Franco and the Spanish Civil War

Julius Ruiz evaluates Franco’s role during the conflict.

On Friday 19 May 1939, General Francisco Franco stepped onto a raised platform on Madrid’s most elegant thoroughfare, the Castellana. Above him was a triumphal arch with an inscription written in gold: ‘VICTORIA, FRANCO, FRANCO, FRANCO’. After receiving Spain’s highest military honour, the Grand Cross of San Fernando with Laurels, Franco, surrounded by government ministers and generals, presided over a five-hour victory parade of Italian and Portuguese ‘volunteers’ and 120,000 solders of the Nationalist army. The following day, he arrived at the Madrid Church of Santa Barbara to attend a Te Deum service held to celebrate his victory in the civil war. Under the approving gaze of Cardinal Gomá, the Archbishop of Toledo and the Primate of all Spain, he prayed that God might grant him assistance to lead his people to ‘full imperial liberty, for Thy glory and that of Thy Church’.

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