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History of Medicine |

Medical Aid to the Spanish Republic During the Civil War (1936-1939)

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▸ Requests for reprints should be addressed to Martin F. Shapiro, M.D.; UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Medicine; CHS, Factor Building B-550; Los Angeles, CA 90024.

©1982 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1982;97(1):119-124. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-97-1-119
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During international or civil wars, private citizens of noncombatant nations often provide medical aid to one of the contending factions. To examine the role of such an aid campaign in a military conflict, I did a detailed historical analysis of the prominent campaign in the United States to provide medical aid to the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War (1936 to 1939). Substantial medical aid was provided that clearly alleviated some suffering, but one of the major objectives of the campaign was to arouse public opinion sufficiently to end the boycott of aid to Republican forces by the American government; this objective was never achieved. I conclude that even a successful medical aid campaign to people in a military conflict may save some lives but may not affect substantially the course of the conflict. Persons who are primarily interested in influencing political or military developments may find tactics other than medical aid campaigns more useful in accomplishing their goals.





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