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#1
Old 01-26-2009, 07:33 PM
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Spain Under Gen. Franco-What Was It Like?

I was skiing this weekend-and met some Spanish girls on the lift (they were muito hott!). I was chatting with them, and Spain seems like a pretty wild place these days, you can do pretty much what you want. So, what was the country like during the time of Franco? (1936-1976)? I get the impression that people didn't do much on Sundays-except go to church. Anybody have personal reminisces to share?
#2
Old 01-26-2009, 07:50 PM
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Nava will along shortly.

Let's see no divorce. No bikinis (allowing tourists to wear them was a liberalization). Catholicism was the state religion. A much more fragmented country, not so much traveling from one place to another, much poorer. In fact poverty would (I guess) what most would have struck a visitor from other European countries. The words "old fashioned" and "backwards" come to mind.
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#3
Old 01-26-2009, 07:52 PM
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Although I wasn't there, according to Wikipedia things were pretty tightly controlled by the government. General Franco was a facist dictator, so I think that tells you something...

All cultural activities were subject to censorship, and many were plainly forbidden on various grounds (political or moral). Despite Franco being himself Galician, in accordance with his nationalist principles, only Spanish was recognized as an official language of the country, although millions of the country's citizens also had other native languages, such as Catalan, Basque or Galician. The use of these languages was discouraged, and most public uses were forbidden. This cultural policy was initially very strict, but relaxed with time, most notably after 1960. Still, even after 1960, all government, notarial, legal and commercial documents were drawn up exclusively in Spanish and any written in other languages were deemed null and void.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco_era
#4
Old 01-26-2009, 08:21 PM
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I haven't heard an update lately, but he's still dead, right?

Last edited by caveman; 01-26-2009 at 08:21 PM.
#5
Old 01-26-2009, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
I was skiing this weekend-and met some Spanish girls on the lift (they were muito hott!). I was chatting with them, and Spain seems like a pretty wild place these days, you can do pretty much what you want. So, what was the country like during the time of Franco? (1936-1976)? I get the impression that people didn't do much on Sundays-except go to church. Anybody have personal reminisces to share?
Well, the most shocking (to my young mind) moment of my trip to Spain in 1985 (note ten years after Franco died), was riding in a car with 3 Spanish young people recently graduated from college. We were laughing and talking loudly as 5 young people in a car on a sunny day might, we drove-at a reasonable rate of speed no one was drunk no speeding or dangerous antics-around a curve and saw 3-4 Guardia National police in their distinctive hats just standing on the side of the road. Not pulling anyone over, just standing there. It was like someone pulled the plug right out of the socket. All the Spaniards in the car went silent, sat straight ahead, the driver concentrated on the road, it was really really spooky. Now note that the people I was with had been talking about the changes sweeping the country and how things were much better than before and how Spain was waking up. And then splat. Still gives me chills to realize what it must have been like for those young people to have to grow up like that. Everything I have heard since has Spain a wonderful place to live and visit. But Franco's shadow stretched for a long way even years after he died.
#6
Old 01-26-2009, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
I was skiing this weekend-and met some Spanish girls on the lift (they were muito hott!). I was chatting with them, and Spain seems like a pretty wild place these days, you can do pretty much what you want. So, what was the country like during the time of Franco? (1936-1976)? I get the impression that people didn't do much on Sundays-except go to church. Anybody have personal reminisces to share?
Without getting into the substance of the question let me add some thoughts and perspective.

Spain underwent phenomenal change in those 40 years so it makes no sense to try to summarize them in a few phrases. The Spain of 1940 was very different from the Spain of 1950 which was very different from the Spain of 1960 which, in turn, was very different from the Spain of 1970.

People like to simplify and summarize to a point where all you get is a distorted caricature. Slaves were all always miserable, people in China are all exploited, women in the 50s were all unhappy about not being able to work out of the house, etc. The truth is that life changes in many ways but also the basic human needs for prosperity, happiness, family, etc. mostly remain the same. Men liked to go to soccer games just like they do today. They liked to spend time with their friends, just like today. Mentality was different and they might talk about different things with different ponts of view but to describe Spain or China or Iraq as a place where everybody is unhappy and suffering due to political oppression is just silly. Yes, Spain was more conservative but so was all the rest of the world even if not as much as Spain. It was also much poorer but so was the UK which came out of WWII totally destroyed, like most of Europe.

The problem with movies which depict a certain period is that they exagerate everything. A movie about Franco's Spain would necessarily have political repression and such things which probably in reality affected a tiny minority of the population in real life but that is what you want to depict because that is what distinguishes that time. And then people come away thinking that is all there was when in reality that was a small part of those times.
#7
Old 01-26-2009, 09:27 PM
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I once knew a man who traveled on business a lot in Spain during the Franco years, and he told me that, although it was not a very free country, it was certainly a very safe country for travelers. Nobody ever mugged a tourist or a foreigner, to hear him tell it.
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Old 01-26-2009, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
I once knew a man who traveled on business a lot in Spain during the Franco years, and he told me that, although it was not a very free country, it was certainly a very safe country for travelers. Nobody ever mugged a tourist or a foreigner, to hear him tell it.
And I bet the trains ran on time, too.
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#9
Old 01-26-2009, 10:26 PM
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Weirdly, Portugal was even more screwy than Spain under their old regime. (Not that I was in Lisbon then, but repeating the accounts of friends.)
#10
Old 01-27-2009, 12:09 AM
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And I bet the trains ran on time, too.
Something like that. As I hope I implied, he had a limited perspective on things.
#11
Old 01-27-2009, 01:17 AM
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I was an American teenager living in Spain during Franco's last few years. He may have been dying all that time, but his iron-fist machinery was still in place.

We were extremely cautious around la Guardia Civil. If they felt you were offensive in any way, they had the power to take you into custody indefinitely or use their shiny weapons on you.

From my teen perspective, I remember being annoyed that Franco would not allow rock bands into the country to perform. He wasn't keen on degenerate outside influences.

I remember how very Catholic things were. (It was even illegal to get your pets neutered.) Strict religion has always been handy in keeping the masses in line.

I lived on the southern coast, not terribly far from touristy areas, so we did run around in bikinis, in appropriate areas. It was a lovely place to be a foreign teenager. You could go to a bar or cafe, have drinks and tapas, and chitchat for hours with everyone. It felt relatively safe, and you could drink!

Television programming was very limited, consisting mostly of bullfights, soccer, and, bizarrely, dubbed Kojak and Columbo.

A lot of people were kept in poverty and ignorance, also handy tools of a dictator. That said, I also constantly met incredibly smart, passionate, fun-loving Spaniards. I'm not surprised at how drastically things changed, beyond what you'd expect over time, even though it used to feel like such an old-fashioned time capsule of a country.
#12
Old 01-27-2009, 02:33 AM
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Anecdotal:

I traveled in Spain in 1972. It was a very repressed and undeveloped place. When you entered the country your luggage was searched. Yet, you could travel there, unlike the Soviet countries. Read "The Drifters" by James Michener.

Going back 30 years later I was amazed at how developed it was, particularly along Costa Del Sol. Condominium and apartments everywhere, highways, golf courses, hotels, it is a totally changed place.

For better or for worse, the country has been transformed a result of getting rid of the repression.
#13
Old 01-27-2009, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul in Saudi View Post
Nava will along shortly.
*waves to Paul and sailor while looking around for Red Fury*

My grandmother was born in 1913. A few years back, something on the news prompted her to get this look of deep thought, turn to my mother (born 1940) and say "you know, I had a much, much more free and merry youth than you did." Grandma's dating time took place under the Republic: divorce and free love (lots of Anarchists in Barcelona) were in the air. Mom's were in the late 50s and in provincial, Carlista Pamplona: a girl over age 14 whose knees showed would have caused a scandal.
My paternal grandparents (she a yong lady from Bilbao, he a gentleman from Pamplona) were slightly older than the maternal ones, but, being in Pamplona, the most daring thing they'd done before marriage was a few kisses on the cheek. Abuelita could count them and recount every occasion in which they took place. The backwardness of morality under Franco was, in many ways, an attempt to impose this particular brand of morals on everybody.

A friend of Mom's of a similar age to her once told us about going to confession (weekly, before High Mass, and remember this was pre-Vatican II so Comunnion implied a lot of fasting time, unlike now) and confessing that her boyfriend of one year had kissed her... and not even on the cheek, on the mouth! The priest asked "with or without tongue?" Well, it would never have occurred to them to use the tongue, but hey, the next kiss was with! So she claims that going to confession is good for your sex life, ayup. Them priests give you ideas!

While the official morality under Franco and pre-touristic boom was Pamplona-style, the reality varied a lot. Mom went to vacation at her aunt's in Asturias in 1955 and there were three horrible scandals in the valley that year:
* these two sisters from out of town, who had every single guy after them (not because Mom and her younger sister were doing anything, just because they were "foreign fish" and if they got pregnant any guy responsible would be able to claim innocence) but refused to put out,
* a girl who got married to an outsider without him having sampled the goods,
* another girl who got pregnant after 12 years of not going to Mass (girls stopped going when they got a bf, as they were fornicating but not regretful, therefore there was no point to confession but...; men didn't go to Mass), the bf claimed it couldn't be his, she walked into the only bar (which hadn't been stepped on by female feet in decades) and demanded to know whether the reason he was so sure was that he had been cheating her of his seed or was he claiming to be "a hollow bull" and yes, they did get married.
The standard procedure in that village was to get married only after the cow was pregnant, in their words.

There was hunger during the post-war years (Spain never had a Marshall plan, logically); my mother's family used to get eggs and poultry from the village cousins and sell them in the black market; there was a lot of migration to cities; there were new villages founded in order to populate underpopulated areas; the schools that had been closed by the Republic (one of their dumbest moves: forbid priests and nuns from teaching, without enough secular replacements at hand, in a country where the immense majority of teachers were priests or nuns); until the treaty that allowed NATO ("the Americans") to use bases in Spain, blaming any poverty on the foreign countries "who ostracized us" was the easiest thing for the government to do. The economic aid brought by those bases and by the partial end of the ostracism jumpstarted the economy; the town where I grew up got its first industrial factory (ie, not preserves or some such) in 1965 and that stopped migration to bigger towns pretty much dead in its tracks, not just for my town but for the small villages around it as well.

The 60s also saw the creation of many "barrios" (no negative connotation) created by priests who obtained or donated land, obtained materials, and started cooperatives to build housing for the cooperativists: my home town has one such, which was built and populated by people from the old town, they moved from middle-ages houses with no plumbing to modern ones with electricity and plumbing and glass on the windows, and learned trades along the way (people knew how to lay bricks and some carpentry, but not plumbing or electricity, when they started). My flat in a village is in another one of those areas, in that case the "target people" were farmers who'd been isolated until then and moved to the village: this couldn't have been possible before tractors.

There was linguistic repression in that all schooling was in Spanish and all government paperwork was in Spanish; there was grumbling about people recording new songs in Catalan or Basque (old songs had always been fine) but there was also people who took offense when Joan Manuel Serrat (who'd always sung in Catalan and had refused to go to Eurovision unless they let him sing in Catalan) released a record in Spanish (Mediterráneo) - as he says "I'm Catalan and I'm Spanish, I'm bilingual and some songs come out in one language and some in the other."

Like sailor says, it's a complex picture. My memories are vague (I was 7 when he died), I remember directly my father's family arguing politics (Carlistas, on Franco's side during the was but they didn't like him); I remember hearing Catalan and seeing signs in Catalan when we went to visit my mother's (the first word I learned in Catalan was "papallona", butterfly, the name of a restauran near my grandparents'); I remember the book fair in Barcelona being a big deal because there were books in Catalan and there was tension about it.

Sometimes I go to a "country in development" and recognize things I saw in Spain in the 70s; mostly that attitude of hope mixed with fear of hoping, you know?
#14
Old 01-27-2009, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
And I bet the trains ran on time, too.
That snark is totally out of place and I am guessing it was posted by someone who knows nothing about Spain at that time and just felt like adding a jab because nothing good should be allowed to be said about a dictatorship.

The *fact* is that Spain *was* extremely safe and that, while many people disagreed with the lack of political liberties, most people liked the safety and security and considered the situation in other countries like the USA (as reported by the media which would always pick on these things) as chaotic and unsafe. The press would routinely have news of Franco inaugurating some public works and something bad happenning abroad. Man is robbed and stabbed in a crowded New York street and dies on the sidewalk with people walking around him and nobody helps him. That kind of thing was just unthinkable in Franco's Spain.

A joke of the time tells of a man who is detained under suspicion of being subversive because he goes around saying things abroad are not so bad. The policeman asks him how he know this and the man responds that he has personally travelled to New York and other places and seen it with his own eyes. The cop, menacingly says "you need to travel less and read the news more" (Menos viajar y más leer la prensa).

The police were very much in control, for good and for bad. But the fact is that unless you were politically active against the regime (and by the 70s many people were) or you had commited a crime, you were safe. The police only needed to control a very small number of people.

They searched your luggage when you travelled? Let us put that in perspective. Travel was much more controlled everywhere at that time and customs were also more controlling in all other European countries but never in history has there been anything coming even close to the control the US government has today. Never. Ever. Franco could not have dreamed of anything like that. Of course, he didn't have the computers which the USA has today.

Again, the police were respected and could be intimidating but plenty of foreign students did pranks and did not get into any trouble where a spaniard would have gotten into trouble. Foreigners were mostly left alone unless they were serious criminals. Like happens today in many strict countries like Cuba or China foreigners are given a lot of leeway that nationals do not get.

Let us not forget that post WWII all countries were different than what they are today. It makes no sense to compare Spain at that time with anything but other European countries and even that has to be put in context.

A good book which describes Spain around 1970 is Iberia by Michener and I recommend it to anyone with interest in the subject. It also has some rudiments of Spanish history etc. for context.
#15
Old 01-27-2009, 06:22 AM
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Thanks for information. If I may, how is Franco viewed today?
#16
Old 01-27-2009, 07:34 AM
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Many young people have no idea who he was and most guess he lived much earlier, like the 19th century. The ignorance about recent Spanish history among young people is just astounding.

The official stance of the present (Socialist) government is that Franco was evil incarnate, an illegal and illegitimate usurper, and nothing good can be said about him. Laws have been passed outlawing any streets or monuments named after anyone in that regime. It is ridiculous but there is along tradition of this in Spain. The first thing a government does is rename the streets. I remember years ago someone proposing in jest that they leave the name of the street the same and change an adjective so that the street "Glorious General Franco" would be renamed "Evil General Franco" but at least people would not have to learn new names.

The pendulum has swung all the way to the other extreme and the view is that Franco, singlehandedly, personally oppressed every single Spanish person and family.

Of course, there is plenty of academic literature where one can find more accurate and balanced views but that is for minorities.
#17
Old 01-27-2009, 07:51 AM
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I remember flicking through a booklet on Franco in the university library, while waiting for a woman to arrive (a romantic liason of sorts ). Being a university library, some students had inevitably scrawled the usual anti-fascist remarks here and there. But it wasn't until I read something about the negative histories that had been suggested by Republicans that I twigged it was written during Franco's reign.
#18
Old 01-27-2009, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by sailor View Post
That snark is totally out of place and I am guessing it was posted by someone who knows nothing about Spain at that time and just felt like adding a jab because nothing good should be allowed to be said about a dictatorship.

The *fact* is that Spain *was* extremely safe and that, while many people disagreed with the lack of political liberties, most people liked the safety and security and considered the situation in other countries like the USA (as reported by the media which would always pick on these things) as chaotic and unsafe. The press would routinely have news of Franco inaugurating some public works and something bad happenning abroad. Man is robbed and stabbed in a crowded New York street and dies on the sidewalk with people walking around him and nobody helps him. That kind of thing was just unthinkable in Franco's Spain.

A joke of the time tells of a man who is detained under suspicion of being subversive because he goes around saying things abroad are not so bad. The policeman asks him how he know this and the man responds that he has personally travelled to New York and other places and seen it with his own eyes. The cop, menacingly says "you need to travel less and read the news more" (Menos viajar y más leer la prensa).

The police were very much in control, for good and for bad. But the fact is that unless you were politically active against the regime (and by the 70s many people were) or you had commited a crime, you were safe. The police only needed to control a very small number of people.

They searched your luggage when you travelled? Let us put that in perspective. Travel was much more controlled everywhere at that time and customs were also more controlling in all other European countries but never in history has there been anything coming even close to the control the US government has today. Never. Ever. Franco could not have dreamed of anything like that. Of course, he didn't have the computers which the USA has today.

Again, the police were respected and could be intimidating but plenty of foreign students did pranks and did not get into any trouble where a spaniard would have gotten into trouble. Foreigners were mostly left alone unless they were serious criminals. Like happens today in many strict countries like Cuba or China foreigners are given a lot of leeway that nationals do not get.

Let us not forget that post WWII all countries were different than what they are today. It makes no sense to compare Spain at that time with anything but other European countries and even that has to be put in context.

A good book which describes Spain around 1970 is Iberia by Michener and I recommend it to anyone with interest in the subject. It also has some rudiments of Spanish history etc. for context.
Sailor,
thanks for the description. It is wonderful to hear a more balanced view of events. Certainly Franco was a dictator. And equally certain he led his country for many years and did so without any external force propping him up. Many people in Spain were satisfied with the trade-off Franco demanded. People went to sporting events, church and work. Life went on. Hearing about that is vital to anyone who needs to understand how countries live. My experiences in Spain were entirely positive. That one instance I described was noteworthy for being so unusual. And it wasn't a bad experience-the police were fine-just my interpretation of what was going on was so striking to me. The young people in the car didn't want to talk about it, once we were past they cheered up and everyone was fine.
#19
Old 01-27-2009, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Chicken Fingers View Post
I was an American teenager living in Spain during Franco's last few years. He may have been dying all that time, but his iron-fist machinery was still in place.
Iron fist in the 70s? You have no idea then what the 40s and 50s were like. By the end of the 60s it was being called "dictablanda" instead of "dictadura".
Quote:
We were extremely cautious around la Guardia Civil. If they felt you were offensive in any way, they had the power to take you into custody indefinitely or use their shiny weapons on you.
That is an exageration. No foreign student was ever taken into custody indefinitely or, much less, shot for being offensive in any way.
Quote:
From my teen perspective, I remember being annoyed that Franco would not allow rock bands into the country to perform. He wasn't keen on degenerate outside influences.
True.
Quote:
I remember how very Catholic things were. (It was even illegal to get your pets neutered.)
Oh, come on! Why on earth would it be illegal to get your pets neutered? This is just not true and makes no sense anyway. Animals were neutered all the time. The regime was high on law, order, stability, etc. but they were not deranged maniacs and in many ways were more down to earth than some aspects of American life today. There were posters encouraging women to breast feed and the posters showed an actual women, her actual breast and an actual baby. Try that in America today.
Quote:
I lived on the southern coast, not terribly far from touristy areas, so we did run around in bikinis, in appropriate areas. It was a lovely place to be a foreign teenager. You could go to a bar or cafe, have drinks and tapas, and chitchat for hours with everyone. It felt relatively safe, and you could drink!
Yup. Still very much of that remains.
Quote:
Television programming was very limited, consisting mostly of bullfights, soccer, and, bizarrely, dubbed Kojak and Columbo.
Yup. Black and white. Color I believe started a bit after Franco's death.
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A lot of people were kept in poverty and ignorance, also handy tools of a dictator.
Kept? Nonsense. Spain saw a rate of economic develoment in those years which it had never seen in its history and a solid middle class emerged which did not exist until then. The fact that not everyone instantly came out of poverty does not mean they were deliberately kept like that. Unless you are the kind of person who believes poor people in America are also deliberately kept poor by the powers that be.
Quote:
That said, I also constantly met incredibly smart, passionate, fun-loving Spaniards. I'm not surprised at how drastically things changed, beyond what you'd expect over time, even though it used to feel like such an old-fashioned time capsule of a country.
Those years created a middle class which was better educated and who developed Spain into what it later became.
#20
Old 01-27-2009, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by sailor View Post
The official stance of the present (Socialist) government is that Franco was evil incarnate, an illegal and illegitimate usurper, and nothing good can be said about him. Laws have been passed outlawing any streets or monuments named after anyone in that regime. It is ridiculous but there is along tradition of this in Spain. The first thing a government does is rename the streets. I remember years ago someone proposing in jest that they leave the name of the street the same and change an adjective so that the street "Glorious General Franco" would be renamed "Evil General Franco" but at least people would not have to learn new names.
Said by my Republican grandfather to my Carlista Dad, during the late 70s and early 80s when all of a sudden "nobody had fought for him:" "you know, your Dad must have been Superman, cos him and Paco Rana(1) single-handedly beat all thirty million of us!"
Dad, deadpan: "and my Uncle Javier. He died in the war, so he never got a chance to claim he wasn't there."
"Ah, so that's why I remember more than one red beret (2) attacking my tank! Your Dad, and your uncle!"

When the recent "Law of Historic Memory" was being prepared, some guy made the mistake of going to see Gramps "to prepare a meeting of those brave folks who volunteered to defend the Glorious Republic!" Gramps called him several Pitworthy names and informed him that "I never volunteered, I had done my service and was told I had to 'volunteer' or be shot, so [deleted for this is not the Pit]" - another one of the distortions that have been commited for the last 30 years is making it sound as if the Republic and the "Red" Army were paragons of liberty and nobility, while the "Nationals" were the worst thing ever. It's as absurd to paint one side as "rainbows and fluffy carnations" and the other as "nettles and pain" as it is to do it the other way round.



(1): Frank the Frog, a nickname given to Franco when he was in the news every week inaugurating a new reservoir or canal.
(2): Carlistas. You may see at some point these pretty pictures of Carlista uniforms: don't believe them. In general, all they could afford was a red beret. Basque Nationalists use red berets too, which could have led to some serious confusion if those two sides had happened to be against each other in a battle, but they weren't.

Last edited by Nava; 01-27-2009 at 08:45 AM.
#21
Old 01-27-2009, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by rbroome View Post
Sailor,
thanks for the description. It is wonderful to hear a more balanced view of events. Certainly Franco was a dictator. And equally certain he led his country for many years and did so without any external force propping him up. Many people in Spain were satisfied with the trade-off Franco demanded. People went to sporting events, church and work. Life went on. Hearing about that is vital to anyone who needs to understand how countries live. My experiences in Spain were entirely positive. That one instance I described was noteworthy for being so unusual. And it wasn't a bad experience-the police were fine-just my interpretation of what was going on was so striking to me. The young people in the car didn't want to talk about it, once we were past they cheered up and everyone was fine.
Talk to older people and you will see respect for authority was more prevalent then everywhere. Young people did not talk back to adults, not because they were afraid the adults might beat them up but because it just was not done. There was a respect for authority and it is understandble. When life is so much harder people have little time to waste and little sympathy for trouble-makers.

In many ways I see China today as being where Spain was around 1970. A land of incredible growth and opportunity where some are becoming rich beyond their wildest dreams, many are doing very well and a few are left behind.

Franco and his regime were a product of their time and of preceding Spanish history. Franco and his generation grew up in the very lowest point of Spanish history, when Spain had fallen from being the most powerful empire to being a third world country which had just lost the last remnants of its empire. In the 19th and early 20th centuries Spain as a whole had failed to modernize. In the 1930s Spain had a history of a century and a half of political instability and continuous
coups. The worldwide economic depression hit Spain very hard and it was a very poor country to begin with. The 1930s were years of turmoil and violence. The fear of revolution and communism were much greater in Spain than they were in England or America and that is saying a lot. The level of political violence in Spain had reached very high levels and there was anarchy in the streets. Convents were being burnt, people were being killed, anarchy reigned and the government was unwilling or unable to do anything about it.

It was in this climate that the military coup took place and Franco was not even the main leader. It was a concerted effort by a group of generals of all stripes who only had one thing in common which was a desire to restore law and order. It was later that Franco emerged as the leader and was anointed Generalissimo.

So let us not blame Franco as much as the Spanish people as a whole who had become a third world country in need of a dictator. If it had not been Franco it would have been another general. If the coup had not happened Spain might have become another Albania and today might be coming out of the bold experiment of communism.

Those who paint the whole episode as Franco, an evil man, taking power by force illegally when everything was going just fine are being disingenuous.

One more thing that can be said about Franco is that he was basically an honest man who believed in law and order, as many did in those days. He served the Republic professionally until the coup. After he became Generalissimo he truly ruled in what he thought was the best for Spain. He was notably frugal and, unlike most Latin American dictators, did not amass a personal fortune through corruption.

Contrary to the caricature, his intention was not to keep Spain for the few rich and keep the masses poor and oppressed. Spain saw a rate of progress and development it had not seen ever before and the middle class which emerged shaped the country in the years after his death.

Franco was for law, order, stability because he thought that is what the country needed the most (and the majority of the country agreed with him). He would have compromised on almost anything else and he often did. That is why he managed to last so long.
#22
Old 01-27-2009, 09:16 AM
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Was Franco's regime noted for torture or for "disappearances"? Was there an independent judiciary, or did it do his regime's bidding?
#23
Old 01-27-2009, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
Was Franco's regime noted for torture or for "disappearances"? Was there an independent judiciary, or did it do his regime's bidding?
Again, the changes over 40 years were phenomenal. You did not want to live in Spain in the 40s. Of course, you probably would not want to live in Germany in the 40s. Or in France...

The judiciary slowly and gradually gained some independence but the whole concept of the regime was that of the "unitary power" and that everyone was there to serve the unitary regime and purpose. Similar in a way to what you see in China today or, more distantly, to what Bush had in mind.

So, yes, there are many instances of the courts ruling against the government and the number increased as the years went by. A famous case was that of newspaper Madrid which was closed down in 1971 for publishing an editorial which, when reading between the lines and with huge doses of imagination, suggested it might be time for the old man to retire. The courts, after taking forever, ruled the closing was not according to law and ruled the newspaper should be compensated for the loss they had suffered.

Last edited by sailor; 01-27-2009 at 09:40 AM.
#24
Old 01-27-2009, 10:07 AM
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It should be noted that dictatorships as much as democracies have to pander to public opinion; maybe even more so because of a lack of legitamacy. Its usually a trade off, loss of some political rights in return for perhaps more rights in certain areas, more security perhaps etc. One should not assume that people are literally in chains.
#25
Old 01-27-2009, 10:25 AM
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To expand a bit. The administration of Justice, when it came to political or common criminal matters, was not anything we could consider fair today. The first layer was the police and they had huge powers. Many cases never even reached the courts because police repression and intimidation were all that were needed.

The laws were also what they were so even the most impartial judge could do little but apply the laws as they were. Many crimes were judged under military laws. Anything which loosely had anything to do with "terrorism" automatically fell under military tribunals. Franco had quite a head start on George Bush. A famous case was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleuterio_Sánchez

But most people had little or no problems with the police, they supported the tough approach on crime and appreciated the safety and security. Dissidents were labeled as "elitists" and "intelectuals" "out of touch with the needs and aspirations of ordinary people". Useful fools who would destroy the country if given a chance. You can see all these things are not new and not restricted to America.

Last edited by sailor; 01-27-2009 at 10:25 AM.
#26
Old 01-27-2009, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AK84 View Post
^
Thanks for information. If I may, how is Franco viewed today?
That is (for me) the most interesting thing. Nobody thinks about him at all. The Phalanx Party does not exist in any practical way. Only us foreign tourists go to the tomb. (Fascists from the rest of Europe make it a place of pilgrimage.)

I heard Madrid took down the last statue of the old guy a couple of years ago. People in the neighborhood did not remember the statue was of Franco.

Talking modern European history with young people in Spain is useless.

Further the current PC line about Franco overlooks one very big thing. He kept Spain out of the war. For that alone he deserves a (small, obscure) statue.
#27
Old 01-27-2009, 10:54 AM
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Picking out one detail:
Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor View Post
Men liked to go to soccer games just like they do today.
I just read the book How Soccer Explains the World (fun, quirky, worth reading, but flawed; more of a country-hopping survey than a deep analysis), which looks at fútbol's place in various cultures, including some history. The rivalry between the Barcelona and Madrid teams gets a long look, which necessitates a bit of background on the social rivalry between the cities in general, including during the Franco regime. The author says he was mildly surprised to learn that while Franco was certainly an autocrat running a police state, he found it useful to slacken the reins inside Barcelona's stadium, and allowed the crowd, during the course of the games, to scream in its own language and demonstrate alternate loyalties. He apparently viewed it as an outlet, with a practical function: people needed to feel some freedom, and blow off steam, so resistance wouldn't take hold among the wider population. If we are allowed to speak our minds here, he apparently imagined the people saying to themselves, then the repression can't really be all that bad. Besides, with the high emotions at these games, it's not like he would have been able to crack down anyway.

That's as reported in the book. I'd be curious to know if this is accurate, as it's an interesting little detail about the regime (and corroboration of the statements above, that Franco governed with an eye toward stability, and was willing to compromise as necessary, as opposed to engaging in Stalinesque totalitarianism), or if the situation was more nuanced than that.
#28
Old 01-27-2009, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor View Post
Kept? Nonsense. Spain saw a rate of economic develoment in those years which it had never seen in its history and a solid middle class emerged which did not exist until then
The Spanish Miracle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
another one of the distortions that have been commited for the last 30 years is making it sound as if the Republic and the "Red" Army were paragons of liberty and nobility, while the "Nationals" were the worst thing ever.
I've heard about that too, there was a lot of infighting amongst the opposition, trying to garner support in the papers for themselves and not their "comrade", that kind of thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul in Saudi View Post
Further the current PC line about Franco overlooks one very big thing. He kept Spain out of the war. For that alone he deserves a (small, obscure) statue.
IIRC, when Hitler asked, Franco demanded in exchange for entering the war, tonnes and tonnes of grains, vast quantities of machinery and other such things. The idea being that he might make himself look willing to someone who might be master of Europe, but managed to put Hitler off with a very high price.
#29
Old 01-27-2009, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by cervaise
If we are allowed to speak our minds here, he apparently imagined the people saying to themselves, then the repression can't really be all that bad. Besides, with the high emotions at these games, it's not like he would have been able to crack down anyway.
While this might have been Franco's way of thinking, I suspect that to the Barça fans football meant a lot more and was more political. When Barcelona beat Real Madrid 0-5 (that means: in Madrid) in 1973 and went on to win the Primera Division later that season, that sure was seen as politically significant in Catalunya. Apparently, Cruijff, who joined Barça during that season and who was instrumental in winning the championship, is still considered 'El Salvador' in and around Barcelona.

Last edited by Švejk; 01-27-2009 at 11:04 AM.
#30
Old 01-27-2009, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Pushkin View Post
...he might make himself look willing to someone who might be master of Europe, but managed to put Hitler off with a very high price.
Hitler allegedly said to an aide after meeting all day with Franco, "Next time I'd rather just have a few teeth pulled."

http://aftermathnews.files.wordpress...nco-hitler.jpg

There have been recurring rumors that Churchill paid Franco to ensure Spanish neutrality in WW2. And FWIW, Franco's regime wasn't officially anti-Semitic, and permitted Jewish refugees to enter and transit.

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 01-27-2009 at 12:58 PM.
#31
Old 01-27-2009, 02:34 PM
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Spain played both sides against each other. Spain was a major producer of wolfram which the Germans desperately needed but America would buy it at hugely inflated prices even though it did not need it, only to deny it to Germany. Spain made a huge killing with wolfram exports.
Quote:
ftp://snde.rutgers.edu/Rutgers/wp/2000-08.pdf PDF

One of the most sustained uses of economic warfare by the United States, at least judged by the variety of means used and the issue at stake, occurred in Spain and Portugal during WWII. We provide an overview of this episode by weaving together findings from the secondary literature and from new research in the Spanish archives. The war evolved through several distinct phases.

(1) An oil embargo against Spain, although launched when Germany appeared to be winning the war (July 27 to September 7, 1940), was successful in helping keep Spain neutral because it forced the Franco regime to rethink the costs of joining forces with Germany.

(2) Preemptive buying of wolfram (tungsten ore) during the middle years of the war was also successful. It forced the Germans to pay more for and to consume less tungsten, a material crucial for the production of armor, armor- piercing shells, and other war related items.

(3) Ironically, a second oil embargo against Spain, undertaken when the Germans were retreating on all fronts (January 22 to May 2, 1944), was less successful. The major goal of this embargo, cutting shipments of wolfram to Germany, was not fully realized, partly because monitoring costs were high. Several special circumstances, in particular the naval blockade and the tendency of sanctions and incentives to push the Salazar and Franco regimes in the directions consistent with their own long-run survival, explain the relative success of the economic war.
#32
Old 01-27-2009, 02:46 PM
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Question-I know Franco started grooming Juan Carlos as his heir during the last years of his reign, (and probably is spinning in his grave now!), but what was the view of the royal family during his (Franco's) rule? Was there a large royalist party?

I know that His Majesty ended up doing a 180, for the most part, instead of carrying on the dictator's policies.
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#33
Old 01-27-2009, 03:48 PM
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Franco was quite the sly fox-he played hitler like a violin. Logically, Spain would join the Axis, and close the Straights of Gibraletr. then the Royal navy was kept out of the the Med, and the AfikaKorps could capture Egypt. This didn't happen, because Franco was too smart! He realized that Spain was weak (no modern arms), and siding with the Axis would have exposed Spain to tremendous destruction (allied bombs). So he sat back, and tacitly supported Hitler. he allowed a division of volunteers (the "Blue" Legion) to fight in Russia-and that was the extent of his commitment.
After the war, he liberalized things enough to attract investment.
But, was Spanish fascism such a bad thing? As long as you kept your nose clean, didn't criticize the gov., and avoided bikinis, you were basically left alone-compare that to the anarchy in the USA (Boston has a murder every night)! The Guardia civil was pretty honest and non-corrupt-so was Franco all that bad? (I admit, I think pretty girls OUGHT to wear bikinis0, but think-safe streets, no crime, no need to lock your doors? pretty good.
#34
Old 01-27-2009, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
Said by my Republican grandfather to my Carlista Dad, during the late 70s and early 80s when all of a sudden "nobody had fought for him:" "you know, your Dad must have been Superman, cos him and Paco Rana(1) single-handedly beat all thirty million of us!"
Dad, deadpan: "and my Uncle Javier. He died in the war, so he never got a chance to claim he wasn't there."
"Ah, so that's why I remember more than one red beret (2) attacking my tank! Your Dad, and your uncle!"

(big snip)
I almost wet my pants. I hold you responsible for the soon-to-be death of some frineds when I tell that joke.
#35
Old 01-27-2009, 04:33 PM
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With a shout out to sailor and Nava*!

I grew-up in the late fifties and sixties in Spain (left for good in '73 though I go back on a fairly regular basis) and to this day I have fond memories of the time. In fact, hard to find a better place for a kid to grow-up than those years...if only because of the very safety provided by the Dictatorship and the resulting peace of mind many parents felt, which in turn, gave most of us kids plenty of freedom in terms of where we could go and what we could do. I remember that by age 12, I was allowed to go to Sunday fútbol matches at the Bernabéu with a couple of friends of mine. As it turns out, forty years on the Bernabéu remains my favorite cathedral and Real Madrid my religion of choice. In general my life was totally unaffected by politics as I was way too busy playing basketball both at the American School of Madrid and with the development teams of Estudiantes -- a first division club founded at a school close to my own house, Instituto Ramiro de Maeztu. Other than that, my time was spent going to awfully dubbed and heavily censored movies (didn't much matter to me until I found out better at about 15 -- I then started going to OV, "arte y ensayo" theaters, playing lots of footie in a plaza across the street from our apt and networking to get clandestine copies of Playboy from Torrejon air base (had a couple of Americans kids that were friends of mine there). There was also a huge billiards place at Plaza Callao that I loved going to for hours on end when b-ball season was over. Summers we spent half at the beach (Benidorm) to please my Mom, half at a country house my Dad had close to his tiny town of birth in Asturias. Lots of chasing after girls in both places, including my first 'love.' It wasn't all idyllic of course, as nothing is. In our case, although I had little to no interest in politics, there was My Dad:


A hard-core "Franquista" if there ever was one, due to the ideology he was brought-up with, and the addendum of having had his own father bayoneted to death by the Republicans in front of own house, he was ready to "defend" the Regime and Franco's reputation at the drop of a hat -- angry, red-faced, sweaty upper-lip, he'd engage in these really puerile arguments with my Mom's brother, who just happened to be charged with "Espionage and treason" at the tender age of seventeen while fighting for the Nationalist. After spending 13 years in the slammer and only avoiding execution through my Mom's connections, he became just as rabid a Republican; which led to his migration to Canada where he became a college professor. Of course, nothing could keep him from coming back to Spain on a regular basis to raise bloody hell against the Regime -- but these time as a Canadian citizen, he 'only' got deported. Not certain, but I am sure it happened at least twice.

I guess from my perspective at the time, neither one was either right or made much sense -- the screaming certainly didn't help, I just hated the whole thing.

OTOH, I did learn a ton of Spanish history from my Dad, as he was also a fanatic on the topic and took us on many road trips to all sorts of historical sites. He just wasn't able to use all that knowledge when it came to arguing though -- his temper wouldn't allow it. Some might say that I've inherited a bit of that myself.

Couple of small anecdotes to close with:

I absolutely loved going to the "Desfile De La Victoria" with him -- don't think we ever missed one. In fact I can still recall the shake in the Paseo de la Castellana boulevard when the tanks paraded and the thundering ovation La Legion (and its mascot, a goat) always got.

Due to the aforementioned heavy censure in movies and almost total lack of er..erotic visuals, Peckinpah's movie, The Wild Bunch, became an instant classic at the time, what with lines going around the block in order to watch it. Was it that good? Well, dunno, can't really remember much of it...but I *do* clearly remember seeing my first female naked breast on screen. Think it might have had something to do with the collective repressed libido of my compatriots? Hmm...seeing how a few years later many of us took a specially made tour to Andorra just in order to watch The Last Tango and come right back** I suspect that yes, it was a factor indeed.

Having said all that, what makes me a 'pinko-commie' today according to some on this board? Simple. I evolved.

*Nava, soy tocayo de tu bisabuelo. O sea, de nombre Navarro...y algo de sangre tambien por parte de mi abuela materna, apellido Iriarte. A ver si somos familia?!

**No pun intended!
#36
Old 01-28-2009, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Franco was quite the sly fox-he played hitler like a violin. Logically, Spain would join the Axis, and close the Straights of Gibraletr. then the Royal navy was kept out of the the Med, and the AfikaKorps could capture Egypt. This didn't happen, because Franco was too smart! .
But, was Spanish fascism such a bad thing? As long as you kept your nose clean, didn't criticize the gov., and avoided bikinis, you were basically left alone-compare that to the anarchy in the USA (Boston has a murder every night)! The Guardia civil was pretty honest and non-corrupt-so was Franco all that bad? (.
Note that Franco had a great source amoung the Germans- Admiral Canaris, the head of the Abwehr and a noted opponent of Hitler- had strongly advised Franco about getting in too deep with Hitler.

wiki; "A letter from a Spanish contact of his has been preserved and unambiguously confirms his opposition to the Nazi regime. He tried to hinder Hitler's attempts to absorb Czechoslovakia and advised Franco not to permit German passage through Spain for the purposes of capturing Gibraltar. According to written sources, all of Franco’s arguments on this stance were studied and dictated in detail by Canaris, and that simultaneously, a significant sum of money had been deposited by the British in Swiss accounts for Franco and his generals to further convince them to be neutral"

Yes, I'd have to say it was not such a bad thing, considering that in most cases the choice was Communism. Franco was certainly a dictator, and not a nice guy. But at least he guided the nation into democracy and had set up things for a peaceful and democratic hand-over once he was dead.

Nava".... another one of the distortions that have been commited for the last 30 years is making it sound as if the Republic and the "Red" Army were paragons of liberty and nobility, while the "Nationals" were the worst thing ever. It's as absurd to paint one side as "rainbows and fluffy carnations" and the other as "nettles and pain" as it is to do it the other way round." I agree, which is why the one-sided and biased portayal in "Pan's Labyrinth ( El laberinto del fauno)" annoyed me.


sailor
" If the coup had not happened Spain might have become another Albania and today might be coming out of the bold experiment of communism. "

Exactly.
#37
Old 01-28-2009, 06:34 PM
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I hesitate to say anything in this thread, seeing that I'm not Spanish and was only 3 years old when Franco died...

But seeing that there have been some strong defenses of Franco and the Nationalist coup, I feel compelled to argue that there is far more blood on the hands of Franco and the Nationalists than on those of the Republic--at least when one is considering the history of the Civil War itself.

The Republic's coalition, admittedly, was flimsy and dysfunctional, and probably doomed to failure--especially in the face of the better-organized and better-armed Nationalists. And certainly, by the end of the war, the Stalinists had become increasingly prominent on the Loyalist side, and had already ruthlessly dealt with anarchist and socialist rivals, and had set up a secret police force to purge their side of any perceived Trotskyist influences--not a good sign of things to come, had the Republic survived.

Nevertheless, I think it's wrong to suggest that Franco got involved with the coup for the noble intention of preventing the spread of Bolshevism. The Nationalists would claim this was the reason post-facto, but when the war began in 1936, the Popular Front wasn't dominated by Stalinist sympathizers--not even close. It included representatives from all over the left-side of the political spectrum (leftist republicans, socialists, Trotskyists), few of whom had any love for Stalin or even Soviet-style state communism.

I'm not going to defend the bad things that happened after the Popular Front was elected. I don't think there's any way to justify the executions of thousands of clergymen and clergywomen (even when one takes into consideration the traditional historical links between the Catholic Church and conservative State in Spain), that took place under the willfully blind eye of the Republic.

I will argue, however, that the Nationalists and their allies were responsible for far worse, and far more, atrocities. The bombing of civilian sites like Guernica, the murder of Garcia Lorca (probably shot to death with a gun shoved up his anus), the countless rapes of Republican women (particularly by the Moors, with the approval of the Nationalist commanders like Queipo de Llano)... these are just a few of the incidents for which Franco and his friends were responsible during the war.

I'll admit that the Republic was probably a lost cause, and that the rise of the Stalinist secret police during the latter half of the war indicates that it could have become a very bad thing, indeed--and potentially could have committed atrocities as terrible as the Nationalists. But, just as it's wrong to overly romanticize the Republicans (and especially the role played by the Communists, who to my mind betrayed the cause more than anything else), it's wrong to characterize Franco as a decent guy who only did what he did in order to save Spain.

A "pox on both your houses" sentiment is what I tend to feel is most appropriate for both sides of the war (certainly following the incidents of the May Days in Barcelona).

Finally, I will concede that things do change a lot over 40 years, as sailor points out, and that what is to be said about Franco in the 1930s doesn't necessarily apply to Franco in the 1960s.

I would also like to thank sailor, Nava, and RedFury for sharing their stories, and to apologize for sticking my nose into this thread.

Please feel free to tear me and my argument to shreds now.
#38
Old 01-28-2009, 06:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Götterfunken View Post
IBut seeing that there have been some strong defenses of Franco and the Nationalist coup, ...
The bombing of civilian sites like Guernica..
Oh, no doubt that Franco was a rat bastard. It's just that I think he is over-villianized (not even close to Hitler or even Mussolini), and things would have been worse had the Commies won.

As for Guernica:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing...Other_theories
The number of civilian casualties was very controversial and a matter of propaganda.

A recent study by Raul Arias Ramos in his book La Legion Condor en La Guerra Civil states that there were 250 dead; and the study by Joan Villarroya and J.M. Sole i Sabate in their book Espana en Llamas. La Guerra Civil desde el Aire states that there were 300 dead [8] -— these sources have been cited by historians such as Stanley Payne and Antony Beevor as well as media such as the BBC and El Mundo.
.....

a realistic estimate on the high side of bombing effectiveness (7-12 fatalities per ton of bombs) would yield a figure of perhaps 300-400 fatalities in Guernica. This is certainly a bloody enough event, but reporting that a small town was bombed with a few hundred killed would not have had the same effect as reporting that a city was bombed with almost 1,700 dead


Franco was a bad man where the alternative was worse- and in the end, his government worked out OK for Spain today.
#39
Old 05-31-2010, 07:55 AM
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Oh my... Sorry for resurrecting this ages-old thread! But I chanced upon it, and I thought I had to contribute to it.

I am Spanish, born in the city of Albacete, my early childhood took place under Franco (born in 1967, I was 8 when the dictator died), and my father was an "enemy of the regime". I want to contribute with the perspective of someone who, as sailor mentioned, was related to "dissidents".

I am a late child -- my father, a doctor, had me when he was 59. He had been born in 1908, and he fought in the Spanish Civil War, in the Republican side. I think that some backstory will be needed. I apologise in advance for the length of this post.

When the Civil War started, a LOT of old scores were settled. Lots of people were "taken for a ride" everywhere. Albacete remained firmly in Republican hands, and lots of sympathisers of the rebellion were shot. On the night of July 19, 1936, someone knocked at my father's door. It was an acquaintance of his, a local right-winger, more or less well known, Navarro by name. "Pepe, please, help me! Do something! Your people are looking for me!" (my father, at that time, was actually a member of the Communist party). My father took him in and hid him in his home. About an hour or so later, a posse came calling to my father's door, a mixture of anarchists, communists, and guys looking to settle scores. "Comrade, have you seen Navarro?" "No, I haven't." A short conversation ensued at the door, with my father convincing them in the end that he really hadn't seen him (they knew that my father and Navarro were acquainted; they took time persuading. The status of my father as bona fide member of the Communist party helped convince them though.) They left, but said they would be back later on, and that if he saw Navarro, he should let them know.

After that, my father went to Navarro, hidden in a back room, and told him: "I won't be able to keep you here much longer. Come along, I'll take you out of the city, and with any luck you'll be able to find your people if you go north". He smuggled him out of Albacete, took him to another town, gave him some money and pointed him north as the likeliest direction to find "his" people.

Fast-forward to 1939. The war is over. My father made his way back to Albacete. At the time, immediately after the war, it was definitely unhealthy to be caught if you had been an officer in the Republican army. My father had been officially a medic (and had seen quite a bit of action in Aragón as well, when he had to fight), and had ended up with an officer rank. So he went into hiding. He spent from 1939 to 1942 in hiding in a small, windowless attic, arranged by some true friends of his (doctors as well, who knew him from before the war, were living in Albacete, and were in reasonable terms with the regime).

In 1942 somebody betrayed him (never found out who it was), he was arrested, and was tried for "sedition".

Remember Navarro? By that time he was the top man for the Phalanx (Franco's Party) in Albacete. He was the guy who moved the strings and arranged everything.

When my father was arrested, he moved everything he could to make sure that, (a) my father was given a beating while in custody that broke I don't know how many of his ribs; and (b) my father was sentenced to death.

My father spent one month expecting every day to be his last. Fortunately, one of his doctor friends had very good contacts with the authorities in Madrid and managed to use his connections to arrange for a review of the sentence, having it finally changed to 30 years in jail. Were it not for that extremely fortunate circumstance, had it not been for Dr. Molina, I wouldn't be here typing this.

He was in jail until 1948, when there was a general amnesty. However, although he was freed on that date, he was blacklisted: He was not allowed to work as a doctor in anything even remotely related to the government (public hospitals, etc... and the "etc." could be interpreted VERY widely.) He was good enough that he was able to build himself a 100% private practice, but I think that it took a toll on his health. I think that it was more a case of pure bloodymindedness: "oh, so they don't want me to be a doctor, eh? Let's see who is more stubborn here".

It was only in 1973 that he was allowed to begin working in a hospital, as an X-ray technician (again, thanks to the help of another doctor friend of his who was in good terms with the regime, Dr. Gotor).

OK, fast-forwarding to my childhood... I know for a fact that our telephones were bugged (and I remember my father speaking on the phone and, suddenly, leaving some "choice remarks" for whoever might be listening to the conversation). And sometimes I noticed some weird guys loitering near our home. A couple of them, I ended up recognizing them.

Digression: Later on, when I grew up, I got to befriend one of them. And the story in itself is funny... He was a policeman (he ended up becoming head of police in Albacete). He had been assigned to surveillance detail on our place -- my father was a "notorious red", after all. He was more or less well known in our city (Albacete was a small place. Still is, in many respects.)

By the late 1970s, after Franco was dead, during the turmoil of the early years of the democracy, we began receiving weird phone calls and death threats at home. After duly denouncing the thing, my father was afforded protection at his workplace. The guy who was assigned to guard him was *the same guy who had been keeping tabs on him 5 years before*. When my father asked him, "well, how do you feel about this? That you are now told to protect someone that you had been told before to spy on?", he answered: "Well, I am a professional, and these are my orders, which I fulfill as best as I can." They became very good friends in the end.

Well, the point of this meandering, rambling post? That, if you had the misfortune of being a "dissident", or of having fallen afoul of the regime, the amount of horrid stuff that could happen to you was mindboggling.

And, to tie a couple of loose ends...

(1) Navarro died in 1982. He was buried "with his coffin wrapped in the flag of the Phalanx", as the article in the local newspaper said. We still keep the newspaper clipping in question at home. My father in person cut it out, saying (and I quote): "Now I can die in peace". My father died in 1983.

(2) When I say that the regime and its police could be nasty, it really could. "Desaparecidos"? Hmmm... I don't think that this particular case counts, but... OK. A cousin of mine in the second degree, who was 24 in 1974, was taken away one day by the secret police. His family heard nothing of him for 3 weeks. He simply vanished in thin air. Finally, 3 weeks after having been taken, he is left in front of his home. A broken shell of the man he was. Also, he was some 5 cm shorter than he was when he was taken. To this day he refuses to speak about what happened during those 3 weeks.

Oh, I almost forgot! sailor wrote this in an earlier post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor
So, yes, there are many instances of the courts ruling against the government and the number increased as the years went by. A famous case was that of newspaper Madrid which was closed down in 1971 for publishing an editorial which, when reading between the lines and with huge doses of imagination, suggested it might be time for the old man to retire. The courts, after taking forever, ruled the closing was not according to law and ruled the newspaper should be compensated for the loss they had suffered.
Eeeehhh... Yeeeeeeah... That is the first part of the story.

The whole thing was as follows: In 1968, after Charles de Gaulle resigned, Calvo Serer (editor of the newspaper) wrote an op-ed article mentioning the fact and making extremely subtle allussions to the fact, by comparing the statesmanship of de Gaulle and Franco. Franco went ballistic and the newspaper was closed for two months.

Indeed, it was re-opened, but Franco was an expert in getting his revenge served cold and in humongous heaping platters. In November 1971 (to be precise, November 25), trumped-up charges of financial misdeeds were thrown at the publisher of the newspaper, and were used as an excuse by the government to cancel the publication of "Madrid". Then, the trials were so expensive that the publisher was forced to sell all the printing machines and everything valuable in order to cover the expenses. Finally, on April 24, 1972, the building that had hosted the newspaper offices was demolished with a controlled explosion.

Moral: You didn't piss off Franco, especially by trying to imply that maybe, perhaps, it was time to begin considering the off-the-wall possibility of stepping down.

Last edited by JoseB; 05-31-2010 at 07:56 AM.
#40
Old 05-31-2010, 08:12 AM
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thanks
Interesting and informative post.
#41
Old 05-31-2010, 08:40 AM
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The only balanced thread on the Dope, God be praised.
#42
Old 05-31-2010, 01:55 PM
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Very interesting stuff. Thanks, all.
#43
Old 11-22-2010, 01:29 AM
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I know this is an oooooold thread, but I found it so interesting and exactly what I was looking for that I decided to add my two cents.

I found it Google today, after a US friend who briefly lived in Oviedo and Barcelona in the 60's started saying how oppressive it all was back then. I was born in Spain in 1959 and lived there on and off till 1985 and my memories of my childhood were very different from her description. I grew up in Madrid, attended a British School and had a large family with a fiery Abuela (grandmother) from Navarra whom I only recently found out was on the right, and on the other hand her daughter's, (my aunt) family who had married a Judge of a well know leftist family. Apparently my Tia's marriage to my Tio Pepe, was very much frowned upon by La Abuela Matilde. But hey, she had in her youth married a Norwegian man, my grandfather Joaquin.

I remember many instances where mockery of Franco was the subject when we were spending time with my cousins, especially towards the end when a law had been passed against big gatherings since anti Franco demonstrations were becoming more common, and since we were a large group when both families gathered, we would joke on such outings about the possibility of the entire family being busted by the guardias. Many jokes were also cracked around the time of Francos death, since it took so long, that people would say one of his ministers was walking around in Franco's old skin and that the "Generalisssimo" had actually died months before.

While I attended classes at El Instituto Britanico, there was a strange class that combined sewing and politics ( Propaganda Franquista ). My parents managed to get me excused from the propaganda portion of the class, I have no idea of how this was pulled off, but I still had to take part in the sewing part of the class. Our teacher was a mean woman who had the habit of having the girls come up to her desk to show their completed sewing assignment, at which point she would almost always sneak her hand under the school uniform skirt and manage a hard pinch on each students inner thigh. I was one of the lucky ones, since the squeeze never happened to me. I am pretty sure that being exempt from the propaganda, also saved me from the physical abuse. Odd but true.

I have very good memories of my childhood, we traveled extensively around the country, and I still vividly remember my adventurous vacations, living in Madrid was exciting but very safe and while my friend remembers oppression, censorship and having trouble finding or being able to buy books in Oviedo, I recall visits to a large bookstore with my father and a house full of books. She remembers seeing a lot of poverty and experiencing a lack of basic comforts, I remember frequent visits to restaurants, museums, parties at home and going to the circus or movies with friends.
#44
Old 11-22-2010, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by ckinsobe View Post
a fiery Abuela (grandmother) from Navarra
Ah, the famous Basque matriarcate Did she give your grandfather money and tell him to go to the bar when he got underfoot?

Welcome to the Dope! Your experiences are similar to mine in that you had each foot in a different place, and they were very different ones. Navarra (north and south, to further complicate things) and Barcelona for me, Madrid and Oviedo for you. This is when Franco had already been buried for years, but I remember how many customs were different in Pamplona, Tudela and Barcelona, yet the people from each place would take it for granted that "everybody does it this way" (except people in movies, but movies are tales, you can't really believe them).

Last edited by Nava; 11-22-2010 at 10:15 AM.
#45
Old 11-22-2010, 10:18 AM
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Sorry, I got confused with your own travels around the country and your friend being in Oviedo.
#46
Old 11-22-2010, 10:39 AM
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Thanks for reviving the thread. It is a bit apropo, because last night (in Boston) four young people were shot-two are now dead, a third will be shortly.
WE have tremendous personal freedom in the USA-but some people use this freedom to behave like infants.
OK, Franco was a dictator, but you didn't have to worry about being murdered (by being in the wrong place at the wrong time).
Maybe societies like ours have reched the point that a little more control is needed.
#47
Old 11-22-2010, 11:02 AM
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Since the OP requested personal reminisces, this thread was probably more suitable for IMHO than GQ from the start.

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#48
Old 11-22-2010, 11:05 AM
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Eh, you still could get murdered for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that can happen everywhere. You could have been murdered by ETA later in the regime (there were other terrorist groups, but in general they were as efficient as a declawed, toothless wet cat); you could have been mistaken for someone else by a specially sadistic cop; your neighbor could have taken a gun against his uppity wife and, being a lousy shot, managed to shoot you instead. If the last one had had good aim, it wouldn't even have been counted as a crime, just a "domestic dispute" which got slightly out of hand.

The risk would have been lower? Depending on where and when you lived, yes. Or not. But then, the risk in Boston is probably not the same as the risk in Lousiville.

Still, my condolences.

Last edited by Nava; 11-22-2010 at 11:07 AM.
#49
Old 11-22-2010, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ckinsobe View Post
...Many jokes were also cracked around the time of Francos death, since it took so long, that people would say one of his ministers was walking around in Franco's old skin and that the "Generalisssimo" had actually died months before....
Someone had better tell Chevy Chase.
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