latest changes & additions at link to document abstracts latest news headlines at abelard's news and comment zone      link to short briefings documents quotations at, with source document where relevant interesting site links at abelard's news and comment zone about abelard and
  site map France zone at - another France economics and money zone at - government swindles and how to transfer money on the net   technology zone at how to survive and thrive on the web Energy - beyond fossil fuels Architectural wonders and joys at  
Franco on Spanish stamp, 1940

Franco was not a fascist

Spain zone

back to abelard's front page
This page helpful?
Like it ! Share it !

fascism is socialism

socialist religions

authoritarianism and liberty

précis of the communist manifesto and extracts from Das Capital

papal encyclicals and Marx - some extracts: on socialism and liberalism

islamic authoritarianism

ends and means and the individual

Marker at

citizen's wage

power, ownership and freedom

corporate corruption, politics and the law

Oswald Mosley, Britain’s very own national socialist

related documents:

Franco, an introduction
Franco and the Jews
Franco the career military man
the point of view of the Church of Rome in Spain, 1937
refugees from the Civil War
Franco and Hitler - Franco faces down Hitler for three years
Churchill in parliament, 24 may 1944, on Spain - before policy changed to appease socialist Russia
bibliography and book reviews
end notes

Franco, an introduction

Francisco Franco Bahamonde [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 monarchy.

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 Daesh 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 leaders.

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 nuisances.

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’. They were also receiving military and other assistance from Mexico. Mexico also provided an escape route for large numbers of refugees who fled Spain after the defeat by Franco.

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.


Map of Spain and its North African colonies

British establishment interference with civil liberties during the 20th century—the example of Diana and Oswald Mosley

Frédéric Bastiat and free trade

Marker at

Marker at

Barcelona and St George

Marker at

a climber’s race - La Vuelta a Espagne 2011

Vuelta a Espana, 2010 - an eco-tour

Marker at

New translation, the Magna Carta


The myth of Islamic tolerance in al-Andalus

Franco 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]

Franco 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.

the point of view of the church of rome in spain, 1937

Joint 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.”

Spanish version

advertising disclaimer

refugees 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 map above].

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, photo
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 on a refugee route Image: Bertrand GRONDIN
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.
Bertrand GRONDIN

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

Darling Muv
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 retreat.

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 out -

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.

Marker at

25 May 1939, Perpignan

Darling Muv
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 and hitler

Franco faces down Hitler for three years

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 Allied cause.”
[Abstracts of the war memoirs of Winston Churchill, Their Finest Hour, part 4; in Life, 14 March 1949, p. 87]

Marker at

“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, 1941.]

Marker at

“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 terrain.” [Hitler stopped by Franco, p. 222]

Marker at

“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 from Spain.”
[Hitler stopped by Franco, p. 271. This applies to 20 June, 1943.]

churchill in parliament, 24 may 1944, on spain
(a year before the end of the war)

before policy changed to appease socialist russia

“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 the way.

“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 a month.

“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.

bibliography and book reviews

In the thick of the fight, 1930-1945 by Paul Reynaud 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
684 pages

ASIN: B0000CJ8IQ /
shipping weight: 1.8 lb

'Homage to Catalona' by George Orwell. Image credit:

'Homage to Catalona' by George Orwell. Image credit:

Homage 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 ... [p.104]

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 [] {advert}

1980, Harvest, 0156421178, $10.40 [] {advert}

Marker at

See also George Orwell: selected quotations

Hitler stopped by Franco by Boyar and Boyar

Hitler 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.

Marker at

Marbella House, 1st edition, 2001, pbk
ISBN-10: 0971039208
ISBN-13: 978-0971039209

$19.95 [] {advert}

Franco, silent ally in World War Two by Willard L. Beaulac

Franco, 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 American countries.

Marker at
Southern Illinois University Press, 1986
ISBN-10: 0809312549
ISBN-13: 978-0809312542

'Franco' by Paul Preston. Image credit:

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 transition.

Franco stopped 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 democracy.

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 GoldenYaksone GoldenYak
Two GoldenYaks for useful data, one GoldenYak for very biased and desperately poor analysis.

17.84, new edition 2011 [] {advert}, 1995 [First edition: 1993]

Fontana Press, pbk
ISBN-10: 0006862101
ISBN-13: 978-0006862109

The Franco Regime 1936-1975 by Stanley Payne

The Franco Regime 1936-1975
by Stanley G Payne
five GoldenYak (tm) award

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.
ISBN: 0299110702

2011, pbk
ISBN-10: 0299110745
ISBN-13: 978-0299110741
£36.90 [] {advert}

Kindle edition
Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.


$17.99 [] {advert}

Correspondent in Spain by Edward Knoblaugh

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 Nancey: Nancy Mitford's letter

Love from Nancy: the letters of Nancy Mitford
by Mosley, Charlotte (ed.)

1993, 0340537841, hbk, £25.00
1994, 0340599219, pbk, £7.19
[] {advert}

Both editions published by Hodder & Stoughton

The Spanish revolution by Burnett Bolloten

The Spanish revolution: the Left and the struggle for power during the Civil War
by Burnett Bolloten [1909-1987]
five GoldenYak (tm) award

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!

published by University of North Carolina Press
1979, hbk,
ISBN-10: 0807812978
ISBN-13: 978-0807812976

Diplomacy and Strategy of Survival

Diplomacy and Strategy of Survival: British Policy and Franco's Spain, 1940-41
by Denis Smyth

Cambridge University Press, 2008, pbk

ISBN-10: 0521090458
ISBN-13: 978-0521090452

$54.99 [] {advert}
£34.99 [] {advert}

end notes

  1. The translation of the word ‘Belitres’ from Catalan is ‘scoundrels’ or ‘rascals’, or possibly ‘ruins’. wonders whether the scoundrels might have been smugglers.

  2. materiel [pronounced materi-el]
    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.

  3. According to Antonio Montero Moreno, this included 4,184 priests and seminarians, 2,365 monks, and 283 nuns.

abstracts | briefings | information | headlines | loud music & hearing damage | children & television violence | what is memory, and intelligence? | about abelard

email abelard email email_abelard [at]

© abelard, 2011, 28 december

all rights reserved

the address for this document is