In Gaston Leval's words, "it succeeded in achieving, in many cases completely, the finest ideal conceived by the human mind and this will be its permanent glory." It had already been an eventful week, eighty years ago, when a radio-station had been occupied for a short time by fascists on the 11th of July. A day later, the fascists shot a socialist assault guard lieutenant which was avenged by some of his comrades who 'arrested' the leader of the parliamentary right-wing. However, they were friendly enough to deliver his corpse to the cemetary (Murray Bookchin, The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years 1868-1936
). The army had already, by that time, been planning a coup for several months. When the government was informed about these plans they merely replied by reiterating their faith in the military power of the government (Bookchin). A strange reaction, when that same military power was planning the coup.
On the 18th of July the generals issued a pronunciamento in which they declared they had taken power. Throughout Spain, soldiers began crawling out of their barracks and started to occupy strategic places. The CNT and FAI militants were well aware of the likely repercussions of a military take-over and had long since begun preparations to resist. In Barcelona, at the center of Spain's most important industrial region, the soldiers were greeted by the worker's bullets. The rebels were defeated in Barcelona, the North of Basque, Madrid, a significant area of the south of Spain, and one of the Balearic islands. A heroic but too often forgotten struggle that lasted more than two years ensued. However, this wasn't just a war between competing power-hungry dictators. The Spanish Civil War was also a struggle by workers who defended themselves and, in the rearguard, tried to build a new world.