Have you heard… we’re going to Spain in 2016! So, of course, WWII background is essential!
What better day to explore that history than October 1st... on this date, in 1936, General Francisco Franco, son of a Spanish naval officer, ascended to power in the midst of the Spanish Civil War. Where would Franco and Spain’s sympathies lie during the horrific years of WWII that followed?
The Backstory: Franco, who had a distinguished military career including the defeat of Moroccan rebels during Spain’s colonial campaigns in Morocco, was temporarily demoted with the fall of the Spanish monarchy in 1931. During the next five years, conservative and liberal coalitions traded power by way of national elections. However, in 1936, Spanish military leaders, fearing the liberal government would give way to Marxist revolution, convinced Franco to lead a rebellion by Nationalist forces. Franco and his militia received heavy support from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and quickly overthrew the government, and Franco was named head of the rebel Nationalist government. Civil unrest continued until 1939 when Madrid surrendered and Franco formally became leader of a “united” Spain.
WWII: General Franco sympathized with the fascist regimes of Germany and Italy. He sent 50,000 troops to fight with the Nazis on the Russian front, against Communism. In 1943, the Allies pressured Franco to discontinue assisting the war effort against the Soviet Union and Franco recalled the division, although he maintained trade with Germany, and the vital ports along the Atlantic and the Mediterranean continued to support German submarine activity. Both Germany and the Allies had plans for the invasion of Spain, but neither saw the strategic benefit of maintaining forces on the Iberian peninsula. So Spain was spared, as were her treasured antiquities.
Post WWII: Following the war, Franco was regarded as the last surviving fascist dictator, and the country faced diplomatic and economic isolation. As the Cold War began, Franco agreed to the construction of three air bases and a naval base on its soil in return for military and economic aid from the United States. In 1969, Franco, who had been a loyal monarchist in his younger years, recognized Juan Carlos, the grandson of Spain’s last king, as the rightful ruler, restoring the monarchy. Franco died in 1975, and Juan Carlos became governmental leader of Spain and initiated a transition to democracy.
Today: Find out for yourself…. Join us!! Spain – April 2016…..visit six UNESCO World Heritage Sites! PLUS cultural and culinary experiences! Art and Architecture also highlighted!