Franco and Azaña

The rival leaders in Spain’s Civil War were as different as the causes they embodied. Paul Preston compares their contrasting characters.

Late in the evening of August 15th, 1936, General Emilio Mola, made a broadcast from Radio Castilla in Burgos. He declared that the military uprising which he had directed less than one month earlier was intended to free Spain ‘from the chaos of anarchy’. The instruments of this anarchy were ‘the clenched fists of the Marxist hordes’ and, for Mola, the blame for unleashing them lay squarely with one man – the President of the Republic, Manuel Azaña:

Only a monster of the complex psychological constitution of Azaña could foment such a catastrophe; a monster who seems rather the absurd brainchild of a new and fantastic Dr Frankenstein than the fruit of the love of a woman. When I hear people demand his head, I think they are being unjust. Azaña should be locked away so that selected brain specialists might study him as a case of mental degeneration, perhaps the most interesting to have occurred from the times of primitive man to the present day.

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