Generals, led by General Franco, launched a coup, they managed to fly their forces, with the assistance of the Nazi German government to Spain. The arrival of regular Spanish units from Morocco on the Spanish mainland was the trigger for an all-out war that was to ‘leave half-a-million people dead.’<ref>Preston</ref>