Ferrol - Urban History
'A Tale of Two Cities'. The Memory of Ferrol, between the Navy and the Working class.
Beginning Chapters: < 1 2 3 4 Bib >

Chapter 3

'El Ferrol del Caudillo' (I)

The violent political repression lasted throughout the whole of the post-war period: a further 1,000 people would be murdered in the Ferrol region during the fifteen years immediately after the end of the Civil War.47 The Franco regime resorted to policies of memory, portraying the II Republic as a period dominated by poverty and anarchy, and the military uprising and Civil War as a 'Crusade' against communism and in defence of Catholicism. A segregated and militarised Ferrol returned. The construction of monuments and the organization of rituals dedicated to the 'founding fathers' were held in La Magdalena:48 its main street was now called 'General Franco Street'; on 18th July 1940, 'Anniversary of the [Military] National Rising', a 'Cruz de los Caídos'49 was founded in Dolores Square; in 1949, the dictator unveiled a 'Monument to the people from Ferrol who died in the Africa campaigns' located opposite the Dock Gate; and the Parade Ground was totally remade when a huge Town Hall was built in 1953.

At the same time the figure of the dictator was raised to the status of the undefeated victor who brought with him peace and prosperity, and to whom all 'true and worthy Spaniards' owed both obedience and gratitude. The local elite decided to take advantage of the dictator's personal power, and exploit his personal connections with the Ferrol region where he had been born and raised. In 1938, coinciding with a visit to Ferrol by the Interior Minister, Serrano Suñer (Franco's brother-in-law), a major gathering was organized in front of 'Capitanía Palace'. The reason was a petition unanimously approved by the council corporation to change the city's name. It was renamed 'Ferrol del Caudillo' (an honorary title given to the dictator), and the petition was quickly approved by the Cabinet. Franco's triumphal entry into the city took place shortly after the war had finished. He disembarked from a warship wearing the uniform of Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. He returned to Ferrol on twenty more occasions.50

That same year, through the 'Diputación Provincial' (A Coruña County Council), a local group of major figures managed to purchase Meirás Palace, situated on the outskirts of A Coruña, which they gave to Franco as a gift. Since then and up until his death, he spent much of his summer holidays there. Members of the government, members of Spain's elite also gathered round Franco in Meirás, some decisive cabinet meetings took place there, and public funds were invested in the area.51 The State's aid and favour was unquestionably behind the reactivation of the ship industry in Ferrol. The 'Spanish Society of Shipbuilding' was now nationalized and renamed Bazán: it was located in Esteiro and its main job was to supply the Navy. Astano was established in 1941, in the adjoining town called Fene, its main customer being the merchant marine. Astano experienced rapid growth, above all from 1962 onwards when the 'First State Development Plan' provided Ferrol with major investments. As the ship industry employed more than 20,000 workers, the city doubled its population, increasing from 35,000 inhabitants in 1935 to 77,000 in 1950.52

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