The Spanish Civil War (1936-39)
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© Cor Faber en Ellen Bijma Last update website march 2024
Era of Franco Spain holiday destination In the 1960s, Spain became a much-visited holiday destination. Tens of thousands, also from the Netherlands, moved to the country for sun, sea and sand. But behind the facades of that imaginary world dramas were going on that the holidaymakers didn't know about or didn't want to know about. General Franco's terror was in full swing and was jealously concealed as much as possible. The image of a friendly Spain had to be preserved. The reality for the Spaniards, however, was very different. Concentration camps Concentration camps were already built during the Spanish Civil War. Opponents of Franco were housed there. The conditions were not much different from the (later) concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Although there was no mass destruction, many people died from exhaustion, starvation and the arbitrariness of camp guards. There was torture and murder. In 1938 there were already more than 190 such camps with about 170,000 prisoners that year. At the end of 1939, that number rose to between 367,000 and half a million. After 1939 a few more camps were added. The latter camp was closed in the late 1950s. This had everything to do with Franco wanting to change the image of his country. Robbed children During the 36-year dictatorship, a total of some 300,000 children of leftists were taken from their parents and placed with mostly wealthy Francoist families for a fee. The network of persons and organizations that carried out this must have been many tens of thousands of persons. Immediately afterwards, these were children of women from the prisons. Later, the parents were also told that the son or daughter had died shortly after birth. They were then told that the baby had already been buried and the parents should be glad they didn't have to pay the cost. As a result, the necessary birth certificates are also false. The mastermind behind it all was psychiatrist Antonio Vallejo-Nájera, born in 1889 and the very first professor of psychiatry at a Spanish university. He died in 1960 as a man, especially by Franco, honored. Between 1965 and 1985, many Spanish archives were destroyed. They wanted to avoid that incriminating documents would become public after Franco's death. Only in that last year, 1985, the government decided that no more archives could be destroyed. It turns out that the trafficking of children actually continued into the 1990s. That stopped because the adoption laws became stricter. That it could go on for so long was because the network that dealt with it still existed and was active and there was still a lot of money to be made from it. It wasn't until the 2000s that rumors of stolen children started to swell. However, it would take until 2012 before action was taken with the arrest of a nun from the network. Proclamation of monarchy As early as 1947 Franco declared Spain a monarchy again. In practice, however, nothing changes. Franco does not appoint a king, Spain simply remains a dictatorship under Franco. Vatican Concordat In 1953 Franco concludes a concordat with the Catholic Church. A number of things are recovered such as tax benefits and legal power. Later, in the 60s and 70s, this decreases and the church even provides support for strikes, etc. Opus Dei The Catholic organization Opus Dei gains authority at government level, including posts at the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Luis Carrero Blanco He makes the statement before parliament: "God bestowed on us the immense favor of an exceptional leader, a gift such as you may expect from Providence only every three or four centuries." Carrero had already become minister under Franco in 1957 and vice president of the Council of State in 1967. Six months after his appointment as prime minister, he was killed in an attack by the Basque terrorist group ETA. An 80 kilo bomb is placed under the road he often drives along. The explosion is so powerful that the car is thrown over a four-storey building. The other two occupants are also killed. Riots, strikes In the early 1960s, social unrest started in Spain. The common people no longer accept Franco's rule. Riots and strikes break out among students and workers alike. It starts with a strike by the approximately 2,000 workers at the railway workshops in Beassain in northern Spain. It is the beginning of a long, almost succession of strikes that lasted until 1975. Students are also protesting and on strike. Breaking that resistance, unlike workers' strikes, was quite easy. Workers could harm the economy, students had little or no trouble with it. In a reasonable number of cases, the workers are also met or strikes are broken less hard (less hard did not mean that it was done with a soft hand and meeting the demands completely was never an issue). From dictatorship to parliamentary monarchy On November 20, 1975, Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teodulo Franco y Bahamonde Salgado Pardo, or Francisco Franco y Bahamonde for short (in Spain it is customary to also put your mother's surname in your name. In the case of Franco this is so Bahamond). He is buried in the Valley of the Fallen, a monument he previously had built about 40 kilometers north of Madrid. Also in this monument are about 46,000 people buried, forced laborers, but also republicans who can be proven to be Catholic. Construction started in 1941 and was completed in 1959. On June 24, 2019, Franco is removed from his mausoleum and reburied next to his wife in the Mingorrubi cemetery. That has certainly not been without a struggle due to opposition from the supporters of the dictator. Two days after Franco's death, Spain unofficially becomes a monarchy again: King Alfonso XIII's grandson, Juan Carlos I, ascends the throne. Although he is a staunch supporter of Franco and his regime, he quickly tends to restore democracy. Under great national and international pressure, Spain is prevented from becoming a dictatorship again. Economic interests naturally play a major role in this, as does the opposition from Spanish society. A dictatorship can no longer be sold in these modern times, so is the opinion in high circles in Spain. It was not until December 29, 1978 that Spain officially became a constitutional monarchy.
Antonio Vallejo-Nájera
Zegel van Opus Dei
Luis Carrero Blanco
King Juan Carlos I (2007)