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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 lack of documentary evidence has had a decisive impact on the study of the economic repression in the Francoist rearguard, especially during the first months of the war. By and large, this has prevented researchers from obtaining a comprehensive overview of this phenomenon in those areas remaining under rebel control since the declaration of a state of war. Plundering, requisitions, confiscations, seizures, fines, patriotic subscriptions, ‘voluntary’ surcharges, new taxes and extraordinary revenues formed part of the same scheme whose aim was to sustain the war effort and to ensure the proper functioning of the rearguard, without underestimating its clear political purposes. But all these forms of repression had a diverse nature, were implemented in very different ways and had distinct consequences for the victims. Notwithstanding this, some are often associated with others when, in reality, they involved concepts that can hardly be compared.

The long path that historiography specializing in the economic repression has trod since the pioneering studies conducted in the mid-1980s until the most recent regional research confirms the vitality of a line of research, characterized by the gradual incorporation of new topics and approaches, that has shifted from the mere quantification of the penalties towards the analysis of new realities from an increasingly more social and cultural perspective. Thus, it has been possible to delve into one of the key aspects of this repressive microcosm that affected the most insignificant aspects of the lives of Spanish men and women during the harshest...

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