Hunger in Civil War Madrid

A paper on why supply problems appeared in Madrid and how hunger and the defeatism affected its inhabitants' morale.

As a summary of our latest research on the topic, this paper will focus on why the supply problems appeared in Madrid, how it affected its inhabitants' morale and how was it handled, both by Republican authorities and their enemies. Furthermore it will examine how hunger and the defeatism it brought played an important role in the Republic´s defeat.

Ainhoa Campos, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, ‘Hunger in Civil War Madrid’

The Spanish Civil War became a total war, in which the home front proved as important as the battlefront. Therefore, sustaining the civilian morale was considered an essential goal in order to obtain victory.

At the Republican home front, and specifically in Madrid - a city surrounded by the enemy during most parts of the conflict - severe supply problems posed a threat to civilians lives and profoundly affected their moral strength. The Republican authorities tried to solve this problem by all legal means, but they were unsuccessful.

Convinced that demoralization could bring defeat upon them, authorities resolved to control it by prosecuting defeatism, censoring the media and launching propaganda campaigns. As for the rebels, they tried to take advantage of the situation spreading defeatism throughout the city through strategies related to psychological warfare.

These actions show us that both contenders knew how important the food issue was in order to win the war. Spanish civil war studies, however, have not paid enough attention to it: it’s fairly recently that new approaches are starting to address such a relevant matter.


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