Francisco Franco was the Dictator of Spain "Caudillo por Gracia de Dios" between 1939 and 1975 who came to power after leading a military revolt by a coalition of monarchists, nationalists, ultramontane Roman Catholics and fascists against the legitimate government of the Spanish Second Republic. Although Franco's political trajectory was different from those of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, he came to preside over what was certainly a regime that satisfied the criteria of the "fascist minimum" (as encapsulated by Roger Griffin) between 1939 and the 1950s, through his totalitarian party the Falange Español Tradicional y de las JONs which Franco himself and his Falangist brother-in-law Ramón Serrano Suñer amalgamated from the Falange formerly led by José Antonio Primo de Rivera (who had initially been succeeded by Manuel Hedilla) and the Carlist monarchist faction. Serrano Suñer and the Falange were thus charged with organising the political apparatus of the regime with the Falange serving to sustain the momentum of mass mobilisation which resulted from the Civil War experience that did not exist under more traditional conservative dictators such as Admiral Miklos Horthy in Hungary.
Following the fragmentation of the government forces he defeated their remnant along with the anarchists in Catalonia, various communist groupings, and the local nationalist movements in other parts of Spain.
He then ruled Spain from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until his death in 1975. While fighting the Spanish Civil War he allied with Nazi Germany and the Fascists in Italy, but during his official rule although he entered several pacts including the Anti-Comintern Pact there was no formal military alliance with the Axis. Franco verifiably supported the Axis through material support, propaganda, and the sending of the Blue Division on the Eastern Front which fought within the Wehrmacht, but Spain ultimately did not enter World War II as there was no guarantee that Spain would be in possession of the French colonies in Northern Africa under the Nazi New Order - both Franco and Hitler were aware of Spain's limited economic and military efficacy. Most revealingly Franco offered the entry of Spain as a belligerent power to Hitler when Spain's wartime position was changed from "neutrality" to "non-belligerence" following the Fall of France in 1940, confident an Axis victory was imminent and that Spain would be granted Empire in North Africa without suffering the infrastructural damage she would have suffered otherwise. This wartime position was changed to "moral belligerence" once the Blue Division was deployed and only changed back to "neutrality" following pressure by the Western Allies to withdraw the Blue Division and Operation Torch. Spain continued to export wolfram and publish propaganda about V2 attacks in London as late as the closing days in the war.
Despite this and the oppression he inflicted on the people of Spain, during the Cold War he became an ally of the United States against the Soviet Union after having been initially ostracised following the end of World War II. In many ways, U.S. military aid helped keep his regime "stable" in the same way that it kept so many other tyrannies "stable." It was this which have allowed some form of perpetuation of the myths surrounding the regime that hinder historical rapprochement in Spain today, the most prominent of the myths being Franco as purely a traditional conservative whose violence was mild and that he was neutral in World War II, steadfastly refusing the advances of war contrary to what a vast array of primary sources from the era reveal. Spain was, however, denied membership in NATO. Membership in an alliance against the authoritarian Soviets and its Warsaw Bloc allies would have looked bad given the Francoist regime's brutality. The summary executions of captured Republicans did not end until the early 1960s. The typical summary execution of a Republican prisoner was called a paseo, or a stroll, in which the victim or victims were taken to secluded areas and shot in the head. One estimate is that there are as many 30,000 unrecovered bodies in mass graves. The exact number of people who died as a result of Francoist repression during and immediately after the Spanish Civil War is not known for certain, but it is likely well into the hundreds of thousands, and almost certainly much higher than the number killed by the Red Terror in Spain during the same period. Spain was finally invited to join NATO in 1988 just as the Cold War was winding down.
Towards the end of his rule he accepted King Juan Carlos I as his successor; contrary to expectations, the King turned out to be a democrat and a liberal and has since turned Spain into a constitutional monarchy, in which he retains only a figurehead role.
While Franco's death was mourned by some it resulted in dancing in the streets in the Basque country and it is claimed that the Basque city of Bilbao ran out of champagne. An attempted coup d'etat by die-hard Franco supporters in 1981 failed quickly, and otherwise Spain transitioned smoothly back into a democracy.
 See also
- George Orwell, who wrote about the Spanish Civil War and fought on the Republican side against Franco's Nationalists
The Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica or ARMH works to prevent the whitewash of 20th century Spanish history.
 Brutally Funny
- ↑ John Elkin. "Opening Franco's Graves." Archaeology. Volume 59 Number 5, September/October 2006.
- ↑ Beevor, Anthony (2006). The Battle For Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson. pp. 105. ISBN 0297848321.