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Francisco Franco, the son of a naval postmaster, was born in El Ferrol, Spain, on 4th December, 1892. Franco graduated from the Toledo Military Academy in 1910. Commissioned into the 8th Regiment he was posted to Morocco in 1913. Although physically small he proved to be a courageous officer and won rapid promotion.
Franco had reached the rank of major in 1917 and played a prominent role in strike-breaking in the Asturian coal fields and in 1920 Lieutenant Colonel Millán Astray appointed him second in command of the Spanish Foreign Legion (Tercio de Extranjeros).
The first volunteers arrived in Ceuta in October 1920. Astray told his new recruits "you have lifted yourselves from among the dead - for don't forget that you were dead, that your lives were over. You have come here to live a new life for which you must pay with death. You have come here to die. Since you crossed the Straits, you have no mother, no girlfriend, no family; from today all that will be provided by the Legion." Astray added: "Death in combat is the greatest honour. You die only once. Death arrives without pain and is not so terrible as it seems. The most horrible thing is to live as a coward."
The Tercio de Extranjeros quickly developed a reputation for brutality. Astray and Franco encouraged the killing and mutilation of prisoners. Arturo Barea, who served under Franco in Morroco in 1921, later wrote: "When it attacked, the Tercio knew no limits to its vengeance. When it left a village, nothing remained but fires and the corpses of men, women and children."
In 1923 Franco replaced Millán Astray as commander of the Tercio de Extranjeros and over the next few years he gained a reputation as a brilliant strategist and administrator.
In October 1923 Franco married Carmen Polo, a member of a wealthy merchant family. Franco growing reputation in the armed forces was recognized when Alfonso XIII sent a representative to the wedding.
In 1925 France and Spain agreed to combine forces against Abd-el-Krim in Morocco. Franco was placed in command of the Spanish troops and Henri-Philippe Petain led the French Army. In 1926 Franco was appointed Europe's youngest general. Two years later he was appointed commander of Spain's new military academy at Saragossa. This involved him visiting military schools in Germany and France.
Franco supported the military dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera. However, after failing to solve Spain's economic problems he was forced to resign in January 1930. In 1931 Alfonso XIII agreed to democratic elections. It was the first time for nearly sixty years that free elections had been allowed in Spain. When the Spanish people voted overwhelmingly for a republic, Alfonso was advised that the only way to avoid large-scale violence was to go into exile. Alfonso agreed and left the country on 14th April, 1931.
The provisional government called a general election for June 1931. The Socialist Party (PSOE) and other left wing parties won an overwhelming victory. Niceto Alcala Zamora, a moderate Republican, became prime minister, but included in his cabinet several radical figures such as Manuel Azaña, Francisco Largo Caballero and Indalecio Prieto.
On 16th October 1931, Azaña replaced Niceto Alcala Zamora as prime minister. With the support of the Socialist Party (PSOE) he attempted to introduce agrarian reform and regional autonomy. However, these measures were blocked in the Cortes.
Franco held right-wing, monarchist views and the republican government mistrusted him and demoted him to a minor post in Corunna. Two years later he was sent to command the Spanish Army in the Balearics.
In October 1934 the government used Franco and Moroccan mercenary troops to suppress the Asturian miners' strike. This action caused the left-wing in Spain to identify Franco as one of their main enemies. The right-wing approved of Franco and in 1935, José Maria Gil Robles, the minister of war, appointed him as his chief of staff. In this post Franco promoted monarchists and purged the army hierarchy of Republicans.
On 15th January 1936, Manuel Azaña helped to establish a coalition of parties on the political left to fight the national elections due to take place the following month. This included the Socialist Party (PSOE), Communist Party ( PCE), Esquerra Party and the Republican Union Party.
The Popular Front, as the coalition became known, advocated the restoration of Catalan autonomy, amnesty for political prisoners, agrarian reform, an end to political blacklists and the payment of damages for property owners who suffered during the revolt of 1934.
Right-wing groups in Spain formed the National Front. This included the CEDA and the Carlists. The Falange Española did not officially join but most of its members supported the aims of the National Front.
The Spanish people voted on Sunday, 16th February, 1936. Out of a possible 13.5 million voters, over 9,870,000 participated in the 1936 General Election. 4,654,116 people (34.3) voted for the Popular Front, whereas the National Front obtained 4,503,505 (33.2) and the centre parties got 526,615 (5.4). The Popular Front, with 263 seats out of the 473 in the Cortes formed the new government.
The Popular Front government immediately upset the conservatives by releasing all left-wing political prisoners. The government also introduced agrarian reforms that penalized the landed aristocracy. Other measures included outlawing the Falange Española and granting Catalonia political and administrative autonomy.
The government, afraid of a military uprising, transferred right-wing military leaders to posts outside Spain. This included Franco, who was appointed him governor of Canary Islands.
In February 1936 Franco joined other Spanish Army officers, such as Emilio Mola, Juan Yague, Gonzalo Queipo de Llano and José Sanjurjo, in talking about overthrowing the Popular Front government. Mola became leader of this group and at this stage Franco was unwilling to fully commit himself to joining the revolt.
On the 10th May 1936 the conservative Niceto Alcala Zamora was ousted as president and replaced by the left-wing Manuel Azaña. As a result of the government's economic measures the wealthy took vast sums of capital out of the country. This created an economic crisis and the value of the peseta declined which damaged trade and tourism. With prices rising workers demanded higher wages. This led to a series of strikes in Spain.
President Manuel Azaña appointed Diego Martinez Barrio as prime minister on 18th July 1936 and asked him to negotiate with the rebels. He contacted Emilio Mola and offered him the post of Minister of War in his government. He refused and when Azaña realized that the Nationalists were unwilling to compromise, he sacked Martinez Barrio and replaced him with José Giral. To protect the Popular Front government, Giral gave orders for arms to be distributed to left-wing organizations that opposed the military uprising.
General Emilio Mola issued his proclamation of revolt in Navarre on 19th July, 1936. The coup got off to a bad start with José Sanjurjo being killed in an air crash on 20th July. The uprising was a failure in most parts of Spain but Mola's forces were successful in the Canary Islands, Morocco, Seville and Aragon. Franco, now commander of the Army of Africa, joined the revolt and began to conquer southern Spain.
By the end of September 1936, the nine other generals involved in the military uprising came to the conclusion that Franco should become commander of the Nationalist Army. He was also appointed chief of state. General Emilio Mola agreed to serve under him and was placed in charge of the Army of the North.
Franco now began to remove all his main rivals for the leadership of the Nationalist forces. Some were forced into exile and nothing was done to help rescue José Antonio Primo de Rivera from captivity. However, when José Antonio was shot by the Republicans in November 1936, Franco exploited his death by making him a mythological saint of the fascist movement.
On 19th April 1937, Franco forced the unification of the Falange Española and the Carlists with other small right-wing parties to form the Falange Española Tradicionalista. Franco then had himself appointed as leader of the new organisation. Imitating the tactics of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, giant posters of Franco and the dead José Antonio were displayed along with the slogan, "One State! One Country! One Chief! Franco! Franco! Franco!" all over Spain.
Franco and his Nationalist Army, with the support of German and Italian troops, gradually began to take control of Spain. His troops captured Badajoz and this enabled him to join up with General Mola's army and secure the borders with Portugal. The victory at Irun sealed one frontier with France. In June 1937 the Nationalists captured Bilbao providing Franco with a major industrial base.
Franco was also helped by the French government's closing the Pyrenees passes to Spain in June 1938. Another important factor in his victory was the decision by Juan Negrin, the Republican prime minister, to withdraw the International Brigades in September 1938.
In February 1939 the Nationalist Army was able to close the last frontier with France. Franco now concentrated his forces on the now isolated Madrid and its defenders eventually surrendered the city on 31st March.
Franco developed a reputation as a cruel and vindictive military leader. It is estimated that an estimated 200,000 political prisoners died as a result of starvation, overwork and executions. The persecution of political opponents continued until 1944 when a number of amnesties and pardons were granted.
Franco joined the Anti-Comintern Pact on 7th April 1938 but declared the neutrality of Spain on the outbreak of the Second World War. Adolf Hitler tried hard to get Franco to change his mind. In their negotiations Franco demanded that in any postwar settlement he wanted control of Gibraltar, French Morocco, a portion of Algeria including Oran, and parts of Africa.
Franco's main demand was that Germany had to fully compensate Spain for the cost of any British blockade of the country. Hitler was in no position to take on this burden and the negotiations came to an end. However, Franco did agree to provide logistical and intelligence support and promised to send a volunteer force, the Spanish Blue Division, to help the fight against communism in Europe.
After the defeat of France in May 1940, Adolf Hitler resumed negotiations with Franco. The two men met at Hendaye on 23rd October 1940. Hitler's main request was for his troops to travel through Spain to link up with an airbourne assault in Gibraltar. Franco, who believed that Germany would not win a long war, refused. Instead, he asked for arms so that Spain could capture Gibraltar. Afterwards Hitler remarked that he would rather visit the dentist to have his teeth removed than have another meeting with Franco.
Franco did consider invading Gibraltar while Britain was involved in the war with Nazi Germany. However, he decided against this move when he was informed that if this happened, British forces would take the Canary Islands.
In October 1943, Franco recalled the Spanish Blue Division from the Soviet Union. Convinced that the Axis powers would be defeated, Franco now began to openly support the Allies in the war with Germany.
After the war Franco came under considerable pressure to restore the monarchy. In 1947 Franco announced a referendum to establish his position. The vote confirmed him as lifetime regent. The following year, Juan Carlos, the future king, began his education at the age of ten under Franco's supervision.
Franco's strong anti-Communism made him popular with the United States and in 1950 Spain was allowed to join the United Nations. In 1953 Franco signed an agreement that enabled the United States to establish four air and naval bases in Spain. In return the National Atlantic Treaty Organization protected Franco's regime from foreign invasion.
In 1953 the Vatican confirmed the Church's recognition of Franco's power by granting him the right to the final choice of a bishop from a list of several candidates proposed by the pope.
Franco's main foreign policy was to recover Gibraltar and to maintain Spain's colonies in Africa. He was unsuccessful in persuading Britain to give up Gibraltar and in 1956 he was forced to come to terms with the sultan of Morocco.
Franco announced in 1969 that on his death he would be replaced by Juan Carlos, the grandson of Spain's last ruling king. Francisco Franco died on 20th November 1975 and within two years almost every vestige of his dictatorship had disappeared.
(1) Edward Knoblaugh, Correspondent in Spain (1937)
Cadiz, Caceres, Huelva, Sevilla, Granada and Cordoba were Franco's, as was the whole northern area of Spain from the Guadarrama mountains just north of Madrid to the Bay of Biscay, save a small strip of the Basque and Asturian coast. Huesca, Zaragoza and Teruel marked his lines on the east. He was in possession of the entire area bordering the Portuguese frontier on the west except a narrow strip in the vicinity of Badajoz.
In Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, however, Franco's revolt had been crushed with a thoroughness that portended ill for the success of his movement. They were the three largest cities of Spain, and had been the key-points of the rebellion. Lack of coordination in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona, was what caused the rebellion to miss fire there. The government, having, in desperation, overruled President Azana and passed out arms to the workers, seemed as though it would turn the tables on the insurgent leader.
In that first urgent need for militant manpower to offset the traditional apathy of the peace-loving masses, 40,000 common prisoners had been released on their promise to carry arms, and these, with some 25,000 recently pardoned political prisoners gambling for continued freedom, had stiffened the disorganized Loyalist forces.
But the decision of Commander Martinez Monje, chief of the Valencia garrison, to throw his support to the government, was the deciding factor in the issue at that time. For ten days Commander Monje held his troops in their barracks while he carefully weighed the odds. When the Montana barracks fell before the militia in Madrid, and the Barcelona revolt had been crushed, Monje decided Franco's chances were slim and cast his lot with the government. Franco must have cursed the thought of Monje many times since.
(2) Francisco Franco, speech (17th July 1936)
Spaniards! The nation calls to her defense all those of you who hear the holy name of Spain, those in the ranks of the Army and Navy who have made a profession of faith in the service of the Motherland, all those who swore to defend her to the death against her enemies. The situation in Spain grows more critical every day; anarchy reigns in most of the countryside and towns; government-appointed authorities encourage revolts, when they do not actually lead them; murderers use pistols and machine guns to settle their differences and to treacherously assassinate innocent people, while the public authorities fail to impose law and order. Revolutionary strikes of all kinds paralyze the life of the nation, destroying its sources of wealth and creating hunger, forcing working men to the point of desperation. The most savage attacks are made upon national monuments and artistic treasures by revolutionary hordes who obey the orders of foreign governments, with the complicity and negligence of local authorities. The most serious crimes are committed in the cities and countryside, while the forces that should defend public order remain in their barracks, bound by blind obedience to those governing authorities that are intent on dishonoring them. The Army, Navy, and other armed forces are the target of the most obscene and slanderous attacks, which are carried out by the very people who should be protecting their prestige. Meanwhile, martial law is imposed to gag the nation, to hide what is happening in its towns and cities, and to imprison alleged political opponents.
(3) The Manchester Guardian (30th July 1936)
General Franco, the rebel Spanish leader, in an interview with a Press Association correspondent at his headquarters in Tetuan, made what appears to be virtually an appeal for international support, and also indicated the possibility of introducing large numbers of Riffs into Spain to fight against the Spanish Government.
He indicated that the revolutionaries had plenty of money, but did not explain where it came from. He adopted the revolutionaries' favourite argument that time is of little consequence to them, and that all they have to do is to hold on until the Government's funds and supplies are exhausted. He said:
'It is not merely a national question, it is international. Surely Great Britain, Germany, and Italy must be in sympathy with our aims. I am absolutely disinterested personally. As long as the uprising benefits Spain by stamping out Communism I am content, but I have no wish to inflict unnecessary hardships. After all they are not all Communists.
'If all goes well I shall establish my first headquarters at Seville. We are not short of money, but the danger lies in what help the Spanish Government may receive from Moscow and the Popular Front Government in France. On that depends how long the Government forces can hold out.
'The Riffs, too, are anxious to help us. They have made representations asking to be allowed to form regiments of their own under my officers and go and fight against the Communists. The Foreign Legion, both Spanish and native, is entirely faithful to me.'
General Franco admitted his disappointment at the collapse of the rising in the navy, but went on:
'Without the officers the men can do little. They are ignorant and have no idea of navigation. Fuel and food are short. It is only a matter of time until they finally surrender to us.'
The correspondent asked about the bombing of the Spanish warship Jaime I, at the entrance of Tangier harbour, when bombs fell close to a British steamer and caused alarm in Tangier. The General appeared to be upset. 'The pilot responsible', he stated, 'was sent for and I severely reprimanded him. He had been looking for the boat and missed it until it was nearing Tangier harbour. Then he lost his head and dropped his bombs against my express order.'
(4) Hermann Goering, statement at Nuremberg War Crimes Trial (October 1946)
When the civil war broke out in Spain Franco sent a call for help to Germany and asked for support, particularly in the air. Franco with his troops was stationed in Africa and he could not get his troops across, as the fleet was in the hands of the communists. The decisive factor was, first of all, to get his troops to Spain. The Führer thought the matter over. I urged him to give support under all circumstances: firstly, to prevent the further spread of communism; secondly, to test my young Luftwaffe in this or that technical respect.
(5) George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (1938)
To understand the alignment on the Government side one has got to remember how the war started. When the fighting broke out on 18th July probable that every anti-Fascist in Europe felt a thrill of hope. For here at last, apparently, was democracy standing up to Fascism. For years past the so-called democratic countries had been surrendering to Fascism at every step. The Japanese had been allowed to do as they liked in Manchuria. Hitler had walked into power and proceeded to massacre political opponents of all shades. Mussolini had bombed the Abyssinians while fifty-three nations (I think it was fifty-three) made pious noises 'off'. But when Franco tried to overthrow a mildly Left-wing Government the Spanish people, against all expectation, had risen against him. It seemed - possibly it was - the turning of the tide.
But there were several points that escaped general notice. To begin with, Franco was not strictly comparable with Hitler or Mussolini. His rising was a military mutiny backed up by the aristocracy and the Church, and in the main, especially at the beginning, it was an attempt not so much to impose Fascism as to restore feudalism. This meant that Franco had against him not only the working class but also various sections of the liberal bourgeoisie - the very people who are the supporters of Fascism when it appears in a more modern form. More important than this was the fact that the Spanish working class did not, as we might conceivably do in England, resist Franco in the name of 'democracy' and the status quo; their resistance was accompanied by - one might almost say it consisted of- a definite revolutionary outbreak. Land was seized by the peasants; many factories and most of the transport were seized by the trade unions; churches were wrecked and the priests driven out or killed. The Daily Mail, amid the cheers of the Catholic clergy, was able to represent Franco as a patriot delivering his country from hordes of fiendish "Reds".
For the first few months of the war Franco's real opponent was not so much the Government as the trade unions. As soon as the rising broke out the organized town workers replied by calling a general strike and then by demanding - and, after a struggle, getting - arms from the public arsenals. If they had not acted spontaneously and more or less independently it is quite conceivable that Franco would never have been resisted.
(6) Luis Bolin, Spain, the Vital Years (1967)
The passing of a year had seated Franco firmly in the saddle. Some think of him mainly as a strategic and political commander-in-chief, but throughout the Civil War he was also a tactical leader, as he had been in Morocco. Though he did not physically lead troops in action, he certainly directed their movements, and this explains the prestige he enjoyed. His fellow-officers would hardly have tolerated a perfunctory leader of a more academic type. Wherever he might be he would spend hours poring over large-scale maps pinned on plywood boards and set up on easels under a strong light. Every feature of the ground over which his men fought was noted and taken into account. Minute instructions, issued on the field of battle or transmitted also personally, through long-distance telephone lines, were backed by a knowledge of the terrain equal to that possessed by those who received his orders. That he should issue them in person was taken as a matter of course.
(7) Francisco Franco, statement (26th November, 1937)
I will impose my will by victory and will not enter into discussion. We open our arms to all Spaniards and offer them the opportunity of helping to form the Spain of tomorrow which will be a land of justice, mercy, and fraternity. The war is already won on the battlefields as in the economic, commercial, industrial, and even social spheres. I will only agree to end it militarily. My troops will advance. The choice for the enemy is fight or unconditional surrender, nothing else.
(8) Florence Farmborough, Life and People of Spain (1938)
The youth of Spain turn towards their Leader, Generalissimo Franco, as towards a shining light; he is the beacon that guides them to their highest goal. In all people this great faith in the Caudillo is to be found; in the highest and lowest, in the richest and poorest, in the oldest and youngest, for even the very small children are taught to play their role of loyal subject to National Spain. And that reminds me of an incident which I witnessed the other day, an incident which amused me and yet seemed to touch a deeper chord. I was walking through the Arcade of the Plaza Mayor in this city of Salamanca (one of the most beautiful old squares in Europe, surrounded by a columned promenade, lined on one side by shops), when I saw in front of me a woman of humble station in life, holding a small boy of some three years by the hand. Suddenly the child stopped, turned towards a shop-window and, relinquishing his mother's hand, drew himself up to his full height, clicked his tiny heels together and, standing to attention, was about to raise his arm in the Phalangist salute. His mother, unconscious of his action, grasped his hand and dragged him along with her - none too gently! The wee boy's face was a study in expressions of anger and disappointment. But, with sudden determination, he turned, manfully resisting his mother's display of force, and, nearly toppling over himself in his anxiety that his heels should touch each other, he stiffened his small round body and saluted, solemnly and ceremoniously, in Phalangist manner! His unheeding mother, sensing rebellion, seized him so vigorously that the child stumbled and nearly fell - but he was docile now, he had done his duty. He had saluted a large portrait of Generalissimo Franco in the shop-window!
(9) Statement issued by General Francisco Franco about the bombing of Barcelona (24th March 1938)
The air raids carried out by the 'Nationalist' air force on military objectives in Barcelona have been reported with notorious mendacity by the 'Red' press and part of the foreign press, too. The 'Nationalist' air force has sought only to destroy strictly military objectives.
'Red' barbarity has converted the district situated in the centre of towns into huge stores of explosives and war material. 'Red' propaganda states that some of the 'Nationalist' bombs fell in the Cataluna Square, on the underground station of the Metro, and the main northern railway station.
It omitted to say, however, that these two points had been converted into huge munition dumps, a fact which is proved by the several explosions which took place after the falling of the bombs. These explosions caused the collapse of several buildings such as the Barcelona Theatre and others in the Cataluna Square.
We regret the victims caused amongst the civilian population, but responsibility for these rests with the 'Red' authorities who, violating all the laws of humanity and warfare, have placed huge powder dumps in the middle of large cities.
(10) Francisco Franco, statement (18th July, 1938)
Our fight is a crusade in which Europe's fate is at stake. That is why since the beginning Russia has taken her place unconditionally on the side of the Spanish Republic by sending tanks and a thousand war-planes, and by mobilizing the undesirables of all Europe to fight for the Red Army. Our triumph is immense, in spite of the difficulties of the enterprise. No difficulties have prevented the rescue of over three million Spaniards from Red barbarism during the second triumphal year.
I beg your affectionate remembrance of our brothers who are suffering from the effects of lawlessness in the Red zone, and your prayers for the martyrs of our cause. I pay tribute to those who have fallen far from their own countries - the natives, the volunteers, the legionaries who left their home to enrol in the forces of the crusade and to demonstrate in Spain the fullness of their countries' identification with the cause of firmness and friendship professed by them towards Spain.
The Reds assassinated over 70,000 in Madrid, 20,000 in Valencia, 54,000 in Barcelona. Such crimes are the work of the Comintern and its agents Rosenberg, Marti, Negrin, Del Vayo - all servants of Soviet Russia.
Spaniards have a duty to remember that Christian charity is boundless for the deluded and the repentant but they must observe the dictates of prudence and not allow the infiltration of the recalcitrant enemies of Spain. Those proceeding from a politically infested area must undergo quarantine to avoid the contamination of the community.
I denounce the new Red campaigns of those posing as defenders of Spanish independence against foreign invasion. The foreign invasion came through the Catalan frontier, whence entered the undesirables who sacked and destroyed Spanish towns and villages, looted banks, destroyed homes, and stole our patrimony of art.
The Reds who pursued these treacherous tactics in the Nationalist rear, in attempting to destroy our unity, will continue these tactics after the war, when our vigilance and our care for the purity of our creed must increase. The Nationalist movement has ousted the old political intrigues and is guiding the nation to greatness and prosperity.
Spain was great when she had a State Executive with a missionary character. Her ideals decayed when a serious leader was replaced by assemblies of irresponsible men, adopting foreign thought and manners. The nation needs unity to face modem problems, particularly in Spain after the severest trial of her history.
Separatism and class war must be abolished and justice and education must be imposed. The new leaders must be characterized by austerity, morality, and industry.
Spaniards must adopt the military and religious virtues of discipline and austerity. All elements of discord must be removed.
(11) Martha Gellhorn, The Undefeated (1945)
The generally accepted figure is 300,000 executions in the six years since Franco won power. The total present American casualties, killed and wounded in all theaters of war, are about 475,000. It is obvious that the only way to defeat these people is to shoot them. As early as 1941, Spanish Republicans were running away from their French employers and disappearing into the Maquis. From 1943 onward, there was the closest liaison between the French Maquis and the Spanish bands throughout France.
That the work of the Spanish Maquis was valuable can be seen from some briefly noted figures. During the German occupation of France, the Spanish Maquis engineered more than four hundred railway sabotages, destroyed fifty-eight locomotives, dynamited thirty-five railway bridges, cut one hundred and fifty telephone lines, attacked twenty factories, destroying some factories totally, and sabotaged fifteen coal mines. They took several thousand German prisoners and - most miraculous considering their arms - they captured three tanks.
In the south-west part of France where no Allied armies have ever fought, they liberated more than seventeen towns. The French Forces of the Interior, who have scarcely enough to help themselves, try to help their wounded Spanish comrades in arms. But now that the guerrilla fighting is over, the Spaniards are again men without a country or families or homes or work, though everyone appreciates very much what they did.
After the desperate years of their own war, after six years of repression inside Spain and six years of horror in exile, these people remain intact in spirit. They are armed with a transcendent faith; they have never won, and yet they have never accepted defeat. Theirs is the great faith that makes miracles and changes history. You can sit in a basement restaurant in Toulouse and listen to men who have uncomplainingly lost every safety and comfort in life, talking of their republic; and you can believe quite simply that, since they are what they are, there will be a republic across the mountains and that they will live to return to it.
(12) Edward Heath, The Course of My Life (1988)
The news from Spain which we had been receiving back home had not prepared me for what we encountered. In the event, I left Spain with a very strong feeling that support for Franco was chiefly to be found among the wealthy and the landowners. Their fear seemed to be that, if they did not submit themselves to a right-wing dictatorship, a communist revolution would be the inevitable alternative. My group was far from convinced: we saw for ourselves that the Republican government was introducing progressive social reforms and encouraging a bracing, democratic atmosphere among its people. Most of the men we met were not extremists, by any token, rather they were practical, hard-nosed individuals. All of us were hardened in our resolve to put their case as forcefully as we could back in the United Kingdom.
It was not until 1964, after I had opened the British Trade Fair in Barcelona as Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development, that I flew over to Madrid for a meeting with General Franco at his home in the Pardo Palace. I had hesitated before accepting an invitation from the Spanish ambassador for such a meeting, because I guessed that General Franco knew of my visit to Spain during the Civil War, the broadcast I had made from Barcelona and the articles I had later written. I was assured, indeed, that he knew all about my Civil War activities and had expressly indicated that he wished to meet me. He greeted me in his study where his desk and the shelves all round were piled high with files awaiting his attention. He was much smaller than I had realised and had a rather withered appearance. The shakiness of his left arm seemed to indicate the onset of some disease. However, he embarked on a long and lucid discussion, largely about the power of the Soviet Union and the threat of communism. He occasionally mentioned my earlier visit to Spain during the Civil War, but now seemed to regard it as of little consequence. His other main interest was how I saw the future development of Europe, and he greatly regretted that Britain's entry into the European Community had been vetoed by General de Gaulle. Perhaps he foresaw even then that his country would one day rejoin the free world, and itself become a member of the Community.