- December 1937 - 

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It is COLD at the front. Remember the comrades who are defending your liberty.


In a position apparently offering no prospects, the Spanish government decided to an act of desperation. The secret service had notice of a planned final offensive against Madrid by General Franco. In a moment everybody was expecting the break down of the government, the loss of the capital city to the Fascists would lead to a complete isolation of the government and the end of democracy in Spain.

Gathering everything together what was left of armament, planes and elite troops, the Republic launches an attack against the province capital Teruel. Up to 100 000 Republican soldiers take part in this offensive. And the government need the success and publicity of this strike, to show that the Spanish government is able to fight and, more important, to beat the Fascists. If Teruel is taken and confidence in the government reestablished, the Soviet Union might be persuaded to send weapons again.

The Spanish government is also hoping to achieve a situation, in which the European countries force Germany and Italy to search for a diplomatic solution of the conflict.


04 Dec *Fierce fighting between the Fascist army and Republican troops near Teruel
  The province capital Teruel, since the beginning of the war occupied by Fascist forces, was till now aside the fighting's. When the Fascists occupied the city, they made their usual massacre, killing government officials, loyal policemen and soldiers, left wing intellectuals, workers and farmers. Those massacres were mostly celebrated in public, in Teruel it was on the 'Plaza de Torico'. That was more than one year ago. But suddenly Republican soldiers are entering the area around Teruel. The Fascists are surprised, but not aware that this is the preparation of one of the biggest offensives in the war.

Above and down: Republican army on the way to Teruel
11 Dec *Italy leave the League of Nations
  Italy leaves the League of Nations. Germany and Japan left the League of Nations already in 1933. The League is helpless against the aggressive atmosphere in Europe, the world is on the edge of a world war again.


Angel Pestana
11 Dec *Anarchist leader Angel Pestana dies in Barcelona
Angel Pestana, founding member of the Anarchist-Syndicalists, dies today in Barcelona. Many state and party officials attend to his funeral, with exception of the Communists. Indalecio Prieto, Spanish minister of defense, is holding a mourning speech: "We lost a great man, when we most needed him".


15 Dec *Republican army launches the Teruel offensive
  The fighting's near Teruel turn out to be a massive strike by the government to free the province capital city Teruel from the Fascists. With strong tank forces and infantry, but without artillery support not to warn the enemy, the Republican army launches the attack. Snow begins to fall and the temperatures fall rapidly.

Ernest Hemingway helping a young Republican soldier
to unjam his rifle during the battle of Teruel.
17 Dec *Snow storm in Teruel
  A veritable blizzard cut communications between headquarters and advancing troops. Planes are grounded and trucks stranded on the icy roads, but the Republican infantry is moving forward, lightly wounded men rising from the snow to rejoin the advancing march.
Soldiers in the freed outskirts are embraced and celebrated by the population.
(General Franco, after recapturing the city in February 23, ordered to kill the remaining civil population for their support of the Republican soldiers!)

Republican soldier killed while
stringing telephone lines

21 Dec *First Republican soldiers are entering Teruel
  Units under the command of the Generals 'El Campesino', Lister and Modesto entered today the city. Machinegunners covering windows and doors, while dynamiters advance to blow up strong points. The soldiers are seizing lower floors of buildings, whose upper stories are defended to death. As in the University City Madrid 1936, grenades and oaths are hurled down stairwells, water pipes and wiring is being destroyed, soldiers are wrestling and bayoneting one another in the darkness.

The new Republican anti air machine gun at the Teruel front
A father is bringing his wounded son to the Rep. ambulances

Dead soldiers at Teruel, December 21
29 Dec *Massive counterattack of Fascist troops under the command of General Varela at Teruel
  The Fascists rushed reinforcements from the Madrid zone and launch a lightning counterattack, commanded by General Varela, against the Republicans at Teruel. They are supported by the superior aviation of the Legion Condor. Panic is seizing the Republican soldiers and most of them flee out of the city. But General Varela cannot take advantage of this, the night falls in and in the city are still many Republican soldiers and small Units, isolated but still fighting and covered in the ruins and houses. By morning hours the Republican army is back, discipline had been reestablished, and the soldiers drive General Varela's troops out of the city to La Muela, a high piece of ground. In the city is still the greatly reduced Fascist garrison under command of Colonel d'Harcourt.

Republican soldier at Teruel

The offensive at Teruel achieved it main goals: Franco had to cancel his offensive at Madrid, and the world could see, that the Spanish government is far away from being beaten. Ernest Hemingway, covering the attack for the US press, said that "The fact, that the Spanish government is able to launch such a big offensive is the biggest blame for the so called experts since Max Schmelling grounded Joe Luis". The world did not know that the Republic put everything they had into this attack, but they had no other chance to raise some confident and hope, as well in their citizens and soldiers, as in their few friends and supporters.

Rep. soldier, Teruel

Civilians, journalists and Rep. soldiers at Teruel
31 Dec *Many lost their lives in this last days of 1937, and what is still to come?


Civilians and Rep. soldiers in Teruel. Click on the picture to see a bigger version (opens in the same window).


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Tomas Capdevila Cavero
last change 31-Dec-2001