So much of the Spanish sorrows of the mid-1936-1939 era are today still being experienced by so many grieving Spaniards and with the frequent unearthing of hidden mass graves, this terrible tragedy looks set to continue for so many in the years ahead.
Interestingly the three prominent serial killers in this Spanish scenario would be for example Hitler (who when after a tenuous meeting with Franco at the border town of Hendaye, would later refer to him as a “Jesuit swine.”) Franco and Hitler despised this religious order. So it seems this awkward chat did not go too well for the Fuhrer.)
Both Francisco Franco and Joseph Stalin have coincidently six letters in their names, making 666, an interesting number for consideration for students of the Book of Revelation, and Hitler as well.
Each man would promote their own false beliefs on their respective countries, such as astrology/occult, Darwinism, Marxism, and Catholicism, all man-made religions of course, so it is not surprising that the fate of that charming country actually survived forty tumultuous years in the calculating manicured hands of just one man, General Francisco Franco.
Franco could bestow any minimal amount of mercy when required to do so but could just as quickly withdraw it when his temperament suited him. Again compassion it seems was never a deciding dilemma for this devious dictator in the process of decision making, be it life or death in his case.
Francisco Franco was born in 1892 at El Ferrol, Glacia, he was one of four children. His mother Pilar seems to have been a pious home orientated woman by all accounts with his father being an administrator in the navy. But the marriage seems to have been difficult to sustain for both of them almost from the beginning, with his father later deserting the family home to co-habitat with another woman in the town, and apparently known to Pilar as well, it must have been very embarrassing for her. His father seems to have been a selfish man who had flirted with Freemasonry and its secrets with further leanings towards atheism as well, a dangerous concoction in any marriage it seems.
The young Francisco came very much under his mother’s moral influence, none more so than her beliefs in Catholicism, and in her opinion freemasonry would be as useless as godless communism, she would explain to the young impressionable Francisco.
Later the young boy would adopt much of these strident views from her as his own beliefs, which he would pronounce and perpetuate for the rest of his life. Mothers it seems have much to answer for in their children’s triumphs or tragedies.
The young Franco’s eager ambition at the age of twelve to enter the Spanish navy as a sea cadet failed but he would instead be accepted as an army cadet into the military academy in Toledo, later graduating at the age of seventeen, as a second lieutenant. He does not seem to have been noticed for particular great things by his superiors. Also because of his diminutive height (5 foot 4) he would be ridiculed by jesting juveniles and yet the army with its legacy and loyalty to his Spain, and along with the deep devotion towards his mother and of her beliefs, would become the cornerstone of Franco’s emerging character that would witness him becoming one of the most secure dictatorships in Europe.
In 1936 he travelled to London for the funeral of the late King George VI. He also grasped the opportunity to visit Dresden in 1928, visiting the army academy, who knows maybe whilst there he met Rommel or Keitel for the first time. It’s all networking in what sphere of public life you are attracted to, isn’t it? He would later meet Hitler briefly on Hendaye railway station platform in 1940 and later seek out Mussolini’s support in 1941, and later in 1949 journeying to Portugal to meet with fellow dictator Salazar.
Franco had once ordered plans to be drawn to invade neighbouring Portugal, although nothing came of it and I’m not sure for what purpose Franco had in mind in doing this. As the years passed by he would amuse himself with his assorted hobbies such as painting and learning the English language. He was also deeply superstitious having in his possession the hand of a dead Catholic saint on his desk. All very strange.
For the young army officer that Franco had become there was never any doubt in his mind as to whom these villains were that were trying to destroy and debouch the life and legacy of Spain he inhabited and loved so much.
First, he argued there were the Freemasons and their secretive lodges, so admired by his estranged father, yet so despised by his son. He detested the masons as much Hitler despised the Jews, then, of course, there were the angry anarchists who would gleefully murder nuns and priests in the most disgusting and devious ways. All of these “gangs” lead by the communists Marxists he proclaimed easily aided and abetted by the Soviet secret police the NKVD.
Franco would also add to his shopping list people such as despicable liberals, tolerant judges, sleazy journalists and lazy corrupt politicians. Left-wing Catholic priests would bring up the rear in this dangerous brew of Spanish politics too. As for the Second Vatican Council he privately argued this had been hijacked by Marxists and masons, who knows maybe he was right (but hasn’t Rome always held to being an ‘infallible’ church?) He would come to believe and be encouraged by the corrupt Catholic prelates how God had ‘entrusted him’ with a mission to ‘cleanse Spain’ from all of the impurity. Later through his death came a rebirth of the Parliamentary democratic system and the full establishment of Spain’s Royal family that remains here today.
Yet death never lingered far from his probing mind even in his lavish Madrid office, where he daily signed death warrants and execution orders, while casually sipping coffee it seems. A military aide once remarked that he never saw a death warrant he didn’t want to initial or a prison sentence he wanted to reprieve, and always for Franco, there would never be any fear of insecurity in his personality. But then he really was no worse or inhumane than Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot or Stalin.
His way he would argue (if he ever had to) was the Spanish way of dealing with problems. It should not be forgotten that in those days after the end of the War he reigned supreme and triumphant over a defeated but never broken Spanish way of life. He believed he was ‘God’s instrument’ and nothing less. Yet nothing in any war is ever settled only the terrain is moved and prepared for a future conflict. Does not the Holy Bible remind us of wars and future wars, still yet to come (Matt. 24:6), fatalistic words for a fallen world still to contemplate and ponder.
Strangely enough Franco remained a “cockeyed optimist” all of his life, as others around him would panic and complain at events and tribulations enfolding all around them, while he would remain cool and calm, almost trance-like, then later awakening, remarking to his staff officers that everything, in the end, will work out all right. And for Franco in his case, it usually did! He simply explained this persona as a ‘divine intervention,’ after all he argued he wasn’t referred to as “Caudillo by the grace of God” for nothing, well not in Spain that is or in his immediate circle.
And any examination of the motives and moods of the man they politely called El Caudillo must include his controlling relationship with the present monarch, that being King Juan Carlos (who it seems was sold into slavery, writes his biographer, when as a little boy he was dispatched to Spain to be tutored under Franco’s strict regime, without family or friends, all very sad reading.) And incidentally, as I type these words on January 11th 2013, we are just two weeks away from the King’s own birthday on Jan 26th.
Juan Carlos was born in Rome in 1938 and so much of his later life and fate rather like Franco’s is intertwined in the history of the previous Bourbon Monarchy in Spain. However, the tenuous transformation from fascism to freedom for modern-day Spain in the past thirty years owes much to his personality and royal prerogative of the Queen.
Yet for the young and ambitious Franco it was in the stifling atmosphere of Africa in the 1920s, where he would be stationed for twelve crucial years as a junior army officer, that this country and its people and its cruel traditions would later mould the man and his future ‘divine mission’ as he saw it to rescue Spain from her own death and demise from democracy. He would later write of himself claiming: “That without Africa I can scarcely explain myself to myself (or) my years in Africa live with me with indescribable force,” strange words that the lure of Morocco must have had upon him and later of course for the history of Spain and its rich traditions.
By the age of thirty-three, he was promoted to a Brigadier General having long admired the Moorish paid mercenaries as well as the dangerous foreign legion under his strict command. They would be used with calculated cruelty in the coming Spanish Civil War. Franco was now a military force to reckoned with and almost invincible. However, two crucial personal events occurred in those “glory” African years for Franco that would mould his future outlook on all that stood before him or his rule. The first was that he would marry Carmen Polo and theirs it seems was a happy marriage with no hint of any sexual scandal. Her influence however on his political and religious views seem to be rather like his beloved mother’s had been.
Then in 1916, during a military assault at El biutz in Northern Morocco, the 24-year-old Franco was severely wounded in the stomach, it seems, making a remarkable recovery. However, some years later strange rumours, perhaps orchestrated by the KGB or other intelligence agencies surfaced in the European press, (not of course under the censored Spanish press,) that after the birth of his only child, his daughter Christened Nenuca, that she was not after all his child. The reason being that the bullet wound had been more serious than previously reported.
In fact, according to obtained, perhaps stolen medical reports, it stated that Franco’s testicle had been ruptured leaving him unable to produce a child. If indeed this is true and I don’t suspect that it is, but if so it would place him in the dubious company of Hitler and Goering, who it also should be remembered that when his daughter Edda was born, gossip had named another father, not Goering. Again it’s difficult or unimportant to confirm or deny. But in Franco’s case, the problem seems to have emanated because his wife was never seen or photographed in maternity clothes, and all of this of course whilst a war is raging, can you believe!
But in that terrible theatre of conflict, popularly known as the Spanish Civil War, that would also rage from 1936-1939 memories still linger and it would be here that General Franco stamped his command and cruelty on that fragile nation. If the dead hand of the previous landowners, the army and the Catholic church had hung over its people for centuries, then after the elections of 1936 the murderous deeds of anarchy, socialism and communist/Marxism now would also be added to the mayhem that erupted in those post-election days. Sometimes change isn’t always for the best it seems. And if the idealists of the international brigade foolishly responded to Lord Tennyson’s idealistic cry of: “Come it’s not too late to seek a newer world,” the advancing armies of General Franco cared not to listen or understand these words, instead they wallowed in the pursuit of pain that exploded from the barrel of an army or a sharpened poisoned tipped bayonet. And things we should remember were equally as terrible on the Republican front as they too sadistically inflicted rape and pain and misery in their own struggle to seize the heart of Spain, in this terrible twentieth century war.
Much has been detailed and digested concerning this pre European War. The blood of a million people was spilled in the fields and forests of Spain and history is still in some cases being re-written today and recorded. But it has never been the purpose of this article to comment or dissect that past war in Spain, which I happily leave to those authors who specialise in the history and heroism of that final decade.
However, Franco now largely equipped in the mid-thirties with his professional army, then stationed in Africa and heavily backed up with mercenaries and legionnaires, was always going to emerge triumphant as Spain bled and wept in the end. And with additional acquired artillery from Mussolini and the famed condor air division from Nazi Germany, as well as the 52 Junker transport planes dispatched to quickly transport the waiting army from Africa to the Spanish mainland, and as well as financial sanctions and embargos against the republicans, time was always running out for the Republic and its allies. But it must be remembered that their enthusiasm and tenacity took Franco’s forces three years to defeat, until the final surrender, in 1939.
With the final expected collapse of Barcelona and interestingly a Spanish court only this week has allowed a case to be prepared against the Italian government, concerning Italy’s previous role in the Ariel bombing by their air force of that defenceless city in 1938, when over 700 were killed. Finally, in February 2nd 1939, the war was finally finished and Franco now held the whip hand, which he would use without mercy or forgiveness.
Yet there was another war appearing on the European horizon and Franco would now need and use all of his Galician cunning if he was to survive during those war years. Yet somehow he did survive and walk the political tightrope, even sending a token 40 division of soldiers, known as the blue division to fight alongside German soldiers on the Eastern Front.
After the war Franco, now firmly established in the driving seat and with his anti-communist rhetoric, then dove tailing nicely into the hysterical 1950s of the then post War Europe, he would naturally be noticed by the American government and seen as a future ally if and when a war with the Soviet Union should erupt. It should also be remembered of that notorious period that General Peron in Argentina welcomed many ex-Nazis to his country, when they finally arrived by sea via the Vatican “rat run.” But then so too did General Franco eagerly welcome other war criminals to his country shores, offering them safety and sanctuary.
In their final twilight years, the Franco’s discovered and became addicted to television of all things. He was a staunch football fan and was always routing for “Real Madrid.” Carmen his wife became acquainted with and financially accumulating rare antiques. I read that the shop owners when they heard she was about to descend on their shop looking for antiques would quickly place the closed sign on the doors.
Amazingly the General would win £6,000 on the football pools, can you believe. And as well as becoming a doting grandfather to his daughter’s children he embraced fly and deep sea fishing, as well as ordering the hunting down and shooting of Basque separatists/terrorists.
He had also before the war taken English lessons. He would also dabble in the therapeutic act of painting but his health was slowly declining and a nation now waited and held its breath for what would ultimately happen after his slow demise. Yet strangely enough during the 1960s, the economy improved for so many Spaniards, when many for the first time could afford the delights of tourist package holidays, how times were changing, at last!
As a willing ally of America and acting against Soviet domination of Europe he would later welcome President Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford to his country, and it seems the old boys apparently all got along famously with him.
(Two Generals embrace)
However, beginning from the early 1960s he would be afflicted with the cruel strain of Parkinson’s disease, which naturally can present serious complications, such as phlebitis being one of them and eventually leading to fatality for the sufferer. (In fact, 150,000 unsaved people die each day.) Then in October of 1975, he suffered a series of hearts attacks and naturally the Spanish people were kept ignorant of his deteriorating health through the media but not the world press. And I remember reading about his critical condition at the time in the London press.
Then after numerous and unnecessary operations and with frequent blood transfusions being administered by obliging doctors Franco finally expired in Madrid on 20th November 1975, he was 82-years-old. In retrospect, he had always seen himself, wrongly of course as ‘the monarch’ or ‘protector’ of Spain and always guarding its morals and traditions as he saw fit. And I rather suspect he regarded the Spanish people as dutiful children who should always know their place in the Spain that he had crafted and created and presided over for forty years.
Most Spaniards remember him today-if at all-as a despot who frequently lined his pockets and his family’s briefcases with stolen bonds and money from the Spanish treasury. Now, most of those quaint streets and graceful avenues bearing his name have been removed and renamed as well as the statues he once adorned are now consigned to the breakers yard to be ground down and used for road repairs. Ah, how the mighty fall.
Yet the Holy Bible proclaims in 1 Timothy that: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” So I do perhaps speculate if indeed Franco ever envisaged himself in this revealing description that applies to all of us, I somehow doubt it. And certainly his membership of the Catholic Church would not save him for eternal destiny but only to be born again in the spirit of faith and security.
Francisco Franco is today interned in the splendid “Valley of the Fallen” located outside of Madrid. Apparently, it was designed by the General himself and erected by unwilling suffering slave labour. Yet his presence is still controversial even today in Spain with many demanding to have his remains moved to the family plot, but to fulfil this the government would have to prepare and pass an act in the Congreso de Los Diputados as well as seeking ‘permission’ from the Vatican for such a gesture. But it all seems unlikely and irrelevant in these end times.
In retrospect, if Franco had been defeated he would certainly have been hanged or shot by the Republicans, unless of course, his allies had made other plans to remove him to safety. Instead, he went on to live a rather charmed comfortable life in the delightful country that is forever Spain. However, we should not be coy in proclaiming the terrible fate that awaits so many who have rejected repentance and the saving grace of God.
Franco like all of us had the unique opportunity to repent and seek the Saviour, Jesus Christ. His time has now passed. But what about your decision, remember: “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37.)
But for modern day Spain, the shadow of Franco’s ghost I fear lingers on in so many ways. And perhaps always will.
In Franco’s Friends by Peter Day, published 2012, new declassified information has been unearthed concerning the important and crucial role played by British intelligence (MI6) and financial institutions in supporting General Franco in his rise to power and afterwards.
From future UK cabinet ministers to Roman Catholic clerics and others, all assisted and aided in the coup that placed Franco supreme in Spanish politics for over forty years.
Of special interest was his English teacher, Dora Lennard, of herself she would later write: “I was that lucky teacher. My pupil was general Franco.” Three times a week it seems he grappled with the vagaries of the English language, even composing an essay for her about golf! But it may well be that she herself had been recruited earlier by British Intelligence to simply keep an eye on Franco and his activities, and especially in the security of Gibraltar, but this has neither been confirmed or denied.
“As it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment.”
Juan Carlos, Paul Preston
Franco, Michael Streeter
Franco, Geoffrey Jensen
Battle for Spain, Anthony Beevor
28th January 2013
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