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Anti-Franco worker struggles, 1939–1975

Michael Eaude

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Europe » Western Europe
Iberia » Spain

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics labor movements, rebellion, republic(s), revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00094.x


General Franco came to power through the Spanish Civil War (1936–9) following a military coup on July 18, 1936. The immediate reaction of the working class in the main cities such as Barcelona and Madrid defeated the coup and, especially in Catalonia, full-scale social revolution broke out. Franco's vengeance and his commitment to root out any sign of democracy were extreme. Opponents were executed in every village conquered by his armies. These killings reached their peak in the immediate postwar period. Several hundred thousand people left for exile and some 270,000 political prisoners were tortured, starved, and/or used as slave labor by the regime. Many others were destitute after confiscation of property and loss of jobs. Some 200,000 children died of hunger in the early 1940s. The terror meant the population was cowed for many years. Communists and anarchists organized guerrilla bands (the maquis ) in the mountains with little success, though they did tie down large parts of the security forces during the 1940s. All trade unions were illegal, apart from the corporatist Organización Sindical Estatal (State Union Organization) (OSE). Membership was compulsory for all bosses and workers. Its full-time workers were falangists appointed from above. Its ideology was based on replacing the class struggle, considered communist and “diabolic,” by combined “capital, labor, and skill” ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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