of the communist manifesto and extracts from Das Capital
encyclicals and Marx - some extracts: on socialism and
and means and the individual
politics and the law
Mosley, Britain’s very own national socialist
- Franco, an introduction
- Franco and the
career military man
point of view of the Church of Rome in Spain, 1937
from the Civil War
Franco and Hitler
- Franco faces down Hitler for three years
in parliament, 24 may 1944, on Spain - before policy
changed to appease socialist Russia
bibliography and book reviews
Franco [1892 - 1975] was the military dictator who put
down a socialist revolution in Spain with consummate skill.
He played off royalists, Falangists and ambitious military
rivals, eventually handing Spain over to a democratic
Franco was not a 'fascist'. Fascists are born in and of Socialism. During the Spanish 'Civil War' [1936-1939], Franco was fighting against murderous socialists who, like Deash currently, were also on a murderous spree. He was fighting against Stalin's war machine!
Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and many others were revolutionaries
(left-wingers) and, as with most of their kind, killed
by millions and tens of millions. Franco was what the
Left calls a counter-revolutionary of a strongly Catholic
country. Likewise were Salazar and several South American
Franco was an enemy of the Left. The Falangists (Blue
Shirts) were somewhat similar to the Brown Shirts in Germany
and the Black Shirts in Italy. Franco dominated, mastered
and manipulated their revolutionary zeal. Franco even
sent off divisions to fight against Russia. [USSR], a
good way of getting rid of some of the more enthusiastic
Franco was no pussy cat, and he put down the 1936-9 attempt at Leftist revolution in Spain with great brutality. He even exploited the real fascist regimes of Hitler and Mussolini to assist in that crusade. But Franco was a reactionary, not a revolutionary Socialist or Fascist. He was an deadly enemy of Fascism which is, of course, why he is a hate figure for the Left.
Franco treated the
insurgency as a rebellion against the State, administering
a form of often arbitrary military ‘justice’, Hitler and Mussolini had organised socialist revolutions against the State, and the Leftists in Spain were attempting the same process. Franco's regime was far more akin to a military dictatorship.
- The revolutionaries were receiving aid from Russia, often
with the connivance of France. This aid included aircraft,
tanks, ‘advisors’ and ‘volunteers’.
However, you would hardly notice this were you to limit
reading to left-wing academics like Paul
Preston. In fact, both sides received approximately equal war materiel from their respective backers. (A useful summary can be found in Payne, p.158.) The Russian supplies were generally considered to be superior in quality. Paul Reynaud, French Prime Minister at the start of WW2 and known as the French Churchill, commented:
- "Do you want, in spite of the advice of very competent generals who went to study the tank regiments in Russia and found them outstanding, to judge the Russian army as worthless? It is said that the Soviet air force is most up to date and that it has proved its value in Spain. Do you want us to consider it valueless? [Spoken in 1938, p.61, In the thick of the fight, 1930-1945]
- During the first year or so, the Leftists had superior force, economic resources, man power etc. Franco's nationalist forces won by better organisation and leadership, without the internecine quarrels widespread in the Republican camp. As an aside, the myth of the outrage of Guernica omits the fact
- "The bombing of cities had been made routine practice during the first year of the Civil War by the Republicans." [Payne, p.146]
While secrecy, propaganda and censorship continually distorts and exaggerates deaths due to the Spanish Civil War, it is probable that about 150,000 died on the Nationalist side and 120,000 on the Republican side. For much more detail, see Payne, p.219.
Stalin, through the use of Comintern and the OGPU (later the KGB), gradually took over the Spanish 'revolution', meanwhile bleeding Spain of its gold reserves - the third largest in the world. Much of this gold had been accumulated over centuries, including a large proportion in Inca gold and coins.
Britain, other than socialists, tended to turn a blind
eye to Franco.
establishment interference with civil liberties during
the 20th century—the example of Diana and Oswald
Bastiat and free trade
climber’s race - La Vuelta a Espagne 2011
Espana, 2010 - an eco-tour
and the Jews
“Because fifty years of Comintern propaganda
has taught us to think of Franco as anti-Semite, a friend
of Hitler and an anti-American, the authors offer the
following documentation in order that one can read this
story with an open mind.”
“In The Congressional Record of January
24, 1950, Representative Abraham Multer quotes a spokesman
for the Joint Distribution Committee:
"During the height of Hitler’s blood baths
upwards of 60,000 Jews had been saved by the generosity
of the Spanish authorities." ” [Hitler
stopped by Franco, p.312]
the career military man
Franco was immensely brave, fighting in Morocco, then
part of Spanish North Africa. This led to his rapid promotion
to general in 1926, the youngest general in Europe at
that time. Franco was a founding member of the Spanish
equivalent of the French Foreign Legion, the Spanish Legion
(Legión Española, La Legión or colloquially El Tercio). In Morocco, as overall
second in command, he led the 1st Legión Bandera.
point of view of the church of rome in spain, 1937
Letter of the Spanish Bishops to the Bishops of the Whole
World Concerning the War in Spain, July 1st, 1937
“At the same time the authorities on many and
grave occasions surrendered their power to the populace.
The burning of the churches in Madrid and in the provinces
in May, 1931, the revolts of October, 1934, especially
in Catalonia and Austrians, where anarchy ruled during
two weeks; the turbulent period which ran from February
till July, 1936, when 411 churches were destroyed or
profaned, and when about 3,000 grave transgressions
of a political and social character were committed,
foretold the total ruin of the public authority which
was often seen to succumb to the strength of the hidden
powers which controlled its functions.
“Our political régime of democratic liberty
was unsettled through arbitrary actions on the part
of the authority of the State and through Governmental
coercion, which over-rode the people’s will, forming
a political machine in conflict with the majority of
the nation, as occurred in the last parliamentary elections
in February, 1936, when with more than half a million
votes of surplus over the Left, the Right only obtained
118 deputies less than the People’s Front, because
the votes of whole provinces had been cancelled at will,
thus corrupting in its origin the legitimacy of Parliament.”
“The war is therefore like an armed plebiscite.
The civil struggle of the district assemblies of February,
1936, when the lack of political conscience of the national
Government arbitrarily gave the revolutionary forces
a victory which they had not obtained in the elections,
was transformed by the civic-military struggle into
the cruel fight of a people cleft into two tendencies;
on the side of the insurgents the spiritual, which aimed
at the defence of order, social peace, traditional civilization
and the mother-country, and very markedly, in a great
section, the defence of religion; and on the other side
the materialist tendency, be it called Marxist, Communist,
or Anarchist, which wanted to substitute, for the old
civilization of Spain, with all its factors, the ultra-new
‘civilization’ of the Russian Soviets.”
“We add that the catastrophe produced in persons
and things by the Communist Revolution was ‘preconceived.’
A short time before the revolt broke out there had arrived
from Russia seventy-nine specialized agitators. The
National Commission of Marxist Unification, during these
same days, ordered the setting up of revolutionary militiamen
in all the villages. The destruction of the churches
or at least of their furniture was systematic and by
rotation. In the short interval of a month, all the
churches had been rendered useless for public worship.
Already, in 1931, the Atheist League had in its programme
an article which said: ‘Plebiscite for the destination
that must be given to churches and presbyteries’;
and one of the provincial committees gave this rule:
‘The place or places set apart up to the present
for public worship will be destined for collective warehouses,
public markets, people’s libraries, bathing establishments,
public hygiene, etc., as it may suit the needs of each
village.’ For the elimination of well-known persons
who were considered enemies of the revolution the ‘Black
Lists’ had previously been formed. In some of
them and in the first place appeared a Bishop’s
name. A communist leader said about the priests, in
view of the attitude of the people who wished to save
their pastor: ‘We have been ordered to root up
all their seed.’
“A very eloquent proof that the destruction of
the churches and the slaughter of the priests, in an
exhaustive manner, was a premeditated thing, is its
frightful number. Although the figures are premature
we calculate that about 20,000 churches and chapels
have been destroyed or totally plundered. The murdered
priests, counting on an average 40 per cent. in the
devastated dioceses — in some they reach 80 per
cent. — will sum up, of the secular clergy alone [this includes religious orders],
about 6,000 murdered [eventual figure is close to 7,000]. They were hunted with dogs; they were pursued
across the mountains, they were searched for with eagerness
in every hiding-place. They were killed without trial
most times, on the spot, for no other reason than that
of their function in society.
“The revolution was ‘most cruel.’
The forms of murder took on characters of horrible barbarity.
First as regards their number: the number of laymen
who have been murdered only for their political ideas,
and especially for their religious ones, is calculated
to surpass 300,000. In Madrid and in the first three
months more than 22,000 were murdered. Scarcely is there
a village where the best known men of the Right have
not been eliminated. Secondly, in the lack of form:
without accusation, without proofs, in the majority
of cases without trial. Thirdly, in tortures: many have
had their limbs amputated or have been dreadfully mutilated
before being murdered; their eyes have been put out,
their tongues cut out, they have been ripped open from
top to bottom, burned, or burned alive, chopped to death
with axes. The greatest cruelty has been used against
the ministers of God. For respect and charity we do
not wish to give any more detailed account.”
“In a foreign magazine of wide circulation it
is affirmed that the people in Spain were estranged
from the clergy because the latter were recruited from
amongst the upper classes; and that they do not wish
to have their sons baptized owing to the high fees charged
for the administration of that Sacrament. To the first
we answer that the vocations in the different seminaries
of Spain were recruited in the following manner: in 1935, the total
number of seminarians were 7,401. Of these 6 were noblemen; 115 were rich,
that is with a capital of over 10,000 pesetas;
7,280 were poor, or nearly poor. To the second charge we
reply that before the change of régime, the sons
of Catholic parents who were not baptized did not reach
one in 10,000; as for the tariff, it is most moderate,
and in the case of the poor, nonexistent.”
from the Civil War
As with most wars, the Spanish Civil War generated disruption
to food supplies and hosts of refugees. The final battle
which broke the ‘Republicans’ was in the cusp
of the Ebro and Segre rivers [see
France and Spain are separated by the magnificent
and substantial Pyrenees mountains. The only easy
egress to France is at either end of the range. That means
Hendaye on the west, and on the east the route of what
is now the French
A9, which goes from Perpignan down towards Barcelona
in north-eastern Spain. As the final Republican hold-out
was in the Catalan region, naturally the largest refugees
came using that route to the Perpignan region. From there,
many were dispersed around the world (for example, I think
thousands of children ended up in England).
Refugees at Hendaye, 1936: “the
interminable procession of evacuees from Irun (women,
children, old men) who, immediately after crossing the
frontier bridge on the Bidassoa, are welcomed by French
gendarmes who lead them towards makeshift shelters.”
Memory walk at the Belitres pass
[col des Belitres] between Cerbère,
Pyrénées-Orientales, France and Portbou,
Catalonia, Spain (marked on
map above). This was one of the refugee routes at
the eastern end of the Pyrenees.
Here are extracts from a couple of letters written by Nancy
Mitford, who went down to join her husband [Peter]
working to assist the refugees.
16 May 1939, Perpignan
You can't imagine what it's like here, I never saw anybody
work the way these people do, I haven't had a single
word with Peter although I've been here 2 days. They
are getting a boat off to Mexico next week with 600
families on board & you can suppose this is a job,
reuniting these families.
The men are in camps, the women are living in a sort
of gymnasium in the town & the children scattered
all over France. Peter said yesterday one woman was
really too greedy, she already has 4 children &
she wants 3 more. I thought of you! These people will
all meet on the quayside for the first time since the
Peter sees to everything, even down to how many S[anitary]
T[owel]s are to be allowed! I believe he will be here
for life, refugees are still pouring out of Spain where
it seems the situation is impossible for ex-Government
supporters & their families. Over 100 a day come
There is the original General Murgatroyd here, called
Molesworth oh goodness he is funny. He has been sent
by the govt to help with the embarkation, speaks no
French or Spanish but bursts into fluent Hindoostanee
at the sight of a foreigner & wastes poor Peter's
time in every possible way. All the same he is a nice
old fellow & very pro refugee. Indeed no one who
sees them could fail to be that, they are simply so
wonderful. I haven't yet been to one of the awful camps,
just the women's one in the town & to a hostel which
Peter started at Narbonne where people who are got out
of camps can be cleaned up & rested before they
go off to their destination. There are about 70 there
& it is very nice indeed, with a garden which they
have planted with vegetables. It is run by an English
girl entirely on her own there, most of the present
occupants are going in this ship to Mexico.
Peter has 2 helpers, one called Donald Darling is
a young man who owned a travel agency in Barcelona &
is now of course ruined. He only thinks of the refugees
although his own future is in as much of a mess as theirs.
The other is Humphrey Hare1, a writer who
lives in the S. of France, came over to see the camps
& stayed on. They both, like Pete, work 14 hours
a day for no pay, & all three look absolutely done
up. It is a most curious situation apparently the préfet
here said 'supposing there were refugee camps for Norwegians
in England & 3 young Frenchmen went over & began
telling the English how they should be run' -
Actually however they have got the French quite fairly
docile I can't imagine how! The French here are not
very nice - I mean in the hotels & shops, apparently
this is famous for being the nastiest part of France
both as regards climate (there is a perpetual gale which
never stops even in summer), people, food & scenery.
Very unattractive. I must go & pack.
Love from NR
1 Humphrey Hare (d.l965). “Randolph
Pine, a young writer who, having led. a more or less
playboy existence in the South of France, had gone to
fight in Spain, and was now working in Perpignan from
a certain feeling of responsibility towards those who
had once been fellow soldiers.” The Pursuit
of Love, p. 117.
25 May 1939, Perpignan
Well we got our ship off. There was a fearful hurricane
- she couldn't get into Port-Vendres so all the arrangements
had to be altered & she was sent to Sète
(150 miles away from P. V.) & at 3 hours' notice
special trains had to be changed etc etc the result
was Peter was up for 2 whole nights, never went to bed
at all. However he is none the worse; I was up all yesterday
night as the embarkation went on until 6 A.M. &
the people on the quay had to be fed & the babies
given their bottles. There were 200 babies under 2 &
12 women are to have babies on board. One poor shell-shocked
man went mad & had to be given an anaesthetic &
taken off, but apart from that all went smoothly if
slowly. The women were on the quayside first & then
the men arrived. None of them had seen each other since
the retreat & I believe thought really that they
wouldn't find each other then, & when they did you
never saw such scenes of hugging. The boat sailed at
12 yesterday, the pathetic little band on board played
first God Save the King, for us, then the Marseillaise
& then the Spanish National Anthem. Then the poor
things gave 3 Vivas for Espana which they will never
see again. I don't think there was a single person not
crying - I have never cried so much in my life. They
had all learnt to say Goodbye & thank you &
they crowded round us so that we could hardly get off
the ship. Many of them are great friends of Peter &
I know a lot of them too by now as some have been working
in our office, & it was really sad to see them go
- to what? If all Mexicans are as great horrors as the
delegate here they will have a thin time I am afraid.
Franco's radio has announced that the ship will not
be allowed to reach her destination & we shall all
feel anxious until she has safely left Madeira.
And now there still remain over 300 000 poor things
to be dealt with, 500 000 counting the women, &
more arriving all the time.
The Red X are not much help, they issue shorts which
Spaniards abominate, having a sense of dignity, &
refuse to help with special diet for the many cases
of colitis in the camps.
[pp. 112-114, The letters
of Nancy Mitford, edited by Charlotte Mosley]
Franco faces down Hitler for three
The great prize that Hitler wanted was to capture the
fortress stronghold of Gibraltar. From there, Hitler could
cut off the Mediterranean. Franco had other ideas.
“It is fashionable at the present time to dwell
on the vices of General Franco, and I am therefore glad
to place on record this testimony to the duplicity and
ingratitude of his dealings with Hitler and Mussolini.
I shall presently record even greater services which
these evil qualities in General Franco rendered to the
[Abstracts of the war memoirs of Winston
Churchill, Their Finest Hour, part
4; in Life, 14 March 1949, p. 87]
“General Vigón reported to Franco that
Germany had suddenly begun reinforcing its Third Air
Force around Bayonne right at Spain’s doorstep. And in addition to
the twenty divisions still at Irún-Hendaye,
more Wehrmacht divisions were arriving in an
area south of Bordeaux.”
[Hitler stopped by
Franco, p. 223. This refers to mid-July,
“In the north, on the only two roads over which
it was possible to pass into Spain there suddenly appeared
massive concrete fortifications and roadblocks. Spain
did not lack sand and cement, and hundreds of tons of
concrete were poured as if overnight. To the sides of
the roads the engineers used dynamite to create vast
craters as tank traps. Everywhere that vehicles and
men on foot might pass, obstacles were placed to make
passage impossible. Franco and his Ministers had mobilized
the Army Engineers in an operation without name but
in direct reply to Ilona.
“They divided the Pyrennean area into five defensive
regions. The key frontier bridge that spans the Bidesoa
River that links Spanish Irún to French Hendaye,
in bad condition, was weakened still further and mined
with enough explosives to blow it out of existence in
sixty seconds. Teams of men rotated duty twenty-four
hours a day to protect the mines from being defused,
or to detonate the charges when ordered.
“Five dams were prepared to be opened wide enough
so that within hours their waters could flood the region,
making it as marshy and boggy as later in the year the
winter weather would do naturally. Farmhouses became
arsenals for the implements of guerrilla warfare: knives,
guns, hatchets, gasoline, dynamite? Anything that could
kill a soldier and destroy his vehicles.
“Finally, the Army's rosters were studied for
men who came from the north and then one hundred and
twenty thousand of them were transferred and stationed
as close to their homes as possible: a fundamental of
guerrilla warfare being the intimate knowledge of one's
stopped by Franco, p. 222]
“The two guardias civiles at the customs barrier
at Irun stood at their posts, looking into France at
the German tanks and trucks and half-tracks, at the
field artillery and the thousands of tents that housed
the hundreds of thousands of men of the Wehrmacht. They
stared at them as they had stared at them in never-lessening
terror for one week short of three years.
“ Then they heard the sound of engines starting
up, in a low and distant roar. They saw a heavy cloud
of dust rising and heard the roar deepening as more
and more engines awakened. Then, through binoculars
they could see the vehicles moving, turning ... away
[Hitler stopped by
Franco, p. 271. This applies to 20 June,
“There is no doubt that if Spain had yielded
to German blandishments and pressure at that juncture
our burden would have been much heavier. The Straits
of Gibraltar would have been closed and all access to
Malta would have been cut off from the West. All the
Spanish coast would have become the nesting place of
German U-boats. I certainly did not feel at the time
that I should like to see any of those things happen
and none of them did happen. Our Ambassador deserves
credit for the influence he rapidly acquired and which
continually grew. In his work he was assisted by a gifted
man, Mr. Yencken, whose sudden death by airplane accident
is a loss which I am sure has been noted by the House.
But the main credit is undoubtedly due to the Spanish
resolve to keep out of the war. They had had enough
of war and they wished to keep out of it.
[An HON. MEMBER: "That is a matter of opinion."]
Yes, I think so, and that is why my main principle of
beating the enemy as soon as possible should be steadily
followed. But they had had enough, and I think some
of the sentiment may have been due to the fact that,
looking back, the Spanish people, who are a people who
do look back, could remember that Britain had helped
Spain to free herself from the Napoleonic tyranny of.
130 years ago. At any rate the critical moment passed;
the Battle of Britain was won; the Island Power which
was expected to be ruined and subjugated in a few months
was seen that very winter not only intact and far stronger
in the homeland but also advancing by giant strides,
under Wavell's guidance, along the African shore, taking
perhaps a quarter of a million Italian prisoners on
“But another very serious crisis occurred in
our relations with Spain before the operation designated
"Torch," that is to say, the descent of the
United States and British Forces upon North-West Africa,
was begun. Before that operation was begun Spain's power
to injure us was at its very highest. For a long time
before this we had been steadily extending our airfield
at Gibraltar and building it out into the sea, and for
a month before zero hour, on 7th November, 1942, we
had sometimes 600 airplanes crowded on this airfield
in full range and in full view of the Spanish batteries.
It was very difficult for the Spaniards to believe that
these airplanes were intended to reinforce Malta, and
I can assure the House that the passage of those critical
days was very anxious indeed. However, the Spaniards
continued absolutely friendly and tranquil. They asked
no questions, they raised no inconveniences.
“If, in some directions, they have taken an indulgent
view of German U-boats in distress, or continued active
exportations to Germany, they made amends on this occasion,
in my view, so far as our advantage was concerned, for
these irregularities by completely ignoring the situation
at Gibraltar, where, apart from aircraft, enormous numbers
of ships were anchored far outside the neutral waters,
inside the Bay of Algeciras, always under the command
of Spanish shore guns. We should have suffered the greatest
inconvenience of we had been ordered to move those ships.
Indeed, I do not know how the vast convoys would have
been marshalled and assembled. I must say that I shall
always consider a service was rendered at this time
by Spain, not only to the United Kingdom and to the
British Empire and Commonwealth, but to the cause of
the United Nations.
“I have, therefore, no sympathy with those who
think it clever, and even funny, to insult and abuse
the Government of Spain whenever occasion serves. I
have had the responsibility of guiding the Government
while we have passed through mortal perils, and, therefore,
I think I have some means of forming a correct judgment
about the values of events at critical moments as they
occur. I am very glad now that, after prolonged negotiations,
a still better arrangement has been made with Spain,
which deals in a satisfactory manner with the Italian
ships which have taken refuge in Spanish harbours,
and has led to the hauling down of the German flag in
Tangier and the breaking of the shield over the Consulate,
and which will, in a few days, be followed by the complete
departure of the German representatives from Tangier,
although they still remain in Dublin. Finally, it has
led to the agreement about Spanish wolfram, which has
been reached without any affront to Spanish dignity,
and has reduced the export of wolfram from Spain to
Germany during the coming critical months to a few lorry-loads
“It is true that this agreement has been helped
by the continuous victories of the Allies in many parts
of the world, and especially in North Africa and Italy,
and also by the immense threat by which the Germans
conceive themselves to be menaced, by all this talk
of an invasion across the Channel. This, for what it
is worth, has made it quite impossible for Hitler to
consider reprisals on Spain. All his troops have had
to be moved away from the frontier, and he has no inclination
to face bitter guerilla warfare, because he has got
quite enough to satisfy himself in so many other countries
which he is holding down by brute force.
“As I am here to-day speaking kindly words about
Spain, let me add that I hope she will be a strong influence
for the peace of the Mediterranean after the war. Internal
political problems in Spain are a matter for the Spaniards
themselves. It is not for us—that is, the Government—to
meddle in such affairs— ”
D-Day, the invasion of Europe, was on the 6th of June, 1944, two weeks after this speech was made.
Germany surrendered unconditionally
on 8 May 1945.
and book reviews
||In the thick of the fight, 1930-1945
by Paul Reynaud
translated by James D. Lambert
from Au coeur de la mêlée, 1951
Cassell and Co. Ltd, hbk, 1955
shipping weight: 1.8 lb
to Catalonia by George Orwell
first edition: 1938, Secker and Warburg, London
reprint: 1952, Harcourt
This book was first published in 1938. It was the failed Spanish Revolution
that soured George Orwell’s naïve belief
in the Left. He watched the hard-line Left attempt
to crush the naive socialists and anarchists so
that they, as ‘communists’, could take
over [see particularly chapters 5 and 9]. To the best of my knowledge, Orwell remained a naive socialist all his life. This is very common and was even more so in pre-war Europe. Orwell expressed it thus:
“... Socialism is the idea of equality, to the vast majority of people Socialism means a classless society, or it means nothing at all ...
Not a statement that bears much analysis.
Of course, the splits between these various
factions eased Franco’s task in suppressing
the revolution - to just confuse matters further, the Left often refer to Franco’s
military rebellion as a revolution.
“... churches were pillaged everywhere as a matter of course ...” [p.52]
Another interesting aside, in view of the constant propaganda concerning German and Italian assistance is:
“... The government had brought troops from the Madrid front and were concentrating 30,000 men, with aeroplanes in huge numbers ...” [p.200]
It is not easy to discover just how large were the military supplies from Russia, and to lesser extent from France and Mexico, sent to the remaining Spanish government.
Orwell is a highly fluent observer
and writer, but this book can be rather dull. Orwell
managed to get himself shot in the throat during
the Civil War, and his health never fully recovered.
Three GoldenYaks for a fluent
writer who was actually a participant.
2003, Penguin, 0141187379, £4.79 [amazon.co.uk]
1980, Harvest, 0156421178, $10.40 [amazon.com]
See also George
Orwell: selected quotations
stopped by Franco by Jane and Burt Boyar
This is a rather idiosyncratic
book relying on the memories and interviews of Franco’s
court. A good read.
Marbella House, 1st edition, 2001, pbk
silent ally in World War Two by Willard L. Beaulac
Written by the number two in
the American Embassy in Spain during World War Two,
this book is a model of fluency and organisation
by someone right in the centre of the action. It
is also among one of the very best books of political
realism that I have read. The book’s author
went on to become ambassador to five different South
Southern Illinois University Press, 1986
Franco by Paul Preston
800 reading pages, plus
200 pages of references, includes photo selection
that is adequate, but no more. Lacking useful maps.
Very hard to read,
nevertheless recommended if you seriously
want the facts and can tolerate the heavy decoration
of soft ‘left’ spin. Preston spares
no effort throughout the 800 pages to diminish and
discredit Franco. You will also need good maps of
Spain to read this book to the full.
It is more fruitful, in studying macro-politics,
to consider personalities, events and trends in
terms of dictators and libertarians, rather than
repeating the false left/right rhetoric used by
various left-‘whingers’ to justify their
latest revolution or dictatorship.
Some few countries have evolved
peaceably from aristocracy to various degrees of
democracy, others have spilt much blood in that
a communist revolution in Spain in the 1930s, again
with much blood. Later, he also appears to have
presided over a (fairly) peaceful transition to
This 800-page book on Franco
is written by a standard lefty academic. It contains
good research, but is very naïve on psychology
and politics. It is almost ludicrous in its one-sided
presentation. Preston constantly tells the reader
what he seems to believe Franco was thinking, rarely
stopping to consider the real-world weakness of
Spain’s position. Franco was one of the most
successful dictators of the 20th century, he maintained
control until the end.
Appeasement was a widespread
policy throughout Europe in the 1930s, a consequence
of the devastating
experience of the First World War. Preston seems
to believe the words of manoeuvring politicians,
while paying scant attention to their actions in
the real world. It is quite tempting to see Franco
as one of the most intelligent politicians of that
era, wrapping the oafish Mussolini and the mad Hitler
around his finger, gaining heavy assistance and
giving very little in return. And all the while,
Franco kept Spain out of the war.
On reading the book, I was struck
by the enormous effort made in order to tell the
reader how awful, stupid and incompetent was Franco.
I was also interested to see a considerable list
of others saying how brilliant the book is. It is
very good on the detailed collection of data, but
as analysis I am very unimpressed.
Franco is not a sympathetic character,
but he was not incompetent by any means. It would
equally be possible to present him as highly effective
and even beneficial to Spain. He kept (poverty-stricken)
Spain out of the war in Europe. He kept communism
out of Spain. He allowed the transition to a modern
economy and a constitutional democracy. According
to the author, all this was accidental and not at
all what Franco intended. I am most unconvinced,
reading between the lines of the continual ‘telling
you what to think’ commentary.
Despite Preston’s repetitive
insistence that Franco wanted to increase Spain’s
empire, the reality is that Franco attacked no-one,
not even sitting ducks like Portugal or Gibraltar.
Two GoldenYaks for useful data, one GoldenYak
for very biased and desperately poor analysis.
new edition 2011 [amazon.co.uk]
1995 [First edition: 1993]
Fontana Press, pbk
The Franco Regime 1936-1975
by Stanley G Payne
Published six years earlier than Paul Preston's rather amateurish book, The Franco Regime is far better written and far more objective. What is almost shocking is that it is listed neither in Preston's bibliography nor the book's index.
This is best general survey of the Franco regime, in English, that I know.
I would argue with Stanley Payne's summary on the last few pages. The author suffers from the widespread inclination to take politicians' words at their face value, instead of putting prime attention on what they actually do. My various reading of Franco is that he was a consummate politician, seeking always to keep the Spanish nation calm and to build them a better future. And that is what Franco actually achieved during his long, pragmatic reign (originating in 1936 until his death in 1975).
By the 1950s, the Spanish economy was growing faster than any other advanced nation, with the exception of Japan. Franco brought Spain from backward, third world conditions to being the tenth biggest economy in the world., despite being widely shunned and blocked by most other governments.
University of Wisconsin Press
First edition, 1987, hbk , 641 pages, plus bibliography, index etc.
Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
Correspondent in Spain
by Edward Knoblaugh
Edward Knoblaugh was a straight-shooting, American reporter in Madrid. Beaulac was also in Madrid, while Orwell and Bolloten were both in Catalonia. Knoblaugh developed a large number of sources on both sides of the civil war. Eventually, OGPU (later the KGB) directed and developed censorship became more and more efficient, bringing him into increasing conflict with the censors - no good enemies to make.
In the end, Knoblaugh had to skip out of Spain and back to America. When he produced this book, he included the information he could not get back to his chiefs at the Associated Press past the Republican censors.
This book is important, but it is now quite rare.
Sheed & Ward, hbk, 1937
Love from Nancy: the letters of Nancy Mitford
by Mosley, Charlotte (ed.)
1993, 0340537841, hbk, £25.00
1994, 0340599219, pbk, £7.19
Both editions published by Hodder & Stoughton
The Spanish revolution: the Left and the struggle for power during the Civil War
by Burnett Bolloten [1909-1987]
What George Orwell sets out of the internecine quarrels amongst the Left, Burnett Bolloten catalogues in great detail in his life’s work.
In the succeeding weeks the story of Catalonia was one of mass arrests, the detentions in clandestine jails, of tortures, kidnappings, and assassinations, as well as the destruction of agricultural and urban collectives. The spontaneous, undirected terror of the CNT and FAI [the anarchists] in the heyday of the revolution had now given way to the more sophisticated, centrally directed, and hence, more fearful terror of the Communists. "A wave of blood and terror has swept over Catalonia," declared the national committee of the CNT in June 1937.... [p.455]
Bolloten was also there at the time, and spent the rest of his life researching and documenting the action in the non-Franco part of Spain.
This book is a useful balance to the highly biased writing of Paul Preston. Similar information without the immense detail and scholarship can be read in Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, if it is read with close attention.
But if you really want the detail and objectivity, Bolloten is the best source.
Bolloten wrote his account over a period of about fifty years, constantly updating as his research continued. His work was published under three titles:
The grand camouflage [1961, 350 pages],
The Spanish revolution [1979, 660 pages], and
The Spanish Civil War. This final version has over 1,100 pages, and was published in 1991, shortly after his death.
These books are enormously referenced and annotated.
As you can see, I have read the middle version. Perhaps you will dare the 1,100-page doorstop!
University of North Carolina Press
Diplomacy and Strategy of Survival: British Policy and Franco's Spain, 1940-41
by Denis Smyth
Cambridge University Press, 2008, pbk
- The translation of the word
‘Belitres’ from Catalan is ‘scoundrels’
or ‘rascals’, or possibly ‘ruins’. abelard.org wonders whether
the scoundrels might have been smugglers.
- From the French matériel, meaning equipment. In the military sector, this would generally be heavy equipment required for operations, such as tanks, artillery, rather than hand tools such as guns.
- According to Antonio Montero Moreno, this included 4,184 priests and seminarians, 2,365 monks, and 283 nuns.