On this day in 1939, Nationalist forces initiated their final offensive during the Spanish Civil War. Only a small part of Spain, the area between Madrid, Valencia and Almeria was still under the control of their enemies. The Nationalists had already taken Catalonia and its capital, Barcelona. Indeed, even the Republican president Manuel Azaña had already resigned and escaped to France. It appears that it was precisely in March 1939 that Ernest Hemingway began writing his famous novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The final offensive of Franco’s troops was implemented without encountering any substantial Republican resistance. In only a few days, Nationalist forces conquered a huge territory and captured tens of thousands of Republican fighters. Madrid fell as soon as 28 March, and the Republicans were soon forced to retreat to their last coastal cities – Valencia, Alicante, Cartagena, and Gandia.
Seeing the situation was hopeless, the Republicans tried to leave the country by sea from these coastal cities. However, relatively few of them managed to escape aboard the waiting British ships. The last cities to fall were Almeria, Murcia, and Cartagena. Already on 1 April, only six days after the beginning of the final offensive, the war was over.