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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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Requisitioning in the Rebel Rearguard


Requisitioning is, no more and no less, the appropriation of public or private assets or chattels by the military authorities. Consequently, recourse to this mechanism to meet military requirements, in times of war and peace, is by no means a novelty. The legislation in place when the coup d’état took place in July 1936 recognized the right of the competent military authority (the Ministry of War, the general-in-chief and commanders-in-chief of the army, the Army Corps, major-generals, brigadier-generals and other forces on special missions) to requisition public and private property, with the capacity to delegate these powers to the chiefs and officers of the Logistic Corps and, failing this, to the commanders of stationed troops, who, in turn, could sub-delegate to staff acting under their orders11. Each provision of services or requisition was supposed to be compensated according to its objective value, except in very specific cases. All requisitioning of assets and services required a prior order in writing, specifying their type and amount and, whenever possible, their duration, plus the issue of a receipt12.

There was a broad range of services that could be requisitioned in times of war, including those of people who, for professional or occupational reasons, might serve in the Army Auxiliary Corps, as well as assets such as saddle, draught and pack animals, animal-drawn vehicles, cars, boats, machines, tools, utensils and any other sort of material; lighting elements, fuel, fats, all types of electrical power, however it was produced, metals,...

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