Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Spain’s absolute ruler for 36 years, died of heart failure last night after a monthlong battle by a team of Madrid physicians.
Franco was one of the last towering personalities that dominated Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
The 82-year-old ruler outlived contemporaries like Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Josef Stalin and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
His authoritarian, right-wing, one-man rule survived for 36 years while other dictators, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, fell in World War II.
Franco became the country’s supreme ruler at the age of 33 during the Spanish Civil War, which Ernest Hemingway brought into millions of American homes with his novel “For Whom the Bells Toll.”
In the last days of his life, Franco once again came under heavy criticism from Western nations after he ordered the executions of five revolutionaries convicted of killing policemen in September.
Franco, appearing frail and with tears in his eyes, appeared with his successor, Juan Carlos, before a massive crowd of his countrymen who had rallied to show support for the generalissimo in the face of the worldwide protests.
The appearance was Franco’s last in public.
This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.