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Reluctant WarriorsRepublican Popular Army and Nationalist Army Conscripts in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939$
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James Matthews

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199655748

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199655748.001.0001

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Escaping the Front: Desertion, Dissembling, and Defection

Escaping the Front: Desertion, Dissembling, and Defection

Chapter:
(p.180) 6 Escaping the Front: Desertion, Dissembling, and Defection
Source:
Reluctant Warriors
Author(s):

Matthews James

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199655748.003.0007

This chapter examines serious breaches of discipline in both Nationalist and Republican armies. These threatened their systems of recruitment and their capacity to retain conscripted men within the armed forces. It examines the motivation behind decisions to defect and desert, and also looks at the opportunities outwardly to conform to mobilization, while simultaneously procuring the safest possible posting within both armies. The chapter also focuses on both sides’ attempts to limit the number of men avoiding military service, including via self-mutilation, and examines the measures for ‘recycling’ deserters and prisoners of war. These men were monitored and, if their conduct and background checks allowed it, they were enlisted to fight in their captors’ army. While this was practiced by both sides, it was particularly important for the Nationalists because they captured more enemy soldiers than the Republic.

Keywords:   desertion, defection, self-mutilation, indiscipline, avoiding military service, recycling, prisoners of war

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