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flag of the FE JONS party









Ah, the Falange – what a curiosity! I wonder how many other people have noticed the irony that the Falange and the CNT anarchist trade union shared the same striking (no pun intended!) colour scheme of red and black. Chalk & cheese politically but united by colour.
The Falange came to prominence under the leadership of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera in 1933 (the son of the Spanish dictator Prima de Rivera). A fascist party, there are obvious links to Hitler’s Nazi party and Mussolini’s black shirts. Yet there is a difference. Jose Antonio’s version of fascism was a strange combination of conservative nationalism and concern for the working man and his plight in 1930’s Spain. Many reports describe him as a most charming charismatic man with a flair for public speaking.
Jose had the air of the dreamer about him, he seemed to want to return to Spain’s golden age, the era of chivalrous knights in armour, peasants toiling in the fields – everyone knew their place and was happy for it. This was an unachievable desire and so typifies the quixotic character.
What did he stand for?

The Falange played an important part in the 1936 rebellion but Jose Antonio was an intellectual rather than a militaristic leader and never really able to control his supporters - gangs of thugs and rich kids who admired Hitler. Franco restricted the Falange to policing the population behind Nationalist lines or supplying manpower for the army.
Jose Antonio was shot by the Republic in Alicante later in the year. Probably very convenient for Franco who must have been wary of his appeal (the German’s tried to rescue him from Alicante prison but failed). In fact everything worked in Franco’s favour, the Falange were inundated with new recruits but most of the original leaders were dead or in prison. So Franco eased his way into control of this useful ‘army’ with a new martyr – Jose Antonio – as motivation for the ‘blue shirts’.

P1010008.JPGFalange Identity Card

  While it suited him Franco milked the fascist ethos and adopted the Falange as his own party before passing over control to his brother in law until the early 1940’s when they quarrelled and the Falange gradually fell from favour. Many Falange members volunteered for the Division Azul and went to fight the Russians on the Eastern Front in WW2.
The Falange enjoyed superficial importance in the 40’s and 50’s but by then it was more of a cultish militaristic way of life rather than having any serious political influence. Emphasis was put on uniforms, flags, artistic symbolism and education for members. On a local level to get on - you joined the Falange.
Franco was the figurehead but I would suspect his attitude was ‘better to have them in, than out’.
Nowadays it is noticeable that Jose is seen as some sort of misguided patriot whereas Franco is often the brutal dictator.s ince 2008 there have been serious attempts to dramatically discredit the Falange for their disgraceful violent acts post civil war. Many Falange ‘heroes’ of the time are being publically vilified – quite right too.