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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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The Literature on the Franco Regime’s Economic Repression

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Aspects relating to the war economy in the rebel rearguard have not received the same amount of historiographical attention as others episodes of the Spanish Civil War. Although this has not prevented the publication of a large number of studies that have allowed us to make significant inroads into different issues3. This has not been the case with other facets of the punitive mechanisms implemented by the rebels, particularly the levies created to sustain the war effort. However, in a more or less explicit manner, those levies also had a clear political purpose that transcended mere monetary concerns and which was already present from the imposition of the first fines, only a few days after the declaration of a state of war, to the disappearance of the special jurisdiction of political responsibilities. As we have already indicated elsewhere, there are several reasons behind this lack of scholarly interest (Prada Rodríguez 2017: 9–12).

Firstly, it is undeniable that the economic repression was not as dramatic as its physical counterpart for the direct victims and their families, resulting in death or leading to the confinement of thousands of people in a variety of detention centres. Predictably, only until very recently, the majority of research has focused on bringing to light the names of those assassinated or imprisoned and on attempting to understand and contextualize the dynamics that explained such brutality. The requisitions, fines, forced contributions and regulated and non-regulated seizures must have seemed, in comparison with...

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