Francisco Franco: Life And Rise Of A Dictator


Francisco Franco: Life And Rise Of A Dictator

Francisco Franco was born in an upper-class family in Ferrol on 4th December 1892. His father was a Navy officer, and his family had produced a succession of Naval officers through generation. His licentious father abandoned the family for another woman, and Franco grew up with his devout and loving mother.

Military Career

Francisco Franco: Life And Rise Of A Dictator
Francisco Franco: Life And Rise Of A Dictator

Franco had to abandon his Naval aspirations due to closure of admission and enlisted himself in the army. Franco had a brilliant military career and a meteoric ascent in the ranks. He was the youngest Major in the Spanish army and, likewise, at the age of 33, the youngest General in the whole of Europe. An introvert yet disciplined, fearless and ruthless Franco soon became the second command in Spanish Foreign Legion. Within three years, he was in charge of the legion, and, by the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, Franco was already a Major General.

Spanish Civil War

The civil war from 1936 to 1939 had three prominent players. A loose bunch of Conservatives, Catholics, and pro-Monarchists, known as the Nationalists, fought the combined forces of the left-leaning Republicans and the anti-establishment Anarchist.

The general election of April 1931 won by Republicans ousted King Alfonso XIII. A series of reforms, including military reform during this period, temporarily halted the military career of Franco. However, with the victory of conservative forces in 1933, Franco was back in favor and was promoted as Army Chief of Staff. The protracted conflict during his army coup to overthrow the left-wing Government turned into the Spanish Civil war.

The Road To Dictatorship

Franco was called to action during the Asturian miner rebellion by the left-wing. The success through ruthless suppression brought Franco a newfound stature, and he was rewarded with the post of Army Chief.

The left again won the election of 1936. But, whichever way the power shifted from right to left, Spain continued to slip into social and economic chaos. Franco’s appeal to the Government to declare a state of emergency was denied. Consequently, Franco was demoted to the post of the commanding officer in Canary Island for his indiscretion.

It was the period when other Generals were entertaining an idea of a coup, and the situation came to such a pass that Franco had to chose one option. Franco joined the rebel forces determined to overthrow the Government.

During the final march of the army to Madrid, Franco becomes the head of the state of the New Republican regime. The elevation was primarily due to Franco’s impeccable military career, and his ability to procure help from Hitler and Mussolini. Finally, over three years of the Spanish Civil war, Franco was able to defeat the left-wing Republicans. Soon Franco became ‘El Caudillo’ or the leader and, the dictator of Spain for nearly four decades.

The Good Francisco Franco

The better facet of Franco manifested in his latter years of dictatorship. He initiated few reforms economic reforms, relaxed rigid censure ship, promoted tourism, and so on. During his last two decades of dictatorship, Spain was able to make significant economic progress. His judgment to stay neutral in the second world war also saved Spain from demolition by allied forces. Further, his decision to declare Prince Juan Carlos as his successor was also commendable. Juan Carlos restored Spain into a democratic constitutional monarchy and dismantled every authoritarian Franco institution within three years.

Francisco Franco: Life And Rise Of A Dictator
Francisco Franco: Life And Rise Of A Dictator

The Ugly Francisco Franco

Like any other dictator, Franco was vengeful and went about systematically executing and imprisoning tens and thousands through military tribunals. His regressive dictatorship was also implementing acute censorship and proscription. Catholics became the only favored religion. Catalan and Basque region were facing total repression, including banning of language. He barred labor unions and formed a vast network of secret police to establish his control.

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