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GENERAL FRANCISCO FRANCO
President of Spain
General Francisco Bahamonde Franco was not the most popular leader in Spain during the early 1930s. A man of humble origins, he had worked his way up the military ladder fighting colonial wars in Africa. He was hardly charismatic; Hitler once described meeting him as "Iess pleasurable than having four or five teeth pulled." But Franco, a staunch conservative, was infuriated when a Republican alliance of socialists, Marxists, and liberals won Spain's first free elections in 1936. So the General decided to "restore order" by force.
Franco's Nationalists were losing the civil war, but military support from Hitler, Mussolini, and the U. S. corporations that backed Hitler turned the tide in his favor. Italy and Germany sent 6,000 trucks to Franco's fascists, but 12,000 were supplied by Ford, General Motors and Studebaker. The U.S. claimed neutrality but didn't stop these companies from aiding Franco. The failure of the U.S. and other democratic nations to assist Spain's democratic government was ultimately responsible for Franco's victory in 1939, and, sadly, American volunteers who had fought for the Republic were branded "premature anti-fascists" and relentlessly persecuted during the U.S. anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s.
Under Franco, all political parties and labor unions were banned, books were burned, and dissenters were tortured and executed. Spain was ostracized by the international community, but the U.S. considered Franco a Cold War ally and sank millions into the country. After Franco's death in 1975, Spain became a democratic republic once again.