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1975: Memories of Franco's death

General Franco was one of the longest reigning dictators in Europe and based his power on the priniciple of authority and the marginalisation of opposition political parties.

His death was greeted with sadness by Spaniards from all walks of life - but many more in Spain and around the world were relieved by the news and even celebrated.

Their hopes for democracy were realised under King Juan Carlos, the general's designated successor.

Since that time most statues and monuments to the man who ruled Spain for nearly four decades have been taken down.

Your memories of the Franco era:

I lived in Spain from 1970 to 1977 so I remember what life was like for many Spaniards under Franco.

Me and my family were glad Franco eventually died and I now understand why today Spain is such a liberal-minded country.
Kevin O'Leary, UK

I was working at the Madrid Universidad Politécnica at the time as an English teacher, and we had had a year of multiple student strikes.

I was surprised to read that lots of religious relics thought to have miraculous powers, such as Saint Teresa of Avila's hand and one of the Virgin of the Pilar's capes were sent for by El Pardo (Franco's palace) officials - Franco's doctor son-in-law, the Marqués de Villaverde, didn't want his patient to be admitted to hospital.

There was a long period of official mourning - maybe as long as a week - with the suspension of normal television and radio broadcasting.

I also remember long queues at the Palacio Real for the lying-in-state.

Some of the people I knew had already prepared bottles of cava to celebrate and jokes about the death began to circulate.

My own feeling one day, as I walked past the Arco de Triunfo - Franco memorial to the winning side in the Civil War - and seeing the Spanish sun break through the clouds was that a prolonged post-war period was finally coming to an end.
Susan O'Hara, Spain

I also lived in Spain, teaching ESL, from October 1974-June 1984. I could not speak Spanish very well at the time of Franco's death, although I am now a professor of Spanish here in the U.S. I had just arrived from England the previous year.

It was a strange time as we went to work in the evening but none of our students turned up and we had not listened to the news or seen anything in the papers, eventually our boss called us in the centre and told us the news.

We did have a week off work and really enjoyed that but the impact of Franco's death did not really sink in until the student riots began shortly thereafter. Spain was a very different place in 1975 to what it is today.

I did not think, then, that I was living through a cataclysmic period of history. I'm sure I remember the good and the bad of that last year. Franco was not the fearsome dictator of his youth, yet the country was still held fast by his iron fist.
Janet Livesey, USA

I was a young child of ten, having moved with my family due to my father's business involved in exporting valves. I remember I was enrolled in "Las Irlandesas" A spanish catholic nun school in Bilbao.

That morning I was waiting for my school bus in my town of Las Arenas. The bus driver drove up and said that Franco had died and we were to have two weeks off of school. I was so happy!

At the time in Las Arenas I remember people's dress was always so sombre: dark browns, dark blues, black clothes. Soon after Franco's death the styles went wild. Colorful dresses and clothes came out and people's outfits changed drastically.

Yet, I still couldn't wear my American patchwork overalls from the US without getting alot of stares...
Teresa, Ashland, USA

My mother's parents were Republicans who had to leave Spain during the civil war. They lived in France for 13 years and later moved to Chile.

I grew up with stories of the war (both the civil war and WWII); amazing stories told by my grandmother.

I remember the day Franco died. I was 17 and my grandmother and I were watching TV in her apartment in Santiago. The announcer said that he had died and my grandmother said: "I am so glad he suffered a long death!! With that he paid for a tiny bit of what he did!"

I always knew her feelings towards Franco; I had never realized the intense hatred for him. The memory is not of his death, it is of my grandmother's reaction.
Pat Caffrey, Ireland


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