Madrid war front: 1936 versus 2020

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Madrid has been a war zone at various times in its history. Since its conquest of the Arabs by the Christians. Through the revolt against Napoleon and the French occupation. Even the Carlists arrived at its doors but then withdrew. The most significant warlike event was undoubtedly the battle of Madrid in the civil war.

I'm going to compare what happened in 1936 and now in 2020.

During the civil war, the Republican government was buying war material like crazy on the international markets. The same thing is happening now only that tanks are the respirators and masks are replacing the purchase of rifles and machine guns.

Before, the heroes were the soldiers and militiamen who fought at the front. Now the front is the hospitals, and the fighters are the doctors. Also, the police and the army that supports them.  There has been a psychological evolution in this. The real heroes are those who save lives, not those who take them.

The solidarity of the people was the same in both historical events. Ordinary people collaborate with what they can, for a common idea: the salvation of Madrid.

The collection of food was also the same. Nobody knows how long the war will last. Food and supplies have to be hoarded. Although there is a big difference. In the 1936 Madrid, after all the gold reserves were sent to Moscow, the money was not worth anything. What worked was barter, exchanges. Today the money is still worth it, even though many people who live from day to day are having a hard time. The layoffs are general. There's no work, no money. But the supermarkets still work. And Madrid does not go hungry.

In 1936 it was dangerous to go out in the street. The air raids were feared. Now it is also exposed to go out in the street, people are afraid of catching the disease, and they only go out for the essential: food, medicaments, etc.

 What used to be the planes with their bombs, now are the sneezes with micro-particles full of viruses. Much was said about the fifth column during the siege of Madrid. Now people are suspicious of others in case they are infected. Delusions are also on the rise. Many people on the balconies report those who go out for any reasons.

In both historical events, the government is overwhelmed by events and was leftist. The Socialist Party represents the authority of the republic and Podemos would be the communist and anarchist extremists. In 1936 the enemy was the right-wing, and now the bad guys are invisible viruses that cannot be seen, but they are everywhere. Fear is always a bad advisor. During the civil war, the right-wingers in Madrid went into hiding and kept a low profile. In 2020 it's similar. Some of their leaders have fallen to the coronavirus. But casualties are everywhere, just like in the civil war.

In 1936 and in 2020 the people of Madrid are afraid, they leave home as little as possible. They try to follow the development of the war in the news. A lot of rumours or fake news around. The hospitals are full, and there are dead people every day. The war part. Every day it is promised that the war will end soon, but it goes on and on. You can't see the end of the tunnel. 

Everybody remembers the happy days before the conflict. Most people realize how unimportant the problems of before was. 

It's a nightmare they want to wake up . But the next day comes to the same dark reality. Empty streets closed shops and fear.


The motto of the republic was "No pasaran". And the reality is that the enemy passed and stayed for 40 years. Now it's the same thing. The virus has passed and is among us. The people of Madrid ended up living with the Francoists, although there always remained the stigma of having been red (communist). In our days it will end up being something similar to the positives patients of covid 19.

Times of war bring the best and the worst of human beings. This was in 1936 and 2020. But all wars end and this also applies to the pandemic today.


The civil war lasted for 4 years. This pandemic may last four months, and in the summer it may be over. There is not much flu in the summer. But there may be another outbreak in November. The Spanish civil war was the prelude to World War II.

But even the most deadly war in history, which involved the whole world and left 40 million dead, is over. And after that an era of prosperity began. The European Union was created in 1993. The enemies of old times came together as one supra nation.



I would like to end by mentioning other pandemics and what they teach us.

The Black Death took 1/3 of the population of Europe in the Middle Ages, 25 million in total. The sudden shortage of cheap labour was a great incentive for innovation. It was the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance. The Black Death was repeated in successive waves until 1490, but none of the subsequent outbreaks reached the severity of the 1348 epidemic. Something similar would happen with variants of the Corona Virus.  The biggest crisis will be in 2020 and it is possible that repeat in other non so letal waves.

The cocolitzli epidemic (disease, in Nahuatl language) occurred between 1545 and 1550 in Mexico. This smallpox epidemic in Tenochtitlan ended the Aztec empire. Cortes was not the only enemy. Due to the isolation of America for more than five millennia, the diseases coming from Europe and Asia had not happened before. The pandemia caused between 12 and 15 million deaths (the Aztec population is estimated to be about 25 million). Today Mexico City has 20 million inhabitants. We can say that the city recovers. 

The last major pandemic was the wrongly named Spanish flu of 1918 that killed more people than the First World War itself. Unlike other flu epidemics that basically affect children and the elderly, many of its victims were young people and healthy adults. Just the opposite of now. The coronavirus affects in 2020 specially older people. There were three viral waves between January 1918 and June 1919. Those who were infected with the first wave were lucky, neither dying in the first (because it was not fatal) nor in the second (because they had antibodies generated by exposure to the first).

Humanity has always been at war with viruses and will continue to be so. Victory is the generation of antibodies that immunize us against viruses. 


Returning to No Pasaran in the 1936 Madrid, Franco passed and won the war. Madrid was the capital of a fascist state that managed to survive the new world order of World War II by juggling and lasting 40 years. The Spanish left and right learned to live together, and the light came at the end of the tunnel with Democracy, political freedoms, etc.

Wars and post wars can last 4 months, 4 years or 40 years. But in the end, always comes peace and reconstruction. Rebuilding a country is a tremendous economic stimulus because it means work and opportunities for the survivors. Inmigrants welcome. The world came out of the 1945 apocalypse and had decades of economic growth.

So will be with the coronavirus pandemic end.