Dictators and their sons: Franco’s forgotten family
The question of what to do with the family of a dictator after the fall of the regime is still a sore point in Spain, where Gen Franco’s heirs enjoy privileges and wealth despite the nation’s transition to democracy on his death in 1975.
Authorities in Galicia have for several years been battling to vacate the Franco family from the Pazo de Meiras, a vast country palace, “donated” to Gen Franco at the end of the 1936-39 Civil War.
On the dictator’s death in November 1975, the property, which dates from the late 19th century, passed to his heirs and is still used as a country retreat by his daughter and grandchildren.
But the regional government is determined to have it recognised as a place of “historical and cultural value” and opened to the public. The family has refused and the matter is now being dealt with in the courts.
The row sparked a national debate over whether the descendants of Franco, who is said to have been responsible for the deaths of 300,000 people during the civil war and ensuing dictatorship, should be allowed to continue enjoying the spoils of his regime.
The family assets are estimated at somewhere between £244 million and £406 million but there are no official records.
There are regular calls for the Francos to return other properties “given” to the dictator including a 2,000-square-metre palace outside Madrid and the 18th-century palace of Cornilde in Corunna.
The heirs of Franco have in the meantime been profiting from construction projects on land once confiscated by the fascist dictator.
After the death of Franco, the transitional government judged it better to encourage forgiveness than to stir antagonism that could engulf the fledgling democracy. As a result a tacit “pact of silence” was introduced to avoid recriminations over want went on before.
It was only in 2007 in an initiative led by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Socialist prime minister and grandson of a republican executed by Franco’s soldiers, that the state cut funding for the Franco Foundation run by Carmen Franco Polo, 83 year-old daughter of the dictator.