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By the end of 1937, we had conquered the Basque lands and combined the fascist and monarchist political parties to form the Falange Española Tradicionalista. In January 1939, the Republican stronghold of Barcelona fell to the Nationalists, and followed two months later by Madrid. On April 1, 1939, after receiving an unconditional surrender, I announced the end of the Spanish Civil War. An estimate the number of casualties and executions resulting from the war as high as 500,000,
For nearly four decades following the conflict, I would rule Spain through a repressive dictatorship. Immediately following the war, military tribunals were held that led to tens of thousands more being executed or imprisoned. To enforce my power over Spain, I established a vast network of secret police.
However, five months after taking control of the country, my rule and Spain’s international position was complicated by the start of World War II. Initially declaring Spain’s neutrality, I was sympathetic to the Axis powers and met with Adolf Hitler to discuss the possibility of Spain joining them. Though Hitler ultimately rejected my conditions, I would later send some 50,000 volunteers to fight alongside the Germans against the Soviets on the Eastern Front as well as opening the ports to German ships and submarines.
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