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Francoist Spain, also known as Fascist Spain, refers to the period of Spanish history between 1936 and 1975 when the authoritarian dictatorship of Francisco Franco took control of Spain from the government of the constitutionally liberal democratic Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War.

The Spanish Civil War started as a coup by the Spanish military on the peninsula (peninsulares) and the Moroccan rif territory (africanistas) on July 17, 1936.[1] The coup had the support of most factions sympathetic to the right-wing cause in Spain including the majority of Spain's Catholic clergy, the fascist-inclined Falange, and the Alfonsine and Carlist monarchists. The coup escalated into a civil war lasting for three years once Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany agreed to support Franco starting with airlifting of the africanistas onto the mainland.[2] Other supporters included Portugal under Antonio Salazar, while the presentation of the Civil War as a "crusade"[3] or renewed reconquista[4][5][6] attracted the sympathy of Catholics internationally and the participation of Irish Catholic volunteers. Although the government of Great Britain was more sympathetic[7][8][9] to the Francoists while the Popular Front government of France was anxious to support the Republic, both factions observed the non-intervention agreement of October 1936. The Second Spanish Republic was backed by the Stalinist Soviet Union from December 1936 and Mexico.[10]


Franco was formally recognised as Caudillo for the Spanish patria by the National Defense Committee (Junta de defensa nacional) which governed the territories occupied by the Nationalists on 1 October 1936.[11] In April 1937 Franco assumed control of the Falange, then led by Manuel Hedilla who had succeeded the founder Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, executed in November 1936, and assimilated it along with the Carlists into what was known as the Falange Espanola Tradicional y de las JONS, the official party of the Francoists referred to as the Movimiento especially in the later years of the regime.[12] The Falangists were concentrated at local government and grassroot level, entrusted with harnessing the Civil War's momentum of mass mobilisation through their auxiliaries and syndicates by collecting denunciations of enemy residents and recruiting workers into the syndicates.[13][14] While there were prominent Falangists at a senior government level, especially before the late 1940s, there were higher concentrations of monarchists, military officials and other traditional conservative factions at those levels.[citation needed]. However, the Falange remained the sole party throughout Franco's regime and its ideology, National-Syndicalism, remained the official ideology of the State.

The Francoists took control of Spain through a comprehensive and methodical war of attrition (guerra de desgaste) which involved the imprisonment and executions of Spaniards found guilty of supporting the values promoted (at least in theory) by the Republic - regional autonomy, liberal or social democracy, free elections and women's rights.[15][16] The rightists considered these "enemy elements" to comprise an "anti-Spain" that was the product of a "Judeo-Masonic" conspiracy, along with Bolsheviks, which had evolved after the reconquista of Spain from the Islamic Moors, a reconquista that had been declared formally over with the Alhambra decree of 1492 expelling the Jews from Spain.[17] At the end of the Spanish Civil War, according to the regime's own figures, there were more than 270,000 men and women held in prisons and some 500,000 had fled into exile. Large numbers of those captured were returned to Spain or interned in Nazi concentration camps as stateless enemies. Between six and seven thousand exiles from Spain died in Mauthausen. It has been estimated that more than 200,000 Spaniards died in the first years of the dictatorship, from 1940–42, as a result of political repression, hunger and disease related to the conflict.[18] The lowest estimates of the number of executions during the first five years after the war are of 50,000.[citation needed]

Spain's strong ties with the Axis resulted in its international ostracism in the years following World War II. This changed with the new Cold War that soon followed the end of hostilities in 1945, in the face of which Franco's strong anti-communism naturally tilted its regime to ally with the United States, and provided ideal ground for the continuation of Franco's anti-communist regime. Independent political parties and trade unions were banned throughout the duration of the dictatorship.[19] Nevertheless once decrees for economic stabilisation were put forth by the late 1950s, opening the way for massive foreign investment – "a watershed in post-war economic, social and ideological normalisation leading to extraordinarily rapid economic growth" – that marked Spain's "participation in the Europe-wide post-war economic normality centred on mass consumption and consensus, in contrast to the concurrent reality of the Soviet bloc."[20]

Spain was declared a kingdom in 1947, but no monarch was designated until 1969 with the designation of Juan Carlos de Borbón as Franco's official heir-apparent as Head of state. Franco was to be succeeded by his Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco as head of government with the intention of continuing the Francoist regime, but those hopes ended with his 1973 assassination. With the death of Franco on 20 November 1975, Juan Carlos became the King of Spain. He initiated the country's subsequent transition to democracy, ending with Spain becoming a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament.


After Franco's victory in 1939, the Falange (the FET y de las JONS formed in 1937 by the FE de las JONS, the Carlists, and several conservative groups) was declared the sole legal party in Spain, and asserted itself as the main component of the Movimiento Nacional. In a state of emergency-like status, the 100-member (central committee) of the FET worked as makeshift legislature of Spain until the passing of the Organic law of 1942 (Ley Organica) and the Constituting of the Cortes Act (Ley Constitutiva de las Cortes) the same year, which saw the grand reopening of the Cortes Generales on July 18, 1942.[21]

The Organic Law stipulated the government to be ultimately responsible for all legislation of the country,[22] while defining the Cortes of Spain as a purely advisory body elected by neither direct or universal suffrage. As all ministers were appointed on the grace of Franco as the "Chief" of state and government, he was monopolized as the one source of legislation. The law of national referendums (Ley del Referendum Nacional), passed in 1945 approved for all "fundamental law" to be approved by a popular referendum, in which only the heads of family could vote. Local municipal councils were appointed similarly by heads of family and local corporations through elections, while the government exercised the exclusive right to appoint mayors. It was thus one of the most centralized countries in Europe, and certainly the most centralized in Western Europe following the fall of Portuguese dictator Marcelo Caetano in the Carnation Revolution.

The law of referendums was exercised twice; in 1947, when a law approved through a referendum revived the Spanish monarchy with Franco as interim regent for life with sole right to appoint his successor, secondly in 1966, to approve of a new "organic law", or constitution, supposedly limiting and clearly defining Franco's powers as well as formally creating the modern office of President of the Government of Spain. By delaying the issue of republic versus monarchy for his 36-year dictatorship, and by refusing to take up the throne himself in 1947, Franco sought to antagonize neither the monarchical Carlists (who preferred the restoration of a Bourbon), nor the republican "old shirts", i.e., the original Falangists. In 1961, Franco offered Otto von Habsburg the throne, but was refused, and ultimately followed Otto's recommendation by selecting the young Juan Carlos of Bourbon in 1969, shortly after his 30th birthday (the minimum age required under the Law of Succession).

Armed forces

During the first year of peace, Franco dramatically reduced the size of the Spanish Army; from almost one million at the end of the civil war to 250,000 in early 1940, with most soldiers two-year conscripts.[23] Concerns about the international situation, Spain's possible entry into World War II, and threats of invasion led him to undo some of these reductions. In November 1942, with the Allied landings in North Africa and the German occcupation of Vichy France bringing hostilities closer than ever to Spain's border, Franco ordered a partial mobilization, bringing the army to over 750,000 men.[23] The Air Force and Navy also grew in numbers and in budgets, to 35,000 airmen and 25,000 sailors by 1945, although for fiscal reasons Franco had to restrain attempts by both services to undertake dramatic expansions.[23] The army maintained a strength of about 400,000 men until the end of the war.[24]

Colonial empire and decolonization

Spain attempted to retain control of the last remnants of its colonial empire throughout Franco's rule. During the Algerian War (1954–62), Madrid became the base of the Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS) right-wing French Army group which sought to preserve French Algeria. Despite this, Franco was forced to make some concessions. Henceforth, when French Morocco became independent in 1956, he surrendered Spanish Morocco to Mohammed V, retaining only a few enclaves (the Plazas de soberanía). The year after, Mohammed V invaded Spanish Sahara during the Ifni War (known as the "Forgotten War" in Spain). Only in 1975, with the Green March and the military occupation, did Morocco take control of all of the former Spanish territories in the Sahara.

In 1968, under United Nations pressure, Franco granted Spain's colony of Equatorial Guinea its independence, and the next year, ceded the exclave of Ifni to Morocco. Under Franco, Spain also pursued a campaign to gain sovereignty of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, and closed its border with Gibraltar in 1969. The border would not be fully reopened until 1985.


Franco in 1969.

The consistent points in Francoism included above all authoritarianism, nationalism, militarism, conservatism, anti-communism, anti-anarchism, anti-semitism, anti-socialism and anti-liberalism, as well as a frontal rejection of Freemasonry; some authors also quote integralism.[25][26] Stanley Payne, a widely respected but highly controversial scholar of fascism and Spain, notes: "scarcely any of the serious historians and analysts of Franco consider the generalissimo to be a core fascist."[27][28] According to historian Walter Laqueur "during the civil war, Spanish fascists were forced to subordinate their activities to the nationalist cause. At the helm were military leaders such as General Francisco Franco, who were conservatives in all essential respects. When the civil war ended, Franco was so deeply entrenched that the Falange stood no chance; in this strongly authoritarian regime, there was no room for political opposition. The fascists became junior partners in the government and, as such, they had to accept responsibility for the regime's policy without being able to shape it substantially"[29] The United Nations Security Council in 1946 described the Franco government as 'Fascist' denying it recognition until it developed a more representative government.[30]


Unlike José Antonio Primo de Rivera (founder of the Falange and executed by the Republicans during the course of the war), Franco lacked any consistent political ideology other than fierce anti-communism.

The Falange, a fascist party formed during the Republic, soon transformed itself into the framework of reference[Clarification needed] in the Movimiento Nacional. In April 1937, the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista ("Spanish Traditionalist Phalanx of the Assemblies of National-Syndicalist Offensive", FET y de las JONS) was created from the absortion of the vast majority of the Carlist traditionalists by the Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista, which itself was the result of an earlier absortion of theJuntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (JONS) by José Antonio Primo de Rivera's Falange Española. This party, often referred to as Falange, became the sole party during Franco's regime. However, the term "party" was generally avoided, specially after WWII, when it was commonly referred to as the "National Movement" or just as "The Movement".


The main point of those scholars who tend to consider the Spanish State to be authoritarian rather than fascist, is that the FET-JONS were relatively heterogeneous rather than being an ideological monolith.[27][31][32][33][34] After World War II, the Falange opposed free capital markets, but the ultimately prevailing technocrats, some of whom were linked with Opus Dei, eschewed syndicalist economics and favoured increased competition as a means of achieving rapid economic growth and integration with wider Europe.[35]

The Spanish State was authoritarian: non-government trade unions and all political opponents across the political spectrum were either suppressed or controlled by all means, including police repression.[citation needed] Most country towns and rural areas were patrolled by pairs of Guardia Civil, a military police for civilians, which functioned as his[Clarification needed] chief means of social control. Larger cities, and capitals, were mostly under the heavily armed Policía Nacional, commonly called grises due to their grey uniform. Franco was also the focus of a personality cult which taught that he had been sent by Divine Providence to save the country from chaos and poverty.[citation needed]

Members of the oppressed ranged from Catholic trade unions to communist and anarchist organisations to liberal democrats and Catalan or Basque separatists. The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) trade unions were outlawed, and replaced in 1940 by the corporatist Sindicato Vertical. The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) party and the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) were banned in 1939, while the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) went underground. University students seeking democracy revolted in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which was repressed by the grises. The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) went into exile, and in 1959, the ETA armed group was created to wage a low-intensity war against Franco. Franco, like others at the time, evinced a concern about a possible Masonic and Judaic conspiracy against his regime.

Franco continued to personally sign all death warrants until just months before he died despite international campaigns requesting him to desist.[citation needed]


Franco's Spanish nationalism promoted a unitary national identity by repressing Spain's cultural diversity. Bullfighting and flamenco[36] were promoted as national traditions while those traditions not considered "Spanish" were suppressed. Franco's view of Spanish tradition was somewhat artificial and arbitrary: while some regional traditions were suppressed, Flamenco, an Andalusian tradition, was considered part of a larger, national identity. All cultural activities were subject to censorship, and many were plainly forbidden (often in an erratic manner). This cultural policy relaxed with time, most notably in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Franco was reluctant to enact any form of administrative and legislative decentralisation and kept a fully centralised form of government with a similar administrative structure to that established by the House of Bourbon and General Miguel Primo de Rivera y Orbaneja. Such structures were both based in the model of the French centralised State. The main drawback of this kind of management is that government attention and initiatives were irregular, and often depended on the goodwill of regional Government representatives than on regional needs. Thus, inequalities in schooling, health care or transport facilities among regions were patent: classically affluent regions like Madrid, Catalonia, or the Basque Country fared much better than Extremadura, Galicia or Andalusia. Some regions, like Extremadura or La Mancha did not have a university.

Franco dissolved the autonomy granted by the Second Spanish Republic to these two regions and to Galicia. Franco abolished the centuries-old fiscal privileges and autonomy (the fueros) in two of the three Basque provinces: Guipuzcoa and Biscay, officially classified as "traitor regions" but kept them for Alava. Among Franco's greatest area of support during the civil war was Navarre, a former kingdom during the Middle Ages and the cradle of the Carlists, and Franco decided to preserve its also centuries' old fiscal privileges and autonomy, the so-called Fueros of Navarre.

Franco also used language politics in an attempt to establish national homogeneity. Despite Franco being Galician, in accordance with his nationalist principles, he abolished the official statute and recognition for the Basque, Galician, and Catalan languages that the Second Spanish Republic had granted for the first time in the history of Spain. He returned to Spanish as the only official language of the State and education, although millions of the country's citizens spoke other languages. The legal usage of languages other than Spanish was forbidden. All government, notarial, legal and commercial documents were to be drawn up exclusively in Spanish and any written in other languages were deemed null and void. The usage of any other language was forbidden in schools, advertising, religious ceremonies and on road and shop signs. Publications in other languages were generally forbidden, though citizens continued to speak other languages in private.

This was the situation throughout the 1940s and during the 1950s, but during the last years of the 1960 decade, the authorities became more lenient. Even so, non-Castilian languages continued to be discouraged and never received official status: all government, notarial, legal and commercial documents were still drawn up exclusively in Spanish and any written in other languages were deemed null and void.

Additionally, the popularisation of the compulsory national educational system and the development of modern mass media, both controlled by the State and in Spanish language, and heavily reduced the number of speakers of Basque, Catalan and Galician, as happened during the second half of the 20th century with other European minority languages which were not officially protected like Scottish Gaelic or French Breton. By the 1970s, the majority of the population in the urban areas could not speak in the minority language or, as in some Catalan towns, their use had been abandoned. The most endangered case was the Basque language. By the 1970s Basque had reached the point where any further reduction in the number of Basque speakers would have not guaranteed the necessary generational renewal and it is now recognised that the language would have disappeared in only a few more decades.


Although Franco himself was previously known for not being a very devout Catholic,[37] his regime used religion very often as a way of increasing its popularity throughout the Catholic world, especially after WWII. Franco increasingly portrayed himself as a fervent Catholic and staunch defender of the Catholic world. During the whole extent of Franco's regime, Catholicism was the state religion. Thus the regime favoured a very conservative Roman Catholicism, and reversed [38] the secularization process which had taken place under the II Republic and 'the symbiosis of religion, fatherland and Caudillo' saw the Church assume great political responsibility, ' a hegemony and monopoly beyond its wildest dreams' and play ' a central role in policing the country's citizens.' The Law of Political Responsibility of February 1939 gave the Church the chance to become an extralegal body of investigation with each parish in charge of policing its parishioners at the same level as the local government officials and local leaders of the falange. Some official jobs required a "good behavior" statement by a priest. According to historian Julian Casanova, " The reports that have survived reveal a clergy that was bitter because of the violent anticlericalism and unacceptable level of secularization that Spanish society had reached during the republican years." The law of 1939 made the priests, in communion with government officials, investigators of peoples ideological and political pasts.[39] Catholicism was made the official religion of the Spanish State, which enforced Catholic social mores. The authorities encouraged denouncements in the workplace. Barcelona's city hall for example obliged all government functionaries to "tell the proper authorities who the leftists are in your department and everything you know about their activities." A law passed in 1939 institutionalized the purging of public offices.[40] The poet Carlos Barral recorded that in his family " any allusion to Republican relatives was scrupulously avoided; everyone took part in the enthusiasm for the new era and wrapped themselves in the folds of religiosity." Only through silence could people associated with the Republic be relatively sure of avoiding imprisonment or the purge of employment. Even with the death of Franco the price of the peaceful transition to democracy would be silence and 'the tacit agreement to forget the past.'[41]

Civil marriages which had taken place under Republican Spain were declared null and void unless validated by the Church. Divorce, contraceptives and abortion were forbidden.[42] Although the enforcement of this was seldom consistent. Franco was made a member of the Supreme Order of Christ by Pius XII whilst Spain itself was consecrated to the Sacred Heart.[43] The American President Harry Truman, himself a Baptist and Freemason, had little time for Franco and noted that a Baptist could only be buried at night in plowed ground (this seems rather unlikely, considering that some Muslim cemeteries and mosques had been built by the state).[44] His administration struck Spain from the list of potential recipients of the Marshall plan.[45]

The Catholic Church's ties with the Franco dictatorship conferred it control over the country's schools. Crucifixes were reestablished in schoolrooms. At the war's end Franco chose Jose Ibanez Martin, part of the National Catholic Association of Propagandists (AcNdP) to lead the Ministry. He occupied the post for 12 years, years in which he finished the task of purging the ministry begun by the Commission of Culture and Teaching which was headed by Jose Maria Peman. Peman led the work of Catholicizing state-sponsored schools and allocating generous funding to the Church's schools.[46] Romualdo de Toledo, head of the National Service of Primary Education was a traditionalist who held as his model school "the monastery founded by St Benedict". The clergy in charge of the education system sanctioned and sacked thousands of teachers of the progressive left and divided Spain's schools up among the families of falangists, loyalist soldiers, and Catholic families. In some provinces, like Lugo for example, " practically all the teachers were dismissed." At the university level this process also prevailed, as Ibanez Martin, Catholic propagandists, and the Opus Dei ensured professorships were offered only to the most faithful.[47]

The orphaned children of "Reds" learned in orphanages run by priests and nuns that, " their parents had committed great sins that they could help expiate, for which many were incited to serve the Church." [48]

Francoism professed a strong devotion to militarism, hyper-masculinity and the traditional role of women in society, that is: loving child to her parents and brothers, faithful to her husband, residing with her family. Official propaganda confined her role to family care and motherhood. Most progressive laws passed by the Republic were made void, correspondingly. Women could not become judges, or testify in trial.[citation needed] They could not become university professors.[citation needed] In the 1960s and 1970s the situation became increasingly liberalised, finally reaching full liberalisation after Franco's death.

Franco had no particular desire for a king, due to his strained relations with the legitimate heir of the Crown, Don Juan de Borbón. Therefore, he left the throne vacant, with himself as de facto regent. In 1947 Franco proclaimed Spain a monarchy, through the Ley de Sucesión en la Jefatura del Estado act, but did not designate a monarch. Instead, he set the basis for his succession. This gesture was largely done to appease monarchist factions within the Movimiento. He wore the uniform of a captain general (a rank traditionally reserved for the King), resided in the royal Pardo Palace, appropriated the kingly privilege of walking beneath a canopy, and his portrait appeared on most Spanish coins. Indeed, although his formal titles were Jefe del Estado (Head of State) and Generalísimo de los Ejércitos Españoles (Generalissimo of the Spanish Armed Forces), he was referred to as Caudillo de España por la gracia de Dios, (by the Grace of God, the Leader of Spain). Por la Gracia de Dios is a technical, legal formulation which states sovereign dignity in absolute monarchies, and had only been used by monarchs before Franco used it himself. The long-delayed selection of Juan Carlos de Borbón as Franco's official successor in 1969 was an unpleasant surprise for many interested parties, as Juan Carlos was the rightful heir for neither the Carlists nor the Legitimists[citation needed].

The civil war in Francoist Spain

For nearly twenty years after the war Francoist Spain presented the conflict as a crusade against Bolshevism in defense of Christian civilization. In Francoist narrative, authoritarianism had defeated anarchy and overseen the elimination of "agitators", those without God and the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy. Since Franco had relied on thousands of North African soldiers, anti-Islamic sentiment "was played down but the centuries old myth of the Moorish threat lay at the base of the construction of the 'Communist menace' as a modern-day Eastern plague."[49] The official position was therefore that the wartime Republic was simply a proto-Stalinist monolith, its leaders intent on creating a Spanish Soviet satellite. The anti-Communist crusade narrative still exists both as "a minority academic history" and in media friendly, politically oriented productions. (Stanley Payne/Pio Moa). This discourse obscured the social roots of the war and analysis of its origins. Many Spanish children grew up believing the war was fought against foreigners; the painter Julian Grau Santos has said "it was instilled in me and I always believed that Spain had won the war against foreign enemies of our historic greatness."[citation needed]

Economic policy

File:Spanish peseta coin with Franco 1963.gif

1963 Spanish peseta coin with the image of Franco, saying Caudillo de España, por la gracia de Dios (Francisco Franco, Leader of Spain, by the grace of God).

The Civil War had ravaged the Spanish economy. Infrastructure had been damaged, workers killed, and daily business severely hampered. For more than a decade after Franco's victory, the economy improved little. Franco initially pursued a policy of autarky, cutting off almost all international trade. The policy had devastating effects, and the economy stagnated. Only black marketeers could enjoy an evident affluence.

In 1940, the "Vertical Trade Union" was created; it was inspired by the ideas of José Antonio Primo de Rivera[citation needed], who thought that class struggle would be ended by grouping together workers and owners according to corporative principles. It was the only legal trade union, and was under government control. Other trade unions were forbidden and strongly repressed along with political parties outside the FET-JONS.

On one occasion, a Czech engineer and con-man managed to convince the general that with the waters of the River Jarama and certain herbs and secret powders, Spain could get all the petroleum it needed. On another, he was convinced of a plan to solve the country's terrible hunger of the 1940s by feeding the population of 30 million with high-mass fish stock sandwiches (dolphin, tuna, swordfish, and whale). (La Memoria Insumisa, Nicolás Sartorius y Javier Alfaya, 1999). Estimates of up to 200,000 people died of starvation during the early years of Francoism, a period known as Los Años de Hambre (the Years of Hunger).[50]

On the brink of bankruptcy, a combination of pressure from the USA, the IMF and technocrats from Opus Dei managed to "convince" the regime to adopt a free market economy in 1959 in what amounted to a mini coup d'état which removed the old guard in charge of the economy, despite the opposition of Franco. This economic liberalisation was not, however, accompanied by political reforms and repression continued unabated, though these very reforms would lead to socio-economic changes in Spanish society which would make the regime's continuation 16 years later untenable.[citation needed]

Economic growth picked up after 1959 after Franco took authority away from these ideologues and gave more power to the liberal technocrats. The country implemented several development policies and growth took off creating the "Spanish Miracle". Concurrent with the absence of social reforms, and the economic power shift, a tide of mass emigration commenced: to European countries, and to lesser extent, to South America. Emigration helped the Régime in two ways: the country got rid of surplus population, and the emigrants supplied the country with much needed monetary remittances.

During the 1960s Spain experienced further increases in wealth. International firms established their factories in Spain: salaries were low, taxes nearly non existent, strikes were forbidden, labour health or real state regulations were unheard of, and Spain was virtually a virgin market. Spain became the second-fastest growing economy in the world, just behind Japan. The rapid development of this period became known as the Spanish Miracle. At the time of Franco's death, Spain still lagged behind most of Western Europe, but the gap between its GDP per capita and that of the major Western European economies had greatly narrowed; in world terms, Spain was already enjoying a fairly high material standard of living with basic but comprehensive services. However, the period between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s was to prove difficult as, in addition to the oil shocks to which Spain was highly exposed, the settling of the new political order took priority over the modernising of the economy.


By decision of King Juan Carlos I, Franco is entombed in the monument of Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos.

Equestrian statue of Generalissimo Franco in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (City Hall Plaza) of Santander. It was taken down in late 2008.

In Spain and abroad, the legacy of Franco remains controversial. In Germany a squadron named after Werner Mölders has been renamed, because as a pilot he led the escorting units in the bombing of Guernica. As recently as 2006, the BBC reported that Maciej Giertych, an MEP of the right-wing League of Polish Families, had expressed admiration for Franco's stature who allegedly "guaranteed the maintenance of traditional values in Europe."[51]

Spanish opinion has changed. Several statues of Franco and other public Francoist symbols have been removed, with the last statue in Madrid coming down in 2005.[52] Additionally, the Permanent Commission of the European Parliament "firmly" condemned in a resolution unanimously adopted in March 2006 the "multiple and serious violations" of human rights committed in Spain under the Francoist regime from 1939 to 1975.[53][54] The resolution was at the initiative of the MEP Leo Brincat and of the historian Luis María de Puig, and is the first international official condemnation of the repression enacted by Franco's regime.[53] The resolution also urged to provide public access to historians (professional and amateurs) to the various archives of the Francoist regime, including those of the Fundación Francisco Franco which, as well as other Francoist archives, remain as of 2006 inaccessible to the public.[53] Furthermore, it urged the Spanish authorities to set up an underground exhibition in the Valle de los Caídos monument, in order to explain the "terrible" conditions in which it was built.[53] Finally, it proposes the construction of monuments to commemorate Franco's victims in Madrid and other important cities.[53]

In Spain, a commission to repair the dignity and restitute the memory of the victims of Francoism (Comisión para reparar la dignidad y restituir la memoria de las víctimas del franquismo) was approved in the summer of 2004, and is directed by the vice-president María Teresa Fernández de la Vega.[53] Because of his language policies, Franco's legacy is still particularly poorly perceived in Catalonia and the Basque Provinces. The Basque Provinces and Catalonia were among the regions that offered the strongest resistance to Franco in the Civil War, as well as during his regime.

In 2008, the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARHM) initiated a systematic search for mass graves of people executed during Franco's regime, which has been supported since the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party's victory during the 2004 elections by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government. A Ley de la memoria histórica de España (Law on the Historical Memory of Spain) was passed in 2007.[55] The law is supposed to enforce an official recognition of the crimes committed against civilians during the Francoist rule and organize under state supervision the search for mass graves.

Investigations have begun into wide-scale child abduction during the Franco years. The lost children of Francoism may reach 300,000.[56][57]

Flags and heraldry


At the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War, and in spite of the army's reorganisation, several sections of the army continued with their bi-colour flags improvised in 1936, but since 1940 new ensigns began to be distributed, whose main innovation was the addition of the eagle of John the Evangelist to the shield. The new arms were allegedly inspired in the coat of arms the Catholic Monarchs adopted after the taking of Granada from the Moors, but replacing the arms of Sicily with those of Navarre and adding the Pillars of Hercules on either side of the coat of arms. In 1938 the columns were placed outside the wings. On July 26, 1945 the commander's ensigns were suppressed by decree, and on October 11, a detailed regulation of flags was published that fixed the model of the bi-colour flag in use, but better defined its details, emphasising a greater[Clarification needed] style of the Saint John's eagle. The models established by this decree remained in force until 1977.

During this period two more flags were usually displayed along with the national flag: the flag of Spanish Falange (three vertical strips, red, black and red, with the black stripe wider than the red, and the yoke and arrows emblem in red in the centre of the black stripe) and the Carlist flag (the Saint Andrew saltire or Cross of Burgundy red on white), representing the National Movement which had unified Falange and the Requetés under the name Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS.

From the death of Franco in 1975 until 1977, the national flag followed the 1945 regulations. On 21 January 1977 a new regulation was approved that stipulated an eagle with more open wings, ("pasmada" eagle), with the restored Pillars of Hercules placed within the wings, and the tape with the motto UNA, GRANDE Y LIBRE (ONE, GREAT and FREE) moved over the eagle's head from its previous position around the neck.


From 1940 to 1975, Franco used the Castilian Bend (like the version of Charles I) as Head of State's Standard and Guidon: The Bend between the Pillars of Hercules, crowned with an imperial crown and open (old) royal crown.

Juan Carlos I, as Prince of Spain from 1969 to 1975, used a royal standard which was virtually identical to the one later adopted when he was became King in 1975. The earlier standard differed only that it featured the royal crown of a Crown Prince, the King's royal crown has 8 arches of which 5 are visible, while the Prince's one has only 4 arches of which 3 are visible. The Royal Standard of Spain consists of a dark blue square with the Coat of arms of the King in the center. The King's Guidon is identical to the standard, differing it in that it incorporates a fringe.

Coat of arms

In 1938, Franco adopted a variant of the Coat of Arms reinstating some elements originally used by the House of Trastámara such as Saint John's eagle and the yoke and bundle, as follows: Quarterly, 1 and 4. quarterly Castile and León, 2 and 3. per pale Aragon and Navarra, enté en point of Granada. The arms are crowned with an open royal crown, placed on eagle displayed sable, surrounded with the pillars of Hercules, the yoke and the bundle of arrows of the Catholic Monarchs.

See also

  • Art and culture in Francoist Spain
  • Catalan State
  • Francoist concentration camps
  • Instituto Nacional de Colonización
  • Language policies of Francoist Spain
  • List of people executed by Francoist Spain
  • Nationalist Foreign Volunteers
  • Pact of forgetting
  • Politics of Spain
  • Red Terror (Spain)
  • Spanish state
  • White Terror (Spain)


  1. Helen Graham, The Spanish Civil War: A Short Introduction (2005), p. 21
  2. Graham (2005), p. 24
  3. Indalecio Prieto, Palabras al viento, 2nd edn (Mexico City: Ediciones Oasis, 1969) pp. 247–8
  4. Eduardo González Calleja, "La violencia y sus discursos: los límites de la 'fascistización' de la derecha española durante el régimen de la II República", in Ayer. Revista de Historia Contemporánea, No. 71, 2008, pp. 89–90
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Further reading

  • Gerald Brenan, The Face of Spain, (Serif, London, 2010). First-hand account of travels around Spain in 1949.
  • Payne, S. (1987). The Franco regime. 1st ed. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
  • Luis Fernandez. Franco. Editorial

External links


Coordinates: 41°18′00″N 0°44′56″W / 41.300°N 0.749°W / 41.300; -0.749

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