[…] The “Popular Front” – a coalition of left-wing parties including the Socialist Party, Esquerra Republicana, and the Communist Party – took power in 1936, through election fraud according to historians Álvarez Tardío and Villa García. That heralded an era of lawlessness. Leftist forces organizedillegal demonstrations intended to foment revolutionary discontent. All respect for private property was abandoned. “Police delegates” – who had previously served as socialist activists – led the arbitrary arrest of many right-wing politicians, the forcible dissolution of rightist and monarchist groups, and an escalation of political violence during these months. This triggered a military uprising on July 18, 1936, promoted in part by Franco and General Emilio Mola.
During that time, the areas still ruled by the Republican side were the scenes of dramatic religious persecution. Some 6,832 religious were murdered between 1936 and 1939 – including 13 bishops and 4,184 priests. As many as 20,000 churches were destroyed, many of them before the war commenced. […]