Francisco Franco

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Francisco Franco : biography

4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975

Franco’s health declined during the 1960s. In 1969, he designated Prince Juan Carlos, grandson of Spain’s former king, Alfonso XIII, as his official successor. In 1973, Franco relinquished his position as premier to Luis Carrero Blanco but continued to be head of state. He finally died at the age of 82 in 1975. After Franco’s death, Juan Carlos became king and Spain began its transition to democracy. The democratic regime in Spain subsequently made the Pact of Forgetting; a political agreement between the right and the left to avoid having to deal with the legacy of Francoism in favour of national reconciliation. In 2007, the status quo was challenged by the socialist government, which sought to condemn the Francoist regime through the Historical Memory Law. The conservative opposition voted against the passage of the law. However, the government was able to pass the bill; among other measures, the law rejected the legitimacy of the Francoist regime and prohibited the use of Francoist symbols.Spiegel Online International "Landmark Law Condemns Dictatorship." 11 January 2007 After the conservatives came to power in 2011, the government closed the office dedicated to dealing with those who suffered under Francoist repression, and also withdrew the funding for the Historical Memory Law. Franco has been harshly criticized outside in Europe, where the European Parliament "firmly" condemned in a resolution unanimously adopted in 2006 the "multiple and serious violations" of human rights committed under the Francoist regime., EFE, El Mundo, 17 March 2006 Von Martyna Czarnowska, , Weiner Zeitung, 17 February 2005 (article in German language). Accessed 26 August 2006. His mausoleum in the Valley of the Fallen is subject to much controversy in Spain; there have been various attempts to remove and relocate his remains.

From the Spanish Civil War to World War II

The Spanish Civil War began in July 1936 and officially ended with Franco’s victory in April 1939, leaving 190,000Santos Juliá, coord. Víctimas de la guerra civil, Madrid, 1999, ISBN 84-8460-333-4 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 communist Russia and communist, socialists and anarchists within Spain. The United Kingdom and France strictly adhered to the arms embargo, provoking dissensions within the French Popular Front coalition led by Léon Blum, but the Republican side was nonetheless supported by the Soviet Union and volunteers fighting 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, part of a "European Civil War" lasting from 1936 to 1945 and characterized mainly as a left/right ideological conflict. However, this interpretation has not found acceptance among most historians, who consider the Spanish Civil War and 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 criticize a monolithic interpretation which overlooks the local nuances of Spanish history.

The first months

Despite Franco having no money, while the state treasury was in Madrid with the government, there was an organized economic lobby in London looking after his financial needs with Lisbon as their operational base. Eventually, he was to receive important help from his economic and diplomatic boosters abroad.

Following the 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 managed to win the support of the natives and their (nominal) authorities, and, on the other, to ensure his control over the army. This led to the summary execution of some 200 senior officers loyal to the Republic (one of them his own cousin). Also his loyal bodyguard was shot by a man known as 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 also support the Nationalists. From 20 July onward, Franco was able, with a small group of 22 mainly German Junkers Ju 52 airplanes, 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 airplanes. Negotiations were successful with the last two on 25 July and airplanes 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.