Franco in 1930
|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|
Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco Bahamonde
4 December 1892
Ferrol, Galicia, Kingdom of Spain
|Died||20 November 1975 (aged 82)|
Madrid, Kingdom of Spain
|Resting place||Valle de los Caídos, Spain|
|Political party||Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS|
|Children||María del Carmen|
|Residence||El Pardo, Madrid|
|Education||Infantry Academy of Toledo|
|Allegiance|| Kingdom of Spain (1907–1931)|
Second Spanish Republic (1931–1936)
Francoist Spain (1936–1975)
|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||Rif War (WIA)|
Revolution of 1934
Spanish Civil War
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Francisco Franco Bahamonde[a] (//; Spanish: [fɾanˈθisko ˈfɾaŋko]; 4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975) was a Spanish general and politician who ruled over Spain as a dictator under the title Caudillo from 1939, after the nationalist victory in the Spanish Civil War, until his death in 1975. This period in Spanish history is commonly known as Francoist Spain.
During the 1924–1930 dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, Franco was promoted general at age 33, the youngest in Europe. As a conservative and a monarchist, Franco opposed the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a democratic secular republic in 1931. With the 1936 elections, the conservative CEDA lost by a narrow margin, and the leftist Popular Front came to power. Intending to overthrow the republic, Franco followed other generals in launching a coup the same year, but failed to take control of most of the country and precipitated the Spanish Civil War. With the death of the other generals, Franco became his faction's only leader. Franco gained military support from various authoritarian regimes and groups, especially Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, while the Republican side included Spanish communists and anarchists, with support from the Soviet Union, Mexico and the international volunteers. In 1939, Franco won the war, which had claimed almost half a million lives. He established a military dictatorship and proclaimed himself Head of State and Government under the title Caudillo. In April 1937, Franco merged the fascist and traditionalist political parties in the rebel zone (FE de las JONS and Traditionalist Communion), as well as other conservative and monarchist elements, into a single party: the FET y de las JONS. At the same time, he outlawed all other political parties, and thus Spain became a one-party state.
Upon his rise to power, Franco implemented policies that repressed political opponents and dissenters, were as many as between 60,000 and 400,000 died through the use of forced labor and executions in the concentration camps his regime operated. During World War II, he espoused neutrality as Spain's official wartime policy, but provided military support to the Axis in numerous ways. However, scholars consider Franco as conservative and authoritarian, rather than truly fascist. Historian Stanley G. Payne states, "scarcely any of the serious historians and analysts of Franco consider the Generalissimo to have been a core fascist."
Spain was isolated by many other countries for nearly a decade after World War II. By the 1950s, the nature of his regime changed from being openly totalitarian and using severe repression to an authoritarian system with limited pluralism, and was allowed to join the UN. During the Cold War, Franco was one of the world's foremost anti-Communist figures: his regime was assisted by the West, and it was asked to join NATO. After chronic economic depression in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Franco presided over the Spanish miracle, abandoning autarky and pursuing economic liberalization, delegating authority to liberal ministers. The Francoist dictatorship kept on gradually softening over time and in 1975, Franco died at the age of 82. He restored the monarchy before his death, which made King Juan Carlos I his successor, who led the Spanish transition to democracy.
Franco was born on 4 December 1892 at 108 Calle Frutos Saavedra in 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.
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) and she was an upper middle-class Roman Catholic. His parents married in 1890. 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. Nicolás was later a naval officer and diplomat who in time married María Isabel Pascual del Pobil y Ravello. Ramón was a pioneer aviator, a Freemason with originally leftist political leanings who was killed in an air accident on a military mission in 1938. María del Pilar married Alonso Jaráiz y Jeréz.
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, graduating in July 1910 as second lieutenant (251st out of 312 cadets). 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 protracted Rif War (from 1909 to 1927) with native Moroccans. 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 and possibly lost a testicle. The physicians of the battle later concluded that his intestines were spared because he inhaled the moment he was shot. His survival marked him permanently in the eyes of the native troops as a man of baraka (good luck). He was recommended for Spain's highest honour for gallantry, the coveted Cruz Laureada de San Fernando, but instead received the 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. On 24 July 1921, the poorly commanded and overextended Spanish Army suffered a crushing defeat at Annual from Rif tribesmen 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 the couple had a daughter, María del Carmen. 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.
With the fall of the monarchy in 1931, Franco did not take any notable stand. But the closing of the Academy in June by War Minister Manuel Azaña provoked his first clash with the Spanish Republic. Azaña found Franco's farewell speech to the cadets insulting. Franco stressed in his speech the Republic's need for discipline and respect. 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 the Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy or contubernio (filthy cohabitation)—'one of Franco's favourite words': a conspiracy in which Jews, Freemasons, Communists, and other leftists alike allegedly sought the destruction of Christian Europe, with Spain the principal target.
On 5 February 1932, he 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 side result of Azaña's military reform, in January 1933, Franco was relegated from the first to the 24th in the list of brigadiers; the same year, on 17 February, he was given the military command of the Balearic Islands: a post above his rank, but Franco was still angered that he was purposely stuck in the positions he didn't want to be. Yet it was quite common for the Conservative Officers to be moved or demoted.
New elections held in October 1933 resulted in a centre-right majority. In opposition to this government, a revolutionary communist/anarchist movement broke out on 5 October 1934. This uprising was rapidly quelled in most of the country, but gained a stronghold in Asturias, with the support of the miners' unions. Franco, already General of Division and aide to the war minister, Diego Hidalgo, was put in command of the operations directed to suppress the 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 (see Asturian miners' strike of 1934) 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.
After the ruling centre-right coalition collapsed amid the Straperlo corruption scandal, new elections were scheduled. 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 left won by a narrow margin. Growing political bitterness surfaced again. The government and its supporters, the Popular Front, had launched a campaign against the Opposition whom they accused of plotting against the Republic. According to the right-wing opposition, the real enemies of the Republic were not on the Right but on the Left; Spain was in imminent danger of falling under a "Communist dictatorship", and therefore by fighting the democratically elected Popular Front, they were merely doing their duty in defence of law and order and of the freedom and the fundamental rights of the Spanish people.
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 Emilio Mola was taking shape. In June, Franco was contacted and a secret meeting was held within the forest of La Esperanza 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 assassination of the right-wing opposition leader José Calvo Sotelo by government police troops, possibly in retaliation for the murder of José Castillo, precipitated the uprising. On 17 July, one day earlier than planned, the African Army 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.
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.
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. Soviert 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 we now know 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 NVKD 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.
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 discred 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 discred 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. 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.
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The Nazis were disappointed with Franco's resistance to installing fascism. Historian James S. Corum states:
Historian Robert H. Whealey provides more detail:
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 loyalist 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."
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 and a further rumour of a visit by Goering to Spain, after he had enjoyed a cruise in the Western Merranean, 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."
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 German Volksgemeinschaft.
According to Stanley G. Payne, at least 70,000 people were executed during the civil war. 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. The 1940 ordered execution of the president of the Catalan government, Lluís Companys, was one of the most notable cases of this early suppression of opponents and dissenters. 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.
Stanley Payne approximates there were 50,000 Civil War executions by the Republicans and approximately 70,000 by the Nationalists. Payne further approximates there were 30,000 post-Civil War executions by the victorious Nationalists.
In his history of the Spanish Civil War, Antony 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 official end of the war, guerrilla resistance to Franco (known as "the maquis") was widespread in many mountainous regions, and continued well into the 1950s. 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.
The end of the war led to hundreds of thousands of exiles, mostly to France (but also Mexico, Chile, Cuba, the USA and so on.). On the other side of the Pyrenees, refugees were confined in internment camps of the French Third Republic, 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 Third Republic, 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.
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.
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 Merranean 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.
According to Anti-Semitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution (2005):
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 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 in helping to save Jews in order to end Spain's isolation and to improve Spain's image in the world.
Franco was recognized as the Spanish head of state by Great Britain and France 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 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.
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 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.
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 death of prime minister Luis Carrero Blanco in a 20 December 1973 bombing by ETA eventually gave an edge to the liberalizing faction. 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 the Spanish Civil War. His funeral was attended by Prince Rainier III of Monaco, and Chilean leader 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 is opposed to the exhumation, and has made appeals to the Ombudsman's Office to stop it. If it proceeds regardless, the family has expressed their wish that Franco's remains be reinterred with full military honors at Almudena Cathedral in the centre of Madrid. The demand was rejected by the Spanish Government, which issued another 15-day deadline to choose another site. As the family refused to choose another location, the Spanish Government ultimately chose to rebury Franco at the cemetery at El Pardo next to his wife Carmen Polo. He will be exhumed from the Valle de los Caídos on 10 June 2019.
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.
A highly controversial figure within Spain, Franco is seen as a divisive leader. Supporters cr 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 Truman Administration.
Conversely, critics on the left have denounced him as a tyrant responsible for hundreds of 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 Fundación Francisco Franco which, along with other Francoist archives, remain inaccessible to the public as of 2006. The Fundación Francisco Franco 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 Cornide Palace 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).
Although technically the Inquisition had been dismantled with the passage into law of Spain’s constitution of 1869, which abolished religious discrimination, it was not until this 1968 legislation that the regime of Francisco Franco explicitly invited Jews to come and openly practice their faith in Spain.
Franco in Spain were also Fascist
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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