World War II Biographies: Francisco Franco (Spain, 1892-1975


Figure 1.--Here Spanish dictaor Francisco Franco is congratulating his grandson on his First Communion in 1972. Sailor suits innSpain are a popular outfit for First Communion.

Francisco Franco was a Spain's most respected soldier and decided to join a military coup against Spain's democratically elected, but increasinly left-wing governmnt. This led to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), a run up to World War II. Franco is generally seen as a Fascist dictaor because of the support providd by Hitler and Missolini and the regime's trappings. Francisco was born in El Ferrol (1892). His father following a family traditon was an officer in the Spanish Navy. His mother was a devoted, upper-middle-class Roman Catholic. Francisco planed to follow the family tradition and enter the Navy as well. The Spanish-American War (1898-99) intervened. The Spanish fleet was largely destroyed in the War. With such a reduced fleet, fewer officers were needed which meant reduced admissions were accepted at the Naval Academy. Francisco still bent on a military career decuded instead on the Ary. Francisco at 14 years of age entered the Infantry Academy at Toledo (1907). He graduated 3 years later (1910). He immeitely volunteered for active duty in the campaigns ahinst the Rift Tribes in Spanish Morocco. He was stationed there (1912). This was the only place the army was knvolved in combat and the place for a young officer to make his name. It was dangerous service, but he proved an effective commander an played a key role in the Spanish victory. He rose rapidly and became the youngest general in the army and the most respected Spanish commander. Like many Spanish officers, he found himself, a right-wing Catholic monarchist, in a left-wing, increasing secular republic. Republican officials tried to demote him, but he was appoint chief of staff of the Spanish Army (1935). He used his office to purge the army command of left-wing Republican sympathizers. figures and strengthened military institutions. When Republican authorities began moving against the right-wing Army, Franco joined a military coup. This led to the Civil War (1936-39). The coup may have failed with out extensive military support from Hitler and Mussolini. Germany's new Lufrtwaffe and Panzers got their first trial in Spain. The Democracies failed to support the Republic, although the Soviet Union provided aid. Franco gained control of Spain, installing a military dictatorship (1939). Many including Hitler, expected Franco to join the Axis. He declined to do so nd unlike other Fascist leaders, protected not only Spanish Jews, but fireign Jews who managed to reach Spain. He ruled spain for neatly four decades until his death in 1975.

Childhood

Francisco was born in El Ferrol (1892). His father following a family traditon was an officer in the Spanish Navy. His mother was a devoted, upper-middle-class Roman Catholic.

Eucation

Francisco planed to follow the family tradition and enter the Navy as well. The Spanish-American War (1898-99) intervened. The Spanish fleet was largely destroyed in the War. With such a reduced fleet, fewer officers were needed which meant reduced admissions were accepted at the Naval Academy. Francisco still bent on a military career decided instead on the Army. Francisco at 14 years of age entered the Infantry Academy at Toledo (1907). He graduated 3 years later (1910).

Military Service

Franco immediately volunteered for active duty in the campaigns against the Rift Tribes in Spanish Morocco. He was stationed there (1912). This was the only place the army was knvolved in combat and the place for a young officer to make his name. It was dangerous service, but he proved an effective commander an played a key role in the Spanish victory. He rose rapidly and became the youngest general in the army and the most respected Spanish commander. Like many Spanish officers, he found himself, a right-wing Catholic monarchist, in a left-wing, increasing secular republic. Republican officials tried to demote him, but he was appointe chief of staff of the Spanish Army (1935). He used his office to purge the army command of left-wing Reoublican sympathizers. figures and strengthened military institutions.

Civil War

When Republican authorities began moving against the right-wing Army, Franco joined a military coup. This led to the Civil War (1936-39). The coup may have failed with out extensive military support from Hitler and Mussolini. Germany's new Luftwaffe and Panzers got their first trial in Spain. The Democracies failed to support the Republic, although the Soviet Union provided aid. Franco gained control of Spain, installing a military dictatorship (1939). Many including Hitler, expected Franco to join the Axis. He declined to do so nd unlike other Fascist leaders, protected not only Spanish Jews, but fireign Jews who managed to reach Spain.

Protecting Jews

Army general Franciso Franco was the major figure of the Civil War and ruled Spain for three decades. He was the only Facist leader to protect Jews from the NAZI Holocaust, although it may not be quite correct to classify him as a Fascist. We have seen off-repeated references to the fact Franco's ancestors were Marranos, Spanish Jews who converted to Christianity to avoid expulsion (15th century). We are not sure if this was the case. There is no evidence that we are aware of showing any ancestors that secretly practiced Judaism. It is of course quite possible. If one goes back to the 15th century, many Spaniards have Jewish abd Moorish ancestors dating nack to the Middle Ages. Geneological recirds going so far back are of course incomplete. Such connectins would not have been published during the Franco era. Franco himself may have been unaware of such ancestors even if they existed. As far as we know, he bever discussed the subject with associates. Hitler knew about the rumors. And especially after his frstating meeting with Franco (1940) referred to it as the reason that Franco was not more coopertive. Franco's policies toward Jews during World War II has been studies at length which we do here. Some have claimed the moderate policy toward Jews was at least in part due to Jewish roots. As far as we know, this has not been studied in detail. We do know that Franco was thoroughly Catholic, both religiously and culturally. Some claim that he was a descendant of Marranos, but we have bever seen a detailed study of his family to substantuate this. We have noted one reoirt that his mother was Jewish. Her family name was Bahamonde which is supposedly a Jewish name. As far as we can tell, his mother was a devout Catholic from whom her son aquired is fervent Catholcism. It may be more likely that Franco's moderate views on Jews were acquired as a young officer in Spanish Morrocco where he ecountered Sephrdic Jews. Perhaps readers will know more about this.

Cold War


Final Years

Franco ruled spain for neatly four decades until his death in 1975.







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Created: 2:23 AM 8/28/2015
Last updated: 2:23 AM 8/28/2015