Ferment in Franco Spain:
The Prospects of the Opposition
TWENTY years ago, on March 28, 1939, Madrid fell to Franco’s armies and Spain’s short-lived Republic came to an end. In three years of civil war marked by intervention by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Soviet Russia, a million people were killed, and many more millions (Spain’s population then was about twenty-six million) were maimed or wounded. Tens of thousands of Republican militants fled the country; other thousands were imprisoned for long terms. The spiritual and physical exhaustion following that conflict has been chiefly responsible for the social peace of the last two decades. During these years, Franco shifted from alliance with the Axis powers, to isolated neutrality, to military cooperation with the United States; he transformed a fascist regime into a reactionary absolutism, buttressed by the army and the Roman Catholic Church; and he moved from “corporative” economic schemes, to encouragement of private business, to a corrupt form of statism. Hatred of Franco’s regime was general, but the fear of another civil war restrained the men and women who witnessed the carnage of 1936-39.
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