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During the Spanish Civil War, Barcelona, the Republican capital of Spain, falls to the Nationalist forces of General Francisco Franco.
In 1931, King Alfonso XIII approved elections to decide the government of Spain, and voters overwhelmingly chose to abolish the monarchy in favor of a liberal republic. Alfonso subsequently went into exile, and the Second Republic, initially dominated by middle-class liberals and moderate socialists, was proclaimed. During the first five years of the republic, organized labor and leftist radicals forced widespread liberal reforms as independence-minded Spanish regions such as Catalonia and the Basque provinces achieved virtual autonomy. The landed aristocracy, the church, and a large military clique increasingly employed violence in their opposition to the Second Republic, and in July 1936, General Francisco Franco led a right-wing army revolt in Morocco, which prompted the division of Spain into two key camps: the Nationalists and the Republicans.
Franco’s Nationalist forces rapidly overran much of the Republican-controlled areas in central and northern Spain, and Catalonia became a key Republican stronghold. During 1937, Franco unified the Nationalist forces under the command of the Falange, Spain’s fascist party, while the Republicans fell under the sway of the communists. Germany and Italy aided Franco with an abundance of planes, tanks, and arms, while the Soviet Union aided the Republican side. In addition, small numbers of communists and other radicals from France, the USSR, America, and elsewhere formed the International Brigades to aid the Republican cause. The most significant contribution of these foreign units was the successful defense of Madrid until the end of the war.
In June 1938, the Nationalists drove to the Mediterranean Sea and cut the Republicans’ territory in two. Later in the year, Franco mounted a major offensive against Catalonia. In January 1939, its capital, Barcelona, was captured, and soon after the rest of Catalonia fell. With their cause all but lost, the Republicans attempted to negotiate a peace, but Franco refused. On March 28, 1939, the victorious Nationalists entered Madrid, and the bloody Spanish Civil War came to an end. Up to a million lives were lost in the conflict, the most devastating in Spanish history.
READ MORE: 7 Things You May Not Know About the Spanish Civil War
Barcelona and the Spanish civil war
I t is hard to imagine, standing at the top of La Rambla, in the multicoloured swirl of half-dressed tourists, Mexican hats and Gaudí paraphernalia, that it was here in Barcelona on 19 July 1936 that the opening shots were fired in what was to become the Spanish civil war. Harder still to picture the anarchists of the CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) union running a city that is now firmly under the thumb of dour Catalan nationalists, or to believe that what is soon to be a gigantic Apple store was once the Communist party HQ and was draped with vast portraits of Lenin and Stalin.
From that summer's day until it fell to Franco's forces on 26 January 1939, the city lived through the entire gamut of revolution, from the heady days of hope and people power through infighting, betrayal, aerial bombardment and eventual, crushing defeat. It was Barcelona's revolutionary fervour that, more than anything else, helped to inspire volunteers from across Europe and the Americas to join the International Brigades and fight for the Republican cause.
Curious, then, in a city that boasts 50 museums – among them museums dedicated variously to shoes, cannabis and erotica – that there is not one that commemorates either the triumphs or the sufferings of the civil war. This act of remembrance has been left to an Englishman, Nick Lloyd, who has been running a tour of the key sites and events of civil-war Barcelona for the past two and half years. The tours are in English and Spanish, and each lasts from two to three hours.
"The people who take the tour come from all over the world. If there's a common link, it's Orwell and anarchism. There are a lot more anarchists out there than you'd imagine," he says.
Nick, who hails from Stockport and makes a modest living from a combination of the tours and teaching, says the idea came from digging into the working-class history of the city he has called home for the past 22 years.
"I felt uncomfortable at first because it's a cliché – the Englishman talking about the civil war," he says. "I spent a long time debating whether to do the tours with Spanish people, but my Spanish friends told me not to be so stupid. Plus, I've lived here for 22 years, so when do you stop being foreign?"
I join the tour on a Friday evening along with 12 members of a local theatre company who are researching a play. Most of them are Spanish and they admit that they learned very little about the civil war at school. "Mostly just a list of dates," says one. "Your own history is the one you know least about," says another, who tells me later that the war was never discussed at home.
"It is a suffocating, hot day," Nick says as he begins to describe the events of 19 July. We are gathered on the south-east corner of Plaça Catalunya on what is also a suffocating, hot evening in July. Using the present tense is one of the ways in which Nick manages to conjure up a vision of a Barcelona wholly different from the city that fell in love with itself during the 1992 Olympics, before which it was a grey town divided between the poor in the old city and the rich up on the hill in Tibidabo.
He is describing the events of day one, at the hopeful start of the uprising. An English hen party in matching pink shrieks past as he describes the gun battles with the police and the column of CNT workers storming the barracks and seizing 30,000 weapons. He talks about the Olimpiada Popular organised in protest against the Olympic Games in Nazi Berlin. The alternative "Popular Olympics" attracted 6,000 athletes from 22 countries and were scheduled to open on the day that the uprising began.
"Imagine, the city was full of foreigners witnessing this revolution," Nick says. "About 300 stayed to fight and they were some of the first foreign volunteers, long before the International Brigades."
We move down La Rambla to the Hotel Continental, Orwell's elegant base in the city. Nearby a crowd gathers around a group of trileros (three-card conmen), one of La Rambla's modern hazards. Nick gets one of the actors to read a passage from Homage to Catalonia in Spanish. "Waiters looked you in the face and treated you as an equal," Orwell wrote. "Servile and even ceremonial forms of speech had temporarily disappeared. Tipping had been forbidden almost my first experience was receiving a lecture from a hotel manager for trying to tip a lift-boy."
Nick plays a revolutionary song on his iPad and the tour continues. I ask one of the Spaniards if she finds it strange, getting this history lesson from a Brit. "Not at all," she says. "Everyone knows that the English know more about the war than we do."
Plaça Sant Felip Neri, with shrapnel scars in the church wall.
This is partly thanks to writers such as Orwell and Laurie Lee, who fought in the civil war, along with some 2,000 Britons who served as volunteers in the International Brigades. Furthermore, until Franco's death in 1975, the only impartial accounts of the war were written by British historians.
Outside the church of Santa Maria del Pi Nick tells us that 7,000 clergy were killed by the rebels. He shows us photographs of desecrated tombs of saints and militiamen posing beside mummified relics. He doesn't romanticise the struggle or the violence. In the Plaça Sant Felip Neri he points to the pockmarked walls of the church and says that after the war the fascists spread the myth that these were the bullet holes that marked where the rebels shot priests. The truth is they are the shrapnel scars from two bombs dropped on the square by the Italian air force, killing 42 people, most of them children in a nursery school. We are now two hours into the tour, and shiny, commercial Barcelona is disappearing behind a vision of a dark and increasingly desperate place.
We return to La Rambla and the Hotel Rivoli, formerly the headquarters of the Marxist POUM party that Orwell joined. Nick explains as best he can the complex political divisions on the Republican side that led to the "May Events" in 1937, when pro-Stalinist and other forces killed hundreds of anarchists and their supporters in three days of internecine struggle, an event that profoundly shaped Orwell's views on totalitarianism and also marked the death of the Rosa de Foc, the fiery rose, as anarchist-run Barcelona was known.
The last stop of the tour is the Bar Llibertària, a co-op owned by CNT members in Raval whose walls are a celebration of Catalan anarchism, with original posters and photos as well as newspaper clippings from the Spanish civil war. Sergio, who runs the bar, insists that anarchism has never gone away. He says that Catalunya's particular brand of libertarian anarchism is alive and well in the indignado movement that has risen up in the past year, especially in Barcelona, in response to unemployment, corruption and growing social inequality.
"What happened in Barcelona in 1936 was completely different from what happened in the rest of Spain," Sergio says. "Catalans talk about the fet diferencial, the thing that makes them different from the Spanish. But it's not botifarra sausages or the Catalan language that sets them apart – it's anarchism. That's the real difference."
Marks Of Identity — Juan Goytisolo
Originally banned by the Franco regime, Goytisolo’s Marks Of Identity is one of the best books by a man often described as Spain’s greatest writer and harshest critic. It deals with its protagonist Álvaro’s return to Barcelona in 1963 from a self-imposed exile in France. Disgusted at what he finds, Álvaro begins looking back at his own childhood, remembers his harsh Catholic upbringing and becomes drawn to Muslim culture as a result. The book is a powerful exploration of the rifts of Spanish society in the quarter century following the war, through the life of an individual torn between his home country, exile and haunted by his family history.
Franco Took Decades to Leave the World Stage. His Statue? Only Days.
BARCELONA, Spain — The offending statue was pelted with eggs. It was splashed with paint. It was variously decorated with Catalan separatist flags, a blowup doll and a pig’s head. Finally, vandals knocked it over late last Thursday, forcing the authorities to remove its broken remains early the next day.
Gen. Francisco Franco may have ruled Spain for almost four decades, but an equestrian statue of the dictator — headless from an earlier act of vandalism — that went up at a Barcelona cultural center recently lasted just a few days.
The furious reaction to the piece, part of a contentious exhibition about Franco’s legacy that opened on Oct. 17, shows Spain’s continuing struggle with how to confront its dictatorial past. That is especially true here, at ground zero of the secessionist movement that is pushing for the region of Catalonia to break away from the rest of Spain.
“The Germans are very clear about Nazism and where it now belongs, but we’ve never really tried to come to terms with our dictatorship,” said Bru Rovira, a Catalan journalist. “So we then have a dispute anytime anybody says or shows anything to do with Franco.”
The exhibition, called “Franco, Victory, Republic, Impunity and Urban Space,” drew ire not only over its content, but also because of its location in front of a museum devoted to the history of Catalonia’s autonomy struggle, seen as an affront by some secessionist politicians here. The regional government of Catalonia wants to hold an independence referendum by September, despite stiff opposition from the central government in Madrid as well as Spanish courts.
Separatist parties hold a majority within the Catalan regional Parliament, but they lost control last year of Barcelona City Hall to a far-left party led by Ada Colau, a former street activist. As mayor, Ms. Colau has stayed on the fence in the Catalan independence dispute.
“Can you imagine German politicians deciding to show Hitler statues next to the Jewish Museum in Berlin?” asked Olga Amargant, a lawyer who campaigned to stop Barcelona City Hall from staging the exhibition.
The petition presented by Ms. Amargant and others to Ms. Colau denounced the “public exhibition of a murderer” like Franco, in front of a cultural center that claims to stand as “the main symbol of resistance, struggle and suffering of the Catalan nation.”
Franco’s equestrian statue was commissioned in 1963 by Barcelona’s mayor for a military museum that was inaugurated by Franco in Montjuïc Castle, which overlooks the city.
The statue remained in a courtyard of the castle even after Franco died in 1975, until it was moved to a municipal warehouse in 2008. Five years later, the statue was mysteriously beheaded while in storage.
One morning last week, camera crews and some tourists were taking stock of the vandalism that had befallen the statue.
“Whatever it’s about, it’s looking pretty ugly,” said Peter Mayer, a German visitor, as he also examined splotches of red paint on the ground that looked like blood stains.Image
Even though the main statues of Franco have been removed from Spain’s cities, there are still several disputes over the renaming of streets and the erasing of other symbols of Franco’s dictatorship. Those disputes have intensified since last year, when left-wing parties won municipal elections and took charge of Spain’s three largest cities — Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.
Franco’s legacy is also the subject of lawsuits. In May, a court for the first time allowed relatives of two executed brothers to try to exhume their remains from the crypt of the Valley of the Fallen, the giant mausoleum and basilica that Franco built near Madrid using prisoners as forced labor, and in which he himself was eventually buried.
Spain’s return to democracy included a 1977 law of amnesty for crimes committed during the civil war and the ensuing dictatorship. (Franco rose to power during the civil war, ruling over Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975.)
In Barcelona, however, Ms. Colau is also scrutinizing the officialdom of the Franco government. This month, her administration briefly removed an inscription from a statue within Barcelona City Hall that was dedicated to Juan Antonio Samaranch, the former president of the International Olympic Committee. However, opposition parties eventually forced Ms. Colau to restore the mention on the statue.
Mr. Samaranch was widely credited with bringing the Summer Games to Barcelona in 1992, helping transform the city into Spain’s main tourism hub. But he had been an official in the Franco government.
“I can’t stop anybody who looks into my father’s past and interprets his career one way or another,” said Juan Antonio Samaranch, a financier who has followed in his father’s footsteps to become vice president of the International Olympic Committee. “There are people who find him marvelous and others who find him bad or not respectable.”
Some Catalan separatists said that though they would have wanted the Franco statue exhibited elsewhere, they welcomed the opportunity to consider how Catalonia has evolved since the dictatorship and what further changes should be made.
“I walked past the statue, looked at Franco without his head, saw the large Catalan flag flying behind him, and it felt good to think that, while Franco is no longer, we are very much here,” said Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira, a former separatist politician who now serves as chairman of the department of social diversity at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.
Yet some major symbols of Franco’s regime survive even within independence-minded Catalonia. In May, residents of Tortosa, in southern Catalonia, voted to keep a giant Franco monument that stands in the middle of the river that crosses the city and was inaugurated by Franco to mark the 25th anniversary of his victory in the Battle of the Ebro, one of the bloodiest in the civil war.
Residents voted to keep the monument because it “forms part of our skyline, but it is also there to explain both the war and the dictatorship, because the war is what then justifies a dictatorship,” said Ferran Bel, the pro-independence mayor of Tortosa. As a result of the vote, “I have been accused of being a fascist mayor and all sorts of other stupidities,” Mr. Bel said.
Barcelona’s Franco exhibition was not intended to pay homage to his dictatorship, but rather to recall the convoluted history of the city’s public artwork during his regime. It is also meant to show the difficulties in “banishing the Franco regime” from places like Montjuïc Castle, even decades after Franco died.
The exhibition also denounces lawsuits filed against modern artists who have criticized Franco. One of the exhibits is a bust of Franco that was initially part of a Franco statue put inside a Coca-Cola fridge, which was shown to some criticism during an art fair in Madrid in 2012.
In L’Hospitalet, a city next to Barcelona, a bust of Franco stands in its history museum. “I don’t really understand the protests” over the exhibition and Franco’s equestrian statue, said Rosa Maria Muga, a culture official in the City Hall there.
“Whether we like it or not, Franco is part of our past,” she added, “so I don’t see how any effort to explain our history can ever be bad.”
Franco captures Barcelona - HISTORY
Though Catalonia has formed part of Spain for nearly 300 years, Catalans only grudgingly admit the fact. Current relations with distant Madrid are as good as I can remember. However, Jose Maria Aznar, who was Spanish President until 2004, was a different matter altogether. During his presidency, continual snipes at the Catalans including a proposal to impose the Spanish humanities and languages syllabus in Catalan schools and a ludicrous plan to divert the River Ebro south before it reached Catalonia brought back the ghost of Franco in many people’s minds. The Principality has suffered too many periods of repression at the hands of the Spanish for the Catalans to ever completely trust Madrid.
Catalonia’s independent streak is also justified by more than 2,000 years of history. When the Romans came to the peninsula, more than 200 years before Christ, they divided their newly-conquered territory into two Hispania Citerior, which roughly corresponded to modern Catalonia, and Hispania Ulterior, the rest of the peninsula. Tarraco, present-day Tarragona, was the capital of Roman Hispania and when Emperor Augustus made the city his home in 26 BC, it was briefly the capital of the whole of the Roman Empire.
In 711, the Moors crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and swept through the Iberian Peninsula. They captured Barcelona in 717 and then crossed the Pyrenees and went as far as Poitiers before being checked by the Franks. In desperation the inhabitants of what was to become Catalonia turned to Charlemagne, the powerful Frankish leader for help in return for pledging allegiance to the Carolingian Empire. Girona was retaken in 785 and Barcelona in 801, and the province of the Spanish March, a buffer zone between Christian France and Muslim Hispania, was born.
The Spanish March was governed by local counts, who had political and judicial functions but were ultimately responsible to the Frankish king and were appointed and could be dismissed by him. The most powerful of these counts was Guifre el Pelós who managed to unite the counties of Urgell, Cerdanya, Girona and Barcelona, and so controlled a swathe of land that stretched from Barcelona to Perpignan along the coast and inland to the Pyrenees. It was Guifre’s son, Guifre Borrell, who became the first hereditary ruler of Catalunya Vella, Old Catalonia. The next step on the road to nationhood came in 985 when the Moors, under Al-Mansour, managed to cross the River Llobregat and sack Barcelona. Having received no military support from the Franks, Count Borrell II declared independence, and although not recognised by the Franks until 1258, an independent state called Catalonia was born.
The next two centuries were spent consolidating their territory and pushing the Moors south towards the Ebro, and in 1137 Count Ramon Berenguer IV married Petronella, the infant daughter of the King of Aragon. His son, Alfons I, became the ruler of the most powerful state in Southern Europe, the Catalan-Aragonese Confederation, which consisted of Catalonia, Aragon and the whole of the south of France. With considerable help from the Knights Templar, the Moorish threat became a thing of the past.
Under Jaume I the Conqueror (1213-1276) the Catalans sought to drive the Moors out of the Mediterranean completely. During his reign, Catalonia conquered Mallorca in 1229, Ibiza in 1235 and Valencia in 1238. Furthermore, aware of the need for dialogue between the sovereign and his subjects, he instituted the Corts, a consultative body in which the three classes of the nobility, the clergy and the urban bourgeoisie were represented. Over the next century Mediterranean expansion continued with the conquest of Sicily, Sardinia and Southern Greece, including Athens, and the democratic processes were increased with the founding of the Diputació del General, initially a tax collecting body which was later to become the Generalitat, the government of Catalonia.
Just when Catalonia’s Golden Age was at its height, disaster struck the House of Barcelona. In 1410, Martí the Humane died without heir and Fernando de Antequera, second son of Juan I of Castile, was elected king of the Catalan-Aragonese Confederation. As Castilians, he and his successors had little knowledge of Catalonia’s rule by consensus. They rarely visited their kingdom and imposed Castilian legislators who managed to incite the people so much that civil war broke out during the reign of the tellingly named Joan II Without Faith. Things got even worse when Fernando II, who had married Isabel of Castile in 1469, acceded to the Catalan-Aragonese throne. He immediately introduced the Inquisition, expelled the Jews causing an economic crisis, insisted that his subjects proved they had no Arab blood, and even though, after discovering America, Columbus had sailed into the port of Barcelona, Fernando and Isabel prohibited Catalonia from trading with the Americas.
Spaniards claim that the reign of the Catholic Kings marks the beginning of Spain as a nation. However, although from the reign of Carlos I onwards the Catalan-Aragonese Confederation was ruled by the same monarch as Spain, technically it was still an independent state with its own laws, and when it traded with the rest of the peninsula customs taxes were levied.
During the reign of Felipe IV, the monarch came under the influence of the autocratic Count-Duke Olivares, who when war broke out with France in 1635 demanded a disproportionate contribution of money and men. Since, according to her constitution, Catalonia should only pay those taxes which had been approved by her own government, the answer was a firm no. So, determined to bring his rebellious subjects into line, Olivares launched a campaign into France across the Pyrenees from Catalan territory in which 10,000 men who had been recruited against their will were slaughtered. Not satisfied with this sacrifice, he then billeted Castilian troops in Catalonia, who, in the true spirit of friendship, raped and robbed the locals. The situation came to a head in 1640 when the reapers, who gathered in Barcelona to work on the harvest, revolted, burned down government buildings and murdered Felipe IV’s Viceroy. The destructive 19-year Guerra dels Segadors, the three-way Reapers’ War involving Castilian, French and Catalan troops ensued, and in the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, Felipe IV ceded all Catalonia’s French territories to the French Crown. Medieval Catalonia had ceased to exist.
Things went from bad to worse when Felipe IV’s son, the half-wit Carlos II, died without heir in 1700. There were two pretenders the Bourbon, Philippe de Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV, and the Habsburg Archduke Charles of Austria. Castile favoured the former while Catalonia the latter and, after allying with England and Holland, who feared a French-Spanish axis, welcomed him to Barcelona as Carles III of Catalonia-Aragon in 1705. The war of Spanish Succession broke out, and just when all seemed to be going well, the Archduke’s brother died and Carles was called back to Vienna to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. To the English and Dutch a united Austria and Spain was as unpleasant a prospect as a French-Spanish axis, so they pulled out of the alliance leaving Catalonia alone to face 200,000 Franco-Spanish troops.
The Catalans held out well considering the odds against them, but on 11th September 1714 Barcelona finally fell after a long siege, and Felipe V’s retribution was devastating. The Generalitat and the Council of One Hundred were disbanded, Catalonia’s ancient rights and privileges were abolished and speaking, reading or writing in Catalan became an imprisonable offence. All of Catalonia’s universities were closed and replaced by the heavily-censored government-controlled University of Cervera. The Ciutadella, a huge fort, was built in Barcelona along with new city walls, which were designed not to keep invaders out but to keep the people in. Catalonia had ceased to exist and the Catalans had become the lost nation.
Although Catalonia’s great literary tradition would be completely lost for the next century, the Catalans never stopped speaking their own language, which simply went underground and was spoken in secret, and being a canny lot, their economy was soon on its feet again. Now officially part of Spain, the Castilians could no longer excise customs taxes on Catalan products, and Catalan cotton, leather and wine, in particular, began to flood the Spanish market. Aware of the Catalans manufacturing skills, Carlos III allowed the Principality to trade with the Americas in 1778, just in time for Catalonia to take advantage of the Industrial Revolution. The economic boom was so successful that, with its cotton and textile industry at the forefront, Barcelona became known as the ‘Manchester of the Mediterranean’.
Economic success brought increasing confidence and by the early decades of the 19th century, the Catalan language came out of hiding and began to be spoken in public again. The turning point came in 1833, however, when Bonaventura Carles Aribau, who funnily enough was working for a bank in Madrid, published ‘Oda a la PÁ tria’, a poem that spoke of the homesickness he felt for his homeland. Although of dubious literary quality, the poem was written in Catalan and was so popular in Catalonia that it soon sparked a flood of imitators. These imitations slowly developed into a fully-fledged literary movement known the RenaixenÁ§a, and by the mid 19th century Catalan poetry, prose and theatre were in as good a state as they had been 150 years earlier. The booming economy and literary Renaissance also brought the first rumblings of a new Catalan political consciousness. Catalans began to believe that they were every bit as good as the Castilian.
It was in Castile that the next step on Catalonia’s road to political recovery would be taken. Tired of centuries of absolutist misrule, which for most Spaniards resulted in abject poverty, many began to see Catalonia as an example to be followed, so when the First Spanish Republic was declared in 1873, it was not surprising that the first two Presidents of the Cortes in Madrid were Catalan. Although the short-lived republic only lasted a year, this brief period of freedom of expression allowed politicians from other Spanish regions, such as Galicia and the Basque Country, to consider the idea of federalism. These ideas did not disappear with the restoration of the monarchy, and as the century reached its close, a young Prat de la Riba formed the bourgeois Catalanist party, the Lliga Regionalista.
By 1906, the Lliga Regionalista had gained the support of Republicans, Socialists and Carlists as a respectable bourgeois group that could strengthen the cause against Monarchists and against the workers and their anarchist fringe. In 1914, Madrid decided to grant Catalonia some concessions, and the Mancomunitat, with Prat de la Riba as President, was set up. Although it was early days to re-establish the Generalitat, the Mancomunitat of Catalonia was a regional administrative body financed by local taxes, with its seat in the Palau de Generalitat in Barcelona.
The early decades of the 20th century were far from peaceful. The plight of industrial workers and the disaffected poor in Barcelona was taken up by the Anarchists and left-wing Trades Unions with often violent consequences such as the Setmana Tragica, the Tragic Week, of 1909, during which the streets of Barcelona exploded into street fighting and church burning. The whole of Spain was divided between Republicans and Monarchists, but at least Catalonia had gained a modicum of autonomy.
When Miguel Primo de Rivera staged a military coup in 1923 and installed himself as dictator of Spain, disbanding the Mancomunitat and illegalising the Catalan language once again, the divisions in Spanish society were deeply drawn. Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship lasted until 1930, and after a brief return of the monarchy, the 1931 General Election returned Spain’s ill-fated Second Republic. The stage was set for civil war.
With support from Madrid and the working classes in Catalonia, Francesc MaciÁ , the President of the Generalitat, declared the Federal Republic of Catalonia on August 2nd 1931. Two years later a General Election returned a right-wing government in Madrid, which disbanded the Generalitat and called on General Franco to violently put down a miners’ strike in Asturias. On October 6th 1934, the left-wing lawyer Lluís Companys declared the Autonomous State of Catalonia and he and his government were imprisoned. The Spanish General Election of February 1936 was won by the Popular Front, a left-wing coalition, and in Catalonia Esquerra Republicana, the Catalan Republican Left, won a landslide victory, even though its leaders were still in prison. Two weeks later, they were released and Spain’s President Azaña reinstated the Generalitat and the 1932 Statute of Autonomy. On July 18th 1936, General Franco and four other chiefs of staff launched a military coup against the democratically elected Spanish Government. The Spanish Civil War had begun.
In Catalonia, the armed uprising against the Republic was rapidly suppressed by workers’ militias and the Civil Guard, who remained loyal to the Generalitat. There was a lot of infighting amongst loyalist troops, and the Communists finally ousted the Anarchists as the main political and military force in Catalonia. Early in the war, the Spanish Government fled Madrid, first to Valencia and then to Barcelona, so the Catalan capital was effectively capital of Spain for a brief while. Things finally came to a head in the autumn of 1938 when the Catalans stood alone at the Battle of the Ebro against the Nationalist troops, who were aided by their Fascist allies, Italy and Germany. After months of fighting and many deaths, the Fascists swept across the Ebro and Barcelona soon fell. The Spanish Civil war officially ended on March 28th 1939 and on April Fools’ Day of the same year, Franco declared ‘peace’ in Spain.
The Generalísimo was particularly anti-Catalan, and as soon he was in power, he imprisoned, tortured and executed thousands. President Lluís Companys was captured by the Nazis in France, returned to Hitler’s allies in Spain and duly executed on Montjuic in 1940. Catalonia suffered a period of political, linguistic and cultural repression, which remains the shame of the 20th century.
By the 1950s, though, illegal Catalanist groups began to take their first tentative steps towards organising an underground resistance. By the 60s, Abbot Escarré of Montserrat, who as a religious leader was under the protection of the Vatican, began to stand up to Franco, and act as a focus for moderate Catalans. In 1974, the clandestine Assemblea de Catalunya, in preparation for Franco’s death, came out into the open under the slogan ‘Liberty, Amnesty, Statute of Autonomy’.
When Franco died on November 23rd 1975, all sections of Catalan society were ready to take control of their destiny again. On September 11th 1976, the Catalan National Day, a million and a half people took to the streets. In 1977, President-in-exile, Josep Tarradellas, came back to lead the restored Generalitat, and a new Statute of Autonomy was passed a year later. On March 20th 1980, the democratically-elected Catalan Parliament formally opened under the Presidency of Jordi Pujol, leader of the Catalan conservative party, ConvergÁ¨ncia i Unió.
El Gran President, Pujol, led Catalonia from dictatorship to democracy, while the Socialist Mayor of Barcelona, Pasqual Maragall, set about repairing the damage done to the Catalan capital. In 1985, Barcelona won the nomination for the 1992 Olympic Games and, in the run up, the city was covered with the slogan ‘Barcelona, Posa’t Guapa’ – ‘Barcelona, Make Yourself Beautiful’. The Olympics were an incredible success and were seen by all Spaniards as an example that the New Spain should follow.
In 2003, Pujol retired and Maragall took his place as President. With the Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as President of Spain, there was a government in Madrid sympathetic to Catalonia, and a new Statute of Autonomy was passed in 2005. This allowed the Catalans to describe themselves as a ‘nation within the Spanish state’ for the first time in nearly 300 years, and with another socialist, Jose Montilla, elected president in 2006, the future looks bright, The Lost Nation has found itself once again.
Capture or agreement? Why Spanish banking was regulated under the Franco regime, 1939–75 1
2 Gowland , D. , The Regulation of Financial Markets in the 1990s ( Worcester , 1990 )Google Scholar , or Balternsperger , E. and Dermine , J. , ‘ Banking deregulation in Europe ’, Economic Policy , 4 ( 1987 ).Google Scholar
3 Dowd , K. , Laissez-faire Banking ( London/New York , 1993 ), p. 303 .Google Scholar
4 In markets with imperfect information, when the public doubts a bank's solvency, many raise their estimate of the probability that other banks will also fail. As Balternsperger explains, runs occur because a cooperative solution among depositors cannot be enforced. Collectively, depositors have no incentive to run but, individually, each will try to be the first to collect deposits at their full value. See Balternsperger , E. , ‘The economic theory of banking regulation’, in Furubotn , E. G. and Richter , R. (eds), The Economics and Law of Banking Regulation ( Saarbrücken , 1990 ), p. 5 .Google Scholar
5 This idea of ‘regulatory capture’ is associated especially with Downs , A. , An Economic Theory of Democracy ( New York , 1957 )Google Scholar and Stigler , G. J. , ‘ A theory of oligopoly ’, Journal of Political Economy , 72 ( 1964 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar and idem, ‘ The economic theory of regulation ’, Bell Journal of Economics , 2 ( 1971 ).Google Scholar
6 Peltzman , S. , ‘ Toward a more general theory of regulation ’, Journal of Law and Economics , 19 ( 1976 ), p. 213 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar
7 Sáez de Ibarra , L. , La regulación de la banca en España ( Consejo Superior Bancario, Madrid , 1954 )Google Scholar or Eguilaz , H. Paris , ‘ El problema de la reforma bancaria en Espa˜a ’, Anales de Economía , 26 ( 1947 ).Google Scholar
8 de Ibarra , Sáaez , La regulation de la banca, p. 23 .Google Scholar
9 This institution's main function was to advise the Minister of Finance. The President of the Supreme Banking Council was Director of the General Directorate of Banks and Stock Exchanges and the Vice-President was the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Spain. It comprised one representative of each public bank, ten for the private banks and two for the Sindicato Nacional de Banca γ Bolsa.
10 Bank of Spain Archives [hereafter BoS]: Actas del Banco de España (Secretaría), 1947, file 2785.
11 Lukauskas affirms that the decision to close the banking sector to new entities was politically motivated. The Franco government restricted competition, believing it a necessary condition to assure political stability: Lukauskas , A. , The political economy of financial deregulation: the case of Spain, dissertation ( University of Pennsylvania , 1992 ), pp. 177 –8.Google Scholar
12 Alhadeff , D. A. , Competition and Controls in Banking, a Study of the Regulation of Bank Competition in Italy, France and England ( Los Angeles , 1968 ), p. 189 .Google Scholar
13 Ibid. pp. 189–90 or Collins , M. , Money and Banking in the UK: A History ( London , 1990 ), p. 111 .Google Scholar
15 There is no agreement about the existence of scale economies in the banking sector, and when the scale diseconomies appear. See Revel , J. , Mergers and the Role of Large Banks ( Institute of European Finance , Research Monographs in Banking and Finance, 2 , 1985 )Google Scholar or Lawrence , C. , ‘ Banking costs: generalized functional forms and estimations of economies of scale and scope ’, Journal of Money , Credit and Banking, 21 ( 1989 ).Google Scholar
16 In 1965, Banco Central and Banco Hispanoamericano tried to merge, but the Finance Ministry opposed it and in fact fixed a tax to be paid on the merger that was confiscatory. See Ruiz , J. L. García and Tortella , G. , Divergent, parallel and convergent trajectories: the history of the Hispanoamericano and the Banco Central, 1901–1965, paper presented to Colloquium of the European Association for Banking History ( Zurich , 1993 ), p. 30 .Google Scholar
17 Ministry of Finance, Memorandum del Ministerio de Hacienda sobre el Sistema Bancario γ Creditido e Informes sobre el mismo de los siguientes organismos: Banco de España, Consejo Superior Bancario, Organización Sindical, Instituto de Estndios Políticos, Cámaras de Comercio, Industrie γ Navcgación, CECA γ Consejo de Economía National (1961).
18 Report of the Chambers of Commerce ( 1961 ), p. 4 Google Scholar and Report of the Supreme Banking Council ( 1961 ), p. 29 .Google Scholar
19 Report of the Trade Unions ( 1961 ), p. 5 Google Scholar and Report of the Institute of Political Studies ( 1961 ), p. 8 .Google Scholar
20 Report of the Chambers of Commerce ( 1961 ), p. 4 Google Scholar and Report of the Supreme Banking Council ( 1961 ), p. 23 .Google Scholar
History is Written By the Victors
It seems that the story that I’d been told had it’s origins in propaganda published after the war. Franco’s regime attributed the pockmarked walls of the church to anarchist firing squads who had supposedly executed priests in the square. Over the years, the story has been turned around so that Franco’s troops became the executioners.
In 2007 Barcelona City Council installed a bronze plaque with a simple inscription
In memory of the victims of the bombardment of Sant Felip Neri.
Here died 42 people – the majority children – due to the actions of Franco’s airforce on the 30th of January 1938.
Sant Felip Neri Square, Barcelona
Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, Barcelona
How to get there
The plaza is near to Barcelona Cathedral at the end of Carrer de Montjuïc del Bisbe.
The nearest metro stations are Jaume I on the yellow line (L4) and Liceu on the green line (L3)
A Barcelona Fan’s Exploration of Francisco Franco’s Fascist Real Madrid
It is one of those lays which mimic an original version, adding to it their own pinch of popular sentiment along with sheer mockery of the initial edition they draw from.
The sentiment is one of democratic resurgence over an era of fascism in Spain where things of this nature have oft been carried out under the conduit of a sport.
Football, unsurprisingly takes the centre stage in this narrative. It will again come as no surprise that the song which introduces this history has a lot to do with a football club called Real Madrid. In fact, it happens to be a parody of the club’s own Hala Madrid song, and was initially sung among the anti-Madridistas with a passion much deeper than that displayed by those who have chanted the verses of the original version along the stands of the Bernabéu.
Hala Madrid, Hala Madrid, el equipo del gobierno y la vergüenza del país!
When translated to English, the verse reads something like this:
Hail Madrid, the team of the government and the embarrassment of Spain!
The team of the government.
The embarrassment of Spain.
The phrases somehow sink in, compelling one to think how such political hostility and cynicism could be so explicitly directed towards a football club. Well, ask a Catalan or go seek out a Basque to answer your query. They will tell you about a dictator-general by the name of Francisco Franco who once ruled all of Spain and who, along with his bunch of fascist cronies, landed punches, blows and gunfire upon the ideas of democracy and cultural diversity. They will then go on to mention how the fascist brute of a general tamed the all-white wearing, all-winning football club from the Spanish capital and how even after the much celebrated demise of the dictator and therefore his regime, the said club would go on to wave his fascist flag with its own touch of aristocratic pretension.
The Catalans and the Basques may not have a morsel of sympathy for their footballing rivals who tread the turf at the Bernabéu – a noteworthy detail for someone seeking an unbiased opinion on the political accusations Real Madrid are burdened with – but I’ll allow myself a moment of unearthing herein certain narratives which will hopefully throw light upon the unfortunate prejudice which revolves around the club in the anti-Madrid lobby.
To clarify, my sympathies towards Real Madrid are not those of an admirer, owing to the simple fact that I am a Blaugrana faithful. In fact, my emotions are not of sympathy at all, falling more along the lines of whispered disappointment, which when screamed out loud, sound somewhat like an encouragement: Come on! You should have done better than that! And I believe that when Franco came marching up in Spain, Real Madrid could have indeed done better.
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother
– King Henry V in Shakespeare’s Henry V
In the Spanish Civil War, the city of Madrid, like Barcelona, had taken arms to defend the democratic foundations of Spain’s Republican government. From over the centre of the nation to where the beaches of Barcelona dissolve into the Mediterranean Sea, a cause united the two cities, like a band of brothers to be remembered for ages.
When resistance in both Madrid and Barcelona was conquered by the fascist troops, Franco declared that the war had ended and established the foundation of his regime all over Spain. It was at this point that Madrid transformed from a city of rebels to that of Franco’s stooges, guilty of burying into oblivion it’s own democratic connections to the Republican cause. This is where the earliest signs of a blemish began to appear, which even Real Madrid’s all-white garments have been unable to conceal in totality.
So before we continue this reunion
Let us stand to our glorious dead.
– from the Reunion Version of the song ‘Jarama Valley’
It all began with the authorities at Real Madrid’s offices completely ignoring certain characters in their history, who during the Civil War had been instrumental figures on the Republican front. Something of this nature is likely to compel even the neutral observer to draw comparisons between the all-whites and their more politically expressive rivals – the Azulgranas. Once that occurs, the contrast is quite stark.
The wartime president of FC Barcelona, Josep Sunyol, who was arrested and murdered by Francoist troops during the early days of the Spanish Civil War, has had the privilege of having been honoured as the club’s ‘martyr president’ and is still remembered by the Blaugrana faithful. In that, Barça – as a people’s club – have bravely stood to their glorious dead.
The Generalisimo addresses a rally in Eibar
When the war was well over, a tragedy similar to the one which claimed Sunyol’s life is said to have befallen another football club president.Only this time, the outfit in question was Real Madrid.
If one were to visit Real Madrid’s official website and look for the list of the club’s commanders-in-chief, one would eventually come across the name of Rafael Sànchez-Guerra, President, 1935-36. The description that follows eulogises his period as president for being ‘brief but fruitful’ and appears to commiserate with Señor Sánchez-Guerra’s inability to build a new stadium for the club due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
What it doesn’t tell you is that Rafael Sánchez-Guerra was a Republican supporter who refused to escape from a city which had fallen well under Franco’s control. Neither will it mention the tortures which Señor President was subjected to once Franco’s cronies got their hands on him.
Thankfully, the fascists didn’t murder Sánchez-Guerra right away, and the Republican president managed to sneak away to Paris. However, the club’s vice- president, Gonzalo Aguirre and the treasurer, Valero Rivera weren’t as lucky as Sanchez-Guerra, and were murdered by the fascists after being arrested.
There’s another name which the club has seemingly cast into obscurity for reasons best known to the ones responsible for the snub. Antonio Ortega, a colonel in the leftist militias who fought against Franco is somewhat of a faintly written about character in the official records of Real Madrid, which mention him as acting president of the club on behalf of Sánchez-Guerra between 1937 and ‘38.
It is the other historical records which do more justice to Ortega than those of the club itself, by labelling him as a significant character in the defence of Madrid. However, despite being one of the club’s most prominent members who was arrested and murdered by Franco’s troops, Ortega joins the ranks of the glorious dead for which the club never stood in solidarity.
This is merely the beginning of the club’s bad behaviour which allowed them to slip into Franco’s grips with relative ease. However, when one looks beyond the war years, things become clearer. For then, one directly comes across Francisco Franco himself and, of course, the devil’s advocate – Santiago Bernabéu.
For many, Real Madrid still bring back the memories of the Franco years when phrases like ‘Franco’s pet team’ were quite popular among the oppressed population. The dictator, however, was not the keenest football fan one is likely to encounter in Spain. The oppressive measures of the Generalísimo may have accounted for Real’s lack of fearsome rivals from Catalonia and the Basque country, but besides that it was Franco himself who was having quite a party owing to Real Madrid’s domestic as well as European success.
What was more dangerous was the fact that Franco knew where the feast was coming from. Through the triumphs of Madrid across European competitions, the Generalísimo projected an image of Spain that was far from reality. A nation recovering from the nightmares of a civil war was being put across as a land of champions. In Franco’s quest for power, everything else was merely a means to an end. Real Madrid, Football Club Barcelona, both mere instruments of the dictator’s larger scheme.
However, it was the Catalan club which stood firm upon its values while Real Madrid fell for Franco’s subtle plots. Bathing in triumphalism they allowed themselves to be puppeteered by the rules of fascism, drifting ever apart from the cause for which their city had once fought in unison with the rest of Spain, like a brother gone astray. They could not have dared to have expressed any political sentiments as explicitly as the Catalans and the Basques did for perhaps the fear of losing the orchestrator of their unstoppable success, Santiago Bernabéu.
A forward for Real Madrid before the Civil War a soldier in Franco’s Nationalistas army during the War and the club’s president after it, Bernabéu knew how to mould football in a manner that would suit Franco’s scheme of things. In doing so, Bernabéu got himself the services of a bunch of Spain’s most influential people who together were to change the story of European football by roping in an Argentine by the name of Alfredo Di Stéfano to play for the Blancos.
As if playing by Franco’s rules wasn’t disgrace enough, Bernabéu and his men fanned the air of hatred brewing between Barcelona and Madrid by using the Generalísimo’s favouritism to steal Di Stéfano from the awnings of Camp Nou. It seems that the Catalan club had already sealed a deal with River Plate, the Argentine’s legal employers at the time, and had even seen him feature for them in a couple of friendlies. But Franco’s power, channeled through the plots hatched by Bernabéu and his rich sidekicks, did the talking, and with the intervention of the Spanish football federation, which strangely imposed bans on foreign players in Spanish clubs just as Barcelona were gearing up to launch Di Stéfano, the Argentine found himself packing his bags to leave for Madrid.
The rest as they say is history.
(L-R): Karl Wolff, Heinrich Himmler, Francisco Franco, Serrano Suner
In the archives of the European Cup, the years between 1955 and 1960 were to bear an all-white sheen across the pages they would cover as Di Stéfano, toiling at the Blancos’ helm, would steer the club’s prow to five consecutive wins in the competition. Their domestic exploits would see them go on to claim eight Primera División titles between 1953 and 1964, including the club’s famous run of four consecutive title wins between 1960 and 1964.
And now that we are on it, it can be said that the developments which marked the beginning of Real Madrid’s relentless success seemed to have stemmed from Franco’s powers and from adhering to the legacy of notorious bosses.
Di Stéfano was a part of that legacy a gift stolen from Real Madrid’s Catalan rivals by sheer power of the Generalísimo’s regime and – of course – with thoughtful planning on the part of Bernabéu and his money-hoarding friends. Moreover, he was the vital cog in the machinery of Franco’s regime, which through his exploits on the field was churning out the dictator’s vision of a strictly centralised Spain, one beautiful goal at a time. Franco knew that, but Bernabéu had known that ever since the day he had set his eyes on the man from Argentina whose every move on the field got Real Madrid closer to dominance and the enemies of Franco further away from hope.
Di Stéfano’s heroics on the field have overshadowed the conspiracy that led to his arrival in Madrid. But several other incidents which occurred around football during Franco’s years are less obscure and remain undeterred by the expansion of the white army.
Francisco Franco’s legacy involves turning Real Madrid from one of the strongest Spanish sides in Europe to the strongest side through suppression of their Basque and Catalan rivals. With Franco announcing himself as the overlord of Spain, Real Madrid’s most powerful rivals from the country’s hotbeds of revolution were constantly being held in a fascist stranglehold.
The Copa del Generalísimo semi-final of 1943 between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona is evidence enough for how Franco’s shackles smothered a football club overbrimming with promises and with the hopes of an oppressed population. In the first leg of the tie, played at Barça’s former home ground Les Corts, the Catalan giants had overcome their rivals with a 3-0 advantage. The second leg, which was contested in Madrid was to narrate a different story altogether as the hosts beat Barça with an astonishing scoreline of 11-1. As it turned out, Franco’s director of state security had decided to pay a visit to the Barcelona changing room at half time to proclaim ‘the generosity of the regime’ which had given them allowance to even play a game of football.
With a dictator’s ‘threat’ hanging over them amidst a home crowd that looked ready to pounce upon the Catalans at any instant, no wonder Real Madrid exploited Barcelona’s situation to downright humiliation.
However, with time Franco was to learn a thing or two about football in Spain. In the years that followed, the devil would occasionally allow his victims a glimmer of hope by not meddling with the flow of wins the Catalans would be picking up.
But not just for the fun of it.
Franco understood that a certain amount of rivalry had to be essentially kept alive to keep the population occupied with football. In doing so, the Generalísimo pulled the most sublime of his tricks. He led the whole of Spain into believing that Real Madrid were the flag-bearers of his regime while the Blaugrana, plying their trade amidst oppression were the revolutionary heroes making bold statements on the pitch and expressing themselves through beautiful football. And while the Catalans’ bravery was gradually falling more along the lines of futility, it was Real Madrid’s sycophancy which did enough to help the cause.
Nevertheless, brilliant football was never a part of the dirty scheme. One has to give that to the Blancos. Narrowing down every successful campaign to Franco’s favouritism would mean being disrespectful to the generations of extraordinary footballers who have donned the all-white garments of the club.
But even then, one like me must not get carried away. Besides all the political murk which indeed is at the heart of the classic rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, I wonder how things would have been had Real Madrid, like Barca and Athletic Bilbao, dared to stick a finger up at Franco’s face. There perhaps would have been another outfit playing puppet to the devil’s scheme, for whom the rebels would have sung parodies and composed mockeries to be hurled from the revolutionary stands of their stadia.
Perhaps Athletic Bilbao, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid could have formed a holy trinity to irk the fascists right under Franco’s nose. However, as reality narrates it, just the Basques and the Catalans dared to have the temerity to stand against the oppressor. The third brother gave in to the authority that came with the title of El Regime team.
For this waywardness, one really didn’t have much choice but to croon a parting note to the black sheep of the family. And had I been there at that time and that place to watch Real Madrid join Franco’s bandwagon, I too would have sung, partly in mourning and partly as a warning the famous Jarama Valley song:
You will never find peace with these fascists
you will never find friends such as we
Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde – now simply remembered as Franco by most, although still Generalissimo or Caudillo (leader) by others. Even now, more than 35 years after his death, his name still provokes a fierce reaction. After many years of el pacto del olvido- the pact of forgetting – Spain is coming to terms with the legacy of the civil war. This has resulted in statues of Franco and his supporters being taken down – even in his home town of El Ferrol in Galicia – and streets being renamed all over the country. But there are still many, and not all of them in the military or elderly, for whom the age of Franco is looked upon, if not as a golden age, then at least as a time when, in some ways, life was more straightforward.
Francisco Franco was born in December, 1892 and, although his father was a naval man, he joined the Infantry Academy at Toldeo in 1907. As a lieutenant he was commissioned to Morocco in 1912 as part of the effort to win the Rif Wars with the native Moroccans. He soon gained a reputation for being an astute officer and was regularly promoted through the ranks becoming at one stage the youngest major in the Spanish army. By 1923, the year of his marriage, he was a lieutenant colonel in the Spanish Foreign Legion. King Alfonso XIII, incidentally, was the best man at the wedding.
After being made the youngest general in 1926, Franco was subsequently given responsibility for the newly formed Military Academy in Zaragoza, a position he kept until its closure in 1931, which brought him into conflict with the newly established Second Republic. Franco found himself relegated from first in the list of military brigadiers to 24th and posted to the Balearic Islands but he came to prominence again in October, 1934 when, with the right wing government back in power, he was largely responsible for suppressing an insurgency in Asturias in which between 1,200 and 2,000 people were killed. This established Franco clearly as an ‘enemy’ of the left in Spain and when a left wing coalition regained power in February, 1936, he found himself sent to the Canary Islands in the position of military commander but with very few troops at his disposal. When Emilio Mola began trying to organize a military coup he held a secret meeting with Franco in La Esperanza Forest in Tenerife where a commemorative obelisk can still be seen at Las Raices. In villages in the centre of Gran Canaria and Tenerife, there are still cafés with large framed photographs of the Generalissimo on the walls – usually situated next to one of the Pope.
Upon deciding to join the rebels Franco was put in command of the Army of Africa. A De Havlland 89 was chartered from England to transport him to Morocco on July 19th, 1936 the Spanish Civil War had begun.
After the war, Franco was totally merciless in his attitude to his former enemies and an estimated 100,000 were killed or died in prison whilst many other opponents fled the country. Although, in 1947, Franco proclaimed Spain to be a monarchy, he did not designate a monarch. Instead he made himself regent wearing the uniform of captain general traditionally worn by the king and living in El Pardo Palace. His image appeared on coins and he was the commander of the army as well as leader of the only political party, the National Movement. The army provided most of the ministers for the government and the Catholic Church became powerful by being given control over most secondary schools. In addition, church weddings were made compulsory and divorces illegal. Spanish Nationalism was promoted fervently, at the complete expense of any cultural diversity. Bullfighting and flamenco were considered ‘national traditions’ and the languages of Catalan, Galician and Basque were forbidden in schools, advertising, on road or shop signs or in any publication. The chief means of social control, apart from the army, were the members of the Guardia Civil which acted as a military police for civilians.
Probably the most comprehensive biography of Franco was written by the British historian Paul Preston who has also had a book published in Spain with the translated title of Franco the Great Manipulator, which illustrates comprehensively how Franco was able to maintain his authority for so long. During the Second World War, for example, Franco was to keep a position that, at its most charitable, could be described as ‘ambiguous’ – keeping favour with Hitler but also allowing Jewish refugees from France and other countries to enter Spain as a safe haven. Historian Richard Bassett has claimed that Churchill paid Franco large sums of money in order to remain neutral, indeed, Britain and France acknowledged him to be head of state in February, 1939 – before the finish of the war.
Despite this support the United Nations remained very anti-Franco, sponsoring a trade boycott in the 1940s, which led to Spain’s ‘years of hunger’ – but then, in 1953, he negotiated with the USA to allow them to have four large bases in Spain as part of their anti-communism campaign in return for substantial sums in aid – and pressure on the United Nations to admit Spain, which it did in 1955. By the end of the 1950s the highly successful Stabilisation Plan, largely the product of members of the catholic group Opus Dei, was beginning to have an impact and during the first few years of the 1960s tourism began to really develop along the Costa del Sol and Costa Brava.
In 1969, with the jails still full of political prisoners and Franco personally signing all death warrants, Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón was officially pronounced as successor to the throne, who then took an allegiance of loyalty to the National Movement and Franco himself.
Franco died on November, 1975, having given a final speech warning of a ‘Judaeo – Masonic – Marxist’ conspiracy movement at work in Spain. The decision was made to bury Generalísimo in a colossal memorial at Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos known as the Basilica of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen, which was the site of the tallest memorial cross in the world (152 metres) and was a notable Nationalist monument. The fact that many political prisoners were made to carry out the construction of the Basilica, fourteen of whom died in the process, only added to its symbolism. In 2007, political rallies in celebration of the former dictator, often greatly attended and controversial events, were forbidden and the organisers were made to be much more ‘neutral’ in their presentations about the civil war.
Within two days of Franco’s death, Juan Carlos I took the throne and, with the help of former Franco aide Adolfo Suárez, the new, two-chamber parliamentary system, the reformation of political parties and trade unions, the development of a new constitution and the liberation of personal and social lives quickly began.