¡No Pasaran! (They Shall Not Pass!) Republican banner in Madrid during its siege, 1936–1939
The international assistance did not tip the military balance either way. “The Nationalists won primarily because of the capacity and judgement of Franco . . . his cold heart went with a cool head, great intelligence and formidable reserves of courage and will.” Franco “was a harsh, but just, and therefore popular commander. He saw Spanish Christian culture as unarguably superior.” In January, 1937, Stalin’s secret police took over Republican Spain. Few realize that George Orwell’s novel 1984 was based in part, on what he saw happen in Spain. With the victory of the Nationalists, when they finally took Madrid, came reprisals against the communist cadres and Republicans in general. Stalin, however, had already had all his Russian advisors and leaders of POUM executed by secret agents, and then had the secret agents killed. The bombing of Guernica by the Nationalists, with the death of many innocent civilians, was immortalized by the artist Picasso, the final and greatest propaganda tool against the Nationalists.
Francisco Franco visits San Sebastian in 1939 after the conclusion of the war
No one had cornered the market on brutality and murder, the Republicans won the propaganda war, the Nationalists, the shooting one. Spain remained officially neutral in World War II, and Franco ruled Spain until 1975.