José Castillo (Spanish Civil War)

José Castillo (Spanish Civil War)

José del Castillo Sáez de Tejada or José Castillo (1901? – July 12, 1936) was a Spanish Police Guardia de Asalto (Assault Guard) lieutenant during the Second Spanish Republic. His murder by four Falangist gunmen on July 12, 1936 led to a sequence of events that helped precipitate the Spanish Civil War. [Thomas 1976, p. 206 "et. seq."]

Castillo was a member of the Union Militar Republicana Antifascista (UMRA),Fact|date=February 2007 an anti-fascist organization for military members, [Thomas 1976, p. 166.] and also worked in training the militia of the socialist youth. In April 1936, he commanded the Assault Guard unit which forcibly put down the riots that broke out at the funeral of Guardia Civil lieutenant Anastasio de los Reyes; for this, he was marked for death by the Falange. (The Guardia de Asalto were generally in favor of the Republic, the Guardia Civil more connected to what was to become the insurrectionary right-wing opposition.) At the time of his death, he had recently been married. He was killed by gunmen with revolvers who had waited for him in the afternoon hours in front of his house. [Thomas 1976, p. 172 (for de los Reyes and the general characterization of the two Guards); p. 206 (for Castillo).]

In retaliation, that night at around 3 a.m., Castillo's close friend Police Captain Fernando Condés and other police officers and leftist gunmen, went to the home of José Calvo Sotelo — leader of the monarchist party and a rival of José Antonio Primo de Rivera for leadership of the Spanish far right — and arrested him. Driving with Calvo Sotelo in a police car of the Assault Guard, police officer and socialist gunman Luis Cuenca shot him in the back of the neck. (According to Hugh Thomas, although Cuenca was an "intimate friend" of Condés', Condés mostly likely had no idea that Cuenca intended to kill Calvo Sotelo; as the officer with his name on the paperwork for Calvo Sotelo's arrest, Condés considered killing himself; both Condés and Cuenca were soon arrested without incident). Calvo Sotelo's dead body was given to a municipal undertaker, without informing the undertaker of who it was. Cuenca then drove to the offices of newspaper "El Socialista" and told them what had occurred. [Thomas 1976, p. 206–208.]

Both Castillo and Calvo Sotelo were buried July 14; fighting between Assault Guard and fascist militias broke out in the streets surrounding the cemetery of Madrid, resulting in four deaths. Three days later on July 17, the army uprising began in Morocco.



*Hugh Thomas, "The Spanish Civil War", Revised and Enlarged edition (1977), Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-014278-2.

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