Social responses to large-scale state directed violence. The Galician case (1936-1939) in comparative context


A study of the Francoist occupation of Spain during the Civil War and particularly the cities of Málaga, Bilbao and Barcelona. This study helps reveal how Francoist efforts to achieve control and sovereignty over newly conquered areas hinged upon a vast effort to gather up the information required to separate friend from foe. In the context of a civil war in which loyalties were not always clear, this task brought many challenges.  But this sifting process sat at the heart of building Francoism and allowed the regime to reward those it identified as its supporters and exercise harsh retribution against those it viewed as enemies. One way it did this was by devolving many of its policing powers to employers, embittered municipal civil servants, local party activists, members of the clergy, job hunters, and neighbours of suspects as who were asked to assess to either endorse or inform against colleagues and fellow citizens.

The project helps throw light in particular upon Spaniards who displayed no clear political background. Such individuals could become defined either as supporters or enemies of the regime through the information supplied by ordinary citizens. Very often events in the war itself helped define the enmities or friendships that lay behind this classification system. But such collaboration also set in train an enduring pattern of social relations. The favoured could find release from prison, employment and opportunities to benefit from state patronage while those who failed to win support could suffer punishment, unemployment, fines, hunger and social exclusion.