|Born||4 Dec 1892|
|Died||20 Nov 1975|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseFrancisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde was born in Ferrol, Galicia, Spain to a Spanish Navy paymaster. Although his father was said to be abusive, Franco continued to respect him and decided to follow his footsteps into the navy, but the naval academy did not accept any new students between 1906 and 1913, therefore he instead joined the army. He was deployed as a junior officer in Spanish Morocco, and soon earned a good reputation, becoming a major by 1916. He served in Spain between 1917 and 1920, and then went abroad again in 1920 as the second-in-command of the Legión Extranjera; he became the commander in 1923. After bravely leading Spanish troops during the long Moroccan uprising, he became a general in 1926, the youngest in Spanish history. In 1928, he became the director of the Joint Military Academy in Zaragoza.
ww2dbaseIn 1931, the Spanish monarch fell. Initially, Franco was apolitical, but during the Spanish Civil War, he became the head of the Fascist faction on 1 Oct 1936. His careful and conservative maneuvers during the war, along with the support of his new-found allies Germany and Italy, led him to win the civil war on 1 Apr 1939 (though guerillas continued to plague his government into the 1950s).
ww2dbaseAs the new ruler of Spain, he oversaw a series of summary executions to secure his power. Many of his political opponents were also exiled out of the country. Thousands of Spanish communists were murdered during this time. His determination to eliminate leftists continued to interest Adolf Hitler, who courted Spain to join the Axis alliance. Franco and Hitler met on several occasions, but an alliance never materialized due to reservations on the part of Franco. Although Franco did not allow Spain to join the Axis, Spain continued to aid the Axis powers as the "neutral" United States had before she joined the war. Many Spaniards fought under German command during the war, though none were officially sanctioned by the Spanish government. In 1943, when the tides of war had turned in favor of the Allies, he turned a cold shoulder toward Germany so that Spain would be viewed as a true neutral nation.
ww2dbaseAfter WW2, Franco navigated Spain into a position of partnership with the western nations that feared the communist expansion. As a result, Spain grew quickly into a capitalistic power. In 1947, he pronounced Spain a monarchy to appease the monarchists, but purposely left the throne vacant; he declared himself the regent of Spain and regularly wore the uniform of a captain general, a position reserved for kings in Spanish history. He ruled Spain with absolute power, banning political opposition and enforcing a strict censorship. The people were closely watched by military police, forced to speak no language other than Spanish. In 1969, he designated Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón as his successor, who assumed title of the King of Spain after Franco's death in 1975.
Francisco Franco Timeline
|4 Dec 1892||Francisco Franco was born.|
|19 Jul 1936||General Francisco Franco flew from Tenerife, Canary Islands to Tetuan, Spanish Morocco to take over command of the Spanish Army of Africa. Meanwhile, he also appealed to Germany and Italy for volunteer fighters.|
|1 Oct 1936||At Burgos, Spain, Francisco Franco was publicly proclaimed as the Head of State and the Generalísimo of the military.|
|8 Dec 1940||Franco determined Spain was not ready to enter the war.|
|26 Feb 1941||Francisco Franco refused Hitler's 6 Feb 1941 request for Spain to enter the war.|
|17 Jul 1942||Francisco Franco made his annual Civil War anniversary speech.|
|20 Nov 1975||Francisco Franco passed away.|
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Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal