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Friend or Foe?

Occupation, Collaboration and Selective Violence in the Spanish Civil War

Peter Anderson is Lecturer in Twentieth-Century European History in the School of History at the University of Leeds. He is the author of The Francoist Military Trials: Terror and Complicity, 1939–1945 (New York: Routledge, 2010). With Miguel Ángel del Arco Blanco he is co-editor of Mass Killings and Violence in Spain, 1936–1952: Grappling with the Past (New York: Routledge, 2015).

‘Today with the Red Army captive and disarmed, the Nationalist [nacionales] troops have achieved their final military objectives. The war is over.’ With these two sentences, on 1 April 1939, General Franco announced that his writ ran across the whole of Spain. His words marked a high point for those who had flocked to Franco’s side and since the start of the Civil War in July 1936 had carried out what they regarded as the steady occupation of the country. The history of this occupation remains conspicuous by its absence and the term occupation lies discredited for many historians. The danger of leaving the history of the occupation unexplored, however, is that a major process designed to control the conquered population remains in the shadows and, unlike many other European countries, the view of occupation as an imposition by outsiders remains unchallenged.

Friend or Foe? explores how Francoist occupation saw members of the state and society collaborate to win control of Spanish society. At the heart of the process lay the challenging task in civil war of distinguishing between supporter and opponent. Occupation also witnessed a move from arbitrary violence towards selecting opponents for carefully graded punishment. Such selection depended upon fine-grained information about vast swathes of the population. The massive scale of the surveillance meant that regime officials depended on collaborators within the community to furnish them with the information needed to write huge numbers of biographies. Accordingly, knowledge as a form of power became as crucial as naked force as neighbours of the defeated helped define who would gain reward as a friend and who would suffer punishment as a foe.

Published in association with the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies
and the International Brigade Memorial Trust


Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-794-0
Hardback Price: £60.00 / $74.95
Release Date: May/June 2016
Page Extent / Format: May/June 2016
Illustrated: Yes



Introduction:  From the Bullet to the Dossiers                                                                                   
Part One: The Collapse of Security: Málaga
Chapter 1: The Collapse of Security
Chapter 2: Looking for Friends: Occupation and the Construction of the State
Chapter 3: Classification and the Construction of Civil Society

Part Two: Enemies Made by War: Bilbao
Chapter 4: Foes Forged by War
Chapter 5: Selective Violence: The Classification of Prisoners of War
Chapter 6:  Exchange and Commutation
Chapter 7: Priests as Enemies of God and the Fatherland

Part Three: The Logic of Violence: Barcelona
Chapter 8: Revolution, Violence, Humiliation and Moral Outrage
Chapter 9: The Search for Fine-Grained Information
Chapter 10: Defining the Enemy

Conclusion: Civil War and Classification

This book offers a national study of Málaga from February 1937, Bilbao from June 1937, and Barcelona from late January 1939. It traces the major occupations carried out by the Francoists after the failure to capture Madrid in November 1936, and before the final conquest of the entire country in late March 1939, thereby providing insight into the period between the end of the much studied “hot” terror of 1936, and the occupation of large cities such as Madrid, Valencia and Alicante. By this time, as the book shows, the main threads of Francoist occupation policy had been woven and practiced in Málaga, Bilbao and Barcelona. There are three guiding themes that structure the book: the effects of the collapse of security, explored in the section on Málaga; the consequences of the creation of new enemies, analyzed in section on Bilbao, and the results of the brutalizing effects of revolution and war, examined in the section on Barcelona.

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