Nationalist Spain

A military coup does not need a positive creed. A civil war on the other hand demands a cause, a banner and some form of manifesto. During the coup preparations the military had not concerned themselves greatly with the exact form of government they would adopt. During the initial time of uncertainty the Catholic Church provided the Nationalist alliance of monarchists, Falangists and Carlists with a common symbol of tradition and a cause to transcend ideological confusion in their ranks. Its authoritarian centralist nature were acceptable to all parties, except the left wing of the Falange. Its hierarchy rallied to the cause of the right, and priests were seen giving the fascist salute. The medieval idea of possession by the devil was used to justify the violent exorcism practiced on 'traitors and bad Spaniards'.

The Nationalist obsession with macho qualities and the traditional male values of Old Spain was emphasised in the slogan, "Young men of Spain - either military or castrated" (o castrenses o castrados). A man in civilian clothes was derided as effeminate or homosexual. Meanwhile the loudspeakers in the streets played music such as the violent Legion marching song, El Novio de la Muerte (the fiance of death). And at the radio station every evening a bugler stood in front of the microphone to herald the daily bulletin from the Generalissimo's quarters.

The disparate groups in the Nationalist movement were well aware of the precariousness of their position. They controlled only a third of the territory and a quarter of the population. It was this uncertainty and fear which Franco exploited over the next few months. The various Nationalist groups wanted a strong leader, and Franco was it. The publicity of the various Nationalist groups was strident, however. The Carlist message proclaimed, "If you are a good Spaniard and love your country and her glorious traditions, enlist in the Requetes". The Falange's slogan was briefer and more threatening - "The Falange calls you. Now or never.".

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