JR'S Free Thought Pages
“It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” – Delores Ibarruri (fiery female Socialist orator during the Spanish Civil War)
The Spanish Civil War: A new book by Paul Preston
Paul Preston, M.A., D.Phil. (Oxford). Director of the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science. Comendador de la Orden de Mérito Civil, Spain, 1986; FBA, 1994; CBE, 2000; Premi Internacional 'Ramon Llull, 2005; Gran Cruz de la Orden de Isabel la Católica, 2007. Books: The Coming of the Spanish Civil War, 2nd ed. (Routledge 1994); The Triumph of Democracy in Spain (Methuen 1986); The Politics of Revenge (Unwin Hyman 1990); Franco (HarperCollins 1993); ¡Comrades! Portraits from the Spanish Civil War (HarperCollins 1999); Doves of War (HarperCollins 2002); Juan Carlos (HarperCollins 2004); The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revenge, Revolution (HarperCollins 2006); We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War (forthcoming 2008, Constable- Robinson).
The War: A brief Primer
No modern war has inspired the idealism and
horror of civilians, soldiers and scholars alike as much as the Spanish Civil
War of 1936-1939.
In July 1936, the Fascist Generals Franco and Mola revolted against the centre-left Spanish government which had been elected earlier the same year. Their intention, supported by virtually the entire Spanish rightwing, was to overthrow the government and replace it with a rightwing, and highly authoritarian, Catholic dictatorship. Democracy had never been fully accepted by Spanish conservatives and now they were prepared to destroy it through force and bloodshed. This sort of event is not mere history but in fact resonates through the years to the present; we can see parallels in the US-backed military and paramilitary attacks on democratic governments in Chile and Nicaragua.
The Nationalists, or supporters of Franco’s coup, did not win easily, and the civil war extended over almost three years. The Fascists got support from four main sources:
In addition, the formally "neutral" policies of the British, French and American capitalist governments were in practice to the advantage of the Fascists. Paul Preston tells us: "The pro-Nazi president of Texaco oil company, Thorkild Rieber, for instance, risked six million dollars by supplying the fascist Nationalists with a substantial proportion of their oil needs on credit. He was penalized with a small fine." Today, of course, oil corporations continue to be at the heart of western imperialism and western business backing for dictatorships (such as Shell’s support for Nigerian bloodshed). Other aid to the Fascists came from such companies as Standard Oil of New Jersey; Ford; Studebaker; and General Motors. The Fascists spent at least $10 million on US oil alone. (Ford, of course, was run by Henry Ford, the widely respected capitalist who was also a Nazi sympathizer.)
On 31st March 1939, the Fascists finally won victory, and the Pope greeted their success with "great delight". The following day, Franco announced: "Today, with the Red Army captive and disarmed, our victorious troops have achieved their final military objectives. The war is over." But the war against the Spanish people was not over. It had only just begun. Franco’s regime - a brutal, authoritarian military dictatorship which had come to power with the enthusiastic backing of big business, world fascism and the Catholic Church - remained in power until Franco’s death in 1975. As late as the year of his death, executions of anti-fascists continued. Democracy was not restored to Spain until 1977, and within five years, the Socialist Party had won power in a free election. Before that glorious day, the Spanish people had to suffer under a fascist regime that was glorified by the US government as "anticommunist"; an authoritarian dictatorship that US propagandists referred to as part of "the free world".
I just finished another great account of the war by Paul Preston called The Spanish Civil War: Reaction Revolution and Revenge (2006). In his full-blooded account, re-written and published to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War, internationally acclaimed Spanish historian Paul Preston vividly captures the entire conflict - from its historical origins, to individual tales of hardship to sweeping analysis of the international policy of 'non-intervention' by the democratic Western Powers which doomed Spain to the mercy of the viciousness of fascist powers. Preston's insightful and authoritative prose makes this the definitive account of this pivotal twentieth century conflict.
Quotes from Paul Preston’s The Spanish Civil War: Reaction Revolution and Revenge (2006):
….In Granada, the working-class district of the Albaicfn was shelled and bombed. When control of the city centre was assured, the military authorities allowed the Falangist 'Black Squad' to sow panic among the population by taking leftists from their homes at night and shooting them in the cemetery. In the course of the war, about five thousand civilians were shot in Granada. The caretaker of the cemetery went mad and was committed to an asylum. One of the most celebrated victims of rightist terror, not just in Granada but in all Spain, was the poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Years later, the Francoists were to claim that Lorca had died because of an apolitical private feud related to his homosexuality. In fact, Lorca was anything but apolitical. In ultra-reactionary Granada, his sexuality had given him a sense of apartness which had grown into a sympathy for those on the margins of respectable society. In 1934, he had declared, 'I will always be on the side of those who have nothing.' His itinerant theatre La Barraca was inspired by a sense of social missionary zeal. Lorca regularly signed anti-Fascist manifestos and was connected with organizations such as International Red Aid.
In Granada itself he was closely linked with the moderate left. His views were well known and it would not have escaped the notice of the town's oligarchs that he considered the Catholic conquest of Moorish Granada in 1492 to have been a disaster. Flouting a central tenet of Spanish right-wing thinking, Lorca believed that the conquest had destroyed a unique civilization and created 'a wasteland populated by the worst bourgeoise in Spain today’. When rightists hunting for “reds” began to look for him, he took refuge in the home of his friend the Falangist poet Luis Rosales. It was there that he was arrested by the sinister Ramon Ruiz Alonso, a prominent member of the local CEDA who had hitched his cart to the Falange. Having been denounced as a Russian spy by Ruiz Alonso, V Federico Garcia Lorca was shot at dawn on 19 August 1936. The cowardly murder of a great poet was, however, like that of the loyal General Campins, merely a drop in an ocean of political slaughter.
In the provinces of Seville and Cordoba, many landowners supported the rising and joined mixed columns made up of soldiers, Civil Guards, Carlist requetes and Falangists. Some financed the columns or supplied them with horses and men. They played a prominent role in choosing the victims to be executed in the conquered villages. After the suppression of the working-class districts of Seville, a Carlist column organized by a retired major, Luis Redondo Garcia, carried out operations against towns in the south-east of the province. Other columns were organized by wealthy volunteers with access to vehicles and weapons. A typical example was that led by Ramon de Carranza, the man imposed by Queipo de Llano as Alcalde of Seville. It was no coincidence that in many localities of the province conquered by his column there were substantial landholdings of the families of Carranza and other wealthy members of the column. After the capture of each town, Carranza established new right-wing town councils (ayuntami-entos) and transported large numbers of prisoners to Seville for execution.
On 27 July, Carranza's column reached one such town, Rociana in Huelva, where the left had taken over in response to news of the military coup. There had been no right-wing casualties, but the premises of the landowners' association (Asociacion Patronal) and two clubs had been destroyed, twenty-seven sheep had been stolen and the parish church and rectory had been burned, although the parish priest, Father Martinez Laorden, had been saved by local Socialists and given refuge in the house of the mayor. On 28 July, after Carranza's arrival, the parish priest made a speech from the balcony of the town hall: 'You all no doubt believe that, because I am a priest, I have come with words of forgiveness and repentance. Not at all. War against all of them until the last trace has been eliminated.' A large number of men and women were arrested. The women had their heads shaved and one was dragged around the town by a donkey before being murdered. Over the next three months, sixty people were shot. In January 1937, Father Martinez Laorden made an official complaint that the repression had been altogether too lenient.
The scale of terror and repression in those areas which had been easily won by the rebels made it clear that their objective was not simply to take over the state but to exterminate an entire liberal and reforming culture. The rebels were waging war on the urban and rural workers who had benefited from the reforms of the Republic, on the officials, the mayors and parliamentary deputies who were regarded as the instruments of reform and on the teachers and intellectuals seen as responsible for spreading the poison of new ideas. The extent to which this was a war of old against new was summed up by General Mola's apocalyptic, and somewhat premature, declaration in Burgos: 'The government which was the wretched bastard of liberal and Socialist concubinage is dead, killed by our valiant army. Spain, the true Spain, has laid the dragon low, and now it lies, writhing on its belly and biting the dust. I am now going to take up my position at the head of the troops and it will not be long before two banners - the sacred emblem of the Cross and our own glorious flag - are waving together in Madrid.' (pp. 107-109)
… Franco's Army of Africa advanced northwards to Madrid, commanded in the field by Colonel Juan Yagiie, the hardened veteran of the Moroccan wars and the most influential military supporter of the Falange. Heading out of Seville, the African army took village after village leaving a horrific trail of slaughter in its wake. In one town after another, the occupying troops raped working-class women and looted their houses. Moorish soldiers and Legionaries selling radios, clocks, watches, jewellery and even items of furniture became a common sight along the way. On August 10, Yagiie's forces reached Merida, an old Roman town near Caceres, which had fallen at the beginning of the rising. Thus, the two halves of Nationalist Spain were joined. Yague's troops then turned back to capture Badajoz, the capital of Extremadura, near the Portuguese border. The decision to do so was Franco's and it delayed the advance of his African columns. Even though still in the hands of the Republic, Badajoz could not threaten Yague's troops from the rear and could have been picked off at the rebels' leisure. Franco was being cautious, consolidating the unification of the two segments of the rebel zone. After heavy artillery and bombing, the walls were breached and a savage repression began during which nearly two thousand people, including many innocent civilians, were shot. The streets ran with blood and the piles of corpses provided a sight of what the Portuguese journalist Mario Neves called 'desolation and dread'. Yague's men were sending a message to the citizens of Madrid as to what they could expect if they did not surrender before the arrival of the African columns.
The Legionarios and Regulares, and the Falangists who had accompanied them unleashed yet another orgy of looting in shops and houses, most of which belonged to the very rightists who were being 'liberated'. Yet again, anything portable -jewellery and watches, radios and typewriters, clothing and bales of cloth - was carried off through streets strewn with corpses and drenched with blood. Jay Allen, an American journalist writing for the Chicago Tribune, arrived shortly afterwards. He saw Falangist patrols stop workmen in the streets and check if they had fought to defend the city by ripping open their shirts in order to see if their shoulders bore the telltale bruises of recoiling rifles. Those whose did were carted off to the bullring where Allen saw files of men, arms raised in the air, being brought in: 'At four o'clock in the morning they are turned out into the ring through the gate by which the initial parade of the bullfight enters. There machine guns await them. After the first night the blood was supposed to be palm deep on the far side of the lane. I don't doubt it. Eighteen hundred men - there were women, too - were mowed down there in some twelve hours. There is more blood than you would think in 1800 bodies.'
Although the massacre was also witnessed by French and Portuguese journalists, it was fiercely denied by the Nationalist press service. Speakers in the United States were paid to denigrate Jay Allen. Colonel Yagiie, however, laughed at such denials. He told another American journalist accompanying the Nationalist army, John T. Whitaker of the New York Herald Tribune, 'Of course we shot them. What do you expect? Was I supposed to take 4000 reds with me as my column advanced, racing against time? Was I supposed to turn them loose in my rear and let them make Badajoz red again?' Bodies were left for days in the streets to terrorize the population. (pp. 120-21)
On 18 September, faced with the prospect of being driven into Nationalist hands, the trade union and political leaders among them organized the refugees into columns to undertake a desperate forced march towards Republican lines. It was decided to divide this wretched human mass into two groups. The first contingent consisted of approximately two thousand people, the second of six thousand. The first had a dozen men armed with rifles and about one hundred with shotguns, the second about twice as many. These exiguous forces had to protect two lengthy columns of horses, mules and other domestic animals and carts containing whatever possessions the refugees had managed to grab from their homes before taking flight. Alongside walked young children, women - with babes in arms, others pregnant - and many old people.
Moving at different speeds, the groups spread out. Most successfully crossed the road from Seville to Merida and some made it to Castuera in the Republican zone. However, the bulk of the refugees moved slowly, throwing up dust clouds which made it easy for rebel reconnaissance aircraft to pinpoint their position. The headquarters in Seville of General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, the rebel commander in the south, were fully informed of the movements, the civilian composition of the columns and their sparse armament. Nevertheless, preparations were made to attack them as if they were well-equipped military units. They walked into an elaborate ambush. Machine guns were placed on the hills overlooking their route and, when the refugees were within range the rebels opened fire. Large numbers of refugees were killed during the fighting; more than two thousand were taken prisoner and transported to Llerena. Many hundreds scattered into the surrounding countryside. Families were separated, some never to meet again. Some wandered in the unfamiliar territory for weeks, only to be killed or captured by search parties of Civil Guard and mounted Falangists. A few made it through to the Republican zone. In Llerena, where the prisoners were held, a massacre took place, with prisoners machine-gunned in the bullring.
The terror which surrounded the advance of the Moors and the Legionnaires was one of the Nationalists' greatest weapons in the drive on Madrid. It explains why Franco's troops were initially so much more successful than those of Mola. The scratch Republican militia would fight desperately as long as they enjoyed the cover of buildings or trees, but even the rumored threat of being outflanked by the Moors would send them fleeing, abandoning their weapons as they ran. An advance was now begun up the valley of the Tagus towards Toledo and Madrid. The last town of importance in their way, Talavera de la Reina, fell on 2 September. John Whitaker recalled later, 'I never passed a night in Talavera without being awakened at dawn by the volleys of the firing squads. There seemed no end to the killing. They were shooting as many at the end of the second month as in my first days there. They averaged perhaps thirty a day. They were simple peasants and workers. It was sufficient to have carried a trade union card, to have been a free-mason, to have voted for the Republic.' (pp. 122-23)
On 21 September 1936, Yagile's army captured the town of Santa Olalla on the road to Madrid. John Whitaker was appalled by the mass execution of six hundred captured militiamen which took place in the main street of Santa Olalla: 'They were unloaded and herded together. They had the listless, exhausted, beaten look of troops who can no longer stand out against the pounding of German bombs.' As they clustered together, Moorish troops set up two machine guns and, firing short lazy bursts, mowed down the prisoners. (p. 124)
On the following day, the African columns entered the city and were able to liberate their besieged comrades. A bloodbath ensued. While it took place, the press was prevented from entering the city. What they saw, when they were allowed in on 29 September, shocked them deeply. John Whitaker reported, 'The men who commanded them never denied that the Moors killed the wounded in the Republican hospital housed in the hospice of San Juan Bautista on the outskirts of Toledo. They boasted of how grenades were thrown in among two hundred screaming and helpless men.' Whitaker was referring to the Tavera Hospital, housed in the hospice of San Juan Bautista on the outskirts of Toledo. Webb Miller of the United Press also reported on what happened there, claiming that one hundred men were shot where they lay. At the maternity hospital, more than twenty pregnant women were forced from their beds, loaded onto a truck and taken to the municipal cemetery where they were shot. The hostages had already been shot. Webb Miller reported seeing the beheaded corpses oimilicianos in the streets. Father Risco describes men and women committing suicide to avoid capture by the African columns. Those who were taken in the house-to-house searches, he commented, 'had to die'. They were rounded up and taken to the various town squares where they were shot in groups of twenty or thirty. The nearly eight hundred people shot were buried in a mass common grave in the infamous lot 42 of the municipal cemetery…
In contrast to the joy in Nationalist ranks, the situation for the Republic looked bleak. San Sebastian had surrendered on 13 September because the Basques did not want to risk the destruction of their elegant city. Colonel Varela continued his march into Andalusia, advancing eastwards from Seville. It was an offensive of little military importance but one which clearly underlined the socio-economic motives of the Nationalist war effort. The Nationalist army was accompanied by the sons of latifundistas who had formed volunteer cavalry units. Throughout August, defended only by peasants armed with pitchforks, shotguns and old blunderbusses, village after village fell. Swarms of terrified refugees clutching their few possessions fled before the looting Moorish mercenaries and Carlist requetes. Cruel acts of revenge against the braceros who had collectivized the land were then often supervised by the very landowners who had fled in the spring. In the small town of Lora del Rio in the province of Seville, where the only victim of the left had been the particularly despotic cacique, the Nationalists shot three hundred citizens as a reprisal. In nearby Palma del Rio in the neighboring province of Cordoba, Civil Guards and Falangists smashed down doors and drove out those villagers who had not managed to flee. Under the supervision of the local cacique, they were lined up and he marched along the lines picking out those who were to be shot in the atonement for the killing of his bulls. More than two hundred were herded into the estate yard and machine-gunned down. Elsewhere, the prisoners underwent a rudimentary trial and were shot for crimes such as failing to go to mass, reading Rousseau and Kant, criticizing Hitler and Mussolini or admiring Roosevelt.
On 16 September, Varela's troops captured Ronda in the province of Malaga. Mola's forces were heading towards Madrid once again, and on 7 October the Army of Africa resumed its northward march. Supplies of arms had been collected and they were augmented by the arrival of Italian artillery and armoured cars. Already the Nationalists occupied most towns within fifteen miles of Madrid, so the capital was inundated with refugees and had major problems of food and water distribution. Now the militia columns were also falling back on Madrid in total disarray. Franco had announced to newspaper correspondents that he would take the capital on 20 October. Nationalist radio stations broadcast the news that Mola was preparing to enter Madrid's Puerta del Sol on a white horse. He even offered to meet the Daily Express correspondent there for coffee and wags set up a table to await him. Telegrams addressed to Franco congratulating him on his victory were piling up at the Telefonica building. There seemed little hope for Madrid. Then, on 15 October, the first arms began to arrive from the Soviet Union. The Kremlin's initial reluctance to help the Republic had given way to a determination that Germany and Italy should not be allowed to use Spain to alter the European balance of power. There would now be no easy victory for the Nationalists. (pp. 132-34)
To a large extent the reaction of foreign powers dictated both the course and the outcome of the Civil War. That was hardly surprising since the Spanish conflict was only the latest and fiercest battle in a European civil war which had been raging intermittently for the previous twenty years. The Russian Revolution of October 1917 had provided a dream and an aspiration for the left throughout Europe. Ever since, the right in Europe had been trying both internationally and domestically to build barriers against both real and perceived revolutionary threats. The savage repression of revolution in Germany and Hungary after the First World War, the destruction of the left in Italy by Mussolini, the establishment of dictatorships in Spain and Portugal and even the defeat of the General Strike in Great Britain had been part of this process. The crushing of the German left in 1933 and of the Austrian in 1934 were its continuation. On a wider canvas, fear and suspicion of the Soviet Union had been a major determinant of the international diplomacy of the Western powers throughout the 1920s and even more so in the 1930s. The early tolerance shown to both Hitler and Mussolini in the international arena was a tacit sign of approval of their policies towards the left in general and towards communism in particular. Gradually it became apparent that the corollary of the rearrangement of the domestic power balance in Italy and Germany in favor of capitalism was to be an effort to alter the balance of power of foreign competition by policies of imperialist aggression. Yet even then, the residual sympathy for fascism of the elites, big business and policy makers of the Great Western Powers of Britain, France and The United States ensured that their first response would be to try to divert such ambitions in an anti-Communist, and therefore eastwards direction. (pp. 135 – 36)
Public opinion in Britain was overwhelmingly on the side of the Spanish Republic. Even as late as January 1939, when defeat was certain, 70 per cent of those polled considered the Republic to be the legitimate government. However, among the small proportion of those who supported Franco, never more than 14 per cent, and often lower, were those who would make the crucial decisions. Where the Spanish war was concerned, Conservative decision-makers tended to let their class prejudices prevail over the strategic interests of Great Britain. The journalist Henry Buckley was told by a British diplomat, 'the essential thing to remember in the case of Spain is that it is a civil conflict and that it is very necessary that we stand by our class'. This was obvious from the first. On 28 July 1936, Count Galeazzo Ciano made it clear to Edward Ingram, the British charge d'affaires in Rome, that he believed Portugal's full and open support for the Spanish military rebels would simply not be possible without British encouragement. Ingram replied that 'the Foreign Office had understood the Italian initiative in its precise significance'.
The British financial elites, monarchists and corporate sectors were inclined by their considerable commercial interests in Spain, with substantial investments in mines, sherry, textiles, olive oil and cork, to be anything but sympathetic to the Republic. The business community inevitably tended towards the Nationalist side since it was believed that the anarchists and other Spanish revolutionaries were liable to seize and collectivize British holdings. (pp. 137-39)
The United States was too wrapped up in its New Deal isolationism to be overly preoccupied by what was happening in Spain. American strategic interests in Spain were insignificant. However, US investments in Spain amounted to eighty million dollars in 1936. That part of politically influential opinion which followed events in Europe was bitterly divided over Spain. Liberal, Protestant and left-wing groups favored the Republic. The right, business and the bulk of the Catholic Church supported the rebels. The Hearst press chain was unequivocally behind Franco. A typical headline carried by its the Journal on t, August 1936 declared, 'Red Madrid Ruled by Trotsky’. President Roosevelt bowed to the power of the rightist-Catholic lobby and on 7 August his acting Secretary of State, William Phillips, announced that the United States would 'scrupulously refrain from any interference whatsoever in the unfortunate Spanish situation'. Seven days later, speaking at Chautauqua in New York State, the President himself presented the formula of a 'moral embargo' on arms sales to Spain as a way of maintaining international peace.
Without taking specific legislative action, the US government was effectively extending the 1935 Neutrality Act. The liberal weekly The Nation protested that this meant taking sides against the Republic. The embargo certainly hurt Franco far less than it did the Republic. The pro-Nazi President of the Texaco oil company, Thorkild Rieber, for instance, risked six million dollars by supplying the Nationalists with a substantial proportion of their oil needs on credit. He was penalized by a small fine. The Glenn A. Martin Aircraft Corporation of Baltimore and Robert Cuse, a businessman specializing in aircraft parts, however, were refused export licences for the shipment of long-standing orders to the Spanish Republic. Protestants were appalled at the Spanish Nationalists' hostility to democracy and freedom of worship. They filled the press with letters expressing disquiet at the use of religious arguments to justify atrocities. Claude Bowers bombarded the President with detailed letters urging him to help the Republic. Roosevelt replied nonchalantly, 'Do write me some more marvelous letters like that last one.' In 1939, when Bowers returned to Washington, Roosevelt told him, 'We have made a mistake; you have been right all along.' The distinguished American diplomat Sumner Welles, Under-Secretary of State from 1937 to 1943, wrote later that, 'of all our blind isolationist policies, the most disastrous was our attitude on the Spanish Civil War'. (pp. 144-45)
Thanks to the research of the Spanish historian Angel Vinas, there exists little doubt with regard to the reasons behind Nazi involvement in the Spanish Civil War. German support to the rebel generals came about as a result of a deliberate decision by Hitler, who saw aid to Franco as serving essential foreign policy interests of the Third Reich. This remained the case throughout the duration of the war. The Fuhrer saw in the Spanish conflict an opportunity to push appeasement to its limits and thereby undermine Anglo-French hegemony of international relations. Hitler was well aware of British fears of the Communist threat and quite consciously played on these. (p. 151)
In the words of Panjit Nehru, Non-intervention was ‘the supreme farce of our time’. It left the republic at a clear disadvantage in comparison to the rebels and thereby confirmed the antirevolutionary trend of international diplomacy since 1917. On a visit to Gibraltar, the English poet Stephen Spender was appalled to find that the Governor's house was full of rich Spanish refugees who recounted stories of atrocity and that the local English gentry were outraged because the Spanish Civil War had brought the Gibraltar Royal Calpe Hunt to a stop. The Republican fleet was refused refuelling facilities at Gibraltar, where the Governor was principally preoccupied with the re-establishment of regular hunting. Nothing sustained Nehru's view more than the fact that naval supervision of the east coast of Spain from Almeria to Alicante should be confided to the Germans, and from there to the French border placed in the hands of the Italians. This permitted both to intercept Russian supplies while ensuring free rein for their own attacks on the Levante coast. On 29 May 1937, the pocket battleship Deutschland was attacked by Republican bombers and twenty-three German sailors were killed. Their bodies were taken to Gibraltar where they were buried with full military honours. In reprisal, the Germans mounted a large-scale artillery bombardment of Almeria causing notable loss of life among the undefended civilian population.
The Spanish democratic regime was to be as much a victim of the pusillanimity of the Western powers as were Austria and Czechoslovakia. However, it would be wrong to see the international diplomacy of the Spanish Civil War as merely a microcosm of Western appeasement, Fascist aggression and Soviet duplicity. When also seen in the context of the post-1917 series of defeats suffered by the European left, the abandonment of Spain to fascism assumes an iron logic. What is remarkable is that the political representatives of the Spanish Republic were so shocked by the nonchalance of the Western powers. In a perceptive, and sorrowful, entry in his diary on 31 May 1937, Manuel Azafia wrote:
Our greatest enemy until now has been the British government and favored the rebels. Their hypocrisy has become so obvious that it seemed infantile cynicism. It is a great thing to say that this is done to preserve peace in Europe. But to think that Germany or Italy would declare war on Britain or France if the Spanish Government bought arms in these two countries is sheer stupidity. The best way to avoid a general war is not to permit Germany and Italy to do what they like in Spain. How can the triumph of the rebels, the protegees of Germany and Italy, be in the interests of the British?
Azaiia and the other leaders of the Republic had witnessed fascism in action and could not believe that British and French statesmen could be so blind to its threat. Eventually, even the conservative leaders of the democracies would perceive the danger. In 1936, however, their attitude to fascism, and therefore to the Spanish conflict, was compounded of an understandable desire to avoid war and a quiet glee that they might be able to do so by turning Hitler and Mussolini against the European left. They thereby passed a death sentence on the Spanish Republic and dramatically weakened the Western powers. (pp. 159-60)
For those who did not share the values and aspirations of the s Movimiento but were unfortunate enough to find themselves in the Nationalist zone, unity was imposed by means of a vicious terror. Members of the Popular Front parties and the trade unions were shot in their thousands as the Nationalists conquered each new piece of territory. At first in Old Castile and Galicia, and then in newly conquered territories, a greatly expanded Falange, flooded with newcomers, became the bloodstained auxiliary repressive force which freed the military from the task of politically purging their civilian enemies of the left. In their religious fervor, the Carlist requetes were also often guilty of barbaric excesses. Details of appalling atrocities committed by Nationalist troops against women and men were published by the Madrid College of Lawyers. What made the horrors committed seem worse was that they were carried out under the benign gaze of the Church and perpetrated by the forces of law and order - the army, the Civil Guard and the police.
The Archbishop of Zaragoza, Rigoberto Domenech, declared on n August 1936, 'this violence is carried out not in the service of anarchy but legitimately for the benefit of order, the Fatherland and Religion'. Whereas bombing raids or news of atrocities elsewhere often provoked mob violence in the Republican zone, the violence in the Nationalist zone was rarely 'uncontrolled'. An illustrative example is what happened on 21 October 1936 near Monreal, a small town south-east of Pamplona. Three days earlier, in the town of Tafalla, after the funeral of a requete lieutenant killed in battle, an enraged crowd went to the local prison determined to lynch the one hundred men and twelve women detained there. When the Civil Guard prevented a massacre, a delegation went to get written authorization from the military authorities. Three days later, in the early hours of the morning, sixty-five of the prisoners were taken to Monreal. They were shot by a group of requetes and the coup de grace was administered by the deputy parish priest of Murchante, one of the many Navarrese priests who had left their congregations to go to war. The Bishop of Pamplona, Monsignor Marcelino Olaechea Loizaga, was sufficiently shocked by the regularity with which prisoners were murdered after the funerals of Carlist troops to deliver a strikingly unusual and exceptional sermon on 15 November. His text, which found no echo elsewhere in the Church, was 'no more blood in the name of revenge'.
Perhaps as many as 180,000 Freemasons, liberals and leftists lost their lives in the Francoist repression although there is still considerable controversy over exact figures. Francoists continue to produce spurious computations which diminish the number of leftist victims. However, in recent years there have been a number of detailed local studies which suggest that, if some of the older estimates are exaggerated, the real figures are still horrendous.
Three examples, Seville, Navarre and Cordoba, will suffice. Queipo de Llano's chief propaganda officer, Antonio Baha-monde, who, appalled by what he had witnessed in rebel held territory, fled to the Republican zone, claimed that 150,000 had been executed in Andalusia and 20,000 in Seville alone before the end of 1018. Count Ciano complained in July 1939 that 80 people per day were still being shot in Seville although Bahamonde reckoned in 1938 that the figure then was between 20 an 25 per day. (pp. 201-203)
The horrors of the military repression in Seville and the rest of western Andalusia in 1936 were gradually extended to the rest of Spain as Franco captured ever more territory. Considerable cruelty - rape, confiscation of goods, execution because of the politics of a son or husband - was carried out against women in the name of the Francoist concept of redemption. 'Red' women were depicted both as whores and 'not women'. These accusations, a reflection of the fear provoked in right wing men by the liberation of women by the Republic, were specifically directed against politically active women like Dolores Ibarruri and Margarita Nelken and more generally against women on the left. (p. 207)
Franco now found himself without any serious competition. From the first floor of the Bishop's Palace in Salamanca he directed the Nationalist war effort. It was to be some time before Serrano Suner's state building exercise came to fruition in the creation of an organized bureaucracy. The improvisa-tional nature of things was reflected in the rise to important positions of a number of bizarre characters. The much-mutilated General Jose Millan Astray, missing one arm and an eye, was appointed chief of the press and propaganda department. Famous as the frenzied founder of the Spanish Foreign Legion, he was hardly the best man to present the Nationalist cause to the outside world. On 12 October 1936 he had brought that cause into considerable international disrepute by his behaviour during the celebrations of the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America. When a bystander shouted out the battle cry of the Legion, Viva la muerte (Long live death), Millan Astray had responded with the triple Nationalist chant of Espana, and back came the three ritual replies of Una, Grande, Libre (United, Great, Free). When he was reproached by the Rector of the University of Salamanca, the philosopher Miguel; de Unamuno, an apoplectic Millan Astray screamed, 'Catalonia and the Basque Country are two cancers in the body of the nation. Fascism, the cure for Spain, has come to exterminate them!'
In reply, Unamuno suggested that Millan Astray's bloodlust derived from a desire to see others as mutilated as himself. Again Millan Astray interrupted, shrieking, Mueran los intelectuales (Death to intellectuals). When he had screamed himself hoarse in the midst of a deafening tumult, Unamuno rose again. In the tense silence, with violence floating in the air, Unamuno spoke calmly: 'This is the temple of intelligence and I am its high priest. I have always been, despite the words of the proverb, a prophet in my own country. You will win but you will not convince. You will win because you have more than enough brute force; but you will not convince because to convince means to persuade. And to persuade you need something which you lack: right and reason. It seems to me pointless to ask you to think about Spain.' He was threatened by Millan Astray's bodyguards and helped from the hall by Franco's wife, Carmen Polo. Unamuno was removed from his position in the university and held under virtual house arrest. (pp. 216-17)
Millan Astray, Bolin and Aguilera were at the extreme margins of Nationalist propaganda. Altogether more effective in international terms was the legitimization of the Francoist cause provided by the Catholic Church. Long hostile to rationalism, freemasonry, liberalism, socialism and communism, the Church played a central role in the political life of the Nationalist zone. With the exception of the Basque clergy, most Spanish priests and religious sided with the Nationalists. They denounced the 'reds' from their pulpits. They blessed the flags of Nationalist regiments and some - especially Navarrese priests - even fought in their ranks. Clerics took up the Fascist salute. As early as mid-August 1936, Bishop Marcelino Olae-chea Loizago of Pamplona had already denounced the Republicans as 'the enemies of God and Spain'. In the last week of August, Bishop Olaechea and two Archbishops, Rigoberto Domenech of Zaragoza and Tomas Muniz Pablos of Santiago de Compostela, declared the rebel war effort to be a religious crusade. Catholic Action declared its enthusiasm for the alzamiento at its congress in Burgos in September 1936.
At the beginning of September, Jose Alvarez Miranda, the Bishop of Leon, associated the Republic with 'Soviet Jewish-Masonic laicism'. The Jesuit provincial of Leon wrote to Rome on 1 September to warn against any peace initiatives by the Vatican: 'Catholics see this war as a veritable religious crusade
' against atheism, and regard it as totally inevitable. Either it is won or Catholicism will disappear from Spain.' The most widely celebrated designation of the military rebellion as a crusade came from the pen of Enrique Pla y Deniel, Bishop of Salamanca. On 28 September, he issued a long and scholarly pastoral letter entitled 'The Two Cities', based on St Augustine's notion of the cities of God and of the Devil. It declared that 'on the soil of Spain a bloody conflict is being waged between two conceptions of life, two forces preparing for universal conflict in every country of the earth . . . Communists and Anarchists are sons of Cain, fratricides, assassins of those whom they envy and martyr merely for cultivating virtue ... It [the war] takes the external form of a civil war, but in reality it is a Crusade.'
On the same day, Cardinal Isidro Goma, Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of All Spain, broadcasting on Radio Navarra to the defenders of the Alcazar, rejoiced in their liberation and 'of the city of the most Christian Spanish Empire’. For him the rebel victory was the high point of the war, of the ‘clash of civilization with barbarism, of the inferno against Christ'. He thundered against 'the bastard soul of the sons of Moscow', 'Jews and the freemasons who poisoned the nation's soul with absurd doctrines, Tartar and Mongol tales dressed up as a political and social system in the dark societies controlled by the Semite International'. As a young priest, Vicente Enrique y Tarancon, who as a Cardinal forty years later was to put the Church's weight behind the democratization of Spain, was perplexed by the militancy of senior churchmen. On a visit to Burgos, he attended a Te Deum in the Cathedral to celebrate the Nationalist capture of a provincial capital. When the Captain-General and the Archbishop of Burgos spoke to the crowd afterwards, Tarancon was astonished to hear the general speak in exclusively military terms while the Archbishop delivered an aggressive military harangue. Ecclesiastical militancy was rewarded with overflowing churches. Not to attend mass in the Nationalist zone could lose a man his job or put him under political suspicion.
For Cardinal Goma, Franco's cause was God's cause. After the destruction of Guernica, when many Catholics began to question the sanctity of the Francoist cause, he rendered the Caudillo an inestimable service. In response to a request for public affirmation of the hierarchy's support, he organized a collective letter 'To the Bishops of the Whole World'. The text described the 'crusade' as 'an armed plebiscite' and rejoiced that on their executions the Nationalists' enemies had become reconciled to the Church. It was signed by two Cardinals, six Archbishops, thirty-five bishops and five vicars-general. It was not signed by Cardinal Francesc Vidal i Barraquer, Archbishop of Tarragona in Catalonia, nor by Monsignor Mateo Mugica, Bishop of Vitoria in the Basque Country. Mugica was especially distressed by the execution by Nationalist firing squad of fourteen Basque priests at the end of October 1936. This should, in Canon Law, have led to the excommunication of those responsible, but neither the Vatican nor the Spanish hierarchy condemned the executions. Mugica, however, was told that his safely could not be guaranteed in the Nationalist zone and he remained in exile.
Throughout the world, Catholics rallied to the Francoist cause. The German bishops had issued a collective pastoral on 19 August 1936 to endorse Hitler's support for Franco. In the United States, the efforts of militant Catholics, and especially - those of the 'Radio Priest', Father Charles Coughlin, were probably instrumental in blocking aid to the Republic. A campaign in Britain, Ireland and elsewhere to brand the Republic as the bloody executioner of priests and nuns was given greater authority by the decision of the Pope to make those who had been murdered officially martyrs. The Vatican effectively recognized Franco on 28 August 1937 and supplied an Apostolic Delegate, Monsignor Ildebrando Antoniutti, on 7 October. De jure recognition came on 18 May 1938 when Archbishop Gaetano Cicognani was made Apostolic Nuncio and Franco sent an Ambassador to the Holy See. The attitude to Franco of international Catholicism was summed up in a letter sent to Franco on 28 March 1939 by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Arthur Hinsley, thanking him for a signed photograph: 'I look upon you as the great defender of the true Spain, the country of Catholic principles where Catholic social justice and charity will be applied for the common good under a firm peace-loving government.' The newly elevated Pope Pius XII greeted Franco's ultimate victory with a message beginning, 'With immense joy'. The Church was rewarded for its efforts on the Nationalists' behalf by being given exclusive control over education in the post-war state. (pp. 219-222)
Franco's battle tactics reflected his political vision as well as his character: he was cruel, unforgiving, and vengeful but he also wanted to smash republicanism for ever. His long-term vision, patience and coldness were of inestimable value in allowing him to impose his will upon the rebel zone. With his major potential rivals all dead, Franco was free to control not just the military, but also the political direction 1 of the Nationalists.
The Caudillo's political dominance was confirmed at the start of 1938. On 30 January, he formed his first regular ministry. Thus, the rule of the Burgos Junta of generals was brought to an end. Ramon Serrano Sufier, the cunadisimo, was made Minister of the Interior, and other posts went to a carefully balanced selection of soldiers, monarchists, Carlists and Falangists. The dominant tone, however, was military. The Ministries of Defence, Public Order and Foreign Affairs all went to generals. The New State, as it was known, was formalized through the Ley de Administration Central del Estado. According to this, 'The organization which has been created will be subject to the constant influence of the National Movement. The administration of the New State must be imbued with the spirit of its origin: noble and impartial, strong and austere, deeply Spanish down to the marrow.' The Falange was awarded control of the labor movement and with it a hugely lucrative fount of patronage. The Church too was rewarded for its services by the concession of sole authority over education. This was in part for the Vatican’s formal recognition of Franco in August 1937. The ideology of the New State was wholly backward-looking, concerned above all with the destruction of symbols of progress such as parliamentary democracy and trade unionism. Its political purpose was to rebuild Spain in the image of an imperial past. The only novelty was to be found in the rallies and other trimmings adopted to facilitate its incorporation into the Fascist world order envisaged by Hitler and Mussolini. (pp. 278-79)
In the United States, hopes that the arms sale embargo would be lifted crashed against the power of the Catholic lobby. A telegram from the reactionary Ambassador in London, Joseph Kennedy, claimed that to drop the arms embargo would be to risk the spread of the war beyond Spain's borders. Father Coughlin broadcast an appeal for Catholics to flood the White House with telegrams. They raised a spectre which frightened President Roosevelt. He told his Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, that he feared 'the loss of every Catholic vote next fall'. The President ordered that the embargo be maintained. His wife Eleanor, who sympathized with the Republic, considered this to be 'a tragic error' and regretted that she had not 'pushed him harder'. On 11 May, Portugal granted diplomatic recognition to the Franco regime. Two days later Alvarez del Vayo's pleas to the League of Nations to end the policy of Non-intervention fell on deaf ears. The Republic appeared to be doomed. (p. 187)
Negrin was fully aware of the savage repression imposed by the Francoists as Republican territory was conquered. He told his friend Juan Simeon Vidarte, 'I will not hand over without protection hundreds of Spaniards who are fighting on heroically just so that Franco can have the pleasure of shooting them as he has done in his own Galicia, in Andalusia, in the Basque Country and everywhere that Attila's horse has trod.' Accordingly, he hoped that, if the Republic could fight on for another year, it would find salvation in the general war which he believed to be inevitable. (p. 288)
It is difficult to calculate exactly the total number of volunteers. Figures vary from a minimum of forty thousand to a maximum of sixty thousand who came from fifty different countries to fight against fascism in Spain. Nearly 20 per cent of them had died and most suffered wounds of varying degrees of severity. In October 1938, 12,673 were still in Spain. They began the slow trek home or back into exile, often to fates more appalling than anything they had yet suffered. Many fell into Nazi hands when France collapsed and many from the East died in Stalin's purges, guilty of having seen the West. Those who survived were not to return to Spain until after the death of Franco thirty-seven years later. However, part of Dolores Ibarruri's prophecy was fulfilled in late 1995 when the Socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez granted Spanish citizenship to the remaining brigaders.
The departure of the International Brigades left the Republican population with no doubt that defeat was imminent. The war effort was kept alive only by the fear born of Franco's much publicized determination to annihilate liberalism, socialism and communism in Spain. (p. 293)
Not surprisingly, the Caudillo remained interested only in unconditional surrender. His determination not to compromise was reflected after the war in the labour camps, the five hundred thousand prisoners, and the 150,000 executions on which his dictatorship was built. Casado and all the members of the Defence Junta, except Besteiro, went into exile. He stayed in Madrid, believing he could help others escape yet blithely unaware of the fact that the Casado coup had in itself severely sabotaged any chance of a properly organized evacuation of those in danger. Charged with 'military rebellion', he would face a court martial of rebel generals, be sentenced to thirty years imprisonment and die in captivity.
The Nationalists entered an eerily silent Madrid on 27 March. Luis Bolfn was as scathing as he had been in Barcelona about the bewildered and shabbily dressed bystanders and the fact that the city was 'evil-smelling and dirty'. By 31 March 1939, all Spain was in Nationalist hands. A final bulletin was issued by Franco's headquarters on 1 April 1939 which ran, 'Today, with the Red Army captive and disarmed, our victorious troops have achieved their objectives'. Franco -had the gratification of a telegram from the Pope thanking him for the immense joy which Spain's 'Catholic victory' had brought him. It was a victory which had cost well over half a million lives, and which was yet to cost many more. Those Republicans who could get transport had made a desperate bid to get to the Mediterranean ports. After waiting vainly in Alicante harbour for evacuation, some committed suicide rather than allow themselves to fall into the hands of the Falange. Those who had reached the French frontier were subjected to careless humiliation before being herded into concentration camps. The women, children and the old were shepherded into transit camps. The soldiers were disarmed and escorted to unsanitary camps on the coast, rapidly improvised by marking out sections of beach with barbed wire. Under the empty gaze of Senegalese guards, the men improvised shelters by burrowing into the wet sand. (p. 298-99)
From the very first days of the war, terror had been a crucial instrument of the military rebels but to this Franco added a determination to annihilate as many Republicans as possible. Despite the German and Italian hopes for a rapid Nationalist victory, Franco's objective was the gradual and thorough occupation and purging of Republican territory. As early as 4 April 1937, at the beginning of the campaign against the Basque Country, he had explained to the Italian Ambassador Roberto Cantalupo his commitment to 'the necessarily slow task of redemption and pacification.' What he meant by moral redemption would be demonstrated by the massacres which followed the capture of town after town, of Badajoz, of Talavera de la Reina, of Toledo, of Malaga, of Gijon, of Santander, of Teruel, of Barcelona. Franco's determination to move slowly derived from his belief that would guarantee that there would never be any turning back, not only through the physical elimination of thousands of liberals and leftists but also in the long-term terrorizing of others into political support or apathy. Franco was fully conscious of the extent to which the repression not only terrified the enemy but also inextricably tied those involved in its implementation to his own survival. Their complicity ensured that they would cling to him as the only bulwark against the possible revenge of their victims. (p. 306)
The social humiliation and exploitation of the defeated was justified in religious terms as the necessary expiation of their sins and also in social-Darwinist terms. The defeated were denounced as degenerate, their children were taken away and military psychiatrists carried out experiments on women prisoners in search of the 'red gene'. In prisons, massive efforts were made to break not only the bodies of prisoners but also their minds. The man who supervised the process was Major Antonio Vallejo-Najera, the head of the Psychiatric Services of the Nationalist Army. He set up the Laboratory of Psychological Investigations to engage in psychological studies of prisoners in concentration camps to establish 'the bio-psychic roots of Marxism'. The results of his investigations provided the delighted military high command with the 'scientific' arguments to justify their views on the subhuman nature of their adversaries for which he was promoted to colonel.
A good example of what redemption by Franco really meant could be found in the experience of Catalonia after the region's capture in January 1939. The formal parade into Barcelona was headed by the Army Corps of Navarre, led by General Andres Solchaga. They were accorded this honour, according to a British officer attached to Franco's headquarters, 'not because they have fought better, but because they hate better. That is to say, when the object of this hate is Catalonia or a Catalan.' A close friend of Franco, Victor Ruiz Albeniz ('El Tebib Arrumi'), published an article demanding that Catalonia needed 'a biblical punishment [Sodom, Gomorrah] to purify the red city, seat of anarchism and separatism as the only remedy to extirpate these two cancers by implacable thermo-cauterization'. For Ramon Serrano Sufter, Franco's brother-in-law and Minister of the Interior, Catalan nationalism was a sickness that had to be exterminated. The man he appointed as civil governor of Barcelona, Wenceslao Gonzalez Oliveros, claimed that the Civil War had been fought with greater ferocity against the regions than against communism and that any toleration of regionalism would lead once more to 'the putrefaction represented by Marxism and separatism that we have just surgically eradicated'. (pp. 310-11)
Although those who escaped across the French border faced internment in unsanitary concentration camps, they were among the lucky ones. After Catalonia was occupied, the Mediterranean coast remained the last escape route. On 27 March 1939, with the Republic crumbling before the unopposed Nationalist advance, Colonel Casado together with some of his Defence Junta colleagues and their staff were taken on board a British ship at Gandfa near Valencia. The veteran Socialist leader Julian Besteiro decided that it was his duty to remain with the people of Madrid in the vain hope that he might somehow limit the vengeance of the Nationalists. He was imprisoned and died in the squalid prison of Carmona. Communists left in jail in Madrid by the Casado Defence Junta were shot when Franco entered Madrid. Efforts to organize mass evacuation were inept. Refugees gathered at the Mediterranean ports, where only a small proportion of them managed to avoid being herded into prison camps by the arriving Nationalists. Even those who reached exile were far from safe. Julian Zugazagoitia, Lluis Companys and Juan Peiro were captured by the Gestapo in France, handed over to Franco and shot. Largo Caballero spent four years in the German concentration camp at Mauthausen and died shortly after his release. Negrin, Prieto and other Republican leaders who escaped to Mexico spent the rest of their lives locked in sterile polemic about responsibility for their defeat. Manuel Azana died in Montauban on 3 November 1940.
From 1939 until Franco's death, Spain was governed as if it were a country occupied by a foreign army. The training, deployment and structure of the Spanish army were such as to prepare it for action against the native population rather than an external enemy. That was entirely in keeping with the Caudillo's view, expressed in 1937, that he had been fighting a 'frontier war'. When Ciano returned to Italy after his ten-day visit to Spain in the summer of 1939, he wrote a long report for Mussolini. It was much less critical than the private remarks quoted in the last chapter, yet still noted that 200 to 250 executions were being carried out daily in Madrid, 150 in Barcelona and 80 in Seville. In May 1939, the Manchester Guardian alleged that three hundred people per week were being shot in Barcelona. The British Consul in Madrid reported that by June there were thirty thousand political prisoners in the city and that twelve tribunals were dealing with them at breathtaking speed. In proceedings lasting only minutes, the death penalty was invariably demanded and often passed. British consular sources estimated conservatively that ten thousand people were shot in the first five months after the war. The killings went on well into the 1940s. In November 1939, a torch-lit procession escorted the mortal remains of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera from Alicante to the Escorial. Prisons were attacked along the way and Republican prisoners lynched. The military authorities complained that with 70 per cent of barracks turned into jails, army units had to be accommodated in tents. More than four hundred thousand Spaniards, including women, children, the old and infirm, and wounded and mutilated soldiers, were forced to face the horrors of exile.
The Civil War had been won by a rightist coalition which had arisen in response to the reformist challenge of the Second Republic. Franco rarely missed an opportunity to boast that he had eliminated the legacy of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and other symbols of modernity. Indeed, the strength of Francoist links with the old order made the Second Republic appear to be a mere interlude in the history of Spain. During that parenthesis, an attack had been mounted against the existing balance of social and economic power. The defensive response of the right had been twofold - the violent, or 'catastrophist', and the legalist, or 'accidentalist'. 'Catastrophist' violence had little possibility of success in the first years of the Republic. Indeed, its most spectacular failure, the abortive military coup of General Sanjurjo, merely confirmed the wisdom of entrusting oligarchical interests to the legalist means of the CEDA. However, the success of Gil Robles in building up a mass party, using parliament to block reform and winning the 1933 elections, drove the Socialists to despair. Their optimistic reformism hardened into an aggressive revolutionism.
The consequent rising of October 1934 suggested a leftist determination to resist the legal establishment of an authoritarian corporative state. The repression which followed October united the left and paved the way to the Popular Front electoral victory of 1936. The right was not slow to perceive the impossibility of defending traditional structures by legal means. Given the unmistakable determination of working-class forces to introduce major reforms and the equal readiness of the oligarchy to resist them, the failure of the legalist tactics of Gil Robles could only lead to a resurgence of 'catastrophism' and an attempt to impose a corporative state by force of arms. That attempt, in the form of the Nationalist war effort, was crowned with success. The first objectives of the new regime were the maintenance of the existing structure of landed property and the strict control of the recently defeated working class. These tasks were carried out by an enormous political and military bureaucracy beholden to the Franco regime.
Wages were slashed, strikes were treated as sabotage and made punishable by long prison sentences. The CNT and the UGT were destroyed, their funds, their printing presses and other property seized by the state and the Falange. Travel and the search for jobs were controlled by a system of safe-conducts and certificates of political and religious reliability. This effectively made second-class citizens of those defeated republicans who escaped imprisonment. The Franco regime was especially committed to the maintenance of the rural social structure which had been threatened by the Republic. Among the smallholders of the north, this was relatively easy given their social and religious conservatism. In the south, however, the regime faced the problem of maintaining a social system that had provoked the rage and militancy of the landless braceros. This was done by the creation of a series of institutions which compelled rural laborers to work the soil under conditions even more inhuman than those they had known before 1931. With no social welfare safety net, not to work was to starve. In 1951, wages were still only 60 per cent of 1936 levels. The Civil Guard and armed retainers, or guardas jurados, employed by the latifiindistas, maintained a hostile vigilance of the estates against the pilfering of hungry peasants. The Falangist corporative, Hermandades de Labradoresy Ganaderos (fraternities of farmers and cattlemen), was based on the myth that laborers and landowners shared 'fraternal' interests. A similar fraud was at the heart of the repressive system of industrial labor relations.
In fact, behind the rhetoric of national and social unity, until the death of Franco every effort was made to maintain the division between the victors and the vanquished. The Falange, as a Fascist organization, might have been expected to attempt to integrate the working class into the regime. However, after a victorious war, the ruling classes had little need for such an operation. Falangist bureaucrats still mouthed anti-capitalist rhetoric but it rang ever more hollow. They dutifully served their masters by disciplining the urban working class within the corporative syndicates and drumming the peasantry into the rural Hermandades. The anti-oligarchical aspects of the Nazi and Fascist regimes had no place in Franco's Spain. The post-war state remained the instrument of the traditional oligarchy. The Falangist bureaucrats themselves openly acknowledged the class nature of the regime. Jose Maria Areilza declared that the state protected capital from internal as well
as external aggressors. In the late 1950s, the head of the Falange, Jose Soils, admitted that 'when we speak of transformation or reform in the countryside, no one should think that we intend to harm the present owners'. The emptiness of the Falangist rhetoric of revolution was so apparent that it shamed some of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera's followers into timidly opposing the regime. They created a tame dissident Falange dedicated to the fulfillment of his heritage.
Francoism was merely the latest in a series of military efforts to block social progress in Spain. However, unlike its predecessors it served not just the Spanish oligarchy but also international capitalism. The abandonment of the Republic by the Western democracies during the Civil War was matched by the feebleness of international action against Franco after 1945. This reflected a recognition that a military dictatorship could defend the economic interests of foreign investors far better than a democratic Republic ever could. Ironically, however, the twin defense of the interests of Spanish and foreign capitalists was to lay the foundations for the ultimate democratization of Spain. The efforts made by Francoism to put back the clock inadvertently created the social and economic conditions for the regime's ultimate transition to democracy.
The repressive labor relations of the 1940s and 1950s contributed to higher profits and the accumulation of native capital. It was also a contribution, along with Franco's much-vaunted anti-communism, to the process of making Spain attractive to foreign investors. Foreign capital flooded in. The boom years of European capitalism saw tourists pouring south as Spanish migrant laborers headed north, from where they would send back their foreign currency earnings. Gradually, within the antiquated political straitjacket of Francoist Spain, there began to grow a new, dynamic, modern society. The pattern of Spanish history was being repeated, with the political framework out of phase with the social and economic reality. By the time the energy crisis of the 1970s, many of Franco’s supporters were beginning to wonder if their own survival did not lie in some sort of accommodation with the forces of the democratic opposition.
The dictator himself had created a complex edifice of laws and institutions that were intended to guarantee the survival of his regime long after his own death. By one of those laws, the Law of Succession of 1947, he had given himself the prerogative of choosing his own royal successor. In 1969, he chose Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon, the grandson of Alfonso XIII, a young man who had been trained since 1948 in 'the principles of the regime'. In his end-of-year message on 30 December 1969, the Caudillo confidently declared that 'all is tied down and well tied down'. However, he was wrong. The Prince realized that his own survival depended on his being 'King of all Spaniards', not just of the Francoists, and that the bulk of the population wanted a return to the democracy that had been destroyed in 1939. By 1977, only two years after his death, Franco's worst nightmares had begun to be realized. Drawing on an overwhelming consensus of right and left, King Juan Carlos had presided over a process whereby the most progressive elements of the Francoist elite and the moderate majority of the democratic opposition worked together in a spirit of compromise to create a democracy for all Spaniards. The cherished Francoist divisions between victors and vanquished were meaningless. Five years later, the Socialists were in power in Madrid.
Underlying the entire process was a great determination never again to suffer a bloody civil war or a repressive dictatorship. It was that desire for a different future which saw the agreement in early 1977 of an amnesty law which effectively granted impunity to those responsible for the abuses of human rights committed by the dictatorship. This was the basis of what came to be known as the 'pact of oblivion'. The political decision not to rake up the past has not inhibited a popular desire to know more about the Civil War and the repression that followed it. In the resulting torrent of books, television documentaries and public events, the Spanish conflict is re-fought as a war of words. (pp. 319-325)