Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde (4 December 1892 - 20 November 1975) was the Caudillo (dictator) and Head of State of Spain from October 1936, as de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in 1975. He led the Nationalists to victory in the Spanish Civil War, and was actively supported by the Axis. However, Franco kept Spain neutral throughout World War II, offering only token assistance to Germany.
After World War II, Francisco consolidated power and ruthlessly oppressed his enemies. His anti-Communism made him a useful ally to the United States during the Cold War. Spain began its transition back to democracy almost immediately upon Franco's death.
Francisco Franco in The Hot War
Despite having been a nominal ally of the Axis during World War II, Francisco Franco became a U.S. ally in the years leading up to World War III. However, he didn't enter the war when it broke out in February 1951, and stayed neutral to the end.
Francisco Franco in The Man With the Iron Heart
After World War II ended, Francisco Franco's Spain (as well as António de Oliveira Salazar's Portugal) gave refuge to fleeing Nazis and Fascists from defeated Axis countries. Reinhard Heydrich's wife and children fled to Spain in 1944. The United States had expressed the desire to topple the governments of both Spain and Portugal after Germany fell, but could not muster support from its allies.
Thus, when several members of the German Freedom Front hi-jacked several planes in 1947, they deliberately landed them in Spain. While they were ultimately arrested by Spanish authorities, Franco's soft touch with his former allies ensured that none would be turned over to the American authorities.
Francisco Franco in "Cayos in the Stream"
In Ernest Hemingway's mind, Francisco Franco was Adolf Hitler's toady. Without Hitler, Hemingway mused in 1942, Franco would have been one more tinpot general who tried for a Putsch but did not make it.
Francisco Franco in The War That Came Early
While Francisco Franco (1892-1941) was perceived as a solid general amongst Spanish Nationalist forces, most felt him lacking in flair and charisma compared with Marshal José Sanjurjo, the Nationalist leader. Thus, many Nationalists expressed a measure of gratitude that Sanjurjo was leading Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War.
Nonetheless, Franco was an able and tenacious strategist, a fact recognized by both the Nationalists and the Republicans. Franco spent much of the next five years giving the Republic substantial grief. That ended in the last months of 1941, when Vaclav Jezek, a Czechoslovakian sniper and refugee of the war that had engulfed the rest of Europe, killed Franco with his anti-tank rifle outside Madrid. Jezek had not known who Franco was, only that he was a high ranking Nationalist officer "too fascist to live."
|Caudillo (Head of State) of Spain and Regent of the Spanish Kingdom
Alejandro Rodríguez de Valcárcel
for hand over to Juan Carlos I
|Leader of the Government of Spain (de facto Prime Minister)
Luis Carrero Blanco