Franco and the Spanish Civil War

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Franco and the Spanish Civil War

  • General Francisco Franco is the most important political figure in modern Spanish history.
  • He laid the foundation of modern Spain.
  • He represents a model of intellectual and theoretical polarization between the various parties so far. His reign, which lasted for nearly forty years, will remain material for intellectual and practical differences in Spain and the whole world.
  • Franco came to power after a civil war that tore up Spain and led to the deaths of thousands after many thought the Spanish army would not act to contain the country’s political crisis and lift it out of the civil war.
  • Francisco Franco was born in 1892 to a middle-class conservative Spanish family that had been militarized from the start. His father was an officer, as well as his brother and some of his relatives, which led him to join the army.
  • The young man tried to enter the navy at an early age but failed. He decided to enter the Infantry College, where he graduated and became an officer in the Spanish army.
  • Some historical references indicate that his personality since the beginning of his reign as an officer was very conservative and patriotic.
  • Although culture, in general, was not his dominant feature, he replaced it with the courage and personal charisma that made him a high-ranking leader among his soldiers and officers.
  • Franco’s military history was linked to the war in Morocco when Spain sought to subjugate Morocco to its authority.
  • In the Moroccan war, Franco was able to impose himself as a courageous officer and then as a military commander with the skill and tactics necessary to temporarily overcome the Moroccan fighters. Thus, he wiped out the previous military defeat of the Spanish army, making him occupy military ranks very quickly compared to his other colleagues, he was promoted to the rank of Major General, when he was under 35 years of age.
  • While Franco was immersed in the Moroccan war, Spain was on the verge of a political volcano, as conditions gradually began to deteriorate.
  • Although Spain did not enter the First World War and was able to develop its relatively simple industrial structure and develop its economy, it suffered greatly from the casteism, that prevented the majority of people from reaping these relative gains in what is known as the “Non-Trickle Down Effect phenomenon”.
  • The privileged class was enriched at the expense of the broad masses, and the Spanish middle class began to decline in the face of growing poor classes.
  • The agricultural character of Spain has not changed significantly, but it has continued to suffer from underdeveloped conditions associated with irrigation, fertilization, lack of mechanization and other problems, which has led to a decline in the productivity of the Spanish hectare compared to other countries, thus creating a noticeable food gap.
  • Gradually, the political situation came close to the brink of explosion, especially with the spread of communist thought after the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, which paved the way for the beginning of a wide political division at the level of the Spanish state between the liberal right supported by the church, and the labor left, which had been joined by layers of peasants for their bad conditions.
  • In the spirit of new polarization under the umbrella of the existing constitutional monarchy, built on the pillars of a system closer to feudalism through the capitalist class supported by the support of the Catholic Church, thus the specter of civil war loomed over Spain.
  • In 1921 the Spanish army was defeated in Morocco by Moroccan militants.
  • With this defeat, the pressure on the political system increased, leading to the intervention of the army through a military coup led by General Primo de Rivera in 1923, and the isolation of the elected government and the taking of the country.
  • The army directed its policies towards eliminating feudalism and rampant capitalism and introduced the necessary constitutional amendments to achieve its political objectives and began to regulate the relationship between landowners and farmers and suspended freedoms in the country.
  • The reign of General Primo de Rivera did not last long after the circumstances forced him to resign at the will of the populace and with the help of King Alfonso XIII in 1930.
  • The country plunged into chaos just after the global recession hit Spain, Alfonso abdicated, leaving politics to Spanish politicians to do what they saw fit.
  • The republic was declared in the country.
  • The beginning of the republic did not bode well, as the new republic’s government came in a very strict regime imposing adverse changes on the state and society because it believed that the country was ready to absorb the freedoms and open releases of the economy.
  • Niceto Alcalá -Zamora’s rule was the beginning of this trend, the new constitution was completely liberal, legally changing the political and social structure of the country, and pushing Spain from the embrace of conservative Catholicism to pure secularism and liberalism that could be described as “excessive”.
  • Niceto Alcalá-Zamora executed all religious associations, headed by the Jesuits and others.
  • He laid the foundations for the development of the relationship between workers and capitalists and the same with farmers.
  • The Catalan and Basque regions gave autonomy, prompting the Spanish to believe it was the beginning of their separation from the motherland.
  • The new trends did not satisfy the various political forces, as the leftists thought that what the government did was not enough to give workers and peasants the rights they consider appropriate for these classes.
  • Conservative rightists saw these reforms as catastrophic and infringing their rights and gains.
  • The Church took a very negative attitude towards this system after the elimination of its influence and inventory of its property and rights in the appointment of bishops and led to a state of political and intellectual fragmentation in the country.
  • In the 1933 parliamentary elections, many were surprised that the right and center parties were able to garner the required majority and decided to change things completely. The leftists and their allies rushed to join forces to form the “Popular Front” to confront the new changes.
  • The “Popular Front” was able to win parliamentary elections in 1936, and as a result, a number of its cadres resorted to violence, burning churches and right-wing newspapers.
  • The army intervened and warned the leftist government that it was necessary to control the situation in the country and stop the violence on the part of its supporters, but the government’s response was violent. It carried out massive isolation and movement of army leaders, including Francisco Franco, who was appointed a general commander in the Canary Islands.
  • With this move, the situation has exploded completely with the civil war in the country widely between the leftist “Popular Front”, and the rightists supported by the army after the failure of the dialogue.
  • Franco decided with his military colleagues that the army should intervene. The army moved towards the southern Spanish in July 1936 and most of the army’s sectors joined Franco, except the navy and aviation. The “National Front” formed around the army, and the war intensified.
  • Fascist Italy, and, to a lesser extent, Nazi Germany, supported the army and the rightist “National Front”, by providing military aid to them.
  • The Soviet Union and many Leftists in Europe supported the leftist “Popular Front” in the country with the hope of turning Spain into a part of the socialist block that had begun to be formed a few years ago around Russia.
  • Franco continued his gradual march towards the capital Madrid. The leftist government moved to Valencia, which soon fell into the hands of Franco’s forces until the entire country condemned him.
  • Franco became a new leader of the country and ran a centralized dictatorship from all sides until 1975.

 

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