|Occupation||Politician Officer Military personnel|
|Country||Czech Republic Czech Republic Spain Spain|
|AKA||Francisco Franco y Bahamonde, General Franco, Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde, Francisco Franco Bahamonde, El Caudillo, Generalísimo, Franco|
|Date of birth||Ferrol|
|Date of death||Nov 20, 1975 Madrid|
|Residence||Royal Palace of El Pardo, Pazo de Meirás|
|Education||Infantry Academy of Toledo|
|Authority||VIAF id IMDB id Library of congress id NNDB id ISNI id|
Francisco Franco Bahamonde (Spanish pronunciation: [fɾanˈθisko ˈfɾaŋko ba.aˈmonde]); (4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975) was a Spanish general who ruled over Spain as a dictator for 36 years from 1939 until his death in 1975.
As a conservative and a monarchist, he opposed the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic in 1931. With the 1936 elections, the conservative Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Right-wing Groups lost by a narrow margin and the leftist Popular Front came to power. Intending to overthrow the republic, Franco followed other generals in attempting a failed coup that precipitated the Spanish Civil War. With the death of the other generals, Franco quickly became his faction's only leader. In 1947, he declared Spain a monarchy with himself as regent.
Franco gained military support from various regimes and groups, especially Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy, while the Republican side was supported by Spanish communists and anarchists as well as help from the Soviet Union, Mexico, and the International Brigades. Leaving half a million dead, the war was eventually won by Franco in 1939. He established a military dictatorship, which he defined as a totalitarian state. Franco proclaimed himself Head of State and Government under the title El Caudillo, a term similar to Il Duce (Italian) for Benito Mussolini and Der Führer (German) for Adolf Hitler. Under Franco, Spain became a one-party state, as the various conservative and royalist factions were merged into the fascist party and other political parties were outlawed.
Franco's regime committed a series of violent politically-motivated human rights abuses against the Spanish people, which included the establishment of concentration camps, the use of forced labor and executions, mostly against political and ideological enemies, causing an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 deaths, depending on how the deaths in the more than 190 concentration camps are considered. Although Franco's Spain maintained an official policy of neutrality during World War II, his regime helped the Axis in numerous ways. The German and Italian navies were allowed to use Spanish harbors from 1940 to 1943, the Abwehr gathered intelligence in Spain on Allied activities, and the Blue Division fought alongside the European Axis Powers against the Soviet Union until 1944. Franco's regime has been called a fascist one. By the 1950s, the nature of his regime changed from being openly totalitarian and using severe repression to a more authoritarian system with limited pluralism. During the Cold War, Franco appeared as one of the world's foremost anticommunist figures; consequently his regime was assisted by the West, and it was asked to join the United Nations and came under NATO's protection. By the 1960s Spain saw incremental reforms and progressive economic development.
After a 36-year rule, Franco died in 1975. He restored the monarchy before his death, which made King Juan Carlos I his successor, who led the Spanish transition to democracy. After a referendum, a new constitution was adopted, which transformed Spain into a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy.
Franco was born at half past noon on December 4, 1892, at 108 Calle Frutos Saavedra in Ferrol, Galicia. He was baptised thirteen days later at the military church of San Francisco, with the baptismal name Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo; Francisco for his paternal grandfather, Paulino for his godfather, Hermenegildo for his maternal grandmother and godmother, and Teódulo for the saint day of his birth.
His father was of Andalusian ancestry. After relocating to Galicia, the family was strongly involved in the Spanish Navy, and over the span of two centuries produced naval officers for six uninterrupted generations, down to Franco's father Nicolás Franco y Salgado Araújo (November 22, 1855 – February 22, 1942).
His mother was María del Pilar Bahamonde y Pardo de Andrade (1865 – February 28, 1934) and she was an upper middle-class Roman Catholic. His parents married in 1890. The young Franco spent much of his childhood with his two brothers, Nicolás (Ferrol, 1891–1977), later a naval officer and diplomat who in time was married to María Isabel Pascual del Pobil y Ravello, and Ramón, and his two sisters, María del Pilar (Ferrol, 1894 – Madrid, 1989), later wife of Alonso Jaráiz y Jeréz, and María de la Paz (Ferrol, 1899 – Ferrol, 1903).
Rif War and advancement through the ranks
Francisco was to follow his father into the Navy, but as a result of the Spanish–American War the country lost much of its navy as well as most of its colonies. Not needing any more officers, the Naval Academy admitted no new entrants from 1906 to 1913. To his father's chagrin, Francisco decided to try the Spanish Army. In 1907, he entered the Infantry Academy in Toledo, graduating in 1910 as a lieutenant. Two years later, he obtained a commission to Morocco. Spanish efforts to occupy their new African protectorate provoked the protracted Rif War (from 1909 to 1927) with native Moroccans. Their tactics resulted in heavy losses among Spanish military officers, and also provided an opportunity to earn promotion through merit. It was said that officers would receive either la caja o la faja (a coffin or a general's sash). Franco quickly gained a reputation as a good officer. In 1913, Franco transferred into the newly formed regulares: Moroccan colonial troops with Spanish officers, who acted as shock troops. This transfer into a perilous role may have been decided because Franco failed to win the hand of his first love, Sofía Subirán. (The letters between the two were found and she was questioned by journalists.)
In 1916, aged 23 and already a captain, he was shot by enemy machine gun fire. He was badly wounded in the abdomen, specifically the liver, in a skirmish at El Biutz and possibly lost a testicle. The physicians of the battle later concluded that his intestines were spared because he inhaled the moment he was shot. His survival marked him permanently in the eyes of the native troops as a man of baraka (good luck). He was recommended for Spain's highest honour for gallantry, the coveted Cruz Laureada de San Fernando, but instead received the Cross of Maria Cristina, First Class. With that he was promoted to major at the end of February 1917. This made him the youngest major in the Spanish army. From 1917 to 1920, he served in Spain. In 1920, Lieutenant Colonel José Millán Astray, a histrionic but charismatic officer, founded the Spanish Foreign Legion, on similar lines to the French Foreign Legion. Franco became the Legion's second-in-command and returned to Africa. On July 24, 1921, the poorly commanded and overextended Spanish Army suffered a crushing defeat at Annual from Rif tribesmen led by the Abd el-Krim brothers. The Legion and supporting units relieved the Spanish enclave of Melilla after a three-day forced march led by Franco. In 1923, by now a lieutenant colonel, he was made commander of the Legion.
That year, he married María del Carmen Polo y Martínez-Valdès. Three years later the couple had a daughter, María del Carmen. Following his honeymoon Franco was summoned to Madrid to be presented to King Alfonso XIII. This and other occasions of royal attention would mark him during the Republic as a monarchical officer. Promoted to colonel, Franco led the first wave of troops ashore at Al Hoceima in 1925. This landing in the heartland of Abd el-Krim's tribe, combined with the French invasion from the south, spelled the beginning of the end for the short-lived Republic of the Rif. Franco's recognition eventually caught up with him and he was promoted to brigadier general on February 3, 1926. This made him the youngest general in Spain, and perhaps the youngest general of Europe. In 1928 Franco was appointed director of the newly created General Military Academy of Zaragoza, a new college for all army cadets, replacing the former separate institutions for young men seeking to become officers in infantry, cavalry, artillery, and other branches of the army. Franco was removed as Director of the Zaragoza Military Academy in 1931; about 95% of his former Zaragoza cadets later came to side with him in the Civil War.
During the Second Spanish Republic
With the fall of the monarchy in 1931, Franco did not take any notable stand. But the closing of the Academy in June by War Minister Manuel Azaña provoked his first clash with the Spanish Republic. Azaña found Franco's farewell speech to the cadets insulting. Franco stressed in his speech the Republic's need for discipline and respect. For six months Franco was without a post and under surveillance.
Franco was a subscriber to the journal of Acción Española, a monarchist organisation, and a firm believer in the Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy or contubernio (filthy cohabitation)—'one of Franco's favourite words'; a conspiracy in which Jews, Freemasons, Communists, and other leftists alike allegedly sought the destruction of Christian Europe, with Spain the principal target.
On February 5, 1932, he was given a command in A Coruña. Franco avoided involvement in José Sanjurjo's attempted coup that year, and even wrote a hostile letter to Sanjurjo expressing his anger over the attempt. As a side result of Azaña's military reform, in January 1933, Franco was relegated from the first to the 24th in the list of brigadiers; the same year, on February 17, he was given the military command of the Balearic Islands: a post above his rank, but Franco was still angered that he was purposely stuck in the positions he didn't want to be. Yet it was quite common for the Conservative Officers to be moved or demoted.
New elections held in October 1933 resulted in a centre-right majority. In opposition to this government, a revolutionary communist/anarchist movement broke out on October 5, 1934. This uprising was rapidly quelled in most of the country, but gained a stronghold in Asturias, with the support of the miners' unions. Franco, already General of Division and aide to the war minister, Diego Hidalgo, was put in command of the operations directed to suppress the insurgency. Troops of the Spanish Army of Africa carried this out, with General Eduardo López Ochoa as commander in the field. After two weeks of heavy fighting (and a death toll estimated between 1,200 and 2,000), the rebellion was suppressed.
The insurgency in Asturias (see Asturian miners' strike of 1934) sharpened the antagonism between Left and Right. Franco and López Ochoa (who, prior to the campaign in Asturias, had been seen as a left-leaning officer) emerged as officers prepared to use 'troops against Spanish civilians as if they were a foreign enemy'. Franco described the rebellion to a journalist in Oviedo as, 'a frontier war and its fronts are socialism, communism and whatever attacks civilisation in order to replace it with barbarism.' Though the colonial units sent to the north by the government at Franco's recommendation consisted of the Spanish Foreign Legion and the Moroccan Regulares Indigenas, the right wing press portrayed the Asturian rebels as lackeys of a foreign Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy. At the start of the Civil War, López Ochoa was assassinated. Some time after these events, Franco was briefly commander-in-chief of the Army of Africa (from February 15 onwards), and from May 19, 1935, on, Chief of the General Staff.
General election of 1936
After the ruling centre-right coalition collapsed amid the Straperlo corruption scandal, new elections were scheduled. Two wide coalitions formed: the Popular Front on the left, ranging from Republican Union to Communists, and the Frente Nacional on the right, ranging from the centre radicals to the conservative Carlists. On February 16, 1936, the left won by a narrow margin. Growing political bitterness surfaced again. The government and its supporters, the Popular Front, had launched a campaign against the Opposition whom they accused of plotting against the Republic. According to the right-wing opposition, the real enemies of the Republic were not on the Right but on the Left; Spain was in imminent danger of falling under a "Communist dictatorship", and therefore by fighting the democratically elected Popular Front, they were merely doing their duty in defense of law and order and of the freedom and the fundamental rights of the Spanish people.
On February 23 Franco was sent to the Canary Islands to serve as the islands' military commander, an appointment perceived by him as a destierro (banishment). Meanwhile, a conspiracy led by Emilio Mola was taking shape. In June, Franco was contacted and a secret meeting was held within the forest of La Esperanza on Tenerife to discuss starting a military coup. (An obelisk commemorating this historic meeting was erected at the site in a clearing at Las Raíces.)
Outwardly Franco maintained an ambiguous attitude almost until July. On June 23, 1936, he wrote to the head of the government, Casares Quiroga, offering to quell the discontent in the Spanish Republican Army, but received no reply. The other rebels were determined to go ahead con Paquito o sin Paquito (with Paquito or without Paquito; Paquito being a diminutive of Paco, which in turn is short for Francisco), as it was put by José Sanjurjo, the honorary leader of the military uprising. After various postponements, July 18 was fixed as the date of the uprising. The situation reached a point of no return and, as presented to Franco by Mola, the coup was unavoidable and he had to choose a side. He decided to join the rebels and was given the task of commanding the Army of Africa. A privately owned DH 89 De Havilland Dragon Rapide, flown by two British pilots, Cecil Bebb and Hugh Pollard, was chartered in England on July 11 to take Franco to Africa.
The assassination of the right-wing opposition leader José Calvo Sotelo by government police troops, possibly in retaliation for the murder of José Castillo, precipitated the uprising. On July 17, one day earlier than planned, the African Army rebelled, detaining their commanders. On July 18, Franco published a manifesto and left for Africa, where he arrived the next day to take command.
A week later the rebels, who soon called themselves the Nationalists, controlled a third of Spain; however most naval units remained under control of the Republican loyalist forces, which left Franco isolated. The coup had failed in the attempt to bring a swift victory, but the Spanish Civil War had begun.
From the Spanish Civil War to World War II
The Spanish Civil War began in July 1936 and officially ended with Franco's victory in April 1939, leaving 190,000 to 500,000 dead. Despite the Non-Intervention Agreement of August 1936, the war was marked by foreign intervention on behalf of both sides, leading to international repercussions. The nationalist side was supported by Fascist Italy, which sent the Corpo Truppe Volontarie, and later by Nazi Germany, which assisted with the Condor Legion. They were opposed by the Soviet Union and communist, socialists and anarchists within Spain. The United Kingdom and France strictly adhered to the arms embargo, provoking dissensions within the French Popular Front coalition led by Léon Blum, but the Republican side was nonetheless supported by the Soviet Union and volunteers fighting in the International Brigades (see for example Ken Loach's Land and Freedom).
Because Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin used the war as a testing ground for modern warfare, some historians, such as Ernst Nolte, have considered the Spanish Civil War, along with World War II, part of a European Civil War lasting from 1936 to 1945 and characterised mainly as a left/right ideological conflict. This interpretation has not found acceptance among most historians, who consider the Spanish Civil War and Second World War to be two distinct conflicts. Among other things, they point to the political heterogeneity on both sides (See Spanish Civil War: other factions) and criticise a monolithic interpretation which overlooks the local nuances of Spanish history.
The first months
Following July 18, 1936 pronunciamiento, Franco assumed the leadership of the 30,000 soldiers of the Spanish Army of Africa. The first days of the insurgency were marked with a serious need to secure control over the Spanish Moroccan Protectorate. On one side, Franco had to win the support of the natives and their (nominal) authorities, and, on the other, had to ensure his control over the army. His method was the summary execution of some 200 senior officers loyal to the Republic (one of them his own cousin). His loyal bodyguard was shot by Manuel Blanco. Franco's first problem was how to move his troops to the Iberian Peninsula, since most units of the Navy had remained in control of the Republic and were blocking the Strait of Gibraltar. He requested help from Benito Mussolini, who responded with an unconditional offer of arms and planes; in Germany Wilhelm Canaris, the head of the Abwehr military intelligence, persuaded Hitler to support the Nationalists. From July 20 onward Franco was able, with a small group of 22 mainly German Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, to initiate an air bridge to Seville, where his troops helped to ensure the rebel control of the city. Through representatives, he started to negotiate with the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy for more military support, and above all for more aircraft. Negotiations were successful with the last two on July 25 and aircraft began to arrive in Tetouan on August 2. On August 5 Franco was able to break the blockade with the newly arrived air support, successfully deploying a ship convoy with some 2,000 soldiers.
In early August, the situation in western Andalusia was stable enough to allow him to organise a column (some 15,000 men at its height), under the command of then Lieutenant-Colonel Juan Yagüe, which would march through Extremadura towards Madrid. On August 11 Mérida was taken, and on August 15 Badajoz, thus joining both nationalist-controlled areas. Additionally, Mussolini ordered a voluntary army, the Corpo Truppe Volontarie (CTV) of some 12,000 Italians of fully motorised units to Seville and Hitler added to them a professional squadron from the Luftwaffe (2JG/88) with about 24 planes. All these planes had the Nationalist Spanish insignia painted on them, but were flown by Italian and German nationals. The backbone of Franco's aviation in those days were the Italian SM.79 and SM.81 bombers, the biplane Fiat CR.32 fighter and the German Junkers Ju 52 cargo-bomber and the Heinkel He 51 biplane fighter.
On September 21, with the head of the column at the town of Maqueda (some 80 km away from Madrid), Franco ordered a detour to free the besieged garrison at the Alcázar of Toledo, which was achieved on September 27. This controversial decision gave the Popular Front time to strengthen its defenses in Madrid and hold the city that year, but the holding of Alcázar was an important morale and propaganda success for the Nationalists.
Rise to power
The designated leader of the uprising, General José Sanjurjo, died on July 20, 1936, in a plane crash. Therefore, in the nationalist zone, "Political life ceased." Initially, only military command mattered; this was divided into regional commands (Emilio Mola in the North, Gonzalo Queipo de Llano in Seville commanding Andalusia, Franco with an independent command and Miguel Cabanellas in Zaragoza commanding Aragon). The Spanish Army of Morocco itself was split into two columns, one commanded by General Juan Yagüe and the other commanded by Colonel José Varela.
From July 24 a coordinating junta was established, based at Burgos. Nominally led by Cabanellas, as the most senior general, it initially included Mola, three other generals, and two colonels; Franco was later added in early August. On September 21 it was decided that Franco was to be commander-in-chief (this unified command was opposed only by Cabanellas), and, after some discussion, with no more than a lukewarm agreement from Queipo de Llano and from Mola, also head of government. He was, doubtlessly, helped to this primacy by the fact that, in late July, Hitler had decided that all of Germany's aid to the nationalists would go to Franco.
Mola had been somewhat discredited as the main planner of the attempted coup that had now degenerated into a civil war, and was strongly identified with the Carlist monarchists and not at all with the Falange, a party with Fascist leanings and connections ("phalanx", a far-right Spanish political party founded by The 3rd Marqués de Estella), nor did he have good relations with Germany; Queipo de Llano and Cabanellas had both previously rebelled against the dictatorship of General The 2nd Marqués de Estella and were therefore discredited in some nationalist circles; and Falangist leader The 3rd Marqués de Estella was in prison in Alicante (he would be executed a few months later) and the desire to keep a place open for him prevented any other Falangist leader from emerging as a possible head of state. Franco's previous aloofness from politics meant that he had few active enemies in any of the factions that needed to be placated, and also he had cooperated in recent months with both Germany and Italy.
On October 1, 1936, in Burgos, Franco was publicly proclaimed as Generalísimo of the National army and Jefe del Estado (Head of State). When Mola was killed in another air accident a year later (which some believe was an assassination) (June 2, 1937), no military leader was left from those who organised the conspiracy against the Republic between 1933 and 1935.
Franco personally guided military operations from this time until the end of the war. After the failed assault on Madrid in November 1936, Franco settled on a piecemeal approach to winning the war, rather than bold maneuvering. As with his decision to relieve the garrison at Toledo, this approach has been subject of some debate; some of his decisions, such as in June 1938 when he preferred to head for Valencia instead of Catalonia, remain particularly controversial from a military viewpoint. However, Valencia, Castellon and Alicante saw the last Republican troops defeated by Franco.
Although both Germany and Italy provided military support to Franco, the degree of influence of both powers on his direction of the war seems to have been very limited. Nevertheless, the Italian troops, despite not being always effective, were present in most of the large operations in large numbers, while the German aircraft helped the Nationalist air force dominate the skies for most of the war. The Portuguese dictator Salazar also openly assisted the Nationalists from the start, contributing with 20,000 troops.
Franco's direction of the German and Italian forces was limited, particularly in the direction of the Condor Legion, but he was by default their supreme commander, and they rarely made decisions on their own. For reasons of prestige it was decided to continue assisting Franco until the end of the war, and Italian and German troops paraded on the day of the final victory in Madrid.
From 1937 to 1948 the Franco regime was doctrinally at least a semi-fascist state, the categorical fascism of the FET (Falange Española Tradicionalista) as state party being mitigated above all by the confessional nature of the regime—creating the strange hybrid known to some as clerical fascism and to Amando de Miguel as "fascismo frailuno" (friar fascism). On April 19, 1937, Franco managed to fuse the ideologically incompatible national-syndicalist Falange ("Phalanx", a fascist Spanish political party founded by The 3rd Marqués de Estella) and the Carlist monarchist parties into one party under his rule, dubbed Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (FET y de las JONS), which became the only legal party in 1939. Unlike some other fascist movements, the Falangists did develop an official program, the Twenty-Seven Points. These exhibited all the main points of fascistic doctrine. Franco made himself jefe nacional (National Chief) of the new FET (Falange Española Tradicionalista; Traditionalist Spanish Phalanx) with a secretary, Junta Political and National Council to be named subsequently by himself. Five days later (April 24) the raised-arm Fascist salute of the Falange was made the official salute of the Nationalist regime. In 1939 the fascist style heavily predominated, with ritualistic invocations of "Franco, Franco, Franco." The Falangists' hymn, Cara al Sol, became the semi-national anthem of Franco's not-yet-established regime.
This new political formation appeased the pro-Nazi Falangists while tempering them with the anti-German Carlists. Franco's brother-in-law Ramón Serrano Súñer, who was his main political advisor, was able to turn the various parties under Franco against each other to absorb a series of political confrontations against Franco himself. Franco expelled the original leading members of both the Carlists (Manuel Fal Condé) and the Falangists (Manuel Hedilla) to secure his political future. Franco also appeased the Carlists by exploiting the Republicans' anti-clericalism in his propaganda, in particular concerning the "Martyrs of the war". While the loyalist forces presented the war as a struggle to defend the Republic against Fascism, Franco depicted himself as the defender of "Catholic Spain" against "atheist Communism."
The end of the Civil War
Before the fall of Catalonia in February 1939, the Prime Minister of Spain Juan Negrín unsuccessfully proposed, in the meeting of the Cortes in Figueres, capitulation with the sole condition of respecting the lives of the vanquished. Negrín was ultimately deposed by Colonel Segismundo Casado, later joined by José Miaja.
Thereafter only Madrid (see History of Madrid) and a few other areas remained under control of the government forces. On February 27 Chamberlain and Daladier's governments recognised the Franco regime, before the official end of the war. The PCE (the Spanish Communist Party) attempted a mutiny in Madrid with the aim of re-establishing Negrín's leadership, but José Miaja retained control. On March 28, 1939, with the help of pro-Franco forces inside the city (the "fifth column" General Mola had mentioned in propaganda broadcasts in 1936), Madrid fell to the Nationalists. The next day, Valencia, which had held out under the guns of the Nationalists for close to two years, also surrendered. Victory was proclaimed on April 1, 1939, when the last of the Republican forces surrendered. On the same day, Franco placed his sword upon the altar of a church and in a vow, promised that he would never again take up his sword unless Spain itself was threatened with invasion.
At least 70,000 people were executed during the civil war. Franco's victory was followed by thousands of summary executions (from 15,000 to 25,000 people) and imprisonments, while many were put to forced labour, building railways, drying out swamps, digging canals (La Corchuela, the Canal of the Bajo Guadalquivir), construction of the Valle de los Caídos monument, etc. The 1940 shooting of the president of the Catalan government, Lluís Companys, was one of the most notable cases of this early suppression of opponents and dissenters. According to Gabriel Jackson, the number of victims of the "White Terror" (executions and hunger or illness in prisons) only between 1939 and 1943 was 200,000.
Leftists suffered a high death toll. The Spanish intelligentsia and atheists were also targeted for liquidation, as well as military and government figures who had remained loyal to the Madrid government during the civil war.
In his history of the Spanish Civil War, Antony Beevor "reckons Franco's ensuing 'white terror' claimed 200,000 lives. The 'red terror' had already killed 38,000." Julius Ruiz concludes that "although the figures remain disputed, a minimum of 37,843 executions were carried out in the Republican zone with a maximum of 150,000 executions (including 50,000 after the war) in Nationalist Spain."
Despite the official end of the war, guerrilla resistance to Franco (known as "the maquis") was widespread in many mountainous regions, and continued well into the 1950s. In 1944, a group of republican veterans, which also fought in the French resistance against the Nazis, invaded the Val d'Aran in northwest Catalonia, but they were quickly defeated.
The end of the war led to hundreds of thousands of exiles, mostly to France (but also Mexico, Chile, Cuba, the USA and so on.). On the other side of the Pyrenees, refugees were confined in internment camps of the French Third Republic, such as Camp Gurs or Camp Vernet, where 12,000 Republicans were housed in squalid conditions (mostly soldiers from the Durruti Division). The 17,000 refugees housed in Gurs were divided into four categories (Brigadists, pilots, Gudaris and ordinary 'Spaniards'). The Gudaris (Basques) and the pilots easily found local backers and jobs, and were allowed to quit the camp, but the farmers and ordinary people, who could not find relations in France, were encouraged by the Third Republic, in agreement with the Francoist government, to return to Spain. The great majority did so and were turned over to the Francoist authorities in Irún. From there they were transferred to the Miranda de Ebro camp for "purification" according to the Law of Political Responsibilities.
After the proclamation by Marshal Philippe Pétain of the Vichy France regime, the refugees became political prisoners, and the French police attempted to round up those who had been liberated from the camp. Along with other "undesirables", they were sent to the Drancy internment camp before being deported to Nazi Germany. 5,000 Spaniards thus died in Mauthausen concentration camp. The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who had been named by the Chilean President Pedro Aguirre Cerda special consul for immigration in Paris, was given responsibility for what he called "the noblest mission I have ever undertaken": shipping more than 2,000 Spanish refugees, who had been housed by the French in squalid camps, to Chile on an old cargo ship, the Winnipeg.
World War II
In September 1939 World War II began. On October 23, 1940, Hitler and Franco met in Hendaye in France to discuss the possibility of Spain's entry on the side of the Axis. However, Franco's demands, including supplies of food and fuel, as well as Spanish control of Gibraltar and French North Africa, proved too much for Hitler. At the time Hitler did not want to risk damaging his relations with the new Vichy French government. (An oft-cited remark attributed to Hitler is that the German leader said that he would rather have some of his own teeth extracted than to have to personally deal further with Franco.) Franco had received important support from Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during the Spanish Civil War, and he had signed the Anti-Comintern Pact. He described Spain as part of the Axis in official documents, while offering various kinds of support to Italy and Germany. He allowed Spanish soldiers to volunteer to fight in the German Army against the USSR (the Blue Division), but forbade Spaniards to fight in the West against the democracies. Franco's common ground with Hitler was particularly weakened by Hitler's propagation of Nazi mysticism and his attempts to manipulate Christianity, which went against Franco's fervent commitment to defending Catholicism. Contributing to the disagreement was an ongoing dispute over German mining rights in Spain. Some historians argue that Franco made demands he knew Hitler would not accede to in order to stay out of the war. Other historians argue that Franco, as the leader of a destroyed and bankrupt country in chaos following a brutal three-year civil war, simply had little to offer the Axis and that the Spanish armed forces were not ready for a major war.
Yet, after the Fall of France in June 1940, Spain did adopt a pro-Axis stance (for example, German and Italian ships and U-boats were allowed to use Spanish naval facilities) before returning to a more neutral position in the autumn of 1943 when the tide of the war had turned decisively against the Axis Powers. Franco seriously considered blocking allied access to the Mediterranean Sea by invading British-controlled Gibraltar, but he abandoned the idea after learning that the plan would have likely failed due to Gibraltar being too heavily defended, and it would have given the British the grounds to declare war on Spain and thus give the UK and its allies an excellent opportunity to take both the Canary Islands and Spanish Morocco, as well as possibly invade mainland Spain itself. Franco was aware that his air force would not be able to protect Spanish cities from attacks by the British Royal Air Force, and the British Royal Navy would be able to blockade Spain to prevent imports of crucial materials such as oil. Spain depended on oil imports from the United States, which were almost certain to be cut off if Spain formally joined the Axis. According to Franco's own autobiography, he also met privately with Mussolini in Bordighera, Italy on February 12, 1941 at Hitler's request. Mussolini affected not to be interested in Franco's help due to the defeats his forces had suffered in North Africa and the Balkans, and he even told Franco that he wished he could find any way to leave the war. When the invasion of the Soviet Union began on June 22, 1941, Franco immediately offered to form a unit of military volunteers to join the invasion. Volunteer Spanish troops (the División Azul, or "Blue Division") fought on the Eastern Front under German command from 1941 to 1944. Some historians have argued that not all of the Blue Division were true volunteers and that Franco expended relatively small but significant resources to aid the Axis powers' battle against the Soviet Union.
Franco was initially disliked by Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, who, during World War II, had suggested a joint U.S.-Latin American assault and declaring war on Spain in order to overthrow Franco's regime and desiring in retaking the former Spanish colonies in the Americas. Hitler may not have really wanted Spain to join the war, as he needed neutral harbors to import materials from countries in Latin America and elsewhere. In addition Hitler felt Spain would be a burden as it would be dependent on Germany for help. Franco signed a revised Anti-Comintern Pact on November 25, 1941.
After the war, the Spanish government tried to destroy all evidence of its cooperation with the Axis. However, in 2010 documents were discovered showing that on May 13, 1941, Franco ordered his provincial governors to compile a list of Jews while he sided and made an alliance with the Axis powers. Franco supplied Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, architect of the Nazis' Final Solution, with a list of 6,000 Jews in Spain. Despite the creation of the list, there is no evidence of any Jew seeking refuge from Germany being sent back to Germany. Although Franco made occasional negative references to Jews, he had Jewish friends in Morocco and even publicly stopped an outbreak of discrimination against Jews there. When Franco became dictator, no official attacks on Jews were ever countenanced by his government, nor did he ever hand Jews over to Germany. Spanish Jews in the army served Franco with the same conditions as anyone else. Spain ended up helping more Jews than any other neutral nation during World War II. Furthermore, Spanish diplomats extended their diplomatic protection over Jews in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Balkans.
On June 14, 1940, Spanish forces in Morocco occupied Tangier (a city under the rule of the League of Nations) and did not leave it until the war's end in 1945.
Spain under Franco
Franco was recognised as the Spanish head of state by Britain and France in February 1939. Already proclaimed Generalísimo of the Nationalists and Jefe del Estado (Head of State) in October 1936, he thereafter assumed the official title of "Su Excelencia el Jefe de Estado" ("His Excellency the Head of State"). However, he was also referred to in state and official documents as "Caudillo de España" ("the Leader of Spain"), and sometimes called "el Caudillo de la Última Cruzada y de la Hispanidad" ("the Leader of the Last Crusade and of the Hispanic heritage") and "el Caudillo de la Guerra de Liberación contra el Comunismo y sus Cómplices" ("the Leader of the War of Liberation Against Communism and Its Accomplices").
In 1947 Franco proclaimed Spain a monarchy, but did not designate a monarch. This gesture was largely done to appease the monarchists in the Movimiento Nacional (Carlists and Alfonsists). Franco left the throne vacant until 1969, proclaiming himself as a de facto regent for life. At the same time, Franco appropriated many of the privileges of a king. He wore the uniform of a Captain General (a rank traditionally reserved for the King) and resided in El Pardo Palace. In addition he began walking under a canopy, and his portrait appeared on most Spanish coins and postage stamps. He also added "by the grace of God", a phrase usually part of the styles of monarchs, to his style.
Franco initially sought support from various groups. His administration marginalised fascist ideologues in favor of technocrats, many of whom were linked with Opus Dei, who promoted economic modernisation.
Although Franco and Spain under his rule adopted some trappings of fascism, he, and Spain under his rule, are generally not considered to be fascist; among the distinctions, fascism entails a revolutionary aim to transform society, where Franco did not seek to do so, and, to the contrary, although authoritarian, was by nature conservative and traditional. Stanley Payne notes: "scarcely any of the serious historians and analysts of Franco consider the generalissimo to be a core fascist". The few consistent points in Franco's long rule were above all authoritarianism, nationalism, Catholicism, anti-Freemasonry, and anti-Communism.
The aftermath of the Civil War was socially bleak: many of those who had supported the Republic fled into exile. Spain lost thousands of doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, judges, professors, businessmen, artists, etc. Many of those who had to stay lost their jobs or lost their rank. Sometimes those jobs were given to unskilled and even untrained personnel. This deprived the country of many of its brightest minds, and also of a very capable workforce. However, this was done to keep Spain's citizens consistent with the ideals sought by the Nationalists and Franco.
With the end of World War II, Spain suffered from the economic consequences of its isolation from the international community. This situation ended in part when, in the light of Cold War tensions and of Spain's strategic location, the United States entered into a trade and military alliance with Franco. This historic alliance commenced with United States President Eisenhower's visit in 1953 which resulted in the Pact of Madrid. Spain was then admitted to the UN in 1955.
In 1952 a syndicate from Dallas, Texas, including Jack Crichton, Everette Lee DeGolyer, and Clint Murchison sought drilling rights to petroleum in Spain. The operation was handled by Delta Drilling Company.
|* Personal Standard Franco as Head of State. |
* Coat of arms of Franco as Head of State.
* The Victor, another emblem used by Franco.
The first decade of Franco's rule following the end of the Civil War in 1939 saw continued oppression and the killing of an undetermined number of political opponents. Estimation is difficult and controversial, but the number of people killed probably lies somewhere between 15,000 and 50,000.
By the start of the 1950s Franco's state had become less violent, but during his entire rule, non-government trade unions and all political opponents across the political spectrum, from communist and anarchist organisations to liberal democrats and Catalan or Basque separatists, were either suppressed or tightly controlled by all means, up to and including violent police repression. 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 and the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) were banned in 1939, while the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) went underground. 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's Spanish nationalism promoted a unitary national identity by repressing Spain's cultural diversity. Bullfighting and flamenco 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, such as the Sardana, the national dance of Catalunya, were plainly forbidden (often in an erratic manner). This cultural policy was relaxed over time, most notably during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Franco also used language politics in an attempt to establish national homogeneity. He promoted the use of Castilian Spanish and suppressed other languages such as Catalan, Galician, and Basque. The legal usage of languages other than Castilian was forbidden. All government, notarial, legal and commercial documents were to be drawn up exclusively in Castilian and any documents written in other languages were deemed null and void. The usage of any other language was forbidden in schools, in advertising, and on road and shop signs. For unofficial use, citizens continued to speak these languages. This was the situation throughout the 1940s and to a lesser extent during the 1950s, but after 1960 the non-Castilian Spanish languages were freely spoken and written, and they reached bookshops and stages, although they never received official status.
On the other hand, the Catholic Church was upheld as the established church of the Spanish State, and it regained many of the traditional privileges it had lost under the Republic. Civil servants had to be Catholic, and some official jobs even required a "good behavior" statement by a priest. Civil marriages which had taken place in Republican Spain were declared null and void unless they had been confirmed by the Catholic Church. Divorce was forbidden, along with contraceptives and abortion.
Most country towns and rural areas were patrolled by pairs of Guardia Civil, a military police for civilians, which functioned as Franco's chief means of social control. Larger cities and capitals were mostly under the Policia Armada, or the grises ("greys", due to the colour of their uniforms) as they were called.
Student revolts at universities in the late 1960s and early 1970s were violently repressed by the heavily armed Policía Armada (Armed Police). Plainclothes secret police worked inside Spanish universities.
The enforcement by public authorities of traditional Catholic values was a stated intent of the regime, mainly by using a law (the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes, Vagrancy Act) enacted by Azaña. The remaining nomads of Spain (Gitanos and Mercheros like El Lute) were especially affected. Through this law, homosexuality, pedophilia and prostitution were made criminal offenses in 1954, although its application was seldom consistent.
Women in Francoist Spain
Francoism professed a devotion to the traditional role of a woman in society, that is being a loving child to her parents and brothers, being faithful to her husband, and residing with her family. Official propaganda confined the role of women to family care and motherhood. Immediately after the war most progressive laws passed by the Republic aimed at equality between the sexes were nullified. Women could not become judges, or testify in a trial. They could not become university professors. Their affairs and economic lives had to be managed by their fathers and husbands. Even in the 1970s a woman fleeing from an abusive husband could be arrested and imprisoned for "abandoning the home" (abandono del hogar). Until the 1970s a woman could not have a bank account without a co-sign by her father or husband. In the 1960s and 1970s these restrictions were somewhat relaxed, but it was not until after Franco's death that a more egalitarian view of the sexes was adopted.
Spanish colonial empire and decolonisation
Spain attempted to retain control of its colonial empire throughout Franco's rule. During the Algerian War (1954–62), Madrid became the base of the Organisation armée secrète (OAS) right-wing French Army group which sought to preserve French Algeria. Despite this, Franco was forced to make some concessions. 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, 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 it ceded the exclave of Ifni to Morocco. Under Franco, Spain also pursued a campaign to force a negotiation on the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, and closed its border with that territory in 1969. The border would not be fully reopened until 1985.
Like most Civil Wars, Spain's 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 devastated economy recovered very slowly. 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.
On the brink of bankruptcy, a combination of pressure from the United States, the IMF and, most importantly, the technocrats from Opus Dei, managed to convince the regime to adopt a free market economy. Many of the old guard in charge of the economy were replaced by "technocrata", despite some initial opposition from Franco. From the mid-1950s there was modest acceleration in economic activity after some minor reforms and a relaxation of controls. But the growth proved too much for the economy, with shortages and inflation breaking out towards the end of the 1950s.
When Franco replaced his ideological ministers with the apolitical technocrats, the regime implemented several development policies that included deep economic reforms. After a recession, growth took off from 1959, creating an economic boom that lasted until 1974, and became known as the "Spanish Miracle".
Concurrent with the absence of social reforms, and the economic power shift, a tide of mass emigration commenced to other European countries, and to a lesser extent, to South America. Emigration helped the regime in two ways. The country got rid of populations it would not have been able to keep in employment, and the emigrants supplied the country with much needed monetary remittances.
During the 1960s, the wealthy classes of Francoist Spain experienced further increases in wealth, particularly those who remained politically faithful, while a burgeoning middle class became visible as the "economic miracle" progressed. International firms established factories in Spain where salaries were low, company taxes very low, strikes forbidden and workers' health or state protections almost unheard of. State-owned firms like the car manufacturer SEAT, truck builder Pegaso and oil refiner INH, massively expanded production. Furthermore, Spain was virtually a new mass market. Spain became the second-fastest growing economy in the world between 1959 and 1973, just behind Japan. By the time of Franco's death in 1975, Spain still lagged behind most of Western Europe but the gap between its per capita GDP and that of the leading Western European countries had narrowed greatly, and the country had developed a large industrialised economy.
Franco was reluctant to enact any form of administrative and legislative decentralisation and kept a fully centralised 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 on 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 more 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.
The Basque Country and Catalonia were among the regions that offered the strongest resistance to Franco in the Civil War. 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, but kept them for Álava which had sided with the nationalists in the civil war.
Among Franco's greatest area of support during the civil war was Navarre, the northern half of which was Basque-speaking. Navarre remained a separate region from the Basque Country and Franco also decided to preserve its centuries-old fiscal privileges and autonomy, the so-called Fueros of Navarre. The regional privileges for Álava and Navarre were kept because Álava and Navarre had participated in the initial coup d'état against the Republican government on July 18, 1936.
Franco abolished the official statute and recognition of 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 Castilian as the only official language of the State and education. The Franco era corresponded with the popularisation of the compulsory national educational system and the development of modern mass media, both controlled by the State and in the Castilian 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, such as Scottish Gaelic or French Breton. By the 1970s the majority of the population in urban areas could not speak the minority language or, as in some Catalan towns, their social use had been abandoned, leaving them limited to family use. Because of the already fragile situation of the Basque language before the Civil War, it became the most endangered language in Spain. By the 1970s Basque lacked a sufficient number of new speakers to assure its future, and moved closer to extinction. It is now recognised that the Basque language would have disappeared in a few more decades if the same linguistic policies had been preserved. This was the main reason that drove the Francoist provincial government of Álava to create a network of Basque medium schools (Ikastola) in 1973 which were State-financed.
Franco and the United States
At the end of World War II, Spain's fascist dealings made it an international pariah and the country was kept out of the United Nations, the Marshall Plan and NATO. In the 1950s, however, Spain's strategic location and Franco's anti-communist hostility towards the Soviet Union led the U.S. to reconsider its position towards Spain and it entered into a trade and military alliance as part of its policy of containment.
This historic alliance began with the signing of the Pact of Madrid in 1953, which guaranteed American support for Franco's regime. Spain was admitted to the United Nations in 1955 and President Eisenhower later visited Spain in 1959 and met with Franco.
President Richard Nixon toasted Franco, and, after Franco's death, he stated: "General Franco was a loyal friend and ally of the United States." American military facilities in Spain built during this era included Naval Station Rota, Morón Air Base, and Torrejón Air Base.
Death and funeral
In 1969 Franco designated Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón, who had been educated by him in Spain, with the new title of Prince of Spain, as his heir-apparent. This designation came as a surprise to the Carlist pretender to the throne, as well as to Juan Carlos' father, Don Juan, the Count of Barcelona, who had a superior claim to the throne, but was feared by Franco to be too liberal. By 1973 Franco had surrendered the function of prime minister (Presidente del Gobierno), remaining only as head of state and commander in chief of the military.
As his final years progressed, tensions within the various factions of the Movimiento would consume Spanish political life, as varying groups jockeyed for positions in order to gain control of the country's future. The death on December 20, 1973, of prime minister Luis Carrero Blanco in a spectacular bombing by ETA eventually gave an edge to the liberalizing faction. On July 19, 1974, the aged Franco fell ill from various health problems, and Juan Carlos took over as Acting Head of State. Franco soon recovered, and on September 2 he resumed his duties as Head of State. One year later he fell ill once again from more health problems including a long battle with Parkinson's disease. On October 30, 1975, he fell into a coma and was put on life support. Franco's family agreed to disconnect the life-support machines. Officially, he died on November 20, 1975, at the age of 82—just two weeks before his 83rd birthday—the same date as the death of The 3rd Marqués de Estella, the founder of the Falange. However the historian Ricardo de la Cierva claimed that he had been told, around 6 pm on November 19, that Franco had already died. After Franco's death, and according to his own wishes, he was buried at Valle de los Caídos, a colossal memorial built by the forced labour of political prisoners in order to honour the Francoist casualties in the Spanish Civil War. Franco's funeral was attended by Prince Rainier III of Monaco, the Chilean leader General Augusto Pinochet, who revered Franco and modelled his leadership style in Chile on the way Franco led Spain, Bolivia's dictator General Hugo Banzer, Jordan's King Hussein and US Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.
In Spain and abroad, the legacy of Franco remains controversial. The Oxford Dictionary uses Franco's regime as an example of fascism. Franco served as a role model for several anti-communist dictators in South America. Augusto Pinochet is known to have admired Franco. Similarly, as late as in 2006 Franco supporters in Spain have made homages to Pinochet.
The length of his rule, the suppression of opposition, and the effective propaganda sustained through the years have made a detached evaluation almost impossible. Franco had won the hearts of many and was then able to win the Civil War; Churchill said that if he was a Spaniard living in Spain he would have supported Franco. For 40 years, Spaniards, and particularly children at school were told that Divine Providence had sent him to save Spain from chaos and poverty.
In 2006 the BBC reported that Maciej Giertych, an MEP of the clerical-nationalist League of Polish Families, had expressed admiration for Franco, stating that he "guaranteed the maintenance of traditional values in Europe". Many Spaniards, particularly those who suffered under Franco's rule, have sought to remove official recognition of his regime. Most government buildings and streets that were named after him during his long rule reverted to their original names. Owing to Franco's human rights record, the Spanish government in 2007 banned all official public references to the Franco regime and removed any statues, street names and memorials associated with the regime, with reportedly the last statue in Santander being removed in 2008. Churches that retain plaques commemorating Franco and the victims of his Republican opponents may lose state aid. Since 1978 the national anthem of Spain, the Marcha Real, has not been accompanied by the lyrics introduced by Franco. Recent attempts to give the national anthem new lyrics have failed due to lack of consensus.
In March 2006, the Permanent Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted a resolution "firmly" condemning the "multiple and serious violations" of human rights committed in Spain under the Francoist regime from 1939 to 1975. The resolution was at the initiative of Leo Brincat and of the historian Luis María de Puig, and was the first international official condemnation of the repression enacted by Franco's regime. The resolution also urged public access to be given to historians (professional and amateurs) to the various archives of the Francoist regime, including those of the private Fundación Francisco Franco which, as well as other Francoist archives, remain as of 2006 inaccessible to the public. The Fundación Francisco Franco received various archives from the El Pardo Palace, and is alleged to have sold some of them to private individuals. Furthermore, it urged the Spanish authorities to set up an underground exhibition in the Valle de los Caidos monument to explain the "terrible" conditions in which it was built. Finally, it proposed the construction of monuments to commemorate Franco's victims in Madrid and other important cities.
In Spain, a commission to repair the dignity and restore 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 socialist vice-president María Teresa Fernández de la Vega.
Recently 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 (PSOE) 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 approved on July 28, 2006, by the Council of Ministers, but it took until October 31, 2007, for the Congress of Deputies to approve an amended version as "The Bill to recognise and extend rights and to establish measures in favour of those who suffered persecution or violence during the Civil War and the Dictatorship" (in common parlance still known as Law of Historical Memory). The Senate approved the bill on December 10, 2007. Among other things, the law is supposed to enforce an official recognition of the crimes committed against civilians during the Francoist rule and organise under state supervision the search for mass graves.
Official endeavors to preserve the historical memory of the Franco regime include exhibitions like the one the Museu d'Història de Catalunya (Catalonian Museum of History) organised around the prison experience.
The accumulated wealth of Franco's family (including much real estate inherited from Franco, such as the Pazo de Meirás, the Canto del Pico in Torrelodones and the Cornide Palace in A Coruña), and its murky provenance, have also become matters of public discussion. Estimates of the family's wealth have ranged from 350 million to 600 million euros, well above what could possibly be accumulated from investing his official income. When Franco was ill, the francoist Cortes voted a large public pension for his wife Carmen Polo, which the later democratic governments kept paying. At the time of her death in 1988, Carmen Polo was receiving more than 12.5 million pesetas (four million more than Felipe González, then head of the government).
|Ancestors of Francisco Franco|
In popular media
Cinema and television
- Raza or Espíritu de una Raza (Spirit of a Race) (1941), based on a script by "Jaime de Andrade" (Franco himself), is the semi-autobiographical story of a military officer played by Alfredo Mayo.
- Franco, ese hombre (That man, Franco) (1964) is a pro-Franco documentary film directed by José Luis Sáenz de Heredia
- Franco was a running gag during the first two seasons of Saturday Night Live (1975–1977), where Weekend Update anchor Chevy Chase would frequently report that "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead".
- Franco was referenced in the British TV series Fawlty Towers (1975–1979). In one episode, Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) explains to the Barcelona-born waiter Manuel (Andrew Sachs) that a local "hamster" is in fact a rat. Under his breath, Cleese mutters: "You do have rats in Spain, or did Franco have 'em all shot?" In another episode, a hotel guest asks where the Generalissimo is (referring to Basil), to which Manuel incredulously replies, "In Madrid!"
- The movie Dragon Rapide (1986) deals with the events previous to the Spanish Civil War, with the actor Juan Diego playing Franco
- Argentine actor José "Pepe" Soriano played both Franco and his double in Espérame en el cielo (Wait for Me in Heaven) (1988).
- The Goya Winner Juan Echanove played the dictator in the surrealistic movie MadreGilda (MotherGilda) (1993).
- Franco is referenced in the 1998 romantic-comedy You've Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, as being a love interest of the shop assistant Birdie (Jean Stapleton).
- The comic actor Xavier Deltell played Franco in the movie Operacion Gonada (Operation Gonad) (2000)
- The Swedish film Together depicts a celebration triggered by the radio announcement of Franco's death.
- Ramon Fontserè played him in ¡Buen Viaje, Excelencia! (Bon Voyage, Your Excellency!) (2003).
- Manuel Alexandre played Franco in the TV movie 20-N: Los ultimos dias de Franco (20-N: The Last Days of Franco) (2008)
- Pan's Labyrinth (2006) takes place in Spain in May–June 1944, five years after the Spanish Civil War, during the early Francoist period.
- Juan Viadas played Franco in Álex de la Iglesia's movie Balada triste de trompeta (The Last Circus) (2010)
- Franco is often referenced in the Spanish TV series Cuéntame cómo pasó.
- Behold a Pale Horse is a film set approximately 20 years after the end of the Spanish Civil War starring Anthony Quinn which portrays a segment of the continuing hatred and bloodshed between members of the Franco regime and veterans of the Republican cause.
- French singer-songwriter and anarchist Léo Ferré wrote "Franco la muerte", a song he recorded for his 1964 album Ferré 64. In this highly confrontational song, he directly shouts at the dictator and lavishes him with contempt. Ferré refused to sing in Spain until Franco was dead.
- Franco is referenced in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita, in the song "Rainbow Tour".
- Franco is a character in CJ Sansom's book Winter in Madrid
- ...Y al tercer año resucitó (...And On the Third Year He Rose Again) (1980) describes what would happen if Franco rose from the dead.
- Franco is featured in the novel Triage (1998) by Scott Anderson.
- Franco makes a brief appearance in Swedish author Jonas Jonasson's 2009 novel, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.
- Franco is the centrepiece of the satirical work El general Franquisimo o La muerte civil de un militar moribundo by Andalusian political cartoonist and journalist Andrés Vázquez de Sola.
- Franco features several novels by Caroline Angus Baker, including Vengeance in the Valencian Water, visiting the aftermath of the 1957 Valencia floods, and Death in the Valencian Dust, about the final executions handed down before his death in 1975.
- The 2010 book, "Agentes Secretos y el Mural De Picasso," has Franco mentioned as the man who hired the Main antagonists, Mario y Javier(fictional).