Francisco Franco

Francisco Franco


So explosive are the lessons we may learn from an unprejudiced investigation of Franco’s legacy, so destructive to the founding myths of liberalism, that no man can be allowed to examine them for himself.”



Figure 1 Child

Francisco Franco was born (1,2) at 12:30 am (15) on December 4th, (3,4) 1892, (1,2) in the calle (street ) Frutos Saavedra 108, known by the locals as Calle María (15) in El (3,14) Ferrol, (3,8) a small coastal town (14) in Galicia (5,8) on the north-western tip (14) of Spain. (3,10) He was christened on December 17th in the nearby military parish church of San Francisco. (15) His full name was Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo (3,4) or Hermenegilda (15) Teódulo (3,4) Salgado Pardo de Andrade (4,8) Franco (3,4) y (4,8) Bahamonde. (3,4) He was born into a military family. (5,8) His grandfather Francisco Franco Vietti had been the equivalent to a general in the Navy. (15) Francisco was the second of five children of Nicolás Franco (13,15) Salgado-Araujo (15). His father Nicolás had been born on November 22nd, 1855 and (15) was an officer (15,17) in the Spanish Naval Administrative Corps (17,20) as treasurer of the navy (10) [OR] a naval postmaster (19) or paymaster. (20) holding a rank equivalent to an army general in the Spanish Navy. (15) His father was a liberal, sympathetic to freemasonry and critical of the Catholic Church. (15) He was also a drunk and a womanizer which contrasted with his devout wife. (16) His mother was Pilar Bahamonde (13,15) y Pardo de Andrade (15) a modest, (13) pious (13,15) gentle, kindly and serene woman (15) who came from a family of sailors. (13) She was upper-middle-class (17,20) politically conservative (15,17) and an extremely devout (15) Catholic. (15,17) She was devoted to her children to the extent of being overprotective. (16) Nicolás eventually left his wife, and after that María Pilar always wore black. (15) Francisco was known to be introverted as a child. (15) He cried when he made his first communion and was a pious boy who regularly accompanied his mother to church and communion. (15)


Until age 12, Franco attended a private school run by a Catholic priest. (14) In school he was an average student but with a good talent for drawing. (15) He was described as a nice, thoughtful, playful lad with a happy disposition. (15) He was very particular about his personal appearance, a trait that would follow him throughout his life. (15) In his adolescence, Francisco showed a normal interest in girls, favouring slim brunettes, most of them his sister’s schoolfriends. (15) He often wrote them poems and was embarrassed when they were shown to his sister. (15) He was very well-behaved and was much more mature than other boys his age. (15) Although there is no evidence of Francisco being sensitive to the wealth of religious art with which Toledo abounded, it appears that he responded to the sense of the past which permeates from its streets. (15) A growing obsession with the greatness of imperial Spain made him receptive to Toledo as a symbol of that greatness. (15) His later identification with the figure of El Cid may also have had its origins in his youthful ventures around the historic streets of that town. (15)

Military Training


The previous four generations of Franco’s family, and his elder brother, were naval officers. (17) True to the family tradition (5,16) four generations old (5,17) he intended a military career. (8,14) His brother Ramón Franco was a pioneer aviator. (16) Francisco entered a naval (14,15) secondary (14) [OR] Preparatory (15) school (14,15) at the age of twelve (15) with the goal of following his father and grandfather into a sea-based military career. (14,15) His first idea was to enter the (8,12) Spanish Naval Academy (12,13) with a view to joining the Spanish Navy, (8,12) but the government was short of money (14,16) resulting from Spain’s humiliating defeat in the Spanish-American War of 1898. (16) The defeat cost Spain much of its navy as well as most of its colonies. (22), entry to the Naval Academy was closed from 1906 to 1913. (22) Not needing any more officers (22) Spain temporarily suspended (14,22) OR reduced (12.17) admissions to the Naval Academy, forcing him to turn to the army. (12,14)


In July (15) 1907 (10,11) at the age of fourteen, (5,12) he took the entrance examinations for (15) the Spanish (10) or Infantry (5,11) Military (10,15) Academy (10,15) or School (5,11) in Toledo. (5,11) He passed the exams (15) and enlisted for training as a soldier (5,8) on August 29th. (15) He was there until 1910. (11,13) Life as an Army cadet would itself strengthen his interest in Spanish history but would also strengthen character. (15) He threw himself into Army life with a passion, fulfilling his tasks with a most thorough sense of duty and making an obsession of heroism, bravery and military virtues. (15) In the Academy he began to change his personality from the insecure teenager from Galicia to eventually become a tough desert hero and ultimately the Saviour of Spain “El Caudillo ” (The Chief). (15) On account of his small stature (15,18) of 5′ 4” he was called Franquito or little Franco. (15) he worked hard with a keen interest in topography and Spanish military history. (15) He had no interest in the sexual or alcoholic escapades in which the other cadets participated in the seedier parts of town and because of that he was the target for cruel initiation ceremonies handed out by his fellow students, against which he reacted with some violence. (15) When taken to his commanding officer he refused to name those who had picked on him, winning him the admiration of his peers. (15) He passed out (10,14) 251st in a class of 312 (15) with below-average grades: (14,15) [OR] he was a quick student. (17) On July 13th, 1910, Franco was formally incorporated into the officer corps of the Army (15) with the rank of second lieutenant. (15,20) In spite of his moderate grades he was the first of his class to become a general. (15)

Military Career pre-1920

Like most of those who graduated at that time Franco desperately wanted to go to Morocco. (15) Spanish efforts to physically occupy their new African protectorate (16) by fighting against (16) the Berber (10) insurrectionists, (8,14) provided the only chance of being engaged in combat (16) and thus earning (15,16) rapid (15) promotion (15,16) through merit. (16) In practice this meant surviving actions in which heavy losses were suffered, officers would get either la caja o la faja (a coffin or a general’s sash). (16) He could also help wipe out the national shame of losing the Spanish-American War. (15) Regulations at first prohibited him, as only first lieutenants were eligible. (15) So, after a brief (14,15) two year (16) posting back in (14,15) the quiet garrison at (16) El Ferrol, (14,15) in 1912 (20) at the earliest opportunity, (16) he volunteered (5,12) to get sent on (13) [OR] was detailed to go on (10,19) active service in the colonies. (5,19) He obtained a posting (16) to Spanish (11,20) controlled (14) Morocco (5,8) He arrived in early 1912 (14,15) (on February 17th). (15) [OR] 1910. (11) In 1912 (12,13) OR 1913, (17,19,20) at age 20, (17) Franco was commissioned (10,13) first (20) lieutenant (10,13) into the regulars (16,22), a newly formed (16) elite (17,20) company (17) 8th (19) regiment (19,20) of Moroccan-based Spanish (17) or native (13,16,20) cavalry (17,20) with Spanish officers (20,22) to improve his chances of swift advancement. (16)

Rif War

He participated in the insurgency, (which had begun in 1909 (22) and was known as the Rif War (8,13) because it was being conducted against the Rif tribespeople). (20) He was a born commander, (17) and he soon gained a reputation (16,17) as a meticulous, (16) efficient (20) and fearless officer (16,19) who distinguished himself (5,11) in attacks against Moroccan nationalists, (11) by his leadership (5,11) dedication to (12,17) and care for his (12,20) his men (5,11) and to the military profession. (17) He also becomes known as a severe disciplinarian prepared to have men shot for minor infractions of regulations, (20) seen by some as brutality: (12) He won rapid promotion. (19) In 1915 (5,12,20) OR 1916 (13) he became the youngest captain (5,12) in the Spanish army. (5,12) In 1916 he won the Battle (10) or skirmish (16) of El Biutz, (10,16) which stopped Berber attacks against Spanish outposts. (10) In this battle he was shot and (14,20) badly wounded (12,16) in the stomach (12,14) or abdomen. (20) He possibly lost a testicle, but his survival marked him permanently in the eyes of the native troops as a man of baraka (good luck). (22) He returned to Spain to recover, (20) and was awarded the Military Medal, (13) although Spain’s highest award for gallantry, the coveted Cruz Laureada de San Fernando, eluded him. (16)


His career path seemed assured, (10) and during the next 10 years (6) he enhanced his military reputation in a variety of commands (6,14) and became identified politically with the conservative nationalist position. (6) He returned to the mainland (13,16) where he met (17) Millán Astray, a histrionic (17,19) but charismatic officer (17) who was soon to found the Extranjera, (17,19) [OR] Tercio de Extranjeros (19) along similar lines to the French Foreign Legion. (16) Franco had reached the rank of major (16,19) in 1916 (16) or 1917. (19) In 1917, he took (13,19) a prominent (19) part, (13,19) under the command of General Burguete, (13) in the repression of an Asturian miners’ strike. (13,19) Spain had been neutral in World War I, but had been affected by it with the development of industry in Catalonia. (21) Among industrial workers socialism and anarchism found supporters, along with a Catalan separatist movement. (21) In 1919 a Catalan Union meeting at Barcelona demanded independence. (21) The situation in Morocco was also a drain on resources. (21)

Defeat of Abd-el-Krim

In 1920 (19,20) Lieutenant Colonel (19) José (17) Millán Astray (17,19) appointed him as (19) the newly organised (20) Legión’s second-in-command. (12,16) The first volunteers to join the Legión arrived in Ceuta in October 1920. (19) Astray told his new recruits “you have lifted yourselves from among the dead – for don’t forget that you were dead, that your lives were over. You have come here to live a new life for which you must pay with death. You have come here to die. Since you crossed the Straits, you have no mother, no girlfriend, no family; from today all that will be provided by the Legion.” (19) Astray added: “Death in combat is the greatest honour. You die only once. Death arrives without pain and is not so terrible as it seems. The most horrible thing is to live as a coward.” (19) Promoted to colonel, Franco led the first wave of troops ashore at Alhucemas. (16) This landing, in the heartland of Abd el-Krim’s tribe, combined with the French invasion from the south, spelt the beginning of the end for the shortlived Republic of the Riff. (16) In the summer of 1921, (16,21) on July 21st (21) the overextended (16) Spanish army (16,21) led by General Fernandez Silvestre with 20,000 men (21) suffered a crushing defeat at Annual at the hands of the Riff tribes led by (16,21) Abd-el-Krim (21) [OR] the Abd el-Krim brothers. (16) Silvestre committed suicide. (21) The disaster precipitated a political crisis and a widespread demand for an investigation of responsibility. (21) A parliamentary commission was established, but its report, when submitted to the cabinet in 1922, was at once suppressed. (21) The Legión symbolically, if not materially, saved the Spanish enclave of Melilla after a gruelling three-day forced march led by Franco. (16) During the Moroccan campaigns, the Foreign Legion played a key role in subduing the Moroccan rebels. (17) The Tercio de Extranjeros quickly developed a reputation for brutality and ruthlessness in its attacks on Moorish villages. (19,20) Astray and Franco encouraged the killing and mutilation of prisoners. (19) Arturo Barea, who served under Franco in Morocco in 1921, later wrote: “When it attacked, the Tercio knew no limits to its vengeance. When it left a village, nothing remained but fires and the corpses of men, women and children.” (19) In 1923, he (5,10) replaced Millán Astray (19) as commander of the Foreign Legion (5,10) in Morocco. (6) On Sept 12th 1923, there was a mutiny of the garrison at Barcelona and the outbreak of a separatist movement. (21)

Figure 2 Prisoners beheaded during Rif War

Coup of Primo de Rivera

Figure 3: Franco and his wife Carmen

On Sept 13th (21) took place the military coup of (12,21) Gen. Miguel (21) Primo de Rivera, who acted with the approval of the king. (14,21) He took Barcelona, formed a military directorate, proclaimed martial law throughout die country, dissolved the cortes, suspended jury trial, and instituted a rigid press censorship. (21) Liberal opponents, such as Miguel de Unamuno and Blasco Ibafiez, were imprisoned or harried out of the land. (21) Franco supported Primo de Rivera, (19) but he not take part in the coup (12) after which Primo’s military dictatorship governed Spain from 1923 to 1930 (14) FrancoCarmenIn October (19) 1923, (13,19) Franco married Carmen Polo (13,14) y Martínez Valdés (14), daughter of a rich merchant (13,19) of Oviedo. (13) Franco’s growing reputation in the armed forces was recognized when Alfonso XIII sent a representative to the wedding. (19) [OR] was Franco’s best man (padrino), a fact that would mark him during the Republic as a monarchical officer. (22) Francisco and Carmen had a daughter (13,14), the future Marquise de Villaverde. (13) He retained the command of the Foreign Legion command (13,19) and stayed in Morocco largely without a break (14) fighting Abd el-Krim. (13,16) Over the next few years (13,19) until 1926, (13,14) or 1927 (5,10) he gained a reputation as a brilliant strategist and administrator. (19) In 1924 King Alfonso and Primo de Rivera visited Rome, in return for a visit of the king and queen of Italy (June). (21) This exchange of visits marked the dictator’s efforts to establish a close understanding with fascist Italy, culminating in the treaty of friendship of August 7, 1926. (21) On July 26th (21) 1925 France and Spain agreed to combine forces against Abd-el-Krim. (19,21) Franco was placed in command of the Spanish troops and Henri-Philippe Petain led the French Army. (19) He played a decisive role in (20) finishing the Rif War (13,17) On Dec 3rd 1925 Primo’s dictatorship, because of widespread and increasing popular discontent, but Primo de Rivera was at once named prime minister with a predominantly military cabinet. (21) On June 10th 1926, Spain resigned from the League of Nations, but the resignation was later withdrawn, in March 1928. (21) On Nov. 2nd 1926 there was an attempted coup in Catalonia by conspirators operating from France. (21)

Franco promoted General

In 1926 (8,10) at the age of 33 (10,14) Franco was named the army’s youngest (10,20) brigadier general (10,12) and in 1926 (13,16) [OR] 1927 was promoted to full (11) general (1,3) by royal decree. (13) He was the youngest of such a rank in the whole of Europe. (8,14) Under the dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera (13,14) he was brought back to Spain in 1927 (5,10) or 1928 (12,20) to lead the new (12,14) National (5,10) General (12,14) or Joint (16) Military Academy (5,10) in Zaragoza (5,13) OR Saragossa, (11,17) where cadets were taught the brutal lessons of the irregular war in Morocco. (16) In this post Franco visited military schools in Germany and France. (17,19) In July (21) 1927 (12,22) the Franco-Spanish (21) campaign in Morocco ended in victory. (21,22) For his part in it, Franco was a national hero, (12,17) In January 1929 there was a military revolt at Ciudad Real, indicating spread of dissatisfaction to military groups, and in March the university of Madrid was one of several closed as a result of agitation among students and staff. (21)

End of the Monarchy

Discouraged and in ill-health, (21) Primo de Rivera was forced to resign on January (19,21) 28th (21) 1930, (19,21) dying less than two months later. (21) He was replaced by General Damaso Berenguer, who attempted a policy of conciliation. (21) An amnesty was granted, Primo de Rivera’s assembly was dissolved, local government organs were restored and juridical rights were recognized. (21)) But the students continued their agitation and Republican leaders openly denounced Alfonso XIII as responsible for the national disasters and the dictatorship. (21) After the removal of the censorship in September criticism and demonstrations became the order of the day. (21) In December the garrison at Jaca mutinied, demanding a republic, and was suppressed only with difficulty. (21) On Feb. 8th (21) 1931, Spain’s King Alfonso XIII, (17,19) under the pressure of his country’s sagging economy, (17,19) announced the restoration of the constitution and fixed (21) democratic (17,19) parliamentary elections for March. (21) There was popular demand for a constituent assembly, and Berenguer resigned. (21) In March the government called for municipal and provincial elections and promised a constituent assembly. (21) On April (14,21) 12th, (21) municipal elections were held. (14,21) It was the first time in nearly 60 years that free elections were allowed in Spain, (17,19) and the people voted overwhelmingly for a republic. (17,19) Niceto Alcala Zamora, the Republican leader, called for the king’s abdication. (21) Alfonso was advised to go into exile, (19) to avoid large-scale violence, (17) and he took the advice (17,20) leaving the country (17,19) on 14th (17,19) April, 1931 (19) without abdicating, stating that he would await the expression of popular sentiment. (21) [OR] Alfonso was deposed (12,14) [OR] abdicated. (20) A provisional government called a general election for June 1931. (19) The Socialist Party (PSOE) (19) and other left wing (7,19) and centrist (7) parties won (7,19) an overwhelming victory, (19) and on 28th June Alcala Zamora set up a provisional government, with himself as president. (19,21) [OR] prime minister, but included in his cabinet several radical figures such as Manuel Azaña, Francisco Largo Caballero and Indalecio Prieto. (19) Thus began (14,17) the Second Republic of Spain, (7,12) On 16th October 1931, Azaña replaced Niceto Alcala Zamora as prime minister. (19,21) Zamora had resigned in protest against extremist anti-clerical legislation, and having been succeeded by Azana, who became first prime minister under the constitution. On November 12th a committee of the assembly declared Alfonso XIII guilty of high treason and forbade his return to Spain. (21) The royal property was confiscated. (21) Spain’s monarchy was finished. (17,20)

The Republic

On 10th December Alcala Zamora was elected first president, (21) With the support of the Socialist Party (PSOE) Azana (19) enacted reforms. (7,14) On December 9th a new constitution was adopted. (21) It provided for universal suffrage and a single-chamber parliament (cortes), to be elected for four years. (21) The president of the republic was to be chosen by an electoral college consisting of parliament plus an equal number of electors chosen by popular vote. (21) His term was to be six years. (21) The ministry was to be responsible to parliament. (21) The constitution proclaimed complete religious freedom and separated Church and State. (21) The national assembly continued to function as the first regular parliament (21)



It passed anticlerical acts (7,20) reducing the power and influence of the Catholic Church. (14,20) The church was excluded from the education system (20,21) and divorce was legalised. (20) Church property nationalized, and the Jesuit Order was dissolved (January 1932) and its property taken over. (21) No member of the clergy could be an MP. (21)


Agrarian reforms affected (7,19) property-owning elites and other entrenched interests. (14) The central government was granted power to expropriate private property, to socialize large estates, (21) divide them up and share them (7,20) in the south of the country among local peasants. (20) There were also proposals for regional autonomy (19,20) involving Catalonia and the Basque provinces. (20) Women were given the vote. (20)


There were major military reforms (17) which reduced the size of the military. (7,14) No army officer could be an MP. (21) Public utilities could be nationalised. (21) These changes created resentment among the former elite (7,20) and social conservatives (20) and were blocked in the Cortes. (19) All this time Franco stayed largely quiet and loyal. (11,12)

Franco and 1931

The military reforms of (5,12) the leftist leaders of the (20) new Spanish Republic (5,12) caused a brief interruption in Franco’s career. (5,12) The Saragossa Academy was dissolved (12,13) in in June, (22) 1931 (13,22) The closing of the Academy, by War Minister Manuel Azaña, provoked Franco’s first clash with the Spanish Republic. (22) Azaña found Franco’s farewell speech to the cadets insulting. (22) He was reprimanded for criticizing the actions of those in charge (14) and placed on the inactive list. (17,22) Franco was a subscriber to Acción Española, an ultra-right wing monarchist theoretical journal, and a firm believer in the Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy – or contubernio, (filthy cohabitation), ‘one of Franco’s favourite words’; a conspiracy in which Jews, Freemasons and leftists allegedly sought the destruction of Christian Europe, with Spain the principal target. (22)

Demotion to Corunna

Because of his right-wing, monarchist views (14,19) the republican government mistrusted him and demoted him to a minor (19) out-of-the-way post (13,16) as the head of the infantry garrison at (20) Corunna (16,19) near El Ferrol. (14) He maintained an ambivalent attitude to the new Republic, not wishing to compromise his career by overt opposition. (16) By contrast, in August 1932 General Jose Sanjurjo rebelled against the government and seized Seville. (21) The movement was quickly suppressed by loyal troops, but was indicative of conservative opposition to the radical legislation of the new regime. (21) Franco avoided involvement in the coup, and even wrote a hostile letter to Sanjurjo expressing his anger over the attempt. (22) In September a Catalan Charter of Autonomy was issued. (21) The home rule leaders had drawn it up soon after the revolution and had secured Catalan approval by a plebiscite. (21) After much agitation and disorder in the province, the Republican government was obliged to accept it. (21) Catalonia was given its own president, parliament, and government, with extensive taxing and other powers. (21) The Catalans were to have their own flag and Catalan was made the official language. (21) The Catalan parliament met for the first time in December. (21) The success of the Catalan movement led to similar demands by the Basques and other regionalists. (21) In January 1933 there was a great radical rising of anarchists and syndicalists in Barcelona, which spread to many other large cities. (21) It was successfully suppressed by government troops, but indicated the impatience of the lower classes at the social reform movement. (21) In April 1933 municipal elections reflected a distinct veering of opinion to the Right. (21) In May further anti-Church moves were contained in an Associations Law required that heads of all religious orders be Spaniards; members of religious orders were forbidden to engage in industry or trade; church schools were abolished and all secular education by religious orders prohibited; church property was nationalized, though left in the custody of the clergy. (21) The Pope protested loudly in the encyclical Delectissimi nobis. (21). In September elections for a constitutional court showed a further swing to the right. (21) The far right was spearheaded by a newly formed party called ‘Falange’ (phalanx). (20) It advocated the fascist ideals of Germany’s Adolf Hitler and Italy’s Benito Mussolini. (20) Franco was restored to command in 1932 – and promoted in 1933 – as reward for not staging a right wing coup. (12)

Balearic Islands

In 1933 he was transferred to the Balearic Islands, (13,16) the main purpose of which was to keep him at a distance from other potentially disloyal elements. (16) The Republic failed to satisfy much of the popular expectation it had created and the left-wing parties which had supported it fell to quarrelling among themselves. (16) This permitted the political right (7) or a centre-right (14,22) coalition (14) composed of conservative parties led by the Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right (Confederación Espanola de Derechas Autónomas – CEDA) (20) to gain power (16,17) in the 1933 election (7,14) by gaining a large number of seats (7,21) (44% (21) in the legislature (7) compared with 21% gained by the left. (21) There followed a series of coalition ministries, all of them more or less helpless and unpopular (21) [OR] a strong right-wing government (16) A right-wing cabinet under Alejandro Lerroux took office. (21) The Catholic Popular Action Party of Gil Robles was represented in it. (21) It was allied with the monarchists, and outspokenly clerical. (21) This began to dismantle the reforms initiated by their predecessors, (20) sparking political unrest (20,21) in urban and industrial centres, Catalonia and the Basque provinces – areas where support for the reform agenda was strongest. (20) Revolutionary left-wing activity took place. (7,21) In October the Left parties called a general strike in protest against the rising opposition to the democratic, social republic, and President Luis Companys of Catalonia proclaimed the independence of Catalonia. (21) This separatist uprising was suppressed by government troops, and in December the Catalan statute was suspended preparatory to revision. (21) On Dec. 9th there was a Syndicalist-anarchist rising in Barcelona, which was put down only after ten days of fighting. (21) Franco was brought back into the good graces of the government (12,14) His command was reactivated [though 12 said he had already been reinstated] and (17) he was promoted to major general in 1934 (12,17) and placed in a position in the Ministry of War. (20) In January 1934 Catalan elections resulted in a victory for the moderate Left groups, in a protest against the swing to conservatism in Spain generally. (21) Luis Companys became president of Catalonia. (21) In April there was a great strike in Barcelona, led by Socialists, creating further tension with Madrid and suppressed only with difficulty. (21)


At the same time as the Catalan unrest, there was also an insurrection of the miners in the Asturias where a communist regime had been proclaimed. (21) Franco had returned from Morocco, (6,8) and stayed out of politics until (11) October 1934. (17,19) In that month, on the 5th, opposition to the right wing government, instigated a revolutionary movement. (22) This uprising was rapidly quelled in most of the country, but gained a stronghold in Asturias, with the support of the miners’ unions. (22) Franco was ordered (11,17) by Diego Hidalgo, the Minister of War, (13,22) to play an active role in (13) [OR] lead (22) the repression (6,8) of this second (13) anarchist-led (8) strike (6,8) [OR] a bloody uprising (17) or a leftist revolt (14) or a full scale rebellion (16) [OR] insurgency (22) of miners in Asturias (8,10) in northern Spain (14,20) in 1934. (8,10) The miners were a group representative of left-wing causes,(17) who had created a soviet – a word that struck fear into many western Europeans, (11) and engaged in an orgy of murder and arson. (18) Franco deployed troops from Morocco and (14,16) using the same ruthless tactics that had been used against the tribesmen in Morocco (16) he suppressed the coal strike with efficiency but very ruthlessly (11) or savagely. (12) Thousands (19,12) [OR] ‘some 4,000’ (14) died, (10,12) (including over 2,000 executed as “suspected” Marxists; 10) tens of thousands were imprisoned. (14) This was done to protect the stability of the conservative government, (8) and it raised his national reputation still further (12,17) among the right, (12,16) although the left hated him (12,19) and identified him as one of their main enemies (19) seeing him as brutal (11) and ruthlessly authoritarian (10) though Franco saw it as he and his army simply carrying out an order to the best of his efficiency. (11) In May 1935 the Lerroux cabinet fell, and was succeeded by several ephemeral ministries, all more or less at the mercy of the Right. (21) In one of these, in May (20) 1935 (12,13) José (13,19) Maria (19) Gil Robles, the Minister of War (13,19) in the rightist government (6) of Alcalá-Zamora, (8) chose (13) Franco (5,6) who had thus ‘saved’ Spain again, to have the top job in the army (16) as chief of the general staff. (5,6) He began reforms (12,17) emphasizing discipline in the ranks and so (17) strengthening the army. (13,17) He promoted monarchists and purged the army hierarchy of Republicans. (19)

The Crisis of 1936

In January 1936 (21) following a slew of scandals, (17) the Spanish parliament was dissolved, (17,21) and new elections were scheduled for (17) 16th (21) February (6,14) 1936. (6,8) Having learnt their lesson, (16) on 15th January, 1936, Azaña helped to establish a coalition of (19) left-wing and republican parties into a common (16,21) “Popular” (21) front (16,21) in the tense (16) elections. (12,14) It was made up of Marxists (7,8) Communists (19,21) (the Communist Party of Spain (PCE)); (19) the socialists (PSOE) (4,19) liberal republicans (8) Republican (19,21) Union Party (19), the Esquerra Party, (19) Syndicalists (21) and anarchist factions. (7,8) The communists and anarchists were mostly secular. (7) On the other side, right-wing groups in Spain (19,21) e.g. Conservative Republicans, Clericals, and Monarchists. (21) formed the National Front (19) or ‘Bloc’. (20) This included the CEDA and the Carlists. (19) The Falange Española did not officially join but most of its members supported the aims of the National Front. (19)

Elections February 1936

The Spanish people voted on Sunday, 16th (19) February, 1936. (19,20) The Popular Front (6,8) won (16,17) a narrow (16,19) OR a decisive (21) victory. (16,17) Out of a possible 13.5 million voters, over 9,870,000 participated in the 1936 General Election. (19) 4,654,116 people (34.3%) voted for the Popular Front, whereas the National Front obtained 4,503,505 (33.2%) and the centre parties got 526,615 (5.4%). (19) The Popular Front, with 263 seats out of the 473 in the Cortes formed the new government. (19) The social reform program (distribution of land, development of schools, etc.) was resumed. (19, 21) The policies of the Popular Front included the restoration of Catalan autonomy, an amnesty for (19,21) left-wing (19) political prisoners, agrarian reform, (19,21) an end to political blacklists and the payment of damages for property owners who suffered during the revolt of 1934. (19) Other measures included outlawing the Falange Española and granting (19) other regions of Spain (4) political and administrative autonomy. (19) It pursued an anti-military policy. (5) The Popular Front government wanted to make businesses (4) and the church less powerful. (4,21) There were incidents of anti-clerical and anti-Catholic violence by subversive philobolshevik militants. (8) José Calvo Sotelo, (8,14) the radical monarchist (14) political leader of Acción Española, (8) was assassinated. (8,14) by police. (14)

Reaction to Popular Front Policies

The Popular Front Policies led to a split among the Spanish population. (7) The Republicans (called ‘loyalists’) were strongest in the urban and industrialized areas of the country but also had support from peasants. (7) The Nationalist opposition supported a stronger more centralized state government, (7) opposing the regional parliaments because they thought they would make Spain weak. (4) The Nationalists’ supporters were in general more wealthy, (7) big businessmen, (4) the landed aristocracy, (19) monarchists (7,9), the church, (4,7) ultramontane Roman Catholics (9) conservatives, (4,7) centralists, (7) and fascists. (4,7,9) The Nationalists campaigned against the legitimate government of the Spanish Second Republic, (9) fearing that the Popular Front, which had ties with the Soviet Union, was going to turn the country into a communist state. (20) Meanwhile, the Spanish economy was stagnating and unemployment rising as the Great Depression gripped the world. (20) The new government could not keep the crumbling Spanish social and economic structure together, (17,20) and the country found itself immersed in (17) political turmoil (5,8) and anarchy. (5,17) From his new post, Franco watched Spain’s political system disintegrate. (17) The tension soon boiled over into open violence between rival groups on the left and right. (20,14) Street violence, political killings and general disorder were ramping up on both the right and the left. (14) As a result of the government’s economic measures the wealthy took vast sums of capital out of the country. (19) This created an economic crisis and the value of the peseta declined which damaged trade and tourism. (19) With prices rising workers demanded higher wages. (19) This led to a series of strikes in Spain. (19) As divisions between the left and the right in Spain grew, Franco appealed for a state of emergency to be declared. (12,17) He feared a communist takeover. (12) His appeal was refused. (20) The government, afraid of a military uprising, decided to transfer right-wing military leaders to posts outside Spain. (19) Having proved to be one of Spain’s staunchest and most rabid anti-Communists, (10) and so suspected by the leftist government of being an antirepublic conspirator, (20)

Sent to the Canary Islands

Franco was sacked from the General Staff (12,17) by the ‘Popular Front’ Government, (5,12) and sent to (5,6) an insignificant command post (17) in the remote (14) Canary Islands (5,6) as military governor (6,11) This was a significant demotion. (6) The government hoped he was too far away to start a coup. (12) They were wrong. (12) In February 1936 (19) Franco and other military leaders (14,19) such as Emilio Mola, Juan Yague, Gonzalo Queipo de Llano and José Sanjurjo,(19) began discussing a coup (14,19) with civilian Nationalists (20) [OR] Franco had not been actively plotting to overthrow the Republic. (16,17) [OR] Franco decided to join the rebellion just days before it was scheduled to begin. (20) [OR] Shortly after the revolt broke out, (10,12) delayed by (12,14) his sometimes mocked (12) caution, (12,14) Mola became leader of this group (19) and at this stage Franco was unwilling to fully commit himself to joining the revolt. (19,12,14) On April 10th the Cortes voted to remove (19,21) the conservative (19) President Alcala Zamora (19,21) for exceeding his powers. (21) On May 10th (19,21) the left-wing (19) Manuel Azaña was regularly elected president. (19,21)

The Nationalist Rising

On July (6,10) 17th (10,13) and (13) or (14) 18th (13,14) 1936, (6,10) there was a (5,7) multipronged (14) nationalist (5,7) uprising (4,5) by members of the armed forces (5,10) [OR] by the Spanish people, in an attempt to restore order in Spain, from the captive Popular Front government. (8) It was led by General José Sanjurjo (13,21) and Emilio Mola (19,21) OR Franco and Mola (21) against (4,8) the Popular Front (8) Spanish Second (4) or democratic (3,10) socialist (4,10) Republic (3,4) in 1936. (3,4) FrancoTerritory

Figure 4: territory held by Nationalists at outset

Open Revolt

The conflict began with a revolt of the army chiefs at Melilla in Spanish Morocco. (21) OR it spread to Morocco (11) OR it started in the Canary Islands, (11,12) when on July 18th (12,17) or on 17 July (20) Franco (12,17) telegraphed (12) or broadcast (17) a supportive manifesto (13) or news of a (12) or a manifesto announcing a full (17) military rebellion (12,17) from Las Palmas (13) in the Canaries (13,20) [OR] Franco decided to support it (5,6) [OR]He became fully committed following the assassination of José Calvo Sotelo. (14) [OR] was invited to take a leading role in (10) or ‘joined’ it (6,12) when it came (16) [OR] after arriving in Morocco. (19) [OR] led it (4,11); General Emilio Mola issued his proclamation of revolt in Navarre on 19th July, 1936. (19) President Manuel Azaña appointed Diego Martinez Barrio as prime minister on 18th July 1936 and asked him to negotiate with the rebels. (19) He contacted Emilio Mola and offered him the post of Minister of War in his government. (19) He refused and when Azaña realized that the Nationalists were unwilling to compromise, he sacked Martinez Barrio and replaced him with José Giral. (19) All the parties of the Left united in resistance and the government declared the confiscation of all religions property (July 28). (21) The Nationalists were supported by the bulk of the army and air force, and had at their disposal large Moorish contingents. (21) To protect the Popular Front government, Giral gave orders for arms to be distributed to (19) left-wing organizations that opposed the military uprising. (19,21) The rising was followed by a rising on the mainland (12) that same morning of the 18th (17) rapidly involving the garrison towns of Spain (Cadiz, Seville, Saragossa, Burgos, etc. (21) The Nationalist coup soon put the officers in control of most of the western half of the country. (14) Within 24 hours Franco was firmly in control of the Spanish army, (17) OR The initial liberation attempt (8,16) got off to a bad start with José Sanjurjo being killed in an air crash (20,21) on 20th July. (19) It failed (8,16) in most parts of Spain (19) including many of the large cities, (16) including Madrid and Barcelona, thus making an early success of the Insurgents impossible, (21) but Mola’s forces were successful in (19) the Canary Islands, (11,12), Morocco, Seville and Aragon. (19) Franco’s role was to fly to Morocco (14) where he had made many contacts in the 17 years he was based there. (11) and begin transporting troops to the mainland (14)

The flight of the Dragon Rapide

Figure 5 The flight of the Dragon Rapide


On 18th July, (20) Franco flew to Morocco (16,20) in a privately owned DH 89 De Havilland Dragon Rapide, flown by two British MI6 agents, Cecil Bebb and Hugh Pollard, which had been chartered in England on 11th July to take Franco to Africa. (22), taking control of the territory and the crack Army of Africa troops garrisoned there, (including the Legión and the Regulares) (16,20) which had rebelled and rapidly taken control of the Spanish Protectorate. (16,19) The army was thus composed of elite Spanish Foreign Legion battalions (20) and native Moroccan units commanded by Spanish officers. (20,22) At the end of July, Franco (20) who already had the reputation that he would ‘use troops against Spanish civilians as if they were a foreign enemy’ (22) declared that he was prepared “to shoot half of Spain”. (20) Franco secured the use of Germany and Italian aircraft to transport the troops to Spain. (20) Franco made contacts with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, (14,20) securing arms and (14) other assistance (14,20) that would continue throughout the war. (14) After this uprising (4,6) the Spanish Civil War started (3,4) [OR] the situation quickly degenerated into the Spanish Civil War. (16)

The Civil War begins

On 6th August Franco crossed to the mainland. (20) He established a headquarters at Seville, in the south of the country, from where he coordinated the Nationalist forces marching on Madrid. (20) In this way he began to conquer southern Spain. (19) Although Franco had hoped to seize control of the government quickly, (10) the republican forces proved to be more formidable than he and his conspirators had counted on. (10,20) Franco suffered some setbacks such as when the capital was successfully defended, depriving the Nationalists (Nacionales) of a quick victory. (20) The struggle therefore evolved into a full-scale civil war that lasted nearly three years. (10,17) During this time, according to the liberals, the Iberian Peninsula miraculously ceased to be a real place, becoming instead a one-dimensional fairytale landscape, a Sorelian myth made earth and flesh, populated on one side by savage Nationalist ogres, and on the other by decent, innocent Republican champions of Truth and Justice, if not of the American Way. (18) By the end of July, Spain was divided into two: the north and (13) west was dominated by the Nationalists, (13,14) while the South and East (apart from cities like Seville and Cordoba and Cadiz region), was in the hands of the Republicans. (13)


Figure 6 Communist Soldiers surrender

The March to Madrid

On August 15th 1936, the Nationalists captured Badajoz (21) They machine-gunned hundreds or perhaps thousands of Republicans there. (14) Tens more thousands of (14) or 50,000 (22) political prisoners would be executed by Nationalists later on in the fighting. (14,22) These Nationalist atrocities (14,18) are said by the Left to clearly demonstrate some fundamental moral failing. (18) They began a great advance eastward up the Tagus Valley via Talavera and Toledo, which was relieved on September 28th after a ten weeks’ siege of the famous Alcazar fortress by the Loyalists. (21). On September 4th the rebels captured Irun in the north. (21) On the same day a Popular Front government was formed in Madrid under Largo Caballero, with Catalan and Basque nationalists represented. (21) International support for the Republicans came from the Soviet Union, (7,8) when, on 26th August 1936 Stalin decided to back the Republic. (20) On September 12th the Insurgents took San Sebastian. (21) From October, 1936, (20) the Soviets provided (20,21) a steady stream of (20) support, including arms and advisers. (20,21) Between 700 and 1,000 aircraft were purchased from the Soviet Union, along with about 1,200 armoured vehicles, about 1,500 field guns, four million shells, 15,000 machine guns and 500,000 rifles. (20) The Republic was shunned by the international business community, although it did control the country’s 700 tonnes of gold which, at the time, is the fourth largest reserve in the world. (20) In September and October 1936 about 70% of the gold was sent to the Soviet Union for safe-keeping and as collateral for Soviet supplies. (20) It was never returned. (20)

Franco Commander in Chief

Figure 7 Italian tank in SpainFrancoTank

After this march towards Madrid, (12,17) (which was held by the Republicans and thus a symbol of the leftist government about to be toppled (17)) on 29th September, (13,20) as the troops approached the city, the (17) nine other generals (19) who were the military ‘junta’, (5,12) of National Defense at Burgos, (13,21) the Nationalist government which (20) was leading the uprising, decided to choose a commander in chief. (17,19) Franco was the obvious choice, and he (17) was chosen (5,10) by the nationalist forces (5,12) [OR] by the chief of (5) the Junta to be the head of the Nationalist army (5,12), with the rank of lieutenant general (16) and the title of ‘Generalissimo’, (2,5) due in part to his reputation, and his distance from political groups, (12) partly because the original figurehead (12,13) (Sanjurjo (13)) had died, (12,14) and partly because of his new hunger to lead. (12) This decision was made public on (13) or ‘On’ (16) 1st (13,17) October (5,6) 1936, (4,5) or on September 29th (20) Franco came to power (2,5) when he was elected Jefe del Estado (16,20) (Head of State) (16,19) and thus leader of the (5,6) insurgent (6) national (3,5) government. (4,5) The Left’s narrative about the Spanish Civil War seems incapable of accommodating the idea that “the other side” might have been sincerely and intelligently committed to its cause. (18) Franco wanted to do more than win, he wanted to ‘cleanse’ Spain of communism. (12) He declared that the Nationalists had a list of two million “reds” who were to be punished for their “crimes”. (20) His elevation had the support of (11,20) all the (11) various factions on the right, (11,20) including the Catholic Church, (14,20) the Falange and monarchists. (20)

Foreign Intervention

At an early stage in the war foreign powers began to intervene and Spain became the battle-ground of rival ideologies. (21) Franco appealed to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini for help in the war effort. (20) Franco was a close ally of Mussolini, (2,9) and in November 1936, (11) Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy recognised Franco as the legitimate ruler of Spain. (11,13) However although Franco entered several pacts including the Anti-Comintern Pact there was no formal military alliance with the Axis. (9) Meanwhile on October 8th the Madrid government granted home rule to the Basque provinces, which established the first autonomous Basque government under President Jose Aguirre. (21) In November anarcho-syndicalists were included in the Madrid government. (21) The Nationalists laid siege to Madrid on 6th November, 1936, and the government moved to Valencia. (21) Despite heavy fighting in the suburbs of Madrid and appalling air bombardments, the Republican troops held the capital and the Nationalist assault ended in deadlock. (21) On 18th November, 1936, Germany and Italy recognised the Franco government. (21) Nationalists received aid from abroad (7,9) as Italian and German “volunteers” joined them. (21) Hitler and Mussolini provided (7,9) political, (10,21) financial (10) and material support (10,20) including personnel, (10,16) aircraft, (20) tanks (10,20) arms (10) and artillery on favourable terms. (20) Germany stipulated that its military aid should only go to the forces under Franco’s command, but soon after, Franco allowed the Germans to organise under an independent command (20) called the ‘Condor Legion’. (16,20) The size of the legion varied between 5,000 and 10,000 men. (20) By contrast the Republic was unable to secure the committed support of the major Western democracies, including Britain, France (20,21) and the USA, (20)

FrancoHimmlerFigure 8 Franco with Himmler

Britain and France continued their ban on supplies to the Republican government (20,21) and along with the League of Nations (20) attempted to unite the powers (21) on a policy of non-interference, (20,21) with the hope of preventing the war expanding into a general conflict. (21) [OR] Aid also came from the USA. (7) Twenty-seven nations, including Germany and Italy, agreed to participate in a Non-intervention Conference, sitting at London. (21) A scheme for supervision was introduced, but this, like other methods adopted, failed to prevent participation by those powers which cared to intervene. (21) Following the signing of a secret pact between Franco and Mussolini, (20) Italy also increased its (20,21) open (21) military aid to the Nationalists. (20,21) The Italian government came out more and more openly in support of Franco, and ultimately had from 50,000 to 75,000 troops in Spain. (21) Italian infantry were grouped into a ‘Corps of Volunteer Troops’. (16, 20) Italian air support, known as the ‘Legionary Air Force’, was boosted to 5,000 men. (20) Thousands of Irishmen, Frenchmen, Moroccan Muslims, Americans, Britons, Norwegians, Finns, Russians, Belgians, and Turks joined the Nationalists and fought bravely and earnestly. (18) The support lent to the Nationalists by Hitler and Mussolini was held to demonstrate that Franco was a fascist. (18) The Nationalists also received substantial aid from Spanish multi-millionaire Juan March, and former King Alfonso XIII. (20) Some international businesses, actively supported Franco, such as the Texas Oil Company, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Ford, Studebaker, General Motors, and Dupont of Nemours. (20)

The International Brigades

The Republican forces are composed of those military units that remained loyal to the government, along with socialist, communist and anarchist militias. (20) Mexico (7,20) sold the Republic about 20,000 rifles, 30 field guns and provides supplies of ammunition and food. (20) Communist organisations from around the world enlisted (20) recruits for the ‘International Brigades’, (14,20) In the International Brigades there were also volunteers (18,20) ‘useful idiots’ (18) who came to the Republic’s aid. (20) United States writer Ernest Hemingway based his novel ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ on his experiences of the war. (20) British writer George Orwell’s book ‘Homage to Catalonia’ documents his time in one of the Republican militias. (20)

A Slow, Careful War

With superior military strength and continual assistance from German and Italian troops, Franco’s Nationalist Army (17) fought a slow, (12,14) careful war which was brutal and vicious, (12) and took control of Spain. (1,5), region by region. (17) The Republicans could not stop the Nationalist advance. (14,21) In January, 1937, Franco set up a joint German-Italian general staff. (20) On February 8th 1937, the Nationalists captured Malaga with Italian aid, but failed to cut the road from Madrid to Valencia. (21) On March 18th Republican forces defeated an Italian force at Brihuega, capturing large quantities of stores. (21) This was the Republicans’ only victory in the many major battles fought. (20) The Nationalists, frustrated in the effort to cut off Madrid, turned to the north and concentrated on Bilbao. (21) The Nationalists finally succeeded in encircling the Republican forces, executing tens of thousands as the noose tightened. (20)

El Caudillo

A few months after becoming Chief of State (5,13) in 1936 (4,5) Franco proclaimed himself (12) El Caudillo of Spain (2,8) (“The Leader”) (3,6) by the grace of God. (8,9) Franco became leader of the (5,9) totalitarian (9) Fascist (12) Falange Party (5,9) whose full title was Falange Español Tradicional y de las JONs (9) the creation of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, (9,13) who had been succeeded by Manuel Hedilla. (9) Franco struggled during the next three years to maintain (5) his military dictatorship. (5,12) He unified a base of support by securing the backing of the Catholic Church (14,20) and on 19th (20) April (17,20) 1937 (6,17) Franco (6,9) and his Falangist brother-in-law Ramón Serrano Suñer (9) restructured the Falange Party (20) and merged it with all the other Nationalist (9,12) or Falangist (16) or fascist (14,16) political parties with the Carlist monarchist faction (9,12)) and assumed leadership of the new party, (6,17) which was called the Falange Española Tradicionalista. (17) [OR] the ‘National Movement’. (20) It became the regime’s official political face, and Franco was appointed its leader. (17,20) His brother-in-law became the leader of the party executive. (20) He dissolved all other political parties, (14) and all labour groups were consolidated into one large organisation that was completely subordinated to the Falange. (20) With those powers he was Dictator of Spain. (5,9) The skill he exhibited in forming and holding together this political union of right wing groups, (10) each with their own competing (12,16) and ideologically incompatible (16) visions for post-war Spain, (12,16) has been called ‘brilliant’. (12) His military dictatorship was supported by, but still separate from and above, this political party (12) Scholars of fascism are in nearly universal agreement that Franco should not be described as a Fascist: Spain had its fascists – the Falangists of Primo de Rivera – and though they constituted part of the Nationalist alliance, this, like the support of the Italy and the Third Reich, was more a matter of “the least of two evils” than of genuine and enthusiastic agreement. (18) If we say that Franco was a fascist because he received military support from fascists; by the exact same token, we may label Churchill and Roosevelt Communists because they cooperated with Stalin during the Second World War. (18) Emulating the tactics of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, oversized posters of Franco were displayed all over Spain, emblazoned with the slogan, “One State! One Country! One Chief! Franco! Franco! Franco!”(17) One week later, in one the most notorious actions of the war, planes from the German Condor Legion bombed the Basque town of Guernica on 26 April, 1937. (20) The attack lasted for about three hours. (20) Guernica was destroyed, 1,654 of its occupants were killed and 889 were wounded. (20) The Nationalist forces occupied what remained of the town two days later. (20) The Spanish-born artist Pablo Picasso later painted a masterpiece inspired by the bombing. (20) The monochrome canvas was simply titled ‘Guernica’. (20) In May 1937 the Republican government of Largo Caballero fell, and was replaced by one under Juan Negrin. (21) This government represented socialists, but included other left parties apart from the anarcho-syndicalists, on the grounds that further social reforms must await victory in the war. (21) Meanwhile, the internally divided Republicans (14,20), began to fight among themselves, with communist and anarchist factions battling over ideological differences and for control of strategic sites. (20) In the course of this they murdered their own share of political opponents; (14,18) they committed atrocities, against Catholic clergy and others who they believe are opposed to their ideals, (18, 20) Including a


Figure 9 Republicans dressing up in Priests’ Clothing

slaughter of priests, nuns, women, and children, (18) At the end of the war the Nationalists stated that 7,937 religious personnel were killed by the Republicans. (20) Other say that “the ‘red terror’ had already killed 38,000.” (22) Julius Ruiz concludes that “although the figures remain disputed, a minimum of 37,843 executions were carried out in the Republican zone with a maximum of 150,000 executions (including 50,000 after the war) in Nationalist Spain. (22)” In Checas de Madrid, César Vidal comes to a nationwide total of 110,965 victims of Republican violence; 11,705 people being killed in Madrid alone. (22) This is portrayed by the Left as simply a “regrettable mistake” or a “necessary evil. (18) On 31st May Almeria was bombarded by four German warships in retaliation for a Nationalist attack on the Deutschland. (21) On June 18th the Nationalists took Bilbao after heavy air bombardment, Basque resistance was ended and the Nationalists moved towards Santander. (21) Once Badajoz and Bilbao fell, Franco focused on finally taking Madrid. (17) A ‘neutrality patrol’ was suspended by the Germans because of the attack on the Deutschland, and they refused to allow the British and French to replace them. The French were inclined to begin aid to the Republicans but were restrained by the British. (21) The northern army had been entrusted to (13) General Emilio Mola, but he was killed in a plane crash (13,22) in July (13) or 2nd June (22) 1937. (13,22) (Some believe this was an assassination, and after it no military leader was left from those who organized the conspiracy against the Republic between 1933 and 1935. (22) In August the Republican government assumed control of Barcelona, thus ending the autonomy of Catalonia. (21) On 28th August, 1937, the Vatican officially recognised Franco’s regime. (20) In October (21) 1937 the Nationalists (14,21) took Gijon, and thus (21) conquered the Asturias region. (14,21) On 28th October the Nationalist government moved to Barcelona from Valencia. (21) On 28th November Franco announced a total blockade of the east coast of Spain operated from Majorca. (21) On 5th December the Republicans began a counter-offensive around Teruel, taking it on December 19th. (21) This move served to divert the Insurgents from operations to the northeast, but the government forces were much less adequately supplied and equipped than their opponents, and were unable to sustain the offensive. (21)

Head of State

By a decree of 30th January 1938 Franco became Head of State, government and army. (13) Franco is the man most linked to the army’s victory in the Spanish Civil War. (11) On 15th February the Nationalists retook Teruel and made a spectacular drive towards the sea. (21 Franco’s birthplace was re-named El Ferrol del Caudillo in 1938 and retained the name until 1982. (16) The Nationalists took Vinaroz, on the seacoast, thus severing Loyalist territory in Castile from Barcelona and Catalonia. (21) A tremendous battle developed along the Ebro River, where the contestants were deadlocked during most of the summer. (21) In 1938, following the signing of treaty between Britain and Italy in April, the prime minister of the Republican Government attempted to open negotiations with the Nationalists for a peace settlement. (20) However, Franco would accept nothing other than total surrender. (20) In accordance with the Anglo-Italian agreement of April 16th 1938, Mussolini withdrew some troops from Spain, but there still remained a substantial force estimated at 40,000. (21) With the signing of the ‘Munich Agreement’ on 29th September the Republic’s hope that the outbreak of a general war in Europe would bring an end to the non-interventionist policy of the Western democracies and save it from defeat was dashed. (20) Following the fragmentation of the government forces Franco defeated their remnant along with the anarchists in Catalonia. (9) Franco also defeated various communist groupings, and local nationalist movements in other parts of Spain. (9) In December the Nationalists began an offensive in Catalonia. (21) Despite valiant resistance, the Loyalists forces were gradually driven back toward Barcelona, and on 26th (21) January, 1939, Barcelona fell (14,21) to a combined Nationalist/Italian force. (21) The Loyalist resistance collapsed. (21)


Franco’s government was recognised as legitimate by the French and the British (11,20) on 27th (20) February 1939. (11,20) This was partly because the Popular Front was seen for right or wrong, as being associated with communism and the fear of this belief was still rampant in Europe, so Franco was seen as the better bet of the two, and partly because by this time Franco’s victory was a fait accompli. (11) On the following day Azana, the Republican President who had taken refuge in Paris, resigned. (21) On March 6th a military coup in Madrid removed the Negrin government, whose members fled by air to France. (21) A new Republican government called the National Defence Council took over with General Jose Miaja (who had defended the city effectively in 1936-7) at its head. (21) The PCE (the Spanish Communist Party) attempted a mutiny in Madrid with the aim of re-establishing Negrín’s leadership, but José Miaja retained control. (22) The Republican fleet escaped from Cartagena March (6), 1939 (1,5) Franco had overthrown the (3,9) democratically elected (14) republic, (3,9) capturing Madrid on March 28th, 1939, (10,13) and receiving the unconditional surrender (13,20) of the Republican leaders. (13) The next day, Valencia, which had held out under the guns of the Nationalists for close to two years, also surrendered. (22) The war officially ended on April 1st 1939, (16,17) Franco had won a complete victory (20) [OR] guerrilla resistance to Franco (16,22) (known as “the maquis”) was widespread in many mountainous regions, and continued well into the 1950s. (22) [OR] the late 1940s, (16) 200,000 (21) [OR] between 250,000 and 500,000 (20) Republican forces fled over the Pyrenees into France. (21) The Republicans, who were simply good and innocent souls desiring a free and democratic Spain, had collapsed against the juggernaut as all uncompromising idealists must. (18) In April 1939, the USA recognised Franco as head of Spain. (11) Up to 500,000 people are estimated to have died during the conflict. (20) In 1944, a group of republican veterans, which also fought in the French resistance against the Nazis, invaded the Val d’Aran in northwest Catalonia, but they were quickly defeated. (22)

Franco after 1939

FrancoBlueMenFigure 10 Men of the Blue division in Russia

After his victory, (4,5) although close to the Axis powers and despite their pressure, Franco (6) maintained neutrality in World War II. (4,5) Much of Spain’s infrastructure had been ruined (20) and he needed to rebuild his shattered country. (5,13) [OR] because Hitler did not accept his conditions for Spain to take part in it with the fascist and nazi regimes. (4) Franco verifiably supported the Axis through material support and propaganda (9) and let a group of (4,9) volunteer (4) soldiers join the German Army to fight the Russians (4,9) between 1941 and 1943. (4) They were called (4,9) the División Azul (4) (Blue Division). (4,9) Meanwhile Franco was free to establish a dictatorial fascist state, which by the time of his death 40 years later had declined so badly that Spain elegantly segued back into its current state of Enlightenment, Democracy, and Progress virtually by its own accord. (18) His political trajectory was different from those of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, but he came to preside over what was certainly a regime that satisfied the criteria of the “fascist minimum” (as encapsulated by Roger Griffin) between 1939 and the 1950s. (9) There was no reconciliation: he drafted laws making any support for the republic a crime. (12) He dissolved the republican Parliament (8) and established a firmly controlled corporative state. (6)


FrancoEisenhowerFigure 11: Franco with Eisenhower

The opposition was banned (13) and severely repressed. (13) Franco’s victory was followed by thousands of summary executions (from 15,000 to 25,000 people) and imprisonments, while many were put to forced labour, building railways, drying out swamps, digging canals (La Corchuela, the Canal of the Bajo Guadalquivir), construction of the Valle de los Caídos monument, etc. (22) The 1940 shooting of the president of the Catalan government, Lluís Companys, was one of the most notable cases of this early suppression of opponents and dissenters. (22) According to Gabriel Jackson, the number of victims of the “White Terror” (executions and hunger or illness in prisons) only between 1939 and 1943 was 200,000. (22) Although leftists suffered from an important death-toll, the Spanish intelligentsia, atheists and military and government figures who had remained loyal to the Madrid government during the war were also targeted for oppression. (22) In his recent, updated history of the Spanish Civil War, Antony Beevor “reckons Franco’s ensuing ‘white terror’ claimed 200,000 lives. (22) He managed to gather under him the monarchists Phalangists, Carlists and military. (13) Serrano Suñer and the Falange were charged with organising the political apparatus of the regime with the Falange serving to sustain the momentum of mass mobilisation which resulted from the Civil War experience that did not exist under more traditional conservative dictators such as Admiral Miklos Horthy in Hungary. (9) During his almost forty year reign, Franco’s governance went through various different phases, although the most common ideological features present throughout included a strong sense of Spanish nationalism and protection of the country’s territorial integrity, Catholicism, anti-communism, anti-masonry and traditional values. (8) Consider some of the Spanish State’s accomplishments just in its last decade: while many parties of the European Left were openly opposed to the notion of an age of consent, Spain was alone in restricting its pedophilia laws; while the post-Vatican II Catholic Church was losing both disciples and principles by the boatload, the nacionalcatolicismo of Franco ensured the continued place of the pious and sacred in the lives of ordinary Spaniards; while the rest of the world felt trapped between the destructive avarice of American capitalism and the totalitarian attrition of Soviet Communism, the “Spanish Miracle” proved that any nation willing to disregard the false dichotomy between these two economistic and materialistic ideologies could have its proverbial cake and eat it too; while atheism, androgynism, and multiculturalism cruelly beset most of Western Europe, Spain, along with Salazar’s Portugal, remained a lone outpost of decency in a seemingly infinite sea of muck; while leftists went from Stalin and Hoxha to Mao and Pol Pot – from one form of evil and totalitarianism to another – Franco remained an unwavering anticommunist; and while liberals went hoarse in their condemnation of all things non-democratic, the humanity, stability, and healthy pluralism of the Spanish State seemed to be providing a vindication not of liberal democracy, but of Cortés’s theory of dictatorship. (18) Indeed, the sins of the Spanish State – the two most significant being its poorly-advised oppression of regional cultures and its failure to follow through in practice on its de jure monarchism – were neither as egregious nor as numerous as those of any other government of its time, democratic or dictatorial. (18) (It is one of the least discussed facts of modern politics that even genuinely oppressive and inhumane right-wing dictators – Pinochet, Videla, the Greek military junta of the 1970s – are nearly always far less murderous and far more willing to yield power peacefully than their counterparts on the Left. (18))

Death and Post Mortem

He ruled (1,3) as a dictator (1,4) until his death (1,2) on November 20th (3,4) 1975 (1,2) at Madrid. (3,8) OR as head of the government of Spain until 1973 and head of state until his death in 1975. (3) He was also (4,8) de facto (8) regent of the Spanish Kingdom from 1947 to 1975. (4,8) After 1975, the Spanish Left has campaigned, not unsuccessfully, to ban all public commemorations of Republican atrocities during the Civil War. (18) It is in the success of Spain’s post-Civil War government that we find the real reason for the Left’s animosity towards Franco. (18) For though the convictions of the men in the International Brigades were probably earnest enough, the Civil War is today simply a tool of propaganda. (18)


Figure 12: Anti Franco Cartoon





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