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The Guardia de Asalto (Assault Guard), usually shortened to Los Asaltos or just Asaltos, were the blue-uniformed urban police force of Spain during the Spanish Second Republic. It was the urban analogue to the green-uniformed Guardia Civil which patrolled the countryside. The Assault Guards were special police units created by the Spanish Republic in 1931 to deal with urban violence. At the start of the Spanish Civil War there were 18,000 Assault Guards. About 12,000 stayed loyal to the Popular Front government, while another 5,000 joined the Nationalists.[1]

Contents

Origins

Unlike the Guardia Civil, which was preserved from its origin under the monarchy because of a relatively apolitical stance during the formation of the Second Republic, the Cuerpo de Seguridad wasn't well seen by the new Government. The Ministro de la Gobernación Miguel Maura reorganized the former police force as peace force in the cities, leaving the countryside to the Guardia Civil. Due to the reorganization were created the Compañías de Vanguardia or Vanguard Squads (later called Sección de guardias de Asalto). As a part of the reformed Cuerpo de Seguridad they served as control force for masses of people, like the modern anti-riot squads. In 1932, the Cuerpo de Seguridad changed into Cuerpo de Seguridad y Asalto.

The Civil War

Assault Guards played a critical role in preserving the republic during the early stages of the military insurgency that opened the Spanish Civil War, most notably by helping to crush the army uprising in Barcelona and through their contributions to the defense of Madrid, where they did a disproportionate share of both the fighting and the dying. As noted by a POUM militant who also participated in the Siege of Madrid,[2]

"The guards were the only efficient police corps created by the republic, and in Madrid they were a revolutionary force made up almost exclusively of socialist youth or other left-wingers. Their importance in the fighting that was about to come was equally decisive; it was they who, in the first couple of months, virtually saved Madrid. ... In the actual fighting it was the assault guards who again took the brunt, so much so that I can truthfully say that virtually not one Madrid assault guard or officer remained alive after six months."

Guardia de Asalto personnel were drawn from ex-Army of Africa and Spanish Legion personnel and were therefore considered better trained and equipped for street fighting than the army conscripts they often found themselves engaging.

Perhaps because of the prominence of Assault Guards' interventions on behalf of the left-leaning republicans in the first days and weeks of the conflict, in concert with the perception among many on the left that the Guardia Civil historically tended to support — often violently — the interests of the bourgeois state and its status quo, there seems to be a widespread, but mistaken, view that Guardia Civil units overwhelmingly supported the right-wing insurgent Nationalists, while most of the Assault Guards stayed loyal to the Second Republic. In reality, though somewhat more Civil Guards went over to the insurgents than continued serving the Republic, and although more Assault Guards remained loyal than fought for the nationalists, large numbers of personnel from both organizations could be found on either side of the conflict.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPassault.htm
  2. ^ Fraser, Ronald (1979). Blood of Spain: An oral history of the Spanish Civil War. New York: Pantheon. pp. 107, 117. ISBN 0-394-73854-3.  

External links

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