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The Plundering of the Vanquished

The Economic Repression during Early Francoism

Julio Prada Rodríguez

Economic repression became a keystone of the social exclusion policies of the Franco dictatorship from the stage of the coup dʼétat. Beyond its utility in provisioning the warfronts and for the proper functioning of the rearguard, it became a valuable deterrent and a weapon of intimidation that smothered any expression of non-conformity. If its efficiency was so remarkable, this was due to the fact that it did not act in an isolated fashion, but projected itself on the social body that had already suffered the combined effects of the Civil War, the physical repression and the rest of the coercive and social control mechanisms employed by the regime.

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Attempts at fathoming the logic of the violence unleashed in the rebel rearguard, due to the partial failure the coup d’état and its degeneration into civil war, were, during the 1990s, accompanied by important theoretical efforts to specify the meaning of concepts such as ‘social control’, ‘coercion’, ‘political violence’ and, unsurprisingly, ‘repression’. A quarter of a century later, Julio Aróstegui, to whom we owe most of those efforts, wrote that, to his mind, Spanish historiography still had not managed to come up with a convincing explanation for the conceptual scope of the repression, how it was related to those concepts, its origin and implementation, the characterization of its main actors and how it differed from other processes of violence implemented by the powers that be (Aróstegui 2012: 14).

Notwithstanding this, it must be said that a number of provincial and local studies published as from the end of that decade and, above all, at the beginning of the new millennium, while not overlooking the multidimensional character of the Francoist repression, were not seduced, in the main, by such an intriguing debate. Consequently, to a greater or lesser extent they strove – we are still striving, in fact – to go beyond the purely quantitative aspects to offer a fuller picture of that repressive microcosm affecting the most insignificant aspects of the lives of the vanquished during the toughest years of the Spanish Civil War and the post-war period. It was thus realized that the repression...

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