School of History, Classics & Archaeology

The ‘Red Terror’

Come to our free lecture on the revolutionary violence in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War.

A spontaneous phenomenon: the work of criminal or anarchist ‘uncontrollables’ and condemned by the Republican government? Or, organised terror carried out with the complicity of the police to eliminate the enemy within?

  • Speaker: Dr Julius Ruiz
  • Date/time: Monday 26 August 2013, 2-3pm
  • Venue: Meadows Lecture Theatre, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Doorway 4, Old Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG.


Approximately 50,000 Spaniards were executed in Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

This mass killing of ‘fascists’, which included over 6,000 members of the Catholic clergy, seriously undermined attempts by the legally constituted Republican government to present itself in foreign quarters as fighting a war for democracy.

The orthodox explanation for Republican terror, restated most recently in Paul Preston’s 'The Spanish Holocaust', claims that it was a spontaneous phenomenon, the work of criminal or anarchist ‘uncontrollables’ that was condemned by the Republican government and the leaders of left-wing Popular Front organisations.

Re-thinking the past

This lecture, based on the author’s award-winning book 'El terror rojo', challenges this view.

Its focus is on Madrid, which witnessed at least 8,000 executions in 1936. It explains that those responsible were not criminals but ‘respectable’ members of all Popular Front organisations and emphasises that the terror was organised and was carried out with the complicity of the police.

Dr Ruiz will explain that terror was seen as integral to the antifascist war effort. The elimination of the internal enemy-or the ‘Fifth Column’- was regarded as important as the war on the front line.

Free - no booking required

Seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.