The man that decisively shaped twentieth-century Spain for almost four decades, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, died peacefully on November 20th, 1975 in a Madrid hospital.
Although he ultimately saved Spain from Communism and the Catholic Church from extermination, for the average Spaniard he is a figure from a distant past. A majority of them don’t even know the year he passed away.
Most of the population benefited from Franco’s good economic policy, designed by technocrats and not demagogues, in the mid-term and could afford to buy a flat, a car and a small country house or a beach apartment.
After the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) that brought him to power, about 25,000 people were executed for serious crimes committed during the fratricidal conflict.
One of them was Separatist leader Luis Companys (born 1882), who as president of the Catalonian autonomous government signed 400 death sentences and is held responsible for the deaths of about 8,000 persons.
Notwithstanding, since 1979 a street in Barcelona is dedicated to him. In 2001, the Olympic Stadium in Montjuïc was renamed after him without significant resistance from Conservatives.
In revenge, nowadays Franco is much vilified by the heirs of those that lost the war and just can’t accept their defeat, trying to achieve victory 80 years too late.
Those who continue to honor Franco’s memory will probably soon face criminal charges if the current coalition government of Socialists and Communists gets its way with the Orwellian Law of Democratic Memory, approved on September 15th, 2020.
On the other hand, diehard Stalinists like Dolores Ibárruri (1895-1989), nicknamed La Pasionaria and best known for her famous slogan “¡No Pasarán!”, enjoy an excellent reputation. She escaped justice and spent almost 40 years in Moscow before returning to Spain in 1977.
A street in the capital is dedicated to her successor as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE), Santiago Carrillo (1915-2012), involved in the 1936 Paracuellos massacres of thousands of Nationalist prisoners.
At the same time, due to Leftist iconoclasm, renowned doctors like Juan José Lopez-Ibor (1906-1991), former president of the World Psychiatric Association, as well as lawyers, soldiers and writers of the other side are gradually disappearing from public consciousness.
In 2016, Madrid revoked the honorary citizenship of General Augustín Muñoz Grandes (1896-1970), one of the two commanders of the Blue Division, which fought on the Eastern Front during World War II.
The plaques for those members of the clergy murdered by the anticlerical mob in the 1930s have long been removed from outer church walls, but sometimes those victims are still remembered inside.
According to the currently prevailing opinion, the terror unleashed by the Moscow-backed Popular Front in 1936, which cost the lives of more than 4,000 priests alone, was merely a mostly spontaneous response to a coup d’état.
Military insurgents rose up against a democratically legitimized republic and killed three times as many people as its defenders anyway. It was basically an epic struggle between Good and Evil, in which the latter temporarily prevailed.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had the exhumation of Franco’s body from the Valley of the Fallen Memorial carried out on October 24th, 2019. Obsessed by this idea, he deliberately reopened historical wounds.
Especially radical Separatists, who never gave up their sinister plans to dismember Spain, are profiting from the destruction of Franco’s legacy, a unified nation.