Spain during World War II

Spain during World War II

Spain during World War II

Spain during World War II

Excerpt

The regime of General Francisco Franco, emerging out of the Spanish Civil War, ruled over a divided population during the years of the Second World War, 1939–1945. Even many of those elements who had supported Franco's Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War—monarchists, fascist Falangists, conservative Catholics, business owners, and military officers—remained dissatisfied with the government. Even more so, those who had sided with the Republicans—Socialists, Communists, anarchists, and liberals—were bitter opponents of Franco's rule. The numerous memoirs, interviews, and documentaries that emerged after democracy returned to Spain in the late 1970s reflected this widespread disenchantment. Although some of the post-1939 discontent eventually diminished as a result of Spain's booming economy of the 1960s, the bitter memories of the post-civil war period remained strong, especially among those who had suffered the harsh repression that characterized the first decade of the Franco regime.

Beyond the repression, however, the government's policies reflected widespread uncertainty. The Franco regime did not have a coherent vision for its future. As a coalition of mutually hostile elements—the military, the Catholic Church, and the fascist Falange chief among them—the government maintained a veneer of unity only through focusing on its enemies. While Spain was a personal dictatorship during the Second World War, at best Francisco Franco's system was one of ambivalent authoritarianism. The leaders of Nationalist Spain did not know what they wanted, or had contradictory aims, or did not have the means to achieve their goals. As such, the state relied on improvisational governance, shaped by Franco's pragmatism and the uncertain international and domestic climates. In this . . .

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