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HomeLatest NewsWhen Franco was persuaded by the pro-Nazi mayor of Vitoria in 1937...

When Franco was persuaded by the pro-Nazi mayor of Vitoria in 1937 to restore the current Spanish anthem

Date: August 20, 2022 Time: 05:28:57

Military Rafael Santaolalla, the illegitimate mayor of Vitoria, who came to power at five o’clock in the afternoon on July 19, 1936 – just 24 hours after the coup against the Second Republic – felt that he had a “mission”. He was one of those who perceived the Civil War as a “holy crusade” against the “rabid” supporters of the “Reds and Separatists.” He described the uprising as the moment “when the Hispanic lion shook its mane to scare away death”. Pro-Nazi and pro-fascist, he paved the way for German and Italian units to operate freely from the Basque capital between 1936 and 1939. But his biggest success, as he boasted in a telegram sent to Francisco Franco, was that “Marcha Real” or “Marcha Granadera” be restored as the anthem of Spain, the melody of which is the same as it is today.

In 1931, the Republican government established the so-called “Himno de Riego” as the official song before the score that accompanied the monarchs of the House of Bourbon. But the self-proclaimed Caudillo reinstated the Royal March for the territories he controlled in February 1937, although the change did not become official until 1942, three years after the end of the war, when it was published in the Official State Gazette (BOE). However, three months before Franco’s decree, namely on November 4, 1936, Santaolalla had already submitted to the standing committee of the Vitorian municipal plenary session a proposal to save the old anthem. It was the first executive decision of the first meeting of this body of the new city council, which also boasted of being “the first in the new Spain” after the coup d’état, just as Eibar is considered the first to proclaim the Second Republic.

The minutes of this meeting are stored in a large A3 book with handwritten texts, located in the municipal archive. And it reads as follows: “The proposal of Mr. Mayor-President has been approved, suggesting, for the reasons stated in the Explanatory Part, 1) Respectfully request it from the Hon. Mr. Head of Government of the Spanish State, the official announcement of the national anthem of the new Spain, the so-called Royal Spanish March. And 2) That this agreement be transferred to the Provincial Corporation and the city councils created under the Salvadoran regime so that they can join it. Indeed, Vitoria pushed other towns and cities to encourage Franco to change the anthem.

When the goal was reached, Santaolalla made a speech at the town hall in the spring of 1937, which he wanted to give the maximum solemnity. Here is its literal meaning: “Little by little the new Spain, old and traditional, is recovering its attributes, customs and traditions which shape them all and contribute to the national spirit of the Hispanic race. Our illustrious caudillo Generalissimo Franco, the faithful interpreter as the first of the Spaniards of the anxieties and desires of his subordinates, restored to the Spaniards the essence and life that constituted the Spanish soul. Firstly, it was decided that the glorious red-yellow banner, which our generals carried in the days of glory and triumph, and which was the shroud of heroes and saints, would be the State Flag. He then established the Catholic religion of all Spaniards as the national religion. It recently decided that the old Granadera march, better known as the Royal March, would be the national anthem. A march that not so long ago honored the monarchs and heads of state of Earth and the King of Heaven as they passed through the streets. A high honor belongs to the city council of Vitoria for being the first to enlist the support of its colleagues, so that the Generalissimo declared it the official anthem. For the first time, the chords of this anthem sounded at an official act in the Plaza de Salamanca, when General Franco performed his functions of the sovereign of the state during the solemn introduction of the credentials of the ambassador of friendly Italy.

After this heated parliament, Santaolalla invited the undemocratically elected corporations to approve and record in the minutes a statement of “joy and satisfaction” in the influence of the city on Franco. The resolution was handed over to the leader of the uprising, along with “evidence of the unwavering commitment and sincere gratitude” of the city council. After the meeting, the mayor ordered the municipal band present there to play this tune along with him, the councilors present, and the military leaders who paid their respects.

These were repressions against republican officials.

Santaolalla’s management had a lot of influence on a symbolic level. New Rogigualda flags were hoisted and, while the city council found itself short of funds for some of the usual expenses, hundreds of Benito Mussolini’s banners of Italy and swastikas were bought, and 400,000 pesetas were put up for the urgent reform of the airfield of Zalburu or Elorriaga (today’s Salburua ). ), the air base of the Nazi Legion Condor, and from where operations such as the bombing of Guernica began in April 1937. When General Emilio Mola died in a plane crash, this infrastructure was named after him. Portugal was also a “friendly” country, to the point that António de Oliveira Salazar wrote a postcard to the mayor to thank him for his interest in him when he was attacked.

By August 26, 1936, there was already a first plan to change the names of some streets “because of their sectarian spirit”, such as those dedicated to Pablo Iglesias and Sabino Arana, which from then until today are called Calle Arana, to dry. The Calle de Francia would soon become Calvo Sotelo, ironically the “Constitution” gave way to the “Generalissimo”, and in 1937 the Portal of Urbina became the Portal of Villarreal to underline the defeat in the only offensive of the Euzcadi army against the Francoists in the city. Villarreal de Alava (Legutio, in Basque). Similarly, a new “brightness” was given to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, known in the previous period as the Republic Square and which again became the Plaza of Spain.

This was accompanied by the most severe repressions against officials loyal to democracy. As a result of the attack on the city council, a string of resignations followed, such as the resignation of Republican inspector of gardens, paths and trees, Alberto Martinez de Aragon – he was first evicted from his home in Florida, and then shot. , tax attorney Felix Langarica Ibarrondo or head of the municipal guard. The minutes record how Santaolalla denounced as “unheard of” that four municipal employees made “pejorative” gestures before the first hoisting of the flag that replaced the Republican tricolor and did not stop until they were identified and punished. There were cases with security guards, firefighters, collectors, buttons and other temporary officials. A special purge commission was set up, which included at least 32 “purges”. Municipal records – some of which have deteriorated greatly over time – record how the courts, the city council and the Falange worked hand in hand to prepare reports on the political and trade union activities of the opponents of the uprising. Santaolalla’s predecessor, Teodoro González de Zarate, was shot dead in the mountain pass of Asaceta.

On the contrary, loyalists were applauded and rewarded, such as Heraclio Fournier’s famous playing card company, which placed its printing houses at the service of the Spaniards and Italians to distribute military cartography. And Santaolalla received with great enthusiasm in 1938 that the first Franco government, based in Burgos, established two ministries – and very powerful ones – in Vitoria. The current building of the School of Arts and Crafts became the headquarters of the Ministry of Public Education (including powers in the area of ​​”Press and Propaganda”). In front of the coup general put the Madrilenian Pedro Sainz Rodriguez, the monarchist Accion Española and an active accomplice in the conspiracy that led to the coup d’état in 1936. Very close, just 50 meters away, was the Ministry of Justice. He did this at the headquarters of the Alava Provincial Council. The portfolio holder was the Navarrese Thomas Rodríguez Arevalo, Count of Rodezno. A staunch and ultra-religious traditionalist, he assumed not only leadership in the administration of justice, but control of all paperwork, prisons, and so-called “church affairs.” In Vitoria, for example, a book of authors and books banned in schools was prepared and a forced labor model was developed.

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