Joan Culla Clarà explains how Francisco Franco evolved from an unremarkable soldier to El Caudillo.
The republic stations him in different areas. He’s the military commander in the Balearic Islands in the 1933, I think. He’s careful enough not to become explicitly involved with any of the plots, in any of the military conspiracies that take place from the 31 to the 36 against the republic. I mean, many officers feeling affronted, wounded by the republic, conspire. Actually, in 1932 there’s a first coup that fails. A coup by extreme right military officers that fails, right? He stays out of it. Very careful, very prudent. He doesn’t want to risk his career on a gamble that may not succeed, right? This extreme care will show until the very end, until the conspiration of 1936. Earlier, in 1934, a right-wing government in Madrid considers him again a trust-worthy officer. He is, for a time, in 1934-1935, the Commander-in-Chief. That is, he’s not a secretary of state, since those are civilians at the time, but he is at the top of the military hierarchy. He acts hard from his position against a worker insurrection in Asturias in October 1934. Well, it’s clear that he feels identified with the right wing, and that he dislikes the republican system as well. Well, due to al of this, his professional prestige, when a coup begins to be prepared in the Spring of 1936 -but this time a proper coup, a serious one- the conspirators quickly think of him as key to its success. Mainly for one reason. It’s considered that, for a coup to be successful, it’s necessary that the African army takes part of it. That is, the Spanish troops stationed in the protectorate of northern Morocco, part of which are mercenary units. The “Legión Extranjera”, which is the Spanish version of the French “Legion étrangère”. And, also, the units of Moroccan mercenaries with Spanish officers, known as the “Regulares”. These are the shock troops of the Spanish army. They are units that, not in that moment, but in the last decade had fought in intense combats against the rebel moors, the rebel natives. Then, it’s thought that these units are key to decide whether a coup will be successful or a failure. If they are in with the coup, it has many more chances to be successful. And it is believed that the conspirators think that Franco has the key to unlock these units. That if Franco is in the coup, these units and their officers, who hold him in great esteem and respect him, will join. But if he isn’t in it, there’s no way to know what will happen. Then, the conspirators start to court Franco, and he leads them on. He doesn’t want to act too fast, doesn’t want to make a wrong move. I mean, he doesn’t want to get involved for the coup to later fail. It’s said that during a trip to Paris in the 20 -it’s said, but there’s not much documental evidence. But it’s said that during a business trip to Paris in the 20s, he saw some of the former generals of the Russian Tsar army working as cab drivers. Exiled from Russia and working as cab drivers or doormen in restaurants. That had a huge impact on him, and thought, that can’t happen to me. I can’t afford to make a mistake and forces me to exile and live the rest of my life in misery. Then, it was quite tough to convince him. But in the end they managed it, right?