Franco in the 1960s: the case of Grimau

Putin was born 60 years after Franco (October 1952, December 1892) and was appointed prime minister 60 years after Franco was installed in Madrid (August 1999, March 1939). Chronologically, Franco’s 1959, the year of the Stabilization and Liberalization Plan, which led to fifteen years of economic growth, roughly corresponds to Putin’s 2019 or 2020.

But that’s just a cheap, easy and false parallel that should be left to publicity-hungry historians. Besides, Franco’s regime, despite the economic growth of 1959-1974, did not transform itself into a conservative Rechtsstaat.

A few months ago, in one of the posts about Owen Hatherley’s research on Soviet architecture and urban planning, I wrote that the first khruschovka, properly speaking, was probably built in Moscow on Grimau Street. To be precise, the street was called, literally, (the) Second Academic Drive when the apartment block was commissioned in 1958, but on May 8, 1963, it was renamed after Julián Grimau, the Spanish communist executed by the Francoists 18 days earlier.

The renaming followed the Soviet tradition of honoring martyrs for the Communist cause. Grimau was indeed a victim – one of the last ones – of Franco’s repressive machine, whatever the Communist leader’s record during the Spanish civil war might have been. Captured in 1962, Grimau was tortured by the secret police and thrown out of the window to imitate his suicide (alternatively, he managed to jump out of the window to put an end to his agony). He survived, got patched up and tried by a make-believe court, with one of Franco’s butchers from 1939 acting as a prosecutor.

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