José Castillo

José Castillo

José Castillo was a lieutenant in the Assault Guards. He was also an active member of the Socialist Party.

On 12th July 1936 a Falangist gang shot and killed José Castillo as he left his home in Madrid. The following day a group of Castillo's friends took revenge by murdering José Calvo Sotelo.

This death of Sotelo resulted in a military uprising led by Emilio Mola, Francisco Franco and José Sanjurjo and heralded the start of the Spanish Civil War.

Primary Sources

(1) Claude Cockburn, Reporter in Spain (1936)

On 12th July 1936 gunmen in a touring car nosed slowly through sparse traffic under the arc lamps of a Madrid street, opened fire with a sub-machine-gun at the defenceless back of a man standing chatting on his doorstep, and roared off among the tram-lines, leaving him dying in a puddle of his young blood on the pavement.

That in a manner of speaking was the Sarajevo of the Spanish war. The young man they killed was Jose Castillo, Lieutenant of Assault Guards. I never saw Castillo, but afterwards I heard all sorts of people speak of him with a kind of urgency and heartbreak, as though it were impossible that you too should not have known, and therefore loved, so fine a young man.

In a corps which in the five years of its existence had already acquired a high military reputation, Castillo was already

distinguished, and already loved, by men who are not very easy pleased nor easy fooled.

In the working-class districts of Madrid he was equally well known and liked. He was declared a gallant and patriotic young officer, as dauntless a defender of the Republic as you could wish to see, and a man - as a Madrid workman said to me afterwards - "who made the culture and the progress we were after seem more real to us".