"I am sure of one thing and I can truthfully say: where I am, there will be no communism"
Francisco Franco Baamonde
During his lifetime, Francisco Franco gained the reputation of a bloody tyrant and fascist, but at the same time he was called a "non-standard dictator", and for selfishly defending only Spanish interests, he was hated by Churchill, Hitler and Stalin.
However, only by rejecting the propaganda, one can try to objectively assess the logic of his actions in difficult times and the legacy that this Spaniard left for his country.
Francisco Franco was born in northern Spain, in Galicia, in a poor, albeit aristocratic military family.
Continuing the family tradition, Francisco enters the military academy, where he immediately distinguished himself by his personal qualities, rare for the stormy Spanish nature - discipline, pedantry, detailed planning.
At the age of 19, he volunteered for service in the Spanish colonial possessions in Morocco, where hostilities continued against the militant Berbers. After spending 11 years in combat, at the age of 33, Franco became the youngest general in Spanish history and returned home as a national hero.
Returning home coincided with turbulent years for Spain, when the country experienced a severe political crisis in the early 1930s after a coalition of socialists and left-wing radicals came to power.
The monarchy was abolished and a republic was proclaimed, and radical socialist transformations began in the country, splitting society and causing outrage among the powerful Catholic clergy, landowners, the military and conservatives.
Francisco, as a very religious Catholic, took the new government very negatively, but remained true to his oath and continued to serve. However, this did not save him from disgrace and the socialist government sent the general to a remote garrison in the Canary Islands.
In the following years, Spain slipped more and more into anarchy, terror swept the streets between supporters of left and right, and the economic crisis deepened.
In 1936, left-wing anarchists assassinated a prominent politician from the nationalist opposition, Jose Sotelo. This became a catalyst for an uprising against the republican government on the part of the military, to which, after much deliberation, Franco joined.
In response, the Socialist government distributed weapons to its supporters throughout the country and invited "proletarian" aid from the Comintern and the USSR. The opposite side, on the other hand, enlists the support of Germany and Italy.
The crisis quickly escalated into a civil war, and thousands of volunteers from all over the world, including Soviet, German, and Italian military personnel, arrived in Spain.
As a result of the death of the rebel leader, General Sanhurjo, and the socialist assassination of the leader of the right, Primo de Rivera, in 1936, the military, monarchists, nationalists and conservatives elected General Francisco Franco, a popular military and political leader with the title of Caudillo.
Both sides are resorting to mass extrajudicial executions of opponents, although it should be noted that with the help of Soviet advisers to the NKVD, the Spanish left is unfolding large-scale terror. In the town of Paracuellos alone, in a few days, about 10 members of the Madrid intelligentsia were shot dead, who, by their "non-proletarian" origins, prevented Republicans from building socialism.
As a result of important victories at Aragon, Teruel and Ebro, in the spring of 1939 the Francoists entered Madrid, ending the war.
The results of the civil war were catastrophic for the Spaniards. Almost half a million died (5% of the population), about 1 million became refugees, the country lay in ruins.
After the war, Francisco Franco established a dictatorial regime, and brutally cracked down on Republicans, who also continued to "street guerrillas" from time to time.
About 40 left-wingers were shot, and about 100 were sent to camps and prisons.
The Catholic Church has had a huge impact on society. Divorce, abortion, contraception, and overly open clothing were prohibited.
Women were forbidden to hold certain positions, to do business, and the consent of a male family member was required for financial transactions.
Protests were banned, workers' associations, parties other than the ruling one, and Basque and Catalan national minorities were persecuted.
World War II soon began, and Caudillo proved to be a brilliant strategist.
During the intense negotiations, Hitler was unable to gain Spain's support in the war. Franco only agreed to form a division of Spanish nationalists - volunteers, who at his request were used only on the Soviet front, and this wise move maintained good relations with the British and Americans. Just in case, to keep Hitler from attacking, on the border with occupied France, Franco kept an army at all times.
The country became a gathering place for wounded Allied soldiers, and by breaking propaganda about the "fascists", Franco's Spain sheltered some 30 Jews, saving them from imminent death.
Spanish neutrality saved the lives of millions of Spaniards, but after 1945, the Franco regime found itself in isolation. Spain was not admitted to the UN, left without financial assistance under the Marshall Plan, and diplomatic relations were severed.
However, Franco again showed diplomatic flair and quickly established contacts with Americans who needed military bases in Europe against the backdrop of the Cold War.
Having found common ground with a former military general, President Eisenhower, the Franco regime concluded the Madrid Pact with the United States and received American support and international recognition.
The friendship with the Americans was not in vain, and the Caudillo, instead of enjoying unlimited power, began to reflect on change in the country. Franco saw the future of Spain not among poor dictatorships, but among wealthy, democratic countries in the West.
First and foremost, he tackles the daunting task of the Spanish economy, which has been in decline for the past 200 years.
In 1957, Franco dismissed the Francoists from the post of minister and appointed a new government consisting of young technocrats who, in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund, developed a plan to liberalize the economy.
Taxes were reduced, government intervention in pricing was limited, government spending was reduced, education received more funding to train skilled workers, tariffs were reduced for investors, and the tourism sector gained momentum.
The results of the reforms were incredible. From 1959 to 1974, there was a record increase in performance, which was called the "Spanish economic miracle".
In the 1960s, Spain ranked second in the world in terms of economic growth, second only to Japan. At the end of Franco's reign, Spain became one of the poorest, most agrarian countries in Europe and the ninth largest economy in the industrial world.
The average income of Spaniards has tripled, the number of universities has doubled, and the number of tourists has grown from 4 to 20 million a year in just a decade.
Spain began to produce high-tech products, textiles, weapons, cars. It was during the Franco era that the world-famous companies SEAT, Zara, Joma and dozens of others appeared.
Realizing that economic reforms need freedom and democracy, dictator Franco is doing something unheard of - abolishing censorship, allowing trade unions, reducing the influence of the church, empowering women, expanding local self-government.
Gradually, the "caudillo" resigned, voluntarily relinquishing a number of powers. Trying to reconcile the nation, he is building a grand memorial "Valley of the Fallen", where the victims of the civil war on both sides, both nationalists and Republicans, are buried together.
He restores the monarchy in the country and, despite the pressure of his wife, declares his successor not close relatives, but Prince Juan Carlos de Bourbon, whom he actually raises as a son from adolescence.
Immediately after Franco's death in 1975, the young King of Spain, Juan Carlos, suppressed a revolt of the right, ensured the peaceful transfer of power to a democratic government and became a unifying figure. Many saw in this a meticulous plan of the cunning "caudillo", which again thought everything through.
In any case, he inherited a prosperous and, last but not least, democratic country.
Francisco Franco is still a controversial figure and evokes a whole range of different emotions, even among the Spaniards themselves, but few doubt that he has always put Spain and its interests first.
After all, as the caudillo himself said, "I will answer only to God and history."
Bora Crimea via The Last Capitalist
Assistance to the anti-Moscow Ukrainian site (Optional)
Details: PrivatBank card № 5168 7456 0964 2191 - Monobank card № 4441 1144 2246 2422