chapter  5
7 Pages

Climbing Out of the Abyss: The Struggle to Bring Order in Loyalist Spain, 1936–1939

The reality behind their rhetoric, of course, took a very different form. For instance, while Francoists routinely argued that 500,000 had died at the hands of Popular Front assassins, recent rigorous research has settled on a, nevertheless reprehensible, fi gure of around 55,000 murders in government-held territory, including around 6,800 members of the clergy.3 Most also died in the fi rst weeks of the revolt and not in a systematic and sustained programme of terror. In Murcia, for example, 86% of those murdered had their lives cut short in the fi rst six months of the war.4 Moreover, unlike the rebel and Francoist killing, the assassins did not operate on the orders, or with the connivance, of their political and military masters at the highest level. Indeed, the very rebellion itself made the violence possible by depriving such leaders of the wherewithal to maintain order. For the revolt brought the government policing and judicial systems crashing down as the power of the state passed to the street.