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Two parts cultural commentary, one part personal ranting. Serve with a side of political debate. May contain sarcasm.

Spanish History 101: How Spain ended up with Franco (the fun cliffnotes version)
23 September 2014 @ 15:37


Originally posted on my old, old blog , 


The post is intended to be fun, light reading to give people the basics. 


Spanish History 101: How Spain Ended Up With Franco

General Francisco Franco was the dictator of Spain between 1939 and 1975 and he was a complete badass.  














How Franco got to power

It all kicked off in 1936. There was a General Election and the left-wing party won. Spain was already pretty liberal at the time (they had votes for women, allowed divorce and that sort of thing), so when the Left won in '36 the Right were pretty pissed and thought that Spain was getting waaaay too liberal for its own good. The Right also blamed liberalness for Spain losing the last of its 'good' colonies in 1898; Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guam. 


Just after the election, José Calvo Sotelo, head of the Renovación Espanola party, (a right-wing party) and the Leader of the Opposition was assassinated by lefties. So naturally, the Right got even more pissed, so pissed in fact that they decided to lead a coup d'etat.


This coup was led by Franco, who was the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and a very traditional Conservative. He got all the right wing parties together and formed an alliance (called the Nacionalistas) and staged a coup from North Africa (which was owned by Spain at the time).


The problem with the coup was they didn't get control of any of the major cities, except Sevilla, and the lefties (now called the Republicanos) fought back hard. So the coup turned into a Civil War. Which lasted 3 years. I'll do another post about what went down during the war, but so as not to get sidetracked all I'll say is that lots of people died, it was pretty horrific and the Nationalists (Franco) won.


How Franco kept power

Now Franco was a clever little bugger. He had just won the Civil War and was already the head of the Army, so he then made himself Head of Government, Head of State and then, because he could, he made himself the king. Technically he was the "de-facto regent". Which meant he was acting out the role of the king until HE decided to name an heir to the throne.


Spain was a monarchy, and there was a lot of pressure on Franco to reinstate the throne after the war, but Franco didn't like the guy who was supposed to be king, Juan de Bourbon. He was too liberal for Franco's taste, so Franco just made himself the de-facto king, not naming the heir to the throne until he became very old and ill. Franco put his face on the coins and lived in the Pardo Palace (the Spanish equivalent of Buckingham Palace). He also took up the title "Caudillo por la gracia de Dios" (Leader by the grace of God). So Franco was practically untouchable.

And anyone who did want to touch him was killed. He made a law in 1939 saying that anyone who was associated with the Republicans would be imprisoned or killed. This law (called the Law of Political Responsibility) was so harsh that people were imprisoned for simply being related to a Republican. Needless to say, no one dared object to Franco after this. Which is why he lasted so long.


Spain and World War 2

Franco was mates with Mussolini and Hitler. They'd both helped him out in the Civil War (Germany had bombed Gernica for him; partly as a favour to Franco and partly just to test out their new bombing strategies). So when it came time for Germany and Italy to go to war a couple of months after the end of the Spanish Civil war, it was only polite that Franco should help them out. 


But he didn't. He stayed well out of it. Spain was crippled after the Civil War and would have been neither use nor ornament to the Fascists. Spain couldn't feed itself, let alone give the Nazis a hand. So Spain stayed officially neutral during WW2. A couple of Spaniards volunteered to join in on both sides, but as a whole Spain tried to keep out of it. In the end this worked out pretty well for Franco as his regime outlived his mates' by a good 30 years.


In part 2 tomorrow:  Francoist  Spain - the reality

Like 1


Hephaestus said:
23 September 2014 @ 20:43

I recall a TV program where Michael Portillo interviewed his uncle, who had been one of Franco's generals. He said that Spain was falling into a communist state with Russian named street signs planned for Madrid.

Call me old fashioned, but I much prefer a weak democracy to a strong dictatorship. Spain had a choice between a rock or a hard place in the 1930's, and opted for a civil war in order to decide which, many true democracies have also experienced similar choices.

jess869 said:
23 September 2014 @ 22:20

I don't think you can say Spain "opted" for a civil war. 30s Spain was a democracy and the people voted left. The right weren't happy with that and they staged a coup. No one wanted a civil war, it just ended up that way.

Hephaestus said:
24 September 2014 @ 08:12

If no side picks up arms it's very hard to have a war, the nazis used Spain as a training exercise for WW11, the communists used it in order to check out the nazi's capabilities, ,

Wars don't just happen, Spain was used as a testing ground for WW2, along with it being the new home to the world's idealists, irrespective of the desires of the average Spaniard.

Hephaestus said:
24 September 2014 @ 08:12

If no side picks up arms it's very hard to have a war, the nazis used Spain as a training exercise for WW11, the communists used it in order to check out the nazi's capabilities, ,

Wars don't just happen, Spain was used as a testing ground for WW2, along with it being the new home to the world's idealists, irrespective of the desires of the average Spaniard.

Raquel said:
27 September 2014 @ 10:47

Esta puede ser su opinión de que Franco fue un "badass" pero no todo el mundo estaría de acuerdo con usted. Para hacer de este trágico período de la historia no es aceptable.

jess869 said:
27 September 2014 @ 11:28

Claro que no todo el mundo no estaría de acuerdo - es un tema muy sensible pero la idea del articulo es que sea un pocito divertido, más interesante. Dije eso al principio: "The post is intended to be fun, light reading to give people the basics."

Helen Hooson said:
27 September 2014 @ 11:35

It is so easy to label the left wing government as Communists, but I am not so sure they were Communists as we in the 20th Century saw communisim They had won a democratic election and set about putting things right. The fact that they questioned the dictates of the Roman Catholic Church and that wealth was in the hands of the few did not make them hard line communists such as Stalin.
Franco however was in the same school as Stalin,a 20th century communist, and his buddies Hitler and Mussolini. They were evil men who used their powers for domination and corruption

tristam shandy said:
27 September 2014 @ 12:33

I appreciate the way a tragedy can be told as a comedy, after so many years. But if Hitler is in the cast of characters, so should be Stalin.

Hephaestus said:
27 September 2014 @ 12:57

I can't think of any true democracies that have slaughtered their own citizens, however I could name several left and right wing dictatorships that have done so. However would we have been better leaving the regimes of Iraq and Libya to their respective dictatorships?

I further suggest that as and when UK born Islamic State beheaders are arrested on UK soil, that the abortion that is the European Court, will insist that we keep them in the lap of luxury for 15 or so years. Democracy has a price, but sometimes it is not affordable.

Peter West said:
28 September 2014 @ 15:51

My friend´s great uncle was imprisoned by Franco for 20 Years ( he was Catalan. ) But my friend agrees that, however horrendous life was under Franco, it would have been even worse under the Stalinist-dominated Left.

The person who posted that the "moderate" left was democratically elected is correct. But, once the war started, the Stalinists took ove r and were just as evil as Franco. In fact, they killed many thousands of moderate leftists and Anarchists, who were on their side.

Ralph said:
29 September 2014 @ 23:08

Franco came as a result of the mess going on in Spain at that time,.. lots of anarchists, anti-system, extreme liberals, communists, and regions making uni-lateral declarations and "dancing with the socio-communists", and regions wanting to be independent, so Franco came to the rescue.. perhaps not the best way possible, but came as a "Dad putting control on his uncontrollable bad kids". Franco´s Spain did not enter the war, since the negotiation with Hitler, when he came to see him in Spain, did not go through... Franco (according to Hitler) wanted too much, as Franco wanted a great part of the south of France, and North Africa,.. the negotiation did not go through, and Hilter left the meeting in Spain, pissed off. Shortly after that the war (allies included), started; Spain was not involved by just a "hair". So, was Franco was good for Spain? It will depend on "what side" do you ask. If you ask the communists, socio-communists, extreme liberals - they will tell you Franco was horrible, ... in the same way if you ask none of this, they will tell you that Franco did a lot of great things for Spain. A lot of people say that Franco was just a servant to "clean up the mess", as he later on re-established the monarchy through King Juan Carlos, he never had the intention to be a king.

nrosullivan said:
04 October 2014 @ 22:27

Franco was not actually the leader of the military uprising in 1936.

Hephaestus said:
05 October 2014 @ 17:56

Correct, Franco took over two months later.

WW2 put a stop to ultra right and left wing leanings in the UK, many of the aristocracy were pro Hitler, and it kept the likes of the Cambridge Five from voicing their true political feelings publicly.

Is Spain a better place because of Franco? I have no idea, were there any afters from old guard republicans post his death in 1975 by the way? I reckon that Spain was 50 years behind the UK in 1936, and in so being the poor were easy targets for the left, whilst the wealthy wished to preserve what they had, so much the same as today I suspect.

Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing, EU membership makes the average Spaniard appear to be equal to the average German, which is ridiculous. This evil none elected EU state will make Franco look like a pussy cat, with the passage of time.

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