Joan Culla Clarà discusses the history of the Spanish fascist party.
Yes, the Councils of National- Syndicalist Offensive, in Spanish “Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista” are a small, very tiny, fascist party. This one is fascist in the strictest sense. Created in 1932 if memory serves. That is, early in the Republic, the first one or two years, by two men. One, Ramiro Ledesme Ramos, something of an agitator of field workers in Valldolid, Old Castile, now known as Castile and León. Catholic. Extreme right-wing. From a rural world, upset by agrarian reform. In principle, the reform wasn’t to affect small landowners. But the idea that “the republicans want to take our lands,” combined with, “the republic is chasing down the church,” was a potent cocktail in that environment. Then, Onésimo Redondo… Did I say that name? I don’t recall. Onésimo Redondo is this one, later dubbed by Francoism, “Castile’s Caudillo.” He died in ’36, right at the start of the war. So, another rival of Franco eliminated. Onésimo Redondo had created the Castilian Councils of Hispanic Action. It’s the embryo of the JONS, based in Valladolid. Something very local and very small. 80 to 100 members tops. Simultaneously, let me repeat, The creator of the “Juntas Castellanas de Actuación Hispánica” is Onésimo Redondo. Then, there’s another character named Ramiro Ledesma Ramos. This one is more intellectual. He’d studied in Germany. He speaks and reads German, having spent the ’20s, on a grant or something, studying, for a few years, in a German university. He’s someone who discovered Nazism, and fell in love with it. And, then, in the early ’30s, already back in Spain, he witnesses, with much indignation, the proclamation of the republic, the bourgeoise democracy, and all those things. And he ends up connecting with the Castilian, Onésimo Redondo, together turning the Castilian Councils of Hispanic Action… into the unions of National- Syndicalist Offensive, based now, in Madrid. It’s something a bit…a tiny bit bigger. So, there’s this group, this fascist group, with Nazi roots. It has limited strength, and publishes a tiny magazine. There is a much more important character than Onésimo Redondo and Ramiro Ledesma. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. Why more important? Because he was the son of the dictator of Spain from 1923 to 1930, Mr. Miguel Primo de Rivera, general and marquis. When his father dies in 1930, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera inherits the title of marquis. Making him the only fascist leader in the world who is also an aristocrat. Usually, fascist leaders, like Hitler, Mussolini, etc. start poor. They have literally been hungry. Literally. In their youth. And then, well, they’ve reached… Well, I always explain the same. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera had always eaten every meal in a palace, served by a maid wearing gloves, and with silver cutlery, he ate his course, his second course, third course and dessert. So, his life experiences are completely different from Hitler, from Mussolini, the Romanian fascist Codreanu, nothing to do with them. He was of high standing, with intellectual friends, aristocrats, poets, etc. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, in parallel with what I said about the JONS, creates, in Madrid, in October 1933, another fascist party, Falange Española. After 4 to 6 months, early in 1934, they decide it makes no sense for two tiny fascist parties to exist… …fighting for the same space, which is a very small space. So,a convergence takes place, of Falange and the JONS, which results in “Falange Española y de las JONS”. Starting in March or April of 1934, is becomes the main fascist party in Spain. Jose Antonio is in charge. Onésimo Redondo is a discreet man. Rather, let’s say, rustic, uncouth. Not a problem, not a threat. But Ramiro Ledesma is more complex. He considers himself intellectually superior to Jose Antonio. He considers Jose Antonio a rich kid, from a good family, which is the truth. After some conflict, Onésimo Redondo, in 1935, leaves the party with some of his followers. Then, there’s a moment…a very small detail for the specialists. Then, there’s a moment, in late 1935, and early ’36, when there’s Falange, now Falange Española y de las JONS, but there’s also a group of JONSians, who consider themselves more authentic. The others are inauthentic, and they are the true fascists. Also, Ramiro Ledesma will be murdered early in the civil war, so… It’s just a small detail, As I was saying, Franco had a lot of luck. Because when it came to creating, during the war, a unique party… He was military, not a politician. But when it occurred to him that it would be useful to have a party, he found that of the three Spanish fascist [party] leaders, two were dead. Ramiro Ledesma and Onésimo Redondo had died in the summer of ’36. And the third, and most important, Jose Antonio, was in prison in Alicante, and he would be executed in November ’36. So he was able to take over Spanish fascism without having to take anyone out. Because the three important leaders were dead, and killed by the Republic, which was perfect.