On July 17, 1936, Spain suddenly breaks onto the world scene when a group of generals rebels against the legitimate Republican government. The youngest, Francisco Franco, stands out among them. It might have been just another of the many military uprisings characterizing Spanish history, but this time the rebels receive the immediate support of Hitler and Mussolini. The world takes sides: Stalin and the Communist International line up alongside the Popular Front government, which is only lukewarmly supported by France and England. What was just a failed coup thus leads to a long war, in which thousands of volunteers fight and die. The world interprets the war as a struggle between fascism, communism and democracy. But the war is first of all a civil war, in which the two faces of Spain confront each other: on one hand the rural, nationalist, Catholic country, and on the other, the metropolitan, secular, Republican one. The terrible fighting as in every civil war lowers the level of civilization on both sides. For three long years, Spain offers a scene that prefigures the future horrors of World War II, before the country finally sinks into dictatorship. Gabriele Ranzato teaches contemporary history at the University of Pisa in Italy. He is the author of numerous studies dedicated to the themes of modernization and civil war.