What is the background of the poem "Spain 1937"?

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"Spain 1937" is a poem by the British poet W. H. Auden (February 21, 1907–September 29, 1973) written in response to the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Civil War was fought from 1936 to 1939 and pitted Republicans who wanted a democratic government against fascists led by General Francisco Franco (December 4, 1892–November 20, 1975). The fascists eventually won the war and continued to rule Spain until Franco's death in 1975.

Many distinguished expatriate writers fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War or helped out as ambulance drivers and other support personnel. Upton Sinclair, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Levine, John Dos Passos, Lillian Hellman, and Archibald MacLeish were among the distinguished American writers supporting the Republicans with Ezra Pound being unusual in his support for fascism.

After a turbulent period in the early twentieth century marred by military coups, King Alfonso XIII agreed to creating a republic in 1931. The Republican government included socialists and was secular in orientation. There was a strong backlash by fascists and the military, resulting in a coup in 1934. The war itself was strikingly brutal, with hundreds of thousands of people, including civilians, dying. The destruction of the Basque town of Guernica by the German air force was not only an inspiration for the famous 1937 painting by Pablo Picasso but often seen as a symbol of the brutality of modern military technology.

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