The Republic proved ineffective militarily, relying on disorganised revolutionary militias. The Republican government under Giral resigned on 4 September, unable to cope with the situation, and was replaced by a mostly Socialist organisation under Francisco Largo Caballero.
Moroccans and elements of the Spanish Legion came to the rescue. A similar dramatic success for the Nationalists occurred on 17 October, when troops coming from Galicia relieved the besieged town of Oviedo , in Northern Spain.
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In October, the Francoist troops launched a major offensive toward Madrid,  reaching it in early November and launching a major assault on the city on 8 November. A contributory factor in the successful Republican defense was the effectiveness of the Fifth Regiment  and later the arrival of the International Brigades, though only an approximate 3, foreign volunteers participated in the battle. The Second Battle of the Corunna Road , a Nationalist offensive to the northwest, pushed Republican forces back, but failed to isolate Madrid. The battle lasted into January. With his ranks swelled by Italian troops and Spanish colonial soldiers from Morocco, Franco made another attempt to capture Madrid in January and February , but was again unsuccessful.
The city was taken by Franco on 8 February. The operation's main objective was not met, though Nationalists gained a modest amount of territory. A similar Nationalist offensive, the Battle of Guadalajara , was a more significant defeat for Franco and his armies.
This was the only publicised Republican victory of the war. Franco used Italian troops and blitzkrieg tactics; while many strategists blamed Franco for the rightists' defeat, the Germans believed it was the former at fault for the Nationalists' 5, casualties and loss of valuable equipment. The destruction had a significant effect on international opinion. The dispute was between an ultimately victorious government—Communist forces and the anarchist CNT. The disturbance pleased Nationalist command, but little was done to exploit Republican divisions.
In July, it made a move to recapture Segovia , forcing Franco to delay his advance on the Bilbao front, but for only two weeks. A similar Republican attack, the Huesca Offensive , failed similarly. Mola, Franco's second-in-command, was killed on 3 June, in an airplane accident. The Battle of Brunete , however, was a significant defeat for the Republic, which lost many of its most accomplished troops. A Republican offensive against Zaragoza was also a failure. Despite having land and aerial advantages, the Battle of Belchite , a place lacking any military interest, resulted in an advance of only 10 kilometres 6.
At November's end, with Franco's troops closing in on Valencia, the government had to move again, this time to Barcelona. The Battle of Teruel was an important confrontation. The city, which had formerly belonged to the Nationalists, was conquered by Republicans in January.
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The Francoist troops launched an offensive and recovered the city by 22 February, but Franco was forced to rely heavily on German and Italian air support. On 7 March, Nationalists launched the Aragon Offensive , and by 14 April they had pushed through to the Mediterranean, cutting the Republican-held portion of Spain in two. The Republican government attempted to sue for peace in May,  but Franco demanded unconditional surrender, and the war raged on.
In July, the Nationalist army pressed southward from Teruel and south along the coast toward the capital of the Republic at Valencia, but was halted in heavy fighting along the XYZ Line , a system of fortifications defending Valencia. The Republican government then launched an all-out campaign to reconnect their territory in the Battle of the Ebro , from 24 July until 26 November, where Franco personally took command.
The agreement with Britain effectively destroyed Republican morale by ending hope of an anti-fascist alliance with Western powers. Franco's troops conquered Catalonia in a whirlwind campaign during the first two months of Tarragona fell on 15 January,  followed by Barcelona on 26 January  and Girona on 2 February. Only Madrid and a few other strongholds remained for the Republican forces. On 26 March, the Nationalists started a general offensive, on 28 March the Nationalists occupied Madrid and, by 31 March, they controlled all Spanish territory.
After the end of the war, there were harsh reprisals against Franco's former enemies. Many others were put to forced labour , building railways, draining swamps, and digging canals. Hundreds of thousands of Republicans fled abroad, with some , fleeing to France. Of the 17, refugees housed in Gurs, farmers and others who could not find relations in France were encouraged by the Third Republic, in agreement with the Francoist government, to return to Spain. Along with other "undesirable" people, the Spaniards were sent to the Drancy internment camp before being deported to Nazi Germany.
About 5, Spaniards died in the Mauthausen concentration camp. After the official end of the war, guerrilla warfare was waged on an irregular basis by the Spanish Maquis well into the s, gradually reduced by military defeats and scant support from the exhausted population.
In , a group of republican veterans, who also fought in the French resistance against the Nazis, invaded the Val d'Aran in northwest Catalonia, but were defeated after 10 days. The Republicans oversaw the evacuation of 30,—35, children from their zone,  starting with Basque areas, from which 20, were evacuated. This was against initial opposition from both the government and charitable groups, who saw the removal of children from their native country as potentially harmful.
On arrival two days later in Southampton , the children were dispersed all over England, with over children accommodated in Wales. Most were repatriated to Spain after the war, but some still remained in Britain by the end of the Second World War in Financing the war posed enormous challenge for both the Nationalists and the Republicans. The two combatant parties followed similar financial strategies; in both cases money creation, rather than new taxes or issue of debt, was key to financing the war. The second component of domestic resource was fiscal revenue.
Neither side re-engineered the pre-war tax system; differences resulted from dramatic problems with tax collection in the Republican zone and from the course of the war, as more and more population was governed by the Nationalists. A smaller percentage of domestic resources came from expropriations, donations or internal borrowing.
None of the sides resolved to public borrowing and none floated debt on foreign exchange markets. Authors of recent studies suggest that given Nationalist and Republican spendings were comparable, earlier theory pointing to Republican mismanagement of resources is no longer tenable.
Initial turmoil in the Republican zone contributed to problems, while at later stages the course of the war meant that population, territory and resources kept shrinking. The death toll of the Spanish Civil War is far from clarified and remains—especially in part related to war and post-war repression—a very controversial issue. Many general historiographic works—notably in Spain—refrain from advancing any figures; massive historical series,  encyclopedias  or dictionaries  might not provide any numbers or at best propose vague general descriptions;  also more detailed general history accounts produced by expert Spanish scholars often remain silent on the issue.
The totals advanced usually include or exclude various categories.
Scholars who focus on killings or "violent deaths" most typically list 1 combat and combat-related deaths; figures in this rubric might range from ,  to ,;  2 rearguard terror, both judicial and extrajudicial, recorded until the end of the Civil War: ,  to ,;  3 civilian deaths from military action, typically air raids: 10,  to 15, Entirely different approach is pursued by demographers; instead of adding up deaths from different categories, they try to gauge the difference between the total number of deaths recorded during the war and the total which would have resulted from applying annual death averages from the — period; this difference is considered excess death resulting from the war.
The figure they arrive at for the — period is ,; the figure for —, covering also the years of post-war deaths resulting from terror and war sufferings, is , Death totals remain debated. British historian Antony Beevor wrote in his history of the Civil War that Franco's ensuing " white terror " resulted in the deaths of , people and that the " red terror " killed 38, Recent research has started to locate mass graves , using a combination of witness testimony, remote sensing and forensic geophysics techniques.
Historians such as Helen Graham ,  Paul Preston ,  Antony Beevor ,  Gabriel Jackson  and Hugh Thomas  argue that the mass executions behind the Nationalists lines were organised and approved by the Nationalist rebel authorities, while the executions behind the Republican lines were the result of the breakdown of the Republican state and anarchy:. Though there was much wanton killing in rebel Spain, the idea of the limpieza , the "cleaning up", of the country from the evils which had overtaken it, was a disciplined policy of the new authorities and a part of their programme of regeneration.
In republican Spain, most of the killing was the consequence of anarchy, the outcome of a national breakdown, and not the work of the state, although some political parties in some cities abetted the enormities, and some of those responsible ultimately rose to positions of authority.
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Conversely, historian, Stanley Payne argues that the political violence in the Republican zone was in fact organized by the left:. In general, this was not an irrepressible outpouring of hatred, by the man in the street for his "oppressors", as it has sometimes been painted, but a semi-organized activity carried out by sections of nearly all the leftist groups. In the entire leftist zone the only organized political party that eschewed involvement in such activity were the Basque Nationalists.
Nationalist atrocities, which authorities frequently ordered so as to eradicate any trace of "leftism" in Spain, were common. The notion of a limpieza cleansing formed an essential part of the rebel strategy, and the process began immediately after an area had been captured. The first three months of the war were the bloodiest, with 50 to 70 percent of all executions carried out by Franco's regime, from to , occurring during this period.
Many such acts were committed by reactionary groups during the first weeks of the war. Extensive killings of civilians were carried out in the cities captured by the Nationalists,  along with the execution of unwanted individuals.
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These included non-combatants such as trade-unionists , Popular Front politicians, suspected Freemasons , Basque, Catalan, Andalusian , and Galician Nationalists, Republican intellectuals, relatives of known Republicans, and those suspected of voting for the Popular Front. Nationalist forces massacred civilians in Seville, where some 8, people were shot; 10, were killed in Cordoba ; 6,—12, were killed in Badajoz  after more than one thousand of landowners and conservatives were killed by the revolutionaries.
In Granada, where working-class neighborhoods were hit with artillery and right-wing squads were given free rein to kill government sympathizers,  at least 2, people were murdered. There were fewer executions than usual, however, because of the effect Guernica left on Nationalists' reputations internationally. Nationalists also murdered Catholic clerics.
In one particular incident, following the capture of Bilbao , they took hundreds of people, including 16 priests who had served as chaplains for the Republican forces, to the countryside or graveyards and murdered them.
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