Franco in 1964
|Caudillo of Spain|
1 October 1936 – 20 November 1975
|President of the Government of Spain|
30 January 1938 – 8 June 1973
|Succeeded by||Luis Carrero Blanco|
|Born||4 December 1892|
Ferrol, Galicia, Kingdom of Spain
|Died||20 November 1975 (aged 82)|
Madrid, Spanish State
|Cause of death||Septic shock|
|Resting place||Mingorrubio Cemetery, El Pardo, Madrid, Spain|
|Political party||FET y de las JONS|
|Spouse(s)||Carmen Polo (m. 1923–75, his death)|
|Children||María del Carmen|
|Relatives||Nicolás Franco (brother)|
Ramón Franco (brother)
|Residence||El Pardo, Madrid|
|Education||Infantry Academy of Toledo|
|Allegiance|| Kingdom of Spain|
|Branch/service||Spanish Armed Forces|
|Years of service||1907–1975|
|Rank||Captain General of the Army|
Captain General of the Air Force
Captain General of the Navy
|Battles/wars||2nd Melillan Campaign (WIA)|
Revolution of 1934
Spanish Civil War
Francisco Franco Bahamonde[a] (//, Spanish: [fɾanˈθisko ˈfɾaŋko]; 4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975) was a Spanish general and dictator who ruled over Spain from 1939 to 1975. During his rule Franco assumed the title Caudillo. This period in Spanish history, from the Nationalist victory in the Spanish Civil War to Franco's death, is commonly known as Francoist Spain or the Francoist dictatorship.
Franco was born in Ferrol, Spain, as the son of upper-class parents with strong connections to the Spanish Navy. Franco, however, joined the Spanish Army as a cadet in the Toledo Infantry Academy in 1907, graduating in 1910. He would then go on to serve in Morocco, meteorically advancing through the ranks for bravery in combat and an assiduous attention to the detail of logistics, becoming Brigadier General at age 33, the youngest General in all Europe.Two years later, he was also named director of the General Military Academy in Zaragoza.
The coming of the Second Republic in 1931 halted the steady rise of monarchist Franco. His beloved Zaragoza Academy was closed and he was left without a posting until February 1932, when he was made military governor of La Coruña. In 1933, the Second Republic was replaced by of centre-right government and Franco’s career started to improve. In 1934 Franco led the brutal suppression of the miners' revolutionary strike in Asturias, which sharpened the antagonism between Left and Right in the country. In 1935 Franco became army chief of staff.
When the leftist Popular Front won the 1936 elections, Franco was once again marginalized, he was relieved from Chief of Staff and posted to the Canary Islands. When in the summer the leader of the opposition Calvo Sotelo was murdered, conspirators seized the moment, triggering the military coup that had been plotted since the February election. Though Franco initially kept his distance from the plot, he then joined acting with complete resolution and glacial sangfroid. The coup failed, but the event precipitated the Spanish Civil War.
Franco took control of the Army of Africa, which was air-lifted to Spain. With the death of the other leading generals, Franco became his faction's only leader and was appointed Generalissimo and Head of State in the autumn of 1936. By a Unification Decree in 1937 Franco merged all Nationalist parties into a single party, the FET y de las JONS. In 1939 the Nationalists defeated the Republicans in the civil war, which had claimed almost half a million lives. The victory extended Franco's dictatorship over all of Spain, and it was followed by a period of repression of political opponents and dissenters. Between 30,000 and 50,000 people died by this repression, which employed forced labor, concentration camps, and executions. Combined with the Nationalist executions during the war, the death toll of the White Terror lies between 100,000 and 200,000.
Franco continued to rule Spain alone, with more power than any Spanish leader before or since, ruling almost exclusively by decree. He nurtured a cult of personality and the Movimiento Nacional became the only channel of participation in Spanish public life. During World War II, he espoused neutrality as Spain's official wartime policy, but supported the Axis — whose members Italy and Germany had significantly supported him during the Civil War — in various ways. After the war, Spain was shunned and isolated by many other countries for nearly a decade.
By the 1950's the nature of Franco's regime changed from being openly totalitarian and severely repressive to an authoritarian system with limited pluralism. During the Cold War Franco became one of the world's foremost anti-Communist figures and his regime was assisted by the West, particularly the United States. Spain had suffered chronic economic depression in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but by abandoning autarky and pursuing economic liberalization, Franco presided over the "Spanish miracle". Economic authority was delegated to the technocrats of the Opus Dei, leading to tremendous economic growth.
The Francoist dictatorship continued to soften over time and Luis Carrero Blanco became Franco's éminence grise, controlling the day-to-day operations of the government: this increased when Franco began showing symptoms of Parkinson's disease in the 1960s. The introduction of the Organic Law in 1966 limited and clearly defined Franco's powers and officially created the office of Prime Minister. In 1973, beset with old age and sickness and wishing to partially relinquish the burden of governing Spain, Franco resigned as Prime Minister, and was succeeded by Carrero Blanco. However, Franco remained as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. Franco died in 1975 at the age of 82 and was buried in the Valle de los Caídos. Through the power to appoint a king, granted to him by the 1947 Law of Succession to the Headship of the State, he restored the monarchy before his death, appointing Juan Carlos as his successor and king of Spain. Juan Carlos led the Spanish transition to democracy.
Franco remains a controversial figure in Spanish history and the nature of his dictatorship changed over time. His reign was marked by both brutal repression, with thousands killed, and economic prosperity, which greatly improved the quality of life in Spain. His dictatorial style proved very adaptable, which could introduce social and economic reform, and the only consistent points in Franco's long rule were above all authoritarianism, Spanish nationalism, National Catholicism, anti-Freemasonry, and anti-communism.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Military career
- 3 From the Spanish Civil War to World War II
- 4 Spain under Franco
- 5 Succession
- 6 Death and funeral
- 7 Legacy
- 8 In popular media
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 Bibliography
- 13 Further reading
- 14 Primary sources
- 15 External links
Franco was born at 12:30 on 4 December 1892 in the Calle Frutos Saavedra in El Ferrol, Galicia. He was baptised thirteen days later at the military church of San Francisco, with the baptismal name Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo; Francisco for his paternal grandfather, Paulino for his godfather, Hermenegildo for his maternal grandmother and godmother, and Teódulo for the saint day of his birth.
Franco was born into a seafaring family. His family had been naval officers for six generations, including several ancestors holding the rank of Admiral.
His father was of Andalusian ancestry.[b] After relocating to Galicia, the family was strongly involved in the Spanish Navy, and over the span of two centuries produced naval officers for six uninterrupted generations, down to Franco's father Nicolás Franco y Salgado Araújo (22 November 1855 – 22 February 1942).
His mother was María del Pilar Bahamonde y Pardo de Andrade (15 October 1865 – 28 February 1934) from an upper middle-class Roman Catholic family. Her father, Landislao Bahamonde Ortega, was the commissar of naval equipment at the Port. Franco's parents married in 1890 in the Church of San Francisco in el Ferrol. The young Franco spent much of his childhood with his two brothers, Nicolás (Ferrol, 1891–1977) and Ramón, and his two sisters, María del Pilar (Ferrol, 1894 – Madrid, 1989), and María de la Paz (Ferrol, 1899 – Ferrol, 1903). The latter died in infancy. His brother Nicolás was later a naval officer and diplomat who in time married María Isabel Pascual del Pobil y Ravello, and was seen as intelligent, the best student of all the siblings and also the most conventional of the brothers. Ramón was an internationally renown pioneer aviator, a Freemason with originally leftist political leanings and was generally the most audacious and rebellious brother, both socially and politically. He was also the second sibling to die, killed in an air accident on a military mission in 1938. María del Pilar was known for being lively and highly social; she married Alonso Jaráiz y Jeréz and had ten children, five after she was 45 years old; several of her sons would go on to have careers in the military, while two of her daughters would marry officers.
Franco's father was an officer of the naval supply system who reached the rank of Intendente General (equivelent to Vice Admiral). He was an unconventional man, a well read free-thinker, agnostic and somewhat of a libertine. Franco's mother, by contrast, was loving, pious and self-sacrificing, obedient to her husband and never speaking ill of him despite suffering at his hand. When Franco was fourteen, his father moved away to Madrid after receiving a reassignment there and he would ultimately abandon his family, marrying another woman. While Franco did not suffer any great abuse at his father's hand, he would never overcome his antipathy for his father and largely ignored him for the rest of his life; years after becoming dictator, Franco wrote a brief novel Raza under the pseudonym Jaime de Andrade, whose protagonist is believed by Stanley Payne to represent the idealised man Franco wished his father had been. Conversely, Franco strongly identified with his mother (who always wore widow's black once she realised her husband had abandoned her) and learned from her moderation, austerity, self-control, family solidarity and respect for Catholicism, though he would also inherit his father's harshness, coldness and implacability.
Rif War and advancement through the ranks
Francisco was to follow his father into the Navy, but as a result of the Spanish–American War the country lost much of its navy as well as most of its colonies. Not needing any more officers, the Naval Academy admitted no new entrants from 1906 to 1913. To his father's chagrin, Francisco decided to try the Spanish Army. In 1907, he entered the Infantry Academy in Toledo. At the age of fourteen, Franco was one of the youngest members of his class, with most boys being between sixteen and eighteen. He was quite short and was bullied for his small size. His grades were average, though his good memory meant he seldom struggled in mental tests but his small stature was a hindrance in physical tests. He would graduate in July 1910 as second lieutenant, coming 251 out of 312, though this may have been less to do with his grades than his small size, young age and reduced physical presence; Stanley Payne observes that by the time Civil War began, Franco had already become a major general and would soon be a generalissimo, while none of his higher-ranking fellow cadets had managed to get beyond the rank of lieutenant-colonel. At 19, Franco was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in June 1912. Two years later, he obtained a commission to Morocco. Spanish efforts to occupy their new African protectorate provoked the Second Melillan campaign in 1909 with native Moroccans, the first of a period of Riffian rebellions. Their tactics resulted in heavy losses among Spanish military officers, and also provided an opportunity to earn promotion through merit. It was said that officers would receive either la caja o la faja (a coffin or a general's sash). Franco quickly gained a reputation as a good officer.
In 1913, Franco transferred into the newly formed regulares: Moroccan colonial troops with Spanish officers, who acted as shock troops. This transfer into a perilous role may have been decided because Franco failed to win the hand of his first love, Sofía Subirán. (The letters between the two were found and she was questioned by journalists.)
In 1916, aged 23 and already a captain, he was shot by enemy machine gun fire. He was badly wounded in the abdomen, specifically the liver, in a skirmish at El Biutz. The physicians of the battle later concluded that his intestines were spared because he inhaled the moment he was shot. At that time, abdominal wounds in Arica were normally fatal. His improbable survival marked him permanently in the eyes of the native troops as a man blessed with baraka (in Islam, the beneficent force from God ). He was recommended for promotion to major and to receive Spain's highest honour for gallantry, the coveted Cruz Laureada de San Fernando. Both proposals were denied citing the twenty three years old Franco's young age as the reason for denial. Instead received the prestigious Cross of Maria Cristina, First Class.
With that he was promoted to major at the end of February 1917 at age 24. This made him the youngest major in the Spanish army. From 1917 to 1920, he served in Spain. In 1920, Lieutenant Colonel José Millán Astray, a histrionic but charismatic officer, founded the Spanish Foreign Legion, on similar lines to the French Foreign Legion. Franco became the Legion's second-in-command and returned to Africa. In the Rif War, on 24 July 1921, the poorly commanded and overextended Spanish Army suffered a crushing defeat at Annual from the Republic of the Rif led by the Abd el-Krim brothers. The Legion and supporting units relieved the Spanish enclave of Melilla after a three-day forced march led by Franco. In 1923, by now a lieutenant colonel, he was made commander of the Legion.
On 22 October 1923, Franco married María del Carmen Polo y Martínez-Valdès (11 June 1900 – 6 February 1988). Three years later on 14 September 1926, the couple had a daughter, María del Carmen. Franco would have a close relationship with his daughter and was a proud parent, though his traditionalist attitudes and increasing responsibilities meant he left much of the child-rearing to his wife.´´ Following his honeymoon Franco was summoned to Madrid to be presented to King Alfonso XIII. This and other occasions of royal attention would mark him during the Republic as a monarchical officer. Promoted to colonel, Franco led the first wave of troops ashore at Al Hoceima (Spanish: Alhucemas) in 1925. This landing in the heartland of Abd el-Krim's tribe, combined with the French invasion from the south, spelled the beginning of the end for the short-lived Republic of the Rif. Franco's recognition eventually caught up with him and he was promoted to brigadier general on 3 February 1926. This made him the youngest general in Spain, and perhaps, along with Major-General Joe Sweeney of the Irish Army, one of the youngest generals in Europe. In 1928 Franco was appointed director of the newly created General Military Academy of Zaragoza, a new college for all army cadets, replacing the former separate institutions for young men seeking to become officers in infantry, cavalry, artillery, and other branches of the army. Franco was removed as Director of the Zaragoza Military Academy in 1931; about 95% of his former Zaragoza cadets later came to side with him in the Civil War.
During the Second Spanish Republic
The municipal elections of April 12, 1931 were largely seen as plebiscite on the monarchy. The Republican-Socialist alliance failed to win the majority of the municipality cities in Spain but had a landslide victory in all large cities and in almost all provincial capitals. The monarchists and the army deserted Alfonso XIII and the King decided to leave the country into exile, giving way to the Second Spanish Republic. Although Franco believed that the majority of the Spanish people still supported the crown, and although he regretted the end of the monarchy, he did not object, nor did he challenge the legitimacy of the republic. But the closing of the Academy in June by War Minister Manuel Azaña was a major setback for Franco and provoked his first clash with the Spanish Republic. Azaña found Franco's farewell speech to the cadets insulting. In his speech Franco stressed the Republic's need for discipline and respect. Azaña entered an official reprimand into Franco's personnel file and for six months Franco was without a post and under surveillance.
Franco was a subscriber to the journal of Acción Española, a monarchist organisation, and a firm believer in a supposed Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy, or contubernio (filthy cohabitation). The conspiracy suggested that Jews, Freemasons, Communists, and other leftists alike sought the destruction of Christian Europe, with Spain the principal target.
On 5 February 1932, Franco was given a command in A Coruña. Franco avoided involvement in José Sanjurjo's attempted coup that year, and even wrote a hostile letter to Sanjurjo expressing his anger over the attempt. As a result of Azaña's military reform, in January 1933 Franco was relegated from first to 24th in the list of brigadiers. The same year, on 17 February he was given the military command of the Balearic Islands. The post was above his rank, but Franco was still angered that he was purposely stuck in positions he disliked. It was quite common for conservative officers to be moved or demoted, however.
The elections held in October 1933 resulted in a centre-right majority. The political party with the most votes was the Confederación Español de Derechas Autónomas ("CEDA"), but president Alcalá-Zamora declined to invite the leader of the CEDA, Gil Robles, to form a government. Instead he invited the Radical Republican Party's Alejandro Lerroux to do so. Despite receiving the most votes, CEDA was denied cabinet positions for nearly a year. After a year of intense pressure, CEDA, the largest party in the congress, was finally successful in forcing the acceptance of three ministries. However the entrance of CEDA in the government, despite being normal in a parliamentary democracy, was not well accepted by the left. The Socialists triggered an insurrection that they had been preparing for nine months. A general strike was called by the UGT and the PSOE in the name of the Alianza Obrera. The issue was that the Left Republicans identified the Republic not with democracy or constitutional law but a specific set of left wing policies and politicians. Any deviation, even if democratic, was seen as treasonous. A "Catalan State" was proclaimed by Catalan nationalist leader Lluis Companys, but it lasted just ten hours. Despite an attempt at a general stoppage in Madrid, other strikes did not endure. This left Asturian strikers to fight alone.
In several mining towns in Asturias, local unions gathered small arms and were determined to see the strike through. It began on the evening of 4 October, with the miners occupying several towns, attacking and seizing local Civil and Assault Guard barracks. Thirty four priests, six young seminarists with ages between 18 and 21, and several businessmen and civil guards were summarily executed by the revolutionaries in Mieres and Sama, 58 religious buildings including churches, convents and part of the university at Oviedo were burned and destroyed. Franco, already General of Division and aide to the war minister, Diego Hidalgo, was put in command of the operations directed to suppress the violent insurgency. Troops of the Spanish Army of Africa carried this out, with General Eduardo López Ochoa as commander in the field. After two weeks of heavy fighting (and a death toll estimated between 1,200 and 2,000), the rebellion was suppressed.
The insurgency in Asturias sparked a new era of violent anti-Christian persecutions, initiated the practice of atrocities against the clergy and sharpened the antagonism between Left and Right. Franco and López Ochoa (who, prior to the campaign in Asturias, had been seen as a left-leaning officer) emerged as officers prepared to use 'troops against Spanish civilians as if they were a foreign enemy'. Franco described the rebellion to a journalist in Oviedo as, 'a frontier war and its fronts are socialism, communism and whatever attacks civilisation in order to replace it with barbarism.' Though the colonial units sent to the north by the government at Franco's recommendation consisted of the Spanish Foreign Legion and the Moroccan Regulares Indigenas, the right wing press portrayed the Asturian rebels as lackeys of a foreign Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy. At the start of the Civil War, López Ochoa was assassinated. Some time after these events, Franco was briefly commander-in-chief of the Army of Africa (from 15 February onwards), and from 19 May 1935, on, Chief of the General Staff.
1936 general election
In the end of 1935 President Alaclá-Zamora manipulated a petty-corruption issue into a major scandal in parliament, and eliminated Alejandro Lerroux, the head of the Radical Republican Party, from premiership. Subsequently Alaclá-Zamora vetoed the logic replacement, a majority center-right coalition, led by the CEDA, which would reflect the compostion of the parliament. He then arbitrarily appointed an interim prime minister and after a short period announced the dissolution of parliament and new elections.
Two wide coalitions formed: the Popular Front on the left, ranging from Republican Union to Communists, and the Frente Nacional on the right, ranging from the centre radicals to the conservative Carlists. On 16 February 1936 the elections ended in a virtual draw, but in the evening leftist mobs started to interfere in the balloting and in the registration of votes distorting the results On 19 February the cabinet presided by Portela Valladares resigned, with a new cabinet composed chiefly of members of the Republican Left and the Republican Union and presided by Manuel Azaña was quickly set up.
José Calvo Sotelo, who acquired anti-communism as the axis of his parliamentary speeches, became the speaker of violent propaganda, advocating for a military coup d'état, formulating a catastrophist discourse of a dichotomous choice between "communism" or a markedly totalitarian "National" State, setting the mood of the masses for a military rebellion. The diffusion of the myth about an alleged Communist coup d'état as well a pretended state of "social chaos" became pretexts for a coup. Franco himself along General Emilio Mola had stirred an Anti-Communist campaign in Morocco.
On 23 February Franco was sent to the Canary Islands to serve as the islands' military commander, an appointment perceived by him as a destierro (banishment). Meanwhile, a conspiracy led by General Mola was taking shape.
Interested in the parliamentary immunity granted by a seat at the Cortes, Franco intended to stand as candidate of the Right Bloc alongside José Antonio Primo de Rivera for the by-election in the province of Cuenca programmed for 3 May 1936, after the results of the February 1936 election were annulled in the constituency. But Primo de Rivera refused to run alongside a military officer (and Franco in particular) and Franco himself ultimately desisted on 26 April, one day before the decision of the election authority. By that time, PSOE politician Indalecio Prieto already deemed Franco as "possible caudillo for a military uprising".
In June 1936, Franco was contacted and a secret meeting was held within La Esperanza forest on Tenerife to discuss starting a military coup. An obelisk commemorating this historic meeting was erected at the site in a clearing at Las Raíces.
Outwardly, Franco maintained an ambiguous attitude almost until July. On 23 June 1936, he wrote to the head of the government, Casares Quiroga, offering to quell the discontent in the Spanish Republican Army, but received no reply. The other rebels were determined to go ahead con Paquito o sin Paquito (with Paquito or without Paquito; Paquito being a diminutive of Paco, which in turn is short for Francisco), as it was put by José Sanjurjo, the honorary leader of the military uprising. After various postponements, 18 July was fixed as the date of the uprising. The situation reached a point of no return and, as presented to Franco by Mola, the coup was unavoidable and he had to choose a side. He decided to join the rebels and was given the task of commanding the Army of Africa. A privately owned DH 89 De Havilland Dragon Rapide, flown by two British pilots, Cecil Bebb and Hugh Pollard, was chartered in England on 11 July to take Franco to Africa.
The coup underway was precipitated by the assassination of the right-wing opposition leader Calvo Sotelo in retaliation for the murder of assault guard José Castillo, which had been committed by a group headed by a civil guard and composed of assault guards and members of the socialist militias. On 17 July, one day earlier than planned, the Army of Africa rebelled, detaining their commanders. On 18 July, Franco published a manifesto and left for Africa, where he arrived the next day to take command.
A week later the rebels, who soon called themselves the Nationalists, controlled a third of Spain; most naval units remained under control of the Republican loyalist forces, which left Franco isolated. The coup had failed in the attempt to bring a swift victory, but the Spanish Civil War had begun.
From the Spanish Civil War to World War II
The Spanish Civil War began in July 1936 and officially ended with Franco's victory in April 1939, leaving 190,000 to 500,000 dead. Despite the Non-Intervention Agreement of August 1936, the war was marked by foreign intervention on behalf of both sides, leading to international repercussions. The nationalist side was supported by Fascist Italy, which sent the Corpo Truppe Volontarie, and later by Nazi Germany, which assisted with the Condor Legion. They were opposed by the Soviet Union and communists, socialists and anarchists within Spain. The United Kingdom and France strictly adhered to the arms embargo, provoking dissensions within the French Popular Front coalition which was led by Léon Blum, but the Republican side was nonetheless supported by the Soviet Union and volunteers who fought in the International Brigades (see for example Ken Loach's Land and Freedom).
Because Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin used the war as a testing ground for modern warfare, some historians, such as Ernst Nolte, have considered the Spanish Civil War, along with World War II, to be part of a European Civil War which lasted from 1936 to 1945 and was mainly characterised as a left/right ideological conflict. This interpretation has not been accepted by most historians, who consider the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War to be two distinct conflicts. Among other things, they point to the political heterogeneity on both sides (See Spanish Civil War: other factions) and criticise a monolithic interpretation, which overlooks the local nuances of Spanish history.
The first months
Following 18 July 1936 pronunciamiento, Franco assumed the leadership of the 30,000 soldiers of the Spanish Army of Africa. The first days of the insurgency were marked with a serious need to secure control over the Spanish Moroccan Protectorate. On one side, Franco had to win the support of the natives and their (nominal) authorities, and, on the other, had to ensure his control over the army. His method was the summary execution of some 200 senior officers loyal to the Republic (one of them his own cousin). His loyal bodyguard was shot by Manuel Blanco. Franco's first problem was how to move his troops to the Iberian Peninsula, since most units of the Navy had remained in control of the Republic and were blocking the Strait of Gibraltar. He requested help from Benito Mussolini, who responded with an unconditional offer of arms and planes; in Germany Wilhelm Canaris, the head of the Abwehr military intelligence, persuaded Hitler to support the Nationalists. From 20 July onward Franco was able, with a small group of 22 mainly German Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, to initiate an air bridge to Seville, where his troops helped to ensure the rebel control of the city. Through representatives, he started to negotiate with the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy for more military support, and above all for more aircraft. Negotiations were successful with the last two on 25 July and aircraft began to arrive in Tetouan on 2 August. On 5 August Franco was able to break the blockade with the newly arrived air support, successfully deploying a ship convoy with some 2,000 soldiers.
In early August, the situation in western Andalusia was stable enough to allow him to organise a column (some 15,000 men at its height), under the command of then Lieutenant-Colonel Juan Yagüe, which would march through Extremadura towards Madrid. On 11 August Mérida was taken, and on 15 August Badajoz, thus joining both nationalist-controlled areas. Additionally, Mussolini ordered a voluntary army, the Corpo Truppe Volontarie (CTV) of some 12,000 Italians of fully motorised units to Seville and Hitler added to them a professional squadron from the Luftwaffe (2JG/88) with about 24 planes. All these planes had the Nationalist Spanish insignia painted on them, but were flown by Italian and German nationals. The backbone of Franco's aviation in those days were the Italian SM.79 and SM.81 bombers, the biplane Fiat CR.32 fighter and the German Junkers Ju 52 cargo-bomber and the Heinkel He 51 biplane fighter.
On 21 September, with the head of the column at the town of Maqueda (some 80 km away from Madrid), Franco ordered a detour to free the besieged garrison at the Alcázar of Toledo, which was achieved on 27 September. This controversial decision gave the Popular Front time to strengthen its defenses in Madrid and hold the city that year, but with Soviet support. Kennan alleges that, once Stalin had decided to assist the Spanish Republicans, the operation was put in place with remarkable speed and energy. The first load of arms and tanks arrives as early as 26 September and was secretly unloaded at night. Advisers accompanied the armaments. Soviet officers were in effective charge of military operations on the Madrid front. Kennan believes that this operation was originally conducted in good faith with no other purpose than saving the Republic. Effort was made to encourage the Spanish Communist Party to seize power but the holding of Alcázar was an important morale and propaganda success for the Nationalists, because it is clear that Hitler's primary aim was not a Franco victory but to prolong the war by the active intervention of the Soviet Government as well as Italy, Britain, and France in the Civil War.
Hitler told his Generals on 5 November 1937: "A 100 per cent victory for Franco was not desirable either".
However, by February 1937 the Soviet Union's military help started to taper off, to be replaced by limited economic aid. A more likely motive was Stalin's instinct for self-preservation, because the Spanish Civil War had aroused a spirit of heroism in support of freedom more in line with Trotskyism and such ideas might be exported to the Soviet Union. Further proof of this is what Modin stated that Stalin decided to attack the extreme Left, particularly Trotskyites and militants of the POUM before liquidating Franco. Those who had served in Spain were tainted in Stalin's view and were singled out for harshness in the purges and were virtually all eliminated. The defector Orlov, who worked for the NKVD in Spain, confirms that he was told by a General, whom Orlov did not want to name, that when the General returned to Moscow to seek further instructions, he was told that the Politburo had adopted a new line towards Spain. Until then, the policy of the Politburo was to assist Republican Spain by supplying armaments, Soviet pilots and tanks in order to bring about a speedy victory over Franco; but now the Politburo had revised its strategy. Stalin had come to the conclusion that "It would be more advantageous to the Soviet Union if neither of the warring camps gained proponderant strength, and if the war in Spain dragged on as long as possible and thus tied up Hitler for a long time." The Soviet General who informed Orlov of this was shocked by the Machiavellian calculation of the Politburo which, in its desire to obtain time, wanted the Spanish people to bleed as long as possible.
Rise to power
The designated leader of the uprising, General José Sanjurjo, died on 20 July 1936, in a plane crash. Therefore, in the nationalist zone, "political life ceased." Initially, only military command mattered; this was divided into regional commands (Emilio Mola in the North, Gonzalo Queipo de Llano in Seville commanding Andalusia, Franco with an independent command and Miguel Cabanellas in Zaragoza commanding Aragon). The Spanish Army of Morocco itself was split into two columns, one commanded by General Juan Yagüe and the other commanded by Colonel José Varela.
From 24 July a coordinating junta was established, based at Burgos. Nominally led by Cabanellas, as the most senior general, it initially included Mola, three other generals, and two colonels; Franco was later added in early August. On 21 September it was decided that Franco was to be commander-in-chief (this unified command was opposed only by Cabanellas), and, after some discussion, with no more than a lukewarm agreement from Queipo de Llano and from Mola, also head of government. He was, doubtlessly, helped to this primacy by the fact that, in late July, Hitler had decided that all of Germany's aid to the nationalists would go to Franco.
Mola had been somewhat discredited as the main planner of the attempted coup that had now degenerated into a civil war, and was strongly identified with the Carlist monarchists and not at all with the Falange, a party with Fascist leanings and connections ("phalanx", a far-right Spanish political party founded by José Antonio Primo de Rivera), nor did he have good relations with Germany; Queipo de Llano and Cabanellas had both previously rebelled against the dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera and were therefore discredited in some nationalist circles; and Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera was in prison in Alicante (he would be executed a few months later) and the desire to keep a place open for him prevented any other Falangist leader from emerging as a possible head of state. Franco's previous aloofness from politics meant that he had few active enemies in any of the factions that needed to be placated, and also he had cooperated in recent months with both Germany and Italy.
On 1 October 1936, in Burgos, Franco was publicly proclaimed as Generalísimo of the National army and Jefe del Estado (Head of State). When Mola was killed in another air accident a year later (which some believe was an assassination) (2 June 1937), no military leader was left from those who organized the conspiracy against the Republic between 1933 and 1935.
Franco personally guided military operations from this time until the end of the war. Franco himself was not a strategic genius but he was very effective at organisation, administration, logistics and diplomacy. After the failed assault on Madrid in November 1936, Franco settled on a piecemeal approach to winning the war, rather than bold maneuvering. As with his decision to relieve the garrison at Toledo, this approach has been subject of some debate; some of his decisions, such as in June 1938 when he preferred to head for Valencia instead of Catalonia, remain particularly controversial from a military viewpoint. Valencia, Castellon and Alicante saw the last Republican troops defeated by Franco.
Although both Germany and Italy provided military support to Franco, the degree of influence of both powers on his direction of the war seems to have been very limited. Nevertheless, the Italian troops, despite not being always effective, were present in most of the large operations in large numbers, while the German aircraft helped the Nationalist air force dominate the skies for most of the war.
Franco's direction of the German and Italian forces was limited, particularly in the direction of the Condor Legion, but he was by default their supreme commander, and they rarely made decisions on their own. For reasons of prestige it was decided to continue assisting Franco until the end of the war, and Italian and German troops paraded on the day of the final victory in Madrid.
The Nationalist victory could be accounted for by various factors:
- the reckless policies of the Popular Front government in the weeks prior to the war, where it ignored potential dangers and alienated the opposition, encouraging more people to join the rebellion,
- the superior military cohesion amongst the Nationalists,
- the Franco's own leadership, which helped unify the various Nationalist factions, as well as his diplomatic skill, which helped the Nationalists secure military aid from Italy and Germany and keep democracies such as Britain and France out of the war,
- the Nationalists' effective use of a smaller navy; the Nationalists acquired the most powerful ships in the Spanish fleet and maintained an effective officer corp, while the Republican sailors often liquidated their officers. They used their ships aggressively to hunt down the opposition, whilst the Republicans had a largely passive naval strategy,
- the greater foreign aid during the war, as well as more efficient use of foreign aid and effective augmentation of Nationalist forces with captured arms and soldiers from the Republicans,
- the more efficient mobilisation of economic assets,
- the Republican disunity and infighting at multiple levels,
- the destructive consequences of the revolution in the Republican zone; mobilisation was impeded, the Republican image was harmed abroad in democracies and the war against religion crystallised massive and unremitting Catholic support for the Nationalists,
- the Nationalists ability to build a larger air force and more effective use of their air force, particularly in supporting ground operations and bombing; the Nationalists also generally enjoyed air superiority from mid-1937 onwards.
The Nazis were disappointed with Franco's resistance to installing fascism. Historian James S. Corum states:
- As an ardent Nazi, [Ambassador Wilhelm] Faupel disliked Catholicism as well as the Spanish upper classes, and encouraged the working-class extremist members of the Falange to build a fascist party. Faupel devoted long audiences with Franco to convincing him of the necessity of remolding the Falange in the image of the Nazi Party. Faupel's interference in internal Spanish politics ran counter to Franco's policy of building a nationalist coalition of businessmen, monarchists and conservative Catholics, as well as Falangists.
Historian Robert H. Whealey provides more detail:
- Whereas Franco's crusade was a counterrevolution, the arrogant Faupel associated the Falange with the "revolutionary" doctrines of National Socialism. He sought to provide Spain's poor with an alternative to "Jewish internationalist Marxist-Leninism.".... The old fashioned Alfonsists and Carlists who surrounded Franco viewed the Falangists as classless troublemakers.
From 1937 to 1948 the Franco regime was a hybrid as Franco fused the ideologically incompatible national-syndicalist Falange ("Phalanx", a fascist Spanish political party founded by José Antonio Primo de Rivera) and the Carlist monarchist parties into one party under his rule, dubbed Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (FET y de las JONS), which became the only legal party in 1939. Unlike some other fascist movements, the Falangists had developed an official program in 1934, the "Twenty-Seven Points". In 1937, Franco assumed as the tentative doctrine of his regime 26 out of the original 27 points. Franco made himself jefe nacional (National Chief) of the new FET (Falange Española Tradicionalista; Traditionalist Spanish Phalanx) with a secretary, Junta Political and National Council to be named subsequently by himself. Five days later (24 April) the raised-arm salute of the Falange was made the official salute of the Nationalist regime. In 1939 the personalist style heavily predominated, with ritualistic invocations of "Franco, Franco, Franco." The Falangists' hymn, Cara al Sol, became the semi-national anthem of Franco's not-yet-established regime.
This new political formation appeased the pro-German Falangists while tempering them with the anti-German Carlists. Franco's brother-in-law Ramón Serrano Súñer, who was his main political advisor, was able to turn the various parties under Franco against each other to absorb a series of political confrontations against Franco himself. Franco expelled the original leading members of both the Carlists (Manuel Fal Condé) and the Falangists (Manuel Hedilla) to secure his political future. Franco also appeased the Carlists by exploiting the Republicans' anti-clericalism in his propaganda, in particular concerning the "Martyrs of the war". While the Republican forces presented the war as a struggle to defend the Republic against Fascism, Franco depicted himself as the defender of "Catholic Spain" against "atheist communism."
The end of the Civil War
By early 1939 only Madrid (see History of Madrid) and a few other areas remained under control of the government forces. On 27 February Chamberlain's Britain and Daladier's France officially recognised the Franco regime. On 28 March 1939, with the help of pro-Franco forces inside the city (the "fifth column" General Mola had mentioned in propaganda broadcasts in 1936), Madrid fell to the Nationalists. The next day, Valencia, which had held out under the guns of the Nationalists for close to two years, also surrendered. Victory was proclaimed on 1 April 1939, when the last of the Republican forces surrendered. On the same day, Franco placed his sword upon the altar of a church and in a vow, promised that he would never again take up his sword unless Spain itself was threatened with invasion.
Although Germany had recognised the Franco Government, Franco's policy towards Germany was extremely cautious until spectacular German victories at the beginning of the Second World War. An early indication that Franco was going to keep his distance from Germany soon proved true. A rumoured state visit by Franco to Germany did not take place and a further rumour of a visit by Goering to Spain, after he had enjoyed a cruise in the Western Mediterranean, again did not materialise. Instead Goering had to return to Berlin. This proved how right Eden was when he said "Whatever the final outcome of the strife ... the Spanish people will continue to display that proud independence, that arrogant individualism which is a characteristic of the race. There are twenty-four million reasons why Spain will never for long be dominated by the forces or controlled by the advice of any foreign power."
During the Civil War and in the aftermath, a period known as the White Terror took place. This saw mass executions of Republican and other Nationalist enemies, standing in contrast to the war-time Red Terror. Historical analysis and investigations estimate the number of executions by the Franco regime during this time to be between 100,000 and 200,000 dead:
Stanley G. Payne approximates 50,000 executions by the Republicans and at least 70,000 executions by the Nationalists during the civil war, with the victory being followed by a further 30,000 executions by the Nationalists. Recent searches conducted with parallel excavations of mass graves in Spain (in particular by the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory, ARMH) estimate the total of people executed after the civil war between 15,000 and 35,000.
Julián Casanova Ruiz, nominated in 2008 among the experts in the first judicial investigation (conducted by judge Baltasar Garzón) against the Francoist crimes, as well as historians Josep Fontana and Hugh Thomas, estimate the deaths in the White Terror to be around 150,000 in total. According to Paul Preston, 150,000 wartime civilian executions took place in the Francoist area, as well as 50,000 in the Republican area, in addition to 20,000 civilians executed by the Franco regime after the end of the war.[c] According to Helen Graham, the Spanish working classes became to the Francoist project what the Jews were to the German Volksgemeinschaft.
According to Gabriel Jackson and Antony Beevor, the number of victims of the "White Terror" (executions and hunger or illness in prisons) only between 1939 and 1943 was 200,000. Beevor "reckons Franco's ensuing 'white terror' claimed 200,000 lives. The 'red terror' had already killed 38,000." 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."
Despite the end of the war, guerrilla resistance to Franco, known as "the Maquis", occurred in the Pyrenees, carrying out sabotage and robberies against the Francoist regime. Several exiled Republicans also fought in the French resistance against the German occupation in Vichy France during World War II. In 1944, a group of republican veterans from the French resistance invaded the Val d'Aran in northwest Catalonia, but were quickly defeated. The activities of the Maquis continued well into the 1950s.
The end of the war led to hundreds of thousands of exiles, mostly to France (but also Mexico, Chile, Cuba, the United States and so on). On the other side of the Pyrenees, refugees were confined in internment camps in France, such as Camp Gurs or Camp Vernet, where 12,000 Republicans were housed in squalid conditions (mostly soldiers from the Durruti Division). The 17,000 refugees housed in Gurs were divided into four categories (Brigadists, pilots, Gudaris and ordinary 'Spaniards'). The Gudaris (Basques) and the pilots easily found local backers and jobs, and were allowed to quit the camp, but the farmers and ordinary people, who could not find relations in France, were encouraged by the French government, in agreement with the Francoist government, to return to Spain. The great majority did so and were turned over to the Francoist authorities in Irún. From there they were transferred to the Miranda de Ebro camp for "purification" according to the Law of Political Responsibilities.
After the proclamation by Marshal Philippe Pétain of the Vichy France regime, the refugees became political prisoners, and the French police attempted to round up those who had been liberated from the camp. Along with other "undesirables", they were sent to the Drancy internment camp before being deported to Nazi Germany. 5,000 Spaniards thus died in Mauthausen concentration camp. The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who had been named by the Chilean President Pedro Aguirre Cerda special consul for immigration in Paris, was given responsibility for what he called "the noblest mission I have ever undertaken": shipping more than 2,000 Spanish refugees, who had been housed by the French in squalid camps, to Chile on an old cargo ship, the Winnipeg.
World War II
In September 1939 World War II began. On 23 October 1940, Hitler and Franco met in Hendaye in France to discuss the possibility of Spain's entry on the side of the Axis. Franco's demands, including supplies of food and fuel, as well as Spanish control of Gibraltar and French North Africa, proved too much for Hitler. At the time Hitler did not want to risk damaging his relations with the new Vichy French government. (An oft-cited remark attributed to Hitler is that the German leader said that he would rather have some of his own teeth extracted than to have to personally deal further with Franco.) Franco had received important support from Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during the Spanish Civil War, and he had signed the Anti-Comintern Pact. He described Spain as part of the Axis in official documents, while offering various kinds of support to Italy and Germany. He allowed Spanish soldiers to volunteer to fight in the German Army against the USSR (the Blue Division), but forbade Spaniards to fight in the West against the democracies. Franco's common ground with Hitler was particularly weakened by Hitler's propagation of Nazi mysticism and his attempts to manipulate Christianity, which went against Franco's fervent commitment to defending Catholicism. Contributing to the disagreement was an ongoing dispute over German mining rights in Spain. Some historians argue that Franco made demands he knew Hitler would not accede to in order to stay out of the war. Other historians argue that Franco, as the leader of a destroyed and bankrupt country in chaos following a brutal three-year civil war, simply had little to offer the Axis and that the Spanish armed forces were not ready for a major war. It has also been suggested that Franco decided not to join the war after the resources he requested from Hitler in October 1940 were not forthcoming.
Yet, after the Fall of France in June 1940, Spain did adopt a pro-Axis stance (for example, German and Italian ships and U-boats were allowed to use Spanish naval facilities) before returning to a more neutral position in late 1943 when the tide of the war had turned decisively against the Axis Powers, and Italy had changed sides. Franco was initially keen to join the war before the UK was defeated. In the winter of 1940–41 Franco toyed with the idea of a "Latin Bloc" formed by Spain, Portugal, Vichy France, the Vatican and Italy, without much consequence. Franco had cautiously decided to enter the war on the Axis side in June 1940, and to prepare his people for war, an anti-British and anti-French campaign was launched in the Spanish media that demanded French Morocco, Cameroon and the return of Gibraltar. On 19 June 1940, Franco pressed along a message to Hitler saying he wanted to enter the war, but Hitler was annoyed at Franco's demand for the French colony of Cameroon, which had been German before World War I, and which Hitler was planning on taking back for Plan Z. Franco seriously considered blocking allied access to the Mediterranean Sea by invading British-controlled Gibraltar, but he abandoned the idea after learning that the plan would have likely failed due to Gibraltar being too heavily defended, and it would have given the British the grounds to declare war on Spain and thus give the UK and its allies an excellent opportunity to take both the Canary Islands and Spanish Morocco, as well as possibly invade mainland Spain itself. Franco was aware that his air force would not be able to protect Spanish cities from attacks by the British Royal Air Force, and the British Royal Navy would be able to blockade Spain to prevent imports of crucial materials such as oil. Spain depended on oil imports from the United States, which were almost certain to be cut off if Spain formally joined the Axis. Franco and Serrano Suñer held a meeting with Mussolini and Ciano in Bordighera, Italy on 12 February 1941. Mussolini affected not to be interested in Franco's help due to the defeats his forces had suffered in North Africa and the Balkans, and he even told Franco that he wished he could find any way to leave the war. When the invasion of the Soviet Union began on 22 June 1941, Franco's foreign minister Ramón Serrano Suñer immediately suggested the formation of a unit of military volunteers to join the invasion. Volunteer Spanish troops (the División Azul, or "Blue Division") fought on the Eastern Front under German command from 1941 to 1944. Some historians have argued that not all of the Blue Division were true volunteers and that Franco expended relatively small but significant resources to aid the Axis powers' battle against the Soviet Union.
Franco was initially disliked by Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, who, during World War II, suggested a joint U.S.-Latin American declaration of war on Spain in order to overthrow Franco's regime. Hitler may not have really wanted Spain to join the war, as he needed neutral harbors to import materials from countries in Latin America and elsewhere. In addition Hitler felt Spain would be a burden as it would be dependent on Germany for help. By 1941 Vichy French forces were proving their effectiveness in North Africa, reducing the need for Spanish help, and Hitler was wary about opening up a new front on the western coast of Europe as he struggled to reinforce the Italians in Greece and Yugoslavia. Franco signed a revised Anti-Comintern Pact on 25 November 1941.
After the war, the Spanish government tried to destroy all evidence of its cooperation with the Axis. In 2010 documents were discovered showing that on 13 May 1941, Franco ordered his provincial governors to compile a list of Jews while he negotiated an alliance with the Axis powers. Franco supplied Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, architect of the Nazis' Final Solution, with a list of 6,000 Jews in Spain.
Treatment of Jews
According to Anti-Semitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution (2005):
- Throughout the war, Franco rescued many Jews....Just how many Jews were saved by Franco's government during World War II is a matter of historical controversy. Franco has been credited with saving anywhere from approximately 30,000 to 60,000 Jews; most reliable estimates suggest 45,000 is a likely figure.
Spain provided visas for thousands of French Jews to transit Spain en route to Portugal to escape the Nazis. Spanish diplomats protected about 4,000 Jews living in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Austria. At least some 20,000–30,000 Jews were allowed to pass through Spain in the first half of the War. Jews who were not allowed to enter Spain, however, were sent to the Miranda de Ebro concentration camp or deported to France. In January 1943, after the German embassy in Spain told the Spanish government that it had two months to remove its Jewish citizens from Western Europe, Spain severely limited visas, and only 800 Jews were allowed to enter the country. After the war, Franco exaggerated his contribution to helping to save Jews in order to end Spain's isolation and to improve Spain's image in the world.
After the war, Franco refused to recognize Israel as a legitimate state. The regime's propaganda claimed that there was an international conspiracy of Jews, Freemasons, and Communists against Spain. Under the Francoist regime, Jews, along with other non-Catholic communities, were heavily discriminated against — in 1945, the regime enacted the "Spanish Bill of Rights" (Fuero de los Españoles), which allowed the worship of non-Catholic religions; however, worship of non-Catholic religions was only allowed in private, no signs to indicate they were places of worship were allowed, and only Catholic public ceremonies were allowed, making it a huge regression in comparison to the Republican Constitution of 1931, which granted Jews rights they had not enjoyed in Spain since their expulsion in 1492. The situation improved with the 1967 Law on Religious Freedom, but discrimination still existed and non-Catholic groups were forced to register with the regime and to provide records of their members. Freedom of religion would be completely established in Spain only in 1978, with the new Constitution of Spain, three years after Franco's death.
Spain under Franco
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Franco was recognized as the Spanish head of state by Great Britain, France and Argentina in February 1939. Already proclaimed Generalísimo of the Nationalists and Jefe del Estado (Head of State) in October 1936, he thereafter assumed the official title of "Su Excelencia el Jefe de Estado" ("His Excellency the Head of State"). He was also referred to in state and official documents as "Caudillo de España" ("the Leader of Spain"), and sometimes called "el Caudillo de la Última Cruzada y de la Hispanidad" ("the Leader of the Last Crusade and of the Hispanic heritage") and "el Caudillo de la Guerra de Liberación contra el Comunismo y sus Cómplices" ("the Leader of the War of Liberation Against Communism and Its Accomplices").
On paper, Franco had more power than any Spanish leader before or since. For the first four years after taking Madrid, he ruled almost exclusively by decree. The "Law of the Head of State," passed in August 1939, "permanently confided" all governing power to Franco; he was not required to even consult the cabinet for most legislation or decrees. According to Payne, Franco possessed far more day-to-day power than Hitler or Stalin possessed at the respective heights of their power. He noted that while Hitler and Stalin maintained rubber-stamp parliaments, this was not the case in Spain in the early years after the war–a situation that nominally made Franco's regime "the most purely arbitrary in the world."
This changed in 1942, when Franco convened a parliament known as the Cortes Españolas. It was elected in accordance with corporatist principles, and had little real power. Notably, it had no control over government spending, and the government was not responsible to it; ministers were appointed and dismissed by Franco alone.
On 26 July 1947 Franco proclaimed Spain a monarchy, but did not designate a monarch. This gesture was largely done to appease the monarchists in the Movimiento Nacional (Carlists and Alfonsists). Franco left the throne vacant until 1969, proclaiming himself as a de facto regent for life. At the same time, Franco appropriated many of the privileges of a king. He wore the uniform of a Captain General (a rank traditionally reserved for the King) and resided in El Pardo Palace. In addition he began walking under a canopy, and his portrait appeared on most Spanish coins and postage stamps. He also added "by the grace of God", a phrase usually part of the styles of monarchs, to his style.
Franco initially sought support from various groups. His administration marginalised fascist ideologues in favor of technocrats, many of whom were linked with Opus Dei, who promoted economic modernisation.
Although Franco and Spain under his rule adopted some trappings of fascism, he, and Spain under his rule, are generally not considered to be fascist; among the distinctions, fascism entails a revolutionary aim to transform society, where Franco did not seek to do so, and, to the contrary, although authoritarian, he was by nature conservative and traditional. Stanley Payne notes that very few scholars consider him to be a "core fascist". The few consistent points in Franco's long rule were above all authoritarianism, nationalism, Catholicism, anti-Freemasonry, and anti-communism.
With the end of World War II, Spain suffered from the consequences of its isolation from the international economy. Spain was excluded from the Marshall Plan, unlike other neutral countries in Europe. This situation ended in part when, in the light of Cold War tensions and of Spain's strategic location, the United States of America entered into a trade and military alliance with Franco. This historic alliance commenced with the visit of US President Dwight Eisenhower to Spain in 1953, which resulted in the Pact of Madrid. Spain was then admitted to the United Nations in 1955. American military facilities in Spain built since then include Naval Station Rota, Morón Air Base, and Torrejón Air Base.
|* Personal Standard Franco as Head of State|
* Coat of arms of Franco as Head of State
* The Victor, another emblem used by Franco
The first decade of Franco's rule following the end of the Civil War in 1939 saw continued repression and the killing of an undetermined number of political opponents. Estimation is difficult and controversial, but the total number of people who were killed during this period probably lies somewhere between 15,000 and 50,000.
By the start of the 1950s Franco's state had become less violent, but during his entire rule, non-government trade unions and all political opponents across the political spectrum, from communist and anarchist organisations to liberal democrats and Catalan or Basque separatists, were either suppressed or tightly controlled with all means, up to and including violent police repression. The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) trade unions were outlawed, and replaced in 1940 by the corporatist Sindicato Vertical. The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) were banned in 1939, while the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) went underground. The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) went into exile, and in 1959 the ETA armed group was created to wage a low-intensity war against Franco.
Franco's Spanish nationalism promoted a unitary national identity by repressing Spain's cultural diversity. Bullfighting and flamenco were promoted as national traditions while those traditions not considered "Spanish" were suppressed. Franco's view of Spanish tradition was somewhat artificial and arbitrary: while some regional traditions were suppressed, Flamenco, an Andalusian tradition, was considered part of a larger, national identity. All cultural activities were subject to censorship, and many, such as the Sardana, the national dance of Catalunya, were plainly forbidden (often in an erratic manner). This cultural policy was relaxed over time, most notably during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Franco also used language politics in an attempt to establish national homogeneity. He promoted the use of Castilian Spanish and suppressed other languages such as Catalan, Galician, and Basque. The legal usage of languages other than Castilian was forbidden. All government, notarial, legal and commercial documents were to be drawn up exclusively in Castilian and any documents written in other languages were deemed null and void. The usage of any other language was forbidden in schools, in advertising, and on road and shop signs. For unofficial use, citizens continued to speak these languages. This was the situation throughout the 1940s and to a lesser extent during the 1950s, but after 1960 the non-Castilian Spanish languages were freely spoken and written, and they reached bookshops and stages, although they never received official status.
On the other hand, the Catholic Church was upheld as the established church of the Spanish State, and it regained many of the traditional privileges which it had lost under the Republic. Civil servants had to be Catholic, and some official jobs even required a "good behavior" statement by a priest. Civil marriages which had taken place in Republican Spain were declared null and void unless they had been confirmed by the Catholic Church. Divorce was forbidden, along with contraceptives and abortion.
Most country towns and rural areas were patrolled by pairs of Guardia Civil, a military police force for civilians, which functioned as Franco's chief means of social control. Larger cities and capitals were mostly under the jurisdiction of the Policia Armada, or the grises ("greys", due to the colour of their uniforms) as they were called.
Student revolts at universities in the late 1960s and early 1970s were violently repressed by the heavily armed Policía Armada (Armed Police). Plain-clothed secret police worked inside Spanish universities.
The enforcement by public authorities of traditional Catholic values was a stated intent of the regime, mainly by using a law (the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes, Vagrancy Act) enacted by Azaña. The remaining nomads of Spain (Gitanos and Mercheros like El Lute) were especially affected. Through this law, homosexuality and prostitution were made criminal offenses in 1954.
Women in Francoist Spain
Francoism professed a devotion to the traditional role of a woman in society, that is being a loving daughter and sister to her parents and brothers, being a faithful wife to her husband, and residing with her family. Official propaganda confined the role of women to family care and motherhood. Immediately after the civil war most progressive laws passed by the Republic aimed at equality between the sexes were nullified. Women could not become judges, or testify in a trial. They could not become university professors. Their affairs and economic lives had to be managed by their fathers and husbands. Until the 1970s a woman could not have a bank account without a co-sign by her father or husband. In the 1960s and 1970s these restrictions were somewhat relaxed.
The Spanish colonial empire and decolonisation
Spain attempted to retain control of its colonial empire throughout Franco's rule. During the Algerian War (1954–62), Madrid became the base of the Organisation armée secrète (OAS), a right-wing French Army group which sought to preserve French Algeria. Despite this, Franco was forced to make some concessions. When French Morocco became independent in 1956, he surrendered Spanish Morocco to Mohammed V, retaining only a few enclaves (the Plazas de soberanía). The year after, Mohammed V invaded Spanish Sahara during the Ifni War (known as the "Forgotten War" in Spain). Only in 1975, with the Green March, did Morocco take control of all of the former Spanish territories in the Sahara.
In 1968, under pressure from the United Nations, Franco granted Spain's colony of Equatorial Guinea its independence, and the next year it ceded the exclave of Ifni to Morocco. Under Franco, Spain also pursued a campaign to force a negotiation on the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, and closed its border with that territory in 1969. The border would not be fully reopened until 1985.
The Civil War ravaged the Spanish economy. Infrastructure had been damaged, workers killed, and daily business severely hampered. For more than a decade after Franco's victory, the devastated economy recovered very slowly. Franco initially pursued a policy of autarky, cutting off almost all international trade. The policy had devastating effects, and the economy stagnated. Only black marketeers could enjoy an evident affluence.
On the brink of bankruptcy, a combination of pressure from the United States, the IMF, managed to convince the regime to adopt a free market economy. Many of the old guard in charge of the economy were replaced by "technocrata", despite some initial opposition from Franco. From the mid-1950s there was modest acceleration in economic activity after some minor reforms and a relaxation of controls. But the growth proved too much for the economy, with shortages and inflation breaking out towards the end of the 1950s.
When Franco replaced his ideological ministers with the apolitical technocrats, the regime implemented several development policies that included deep economic reforms. After a recession, growth took off from 1959, creating an economic boom that lasted until 1974, and became known as the "Spanish Miracle".
Concurrent with the absence of social reforms, and the economic power shift, a tide of mass emigration commenced to other European countries, and to a lesser extent, to South America. Emigration helped the regime in two ways. The country got rid of populations it would not have been able to keep in employment, and the emigrants supplied the country with much needed monetary remittances.
During the 1960s, the wealthy classes of Francoist Spain experienced further increases in wealth, particularly those who remained politically faithful, while a burgeoning middle class became visible as the "economic miracle" progressed. International firms established factories in Spain where salaries were low, company taxes very low, strikes forbidden and workers' health or state protections almost unheard of. State-owned firms like the car manufacturer SEAT, truck builder Pegaso and oil refiner INH, massively expanded production. Furthermore, Spain was virtually a new mass market. Spain became the second-fastest growing economy in the world between 1959 and 1973, just behind Japan. By the time of Franco's death in 1975, Spain still lagged behind most of Western Europe but the gap between its per capita GDP and that of the leading Western European countries had narrowed greatly, and the country had developed a large industrialised economy.
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Franco was reluctant to enact any form of administrative and legislative decentralisation and kept a fully centralised government with a similar administrative structure to that established by the House of Bourbon and General Miguel Primo de Rivera y Orbaneja. Such structures were based on the model of the French centralised state. The main drawback of this kind of management was that government attention and initiatives were irregular, and often depended more on the goodwill of regional government representatives than on regional needs. Thus, inequalities in schooling, health care and transport facilities among regions were patent: classically affluent regions like Madrid, Catalonia, or the Basque Country fared much better than Extremadura, Galicia or Andalusia. Some regions, like Extremadura or La Mancha did not have a university.
The Basque Country and Catalonia were among the regions that offered the strongest resistance to Franco in the Civil War. Franco dissolved the autonomy granted by the Second Spanish Republic to these two regions and to Galicia. Franco abolished the centuries-old fiscal privileges and autonomy (the fueros) of two of the three Basque provinces: Guipuzcoa and Biscay, but kept them for Álava which had sided with the nationalists in the civil war.
Franco also decided to preserve Navarre's centuries old fiscal privileges and autonomy, the so-called Fueros of Navarre. Navarre, the northern half of which was Basque-speaking, was one of Franco's areas of greatest support during the civil war. The regional privileges for Álava and Navarre were kept because they had participated in the initial coup d'état against the Republican government on 18 July 1936.
Franco abolished the official statute and recognition of the Basque, Galician, and Catalan languages that the Second Spanish Republic had granted for the first time in the history of Spain. He returned to Castilian as the only official language of the state and education. The Franco era saw the popularisation of the compulsory national educational system and the development of modern mass media, both controlled by the state and both using the Castilian language, which significantly reduced the number of speakers of Basque, Catalan and Galician, as happened during the second half of the 20th century with other European minority languages which were not officially protected, such as Scottish Gaelic or French Breton. By the 1970s the majority of the population in urban areas could not speak the minority language or, as in some Catalan towns, their social use had been abandoned, leaving them limited to family use.
Because of the already fragile situation of the Basque language before the Civil War, it became the most endangered language in Spain. By the 1970s Basque lacked a sufficient number of new speakers to assure its future, and moved closer to extinction. It is now recognised that the Basque language would have disappeared in a few more decades if the same linguistic policies had been preserved. This was the main reason that drove the Francoist provincial government of Álava to create a network of Basque medium schools (Ikastola) in 1973 which were state-financed.
Franco decided to name a monarch to succeed his regency but the simmering tensions between the Carlists and the Alfonsoists continued. In a bid to avoid a repeat of the Carlist Wars, he offered the throne to the Habsburg Archduke Otto von Habsburg; by doing so he believed that he could eliminate the question of a Bourbon succession entirely since the Habsburg family which had ruled the Habsburg Spain during its golden age had an alternate claim to the Spanish throne before the War of the Spanish Succession. Archduke Otto declined, stating that he would be seen as a German ruling Spain and could never forget his Austrian identity. In 1969 Franco nominated as his heir-apparent Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón, who had been educated by him in Spain, with the new title of Prince of Spain. This designation came as a surprise to the Carlist pretender to the throne, as well as to Juan Carlos's father, Don Juan, the Count of Barcelona, who had a superior claim to the throne, but whom Franco feared to be too liberal.
However, when Juan Carlos asked Franco if he could sit in on cabinet meetings, Franco would not permit him saying; "You would do things differently." Due to the spread of democracy excluding the Soviet block in Europe since the Second World War, Juan Carlos could or would not have been a dictator in the way Franco had been.
By 1973 Franco had surrendered the function of prime minister (Presidente del Gobierno), remaining only as head of state and commander in chief of the military.
As his final years progressed, tensions within the various factions of the Movimiento would consume Spanish political life, as varying groups jockeyed for position in an effort to win control of the country's future. The assassination of prime minister Luis Carrero Blanco in the 20 December 1973 bombing by ETA eventually gave an edge to the liberalizing faction.
Death and funeral
On 19 July 1974, the aged Franco fell ill from various health problems, and Juan Carlos took over as acting head of state. Franco soon recovered and on 2 September he resumed his duties as head of state. A year later he fell ill again, afflicted with further health issues, including a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Franco's last public appearance was on 1 October 1975 when, despite his gaunt and frail appearance, he gave a speech to crowds from the balcony at the Royal Palace of El Pardo in Madrid. On 30 October 1975 he fell into a coma and was put on life support. Franco's family agreed to disconnect the life-support machines. Officially, he died a few minutes after midnight on 20 November 1975 from heart failure, at the age of 82 — the same date as the death of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Falange. Historian Ricardo de la Cierva claimed that he had been told around 6 pm on 19 November that Franco had already died. Juan Carlos was proclaimed King two days later.
Franco's body was interred at Valle de los Caídos, a colossal memorial built by the forced labour of political prisoners in order to honour the casualties of both sides of the Spanish Civil War. The site was designated by the interim Government, assured by Prince Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Carlos Arias Navarro, as the burial place for Franco. According to his family, Franco did not want to be buried in the Valley, but in the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid. Nonetheless, the family agreed to the interim Government's request to bury him in the Valley, and has stood by the decision. This made Franco the only person interred in the Valley who did not die during the civil war.
His funeral was attended by Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet – who revered Franco and modelled his leadership style on the Spanish leader. Former US President Richard Nixon called Franco "a loyal friend and ally of the United States."
On 24 August 2018, the Government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez approved legal amendments to the Historical Memory Law stating that only those who died during the Civil War will be buried at the Valle de los Caídos, resulting in plans to exhume Franco's remains for reburial elsewhere. Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo Poyato stated that having Franco buried at the monument "shows a lack of respect ... for the victims buried there". The government gave Franco's family a 15-day deadline to decide Franco's final resting place, or else a "dignified place" will be chosen by the government.
Franco's family opposed the exhumation, and attempted to prevent it by making appeals to the Ombudsman's Office. The family expressed its wish that Franco's remains be reinterred with full military honors at the Almudena Cathedral in the centre of Madrid, the burial place he had requested before his death. The demand was rejected by the Spanish Government, which issued another 15-day deadline to choose another site. Because the family refused to choose another location, the Spanish Government ultimately chose to rebury Franco at the Mingorrubio Cemetery in El Pardo, where his wife Carmen Polo and a number of Francoist officials, most notably prime ministers Luis Carrero Blanco and Carlos Arias Navarro, are buried. His body was to be exhumed from the Valle de los Caídos on 10 June 2019, but the Supreme Court of Spain ruled that the exhumation would be delayed until the family has exhausted all possible appeals. On 24 September 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the exhumation could proceed, and the Sánchez government announced that it would move Franco's remains to the Mingorrubio cemetery as soon as possible. On 24 October 2019 his remains were moved to his wife's mausoleum which is located in the Mingorrubio Cemetery, and buried in a private ceremony. Though barred by the Spanish government from being draped in the Spanish flag, Francisco Franco's grandson, also named Francisco Franco, draped his coffin in the nationalist flag.
According to a poll by the Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, only 43% of Spanish people approved of the exhumation, with 32.5% opposed to it. The exhumation also seems to have been an opinion divided by party line with the Socialist party strongly in favor of its removal as well as the removal of his statue there. There seems to be no consensus on whether the statue should simply be moved or completely destroyed.
In Spain and abroad, the legacy of Franco remains controversial. The longevity of Franco's rule, his suppression of opposition, and the effective propaganda sustained through the years have made a detached evaluation difficult. For almost 40 years, Spaniards, and particularly children at school, were told that Divine Providence had sent Franco to save Spain from chaos, atheism, and poverty. Historian Stanley Payne described Franco as being the most significant figure to dominate Spain since Philip II, while Michael Seidman argued that Franco was the most successful counterrevolutionary leader of the 20th century.
A highly controversial figure within Spain, Franco is seen as a divisive leader. Supporters credit him for keeping Spain neutral and uninvaded in World War II. They emphasize his strong anti-communist and nationalist views, economic policies, and opposition to socialism as major factors in Spain's post-war economic success and later international integration. Abroad he had support from Winston Churchill and many American Catholics, but was strongly opposed by the Roosevelt and Truman administrations.
Conversely, critics on the left have denounced him as a tyrant responsible for thousands of deaths in years-long political repression, and have called him complicit in atrocities committed by Axis forces during World War II due to his support of Axis governments.
When he died in 1975, the major parties of the left and the right agreed to follow the "Pact of Forgetting." In order to secure the transition to democracy, they agreed not to have investigations or prosecutions dealing with the civil war or Franco. The agreement effectively lapsed after 2000, the year the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory was founded and the public debate started. In 2006, a poll indicated that almost two-thirds of Spaniards favored a "fresh investigation into the war."
The Oxford Living Dictionary uses Franco's regime as an example of fascism. Franco served as a role model for several anti-communist dictators in South America. Augusto Pinochet is known to have admired Franco. Similarly, as recently as 2006, Franco supporters in Spain have honored Pinochet.
In 2006, the BBC reported that Maciej Giertych, an MEP of the clerical-nationalist League of Polish Families, had expressed admiration for Franco, stating that the Spanish leader "guaranteed the maintenance of traditional values in Europe".
Spaniards who suffered under Franco's rule have sought to remove memorials of his regime. Most government buildings and streets that were named after Franco during his rule have been reverted to their original names. Owing to Franco's human-rights record, the Spanish government in 2007 banned all official public references to the Franco regime and began the removal of all statues, street names and memorials associated with the regime, with the last statue reportedly being removed in 2008 in the city of Santander. Churches that retain plaques commemorating Franco and the victims of his Republican opponents may lose state aid. Since 1978, the national anthem of Spain, the Marcha Real, does not include lyrics introduced by Franco. Attempts to give the national anthem new lyrics have failed due to lack of consensus.
In March 2006, the Permanent Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted a resolution "firmly" condemning the "multiple and serious violations" of human rights committed in Spain under the Francoist regime from 1939 to 1975. The resolution was at the initiative of Leo Brincat and of the historian Luis María de Puig, and was the first international official condemnation of the repression enacted by Franco's regime. The resolution also urged that historians (professional and amateur) be given access to the various archives of the Francoist regime, including those of the private Francisco Franco National Foundation (FNFF) which, along with other Francoist archives, remain inaccessible to the public as of 2006. The FNFF received various archives from the El Pardo Palace, and is alleged to have sold some of them to private individuals. Furthermore, the resolution urged the Spanish authorities to set up an underground exhibit in the Valle de los Caidos monument to explain the "terrible" conditions in which it was built. Finally, it proposed the construction of monuments to commemorate Franco's victims in Madrid and other important cities.
In Spain, a commission to "repair the dignity" and "restore the memory" of the "victims of Francoism" (Comisión para reparar la dignidad y restituir la memoria de las víctimas del franquismo) was approved in 2004, and is directed by the socialist deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega.
Recently the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARHM) initiated a systematic search for mass graves of people executed during Franco's regime, which has been supported since the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party's (PSOE) victory during the 2004 elections by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government. A Ley de la memoria histórica de España (Law on the Historical Memory of Spain) was approved on 28 July 2006, by the Council of Ministers, but it took until 31 October 2007, for the Congress of Deputies to approve an amended version as "The Bill to recognise and extend rights and to establish measures in favour of those who suffered persecution or violence during the Civil War and the Dictatorship" (in common parlance still known as Law of Historical Memory). The Senate approved the bill on 10 December 2007.
Official endeavors to preserve the historical memory of the Franco regime include exhibitions like the one the Museu d'Història de Catalunya (Museum of Catalan History) organised around the prison experience.
The accumulated wealth of Franco's family (including much real estate inherited from Franco, such as the Pazo de Meirás, the Canto del Pico in Torrelodones and the Casa Cornide in A Coruña), and its provenance, have also become matters of public discussion. Estimates of the family's wealth have ranged from 350 million to 600 million euros. While Franco was dying, the Francoist Cortes voted a large public pension for his wife Carmen Polo, which the later democratic governments kept paying. At the time of her death in 1988, Carmen Polo was receiving as a pension more than 12.5 million pesetas (four million more than the salary of Felipe González, then head of the government).
In popular media
Cinema and television
- Raza or Espíritu de una Raza (Spirit of a Race) (1941), based on a script by "Jaime de Andrade" (Franco himself), is the semi-autobiographical story of a military officer played by Alfredo Mayo.
- Franco, ese hombre (That man, Franco) (1964) is a pro-Franco documentary film directed by José Luis Sáenz de Heredia
- Franco was a running gag during the first two seasons of Saturday Night Live (1975–1977), where Weekend Update anchor Chevy Chase would frequently report that "Generalísimo Francisco Franco is still dead".
- The movie Dragon Rapide (1986) deals with the events previous to the Spanish Civil War, with the actor Juan Diego playing Franco
- Argentine actor José "Pepe" Soriano played both Franco and his double in Espérame en el cielo (Wait for Me in Heaven) (1988).
- The Goya Winner Juan Echanove played the dictator in the surrealistic movie MadreGilda (MotherGilda) (1993).
- The comic actor Xavier Deltell played Franco in the movie Operacion Gonada (Operation Gonad) (2000)
- The Swedish film Together depicts a celebration triggered by the radio announcement of Franco's death.
- Ramon Fontserè played him in ¡Buen Viaje, Excelencia! (Bon Voyage, Your Excellency!) (2003).
- Manuel Alexandre played Franco in the TV movie 20-N: Los ultimos dias de Franco (20-N: The Last Days of Franco) (2008)
- Juan Viadas played Franco in Álex de la Iglesia's movie Balada triste de trompeta (The Last Circus) (2010)
- The first-season episode "Cómo se reescribe el tiempo" of the Spanish television series El Ministerio del Tiempo (2015) sets events around Franco's October 1940 meeting with Adolf Hitler at Hendaye. Franco is portrayed by actor Pep Mirás.
- Franco is often referenced in the Spanish TV series Cuéntame cómo pasó.
- French singer-songwriter and anarchist Léo Ferré wrote "Franco la muerte", a song he recorded for his 1964 album Ferré 64. In this highly confrontational song, he directly shouts at the dictator and lavishes him with contempt. Ferré refused to sing in Spain until Franco was dead.
- Franco is a character in CJ Sansom's book Winter in Madrid
- ...Y al tercer año resucitó (...And On the Third Year He Rose Again) (1980) describes what would happen if Franco rose from the dead.
- Franco is featured in the novel Triage (1998) by Scott Anderson.
- Franco is the centrepiece of the satirical work El general Franquisimo o La muerte civil de un militar moribundo by Andalusian political cartoonist and journalist Andrés Vázquez de Sola.
- Franco features several novels by Caroline Angus Baker, including Vengeance in the Valencian Water, visiting the aftermath of the 1957 Valencia floods, and Death in the Valencian Dust, about the final executions handed down before his death in 1975.
- Dr Halliday Sutherland was invited to visit Spain for 12 weeks in 1946 as a guest of the Spanish government. He agreed on condition that he would be free to go where he liked and to talk to anyone whom he chose to meet. He wrote about his experiences in "Spanish Journey" (1948).
- Luis Carrero Blanco
- Generalísimo Francisco Franco is still dead
- History of Spain
- Language politics in Francoist Spain
- Spanish Legion
- Movimiento Nacional
- Emilio Mola
- Francoist Spain
- Ramón Serrano Súñer
- Symbols of Francoism
- Dictator#List of dictators in modern times
- His baptismal name was Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo.
- After the Spanish Government allowed Sephardi and other Jews to seek refuge via Spain from National Socialist areas, an urban legend appeared as a form of derision claiming that the Francos were of Sephardi ancestry. Payne explains; "Persistent rumors about Franco's alleged Jewish ancestry have no clear foundation, and Harry S. May, Francisco Franco: The Jewish Connection is somewhat fanciful". Furthermore, "a significant portion of the Spanish and Portuguese populations have some remote Jewish ancestry; if this were true of Franco he would simply be in the position of millions of other Spaniards."
- The 150.000 executions put the amount of killings for political reasons over more than ten times bigger than those in Nazi Germany and 1,000 times bigger than those of Fascist Italy. Reig Tapia points out that Franco signed more decrees of execution than any other previous head of State in Spain.
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|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
as President of Spain
| Head of the Spanish State
1 October 1936 – 20 November 1975
Alejandro Rodríguez de Valcárcel
as President of the Regency
| Prime Minister of Spain
30 January 1938 – 8 June 1973
Luis Carrero Blanco