Freemasonry in Spain is first recorded in 1728, in an English lodge. As various papal bulls condemned Freemasonry the Spanish Inquisition did their best to close lodges and demonize Freemasons, therefore the success of Freemasonry from year to year depended on the sympathy or antipathy of the ruling regime. Nevertheless, lodges and even Grand Lodges were formed and even thrived during more liberal periods. When Francisco Franco consolidated power in 1939, all Freemasonry was banned. In 1979, bans on Freemasonry were declared unconstitutional.

An intriguing part of this history as we will see is a spy network known as APIS, which transmitted dozens of fake Masonic documents. In fact, one can safely say that APIS was the espionage equivalent of the great Taxil hoax of the late nineteenth century. But Franco fell for it utterly.

Described in Pepe Rodríguez, Masonería al descubierto, 2006 the mass murder of Freemasons began within days of the start of the Spanish Civil War.

On 17 July 1936, Spanish colonial troops in Morocco revolted against a democratic Republic; the revolt soon spread over the Strait of Gibraltar to barracks on the mainland. The country was cut in two. Where the military uprising failed, including in Madrid and Barcelona, the Republic retained control – albeit in a chaotic state, since no one knew which elements of the army and police would remain loyal, and bands of revolutionary leftists controlled the streets in many places. Where the uprising succeeded, a Nationalist Spain was carved out by martial law. A pocket of Nationalist territory in the south-west quickly expanded as the Army of Africa, a mix of colonial soldiers and Moroccan mercenaries, mounted a bloody advance. In September 1936, the Army of Africa was rewarded for its successes when its commander, General Francisco Franco, assumed supreme military and political leadership of the rebellion. He would soon adopt the title of Caudillo the Spanish equivalent of Duce or Führer.

In Nationalist Spain, the army and right-wing vigilantes imposed a reign of terror. The intention was loudly proclaimed: to ‘cleanse’ the Fatherland of its political and cultural ‘pollutants’. Anyone associated with the Republic and its institutions, with the political Left, and even with secular modernity, was liable to be arrested, tortured, and executed: trade unionists and politicians, workers and peasants, liberals and intellectuals, emancipated women and homosexuals. Tens of thousands died. Among them were many Freemasons.

Most of the Masonic victims were killed in the early months of the Civil War when the violence was not centrally orchestrated and left little paperwork behind for historians to work on. The Nationalists would eventually win the Civil War and thus control the documentary evidence upon which accurate historical reconstruction relies. Today, more than four decades after democracy was restored, the crimes perpetrated against civilians during the Spanish Civil War are still alive and controversial topics of research. The oppression of Freemasons is a neglected aspect. As a consequence, we are nowhere near reaching a calculation of the Masonic body count. The first attempts by historians to reckon the atrocities committed against Freemasons had to wait until after Franco’s death in 1975. The earliest picture to be sketched was fragmentary but shocking. In Zaragoza, thirty Brothers belonging to Lodge Constancia were murdered. In the town of Ceuta on the African coast, Lodge Hijos de La Viuda lost seventeen Brothers. In Algeciras, on the Bay of Gibraltar, twenty-four members of Lodge Trafalgar died. All but a handful of the Brothers in Lodge Vicus in Vigo were killed. In places like Tétouan (Morocco), Las Palmas (Canary Islands), La Coruña, Lugo and Zamora, the Freemasons were exterminated.

The list could continue. But this early panorama of the anti-Masonic atrocities was still fogged by hearsay and Civil War propaganda. Nobody could quite be sure how reliable it was. Yet it established clearly enough that Spanish rightists were uniquely vicious in their campaign against the Craft. The persecution also raises the same awkward question raised by estimates of the number of Masonic victims of Nazism: were these Spanish Brothers all murdered because they were Masons? Or were they targeted for other reasons, and just happened to be Masons?

Only in a few places have investigations now been carried out to verify the shocking initial sketches. In Granada, for example, we know that 35 percent of Freemasons died violently. Yet the evidence points to their being executed primarily because they were representatives of democratic parties or the Republican institutions rather than because they were Masons. In early August 1936, when the Nationalist authorities captured membership documents from the city’s three Lodges, the ensuing inquiries found that many of the men listed had already been put to death for other reasons. The surviving Brothers were incarcerated.

In Seville, Lodges were raided, and membership lists published in the Catholic and right-wing press: a cue for vigilante violence. Here too, the Masons most likely to be killed were those who occupied prominent positions in the institutions of the Republic. For opponents of the rebellion, being a Mason could be an aggravating factor serious enough to make the difference between being sent to the concentration camp and being put before a firing squad. A few, notably the regional Grand Master and his son, were executed for no other reason than that they were prominent in the Brotherhood. By contrast, many Masons scrambled to distance themselves from the Craft and demonstrate their enthusiasm for the rebellion – thereby preserving their freedom and their life. Seville and Granada were both places where the Nationalist violence was particularly intense, yet no Lodge suffered the eradication of all its members.

Clearly, not all the Masons who died were killed because of their Masonry. Yet there was a belief, shared by all the different forces on the Nationalist side, that a conspiratorial Masonic influence permeated the Republic so thoroughly that almost anyone could be an instrument of the Lodges. The brutality was capricious: many were denounced on the basis of false or exaggerated testimonies. Some Nationalist groups, like the Falange (Spain’s Fascist movement), compiled their own death lists from any source that came to hand. The inevitable result was that many of the people murdered for being Freemasons had nothing to do with the Craft.

A famous episode from the heart of Nationalist Spain brings this messy tragedy into human focus. In late September 1936, the rebel military élite met in Salamanca to appoint General Francisco Franco as their supreme leader. Salamanca was a good choice to be the Nationalist capital. A place of conservative traditions that enjoyed the prestige of one of the world’s oldest universities, it was also close enough to the Portuguese border to give the rebellious generals an escape route if the Civil War went against them. As a sign of the Church’s favor, the Bishop of Salamanca offered General Franco his palace as a headquarters. A short time later, and no more than a couple of hundred meters away, a public ceremony was held under the stone arches of Salamanca University’s great hall, to honor Columbus’s ‘discovery’ of America and Spain’s imperial heritage. The bishop was there, as was Franco’s wife. The main speaker was the Caudillo’s most savage commander, General José Millán Astray, who had lost an arm and an eye in colonial fighting. Millán Astray’s splenetic harangue climaxed with the battle cry of the Spanish Foreign Legion, ‘¡Viva la Muerte!’ (‘Long live death!’).

The slogan shocked and angered the old man who was presiding over the event: Miguel de Unamuno, one of Spain’s great writers, and the Rector of the University. Unamuno had initially supported the Republic but was appalled by the disorder that seemed to reign under it. Then he supported the military rebellion – until he witnessed its unbridled violence. As General Millán Astray spoke, Unamuno reached into his pocket, where he had put a plea for help he had received from the wife of a friend; the friend in question was the city’s Protestant pastor and had been arrested for being a Freemason. Unamuno took the letter out and scribbled some notes on the back – the basis for what would become his last speech, and the most memorable of the Civil War.

With breathtaking bravery, Unamuno rose to his feet and called Millán Astray a cripple, who wanted to see Spain crippled. He went on to warn the General that the Nationalists had brute force on their side, but no reason or right. ‘You will conquer, but you will never convince.’ The slogan would echo through the long years of Franco’s dictatorship. Unamuno was lucky to get out of the university alive. For his insolence, he was sacked and placed under house arrest. In December 1936, he sent an anguished letter to a friend. Here in Salamanca, he wrote, there had been ‘the most bestial persecution and murders with no justification’. What claimed to be a war on Bolshevism was actually a war on liberalism. Anyone could be caught up in it: Freemasons, Jews, members of the League of Human Rights. ‘Lately they’ve killed the Protestant pastor here, for being a Mason. And for being my friend. Clearly these dogs – and among them there are some real hyenas – have no idea what the difference is between Freemasonry and anything else.’ So the Protestant pastor did not make it. Neither did twenty-nine of his Brothers in Lodge Helmántica, Salamanca.

Miguel de Unamuno, his spirit broken, passed away two and a half weeks after writing the above words. We can only guess at what his feelings would have been having he known that the atrocities of 1936 were only the beginning. Hatred of Freemasonry was set to drag the Caudillo and his followers down a remorseless slide into an obsession unique in the history of the Craft. But before we trace the arc of that descent, we need to take a step back and ask what it was about Spain’s right-wingers that made them repress Masonry with more brutality than did their counterparts in either Italy or Germany. The short answer is the Catholic Church. The forces that fell in behind Spain’s military rebellion in the summer and autumn of 1936 inherited the full force of the Spanish Church’s legacy of anti-Masonic rage and fear.

A perfectly Masonic political revolution Freemasonry had had a troubled early history in Spain – the Inquisition saw to that. Only after Napoleon Bonaparte invaded in 1808 were Lodges allowed, but they were banned again following the restoration of the monarchy in 1814.

Thereafter, in Spain as elsewhere in Catholic Europe, the history of Freemasonry was part of a protracted culture war between the Church and the forces of secular liberalism. The Spanish Church was actually pretty successful in defending itself against the threat of secularism. While Freemasonry may have been unbanned in 1868, Catholicism remained the religion of state under the constitutional monarchy (1876–1923): education was Catholic, and public expression of other religions was banned. Despite this comparatively very privileged position, the Church in Spain resented the gains the secularists had already made – including the legalization of Freemasonry. Catholics were politically divided by many things, such as the vexed issue of regional autonomy. Yet they were united in their loathing of Freemasons. In the 1880s, Léo Taxil’s invented exposés of Satanism Satanism in the Lodges were rapidly translated into Spanish. There was a rash of home-grown anti-Masonic publications.

The Church was not entirely wrong to identify Masonry with secularism. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Spanish Masonry prospered for the first time – although it remained much smaller and less powerful than in other Catholic countries like France and Italy. Membership increased to over ten thousand; there were eight Masonic newspapers. Freemasons viewed themselves as an enlightened minority, holding out against mass religious fanaticism. They were active in anticlerical newspapers and in running lay schools. However, as elsewhere in Europe, Spanish Freemasons were divided between several competing Grand Lodges and were thus unable to exercise any influence collectively.

A turning point came in 1898 with Spain’s traumatic military defeat at the hands of the United States, which led to the loss of its last remaining possessions in the Americas. Four centuries of New World empire were at an end. Catholics blamed this national humiliation on the Masons – whether at home, or in Cuba and the Philippines. Police raided the Madrid headquarters of the Grand Orient of Spain and the National Grand Orient, the country’s two most important Masonic governing bodies. Masonic membership went into decline. In the wake of 1898, the military developed its own strain of anti-Masonry. Two generations of officers would grow up believing that the fifth column of Masons had caused Spain’s defeat, and was actively impeding attempts to carve out new territories in Morocco.

The accelerating social changes of the early twentieth century then hardened opinions on the Church-versus-state issue, as on many others. Although the advance of Masonry had been checked, the Church’s fear of the Craft increased regardless. For the more the system was permeated by the Catholic hierarchy’s vision of a society based on religion, property, order and family, the less able it was to meet the challenges of modernity, and the more enemies the Church acquired. Liberals mounted a secularising drive and the threat of atheist socialism loomed. There were a number of anti-clerical riots. During the upsurge of working-class violence in Barcelona in 1909 known as the ‘Tragic Week’, radicals, socialists, and anarchists beheaded religious statues, desecrated graves, and burned churches. Nor would this be the last attack against religious personnel and property. By the end of the Great War, entire sectors of Spanish society hated the Church: notably the urban working class, and the brutalized peasantry of the great estates of the south. Spanish Masonry’s destiny was in the balance: it was wedded to the fortunes of liberal ideas – which would increasingly be treated with scorn by both Right and Left.

In 1923, amid strikes, disorder, and the international fear of the Bolshevik revolution, a military dictatorship under Miguel Primo de Rivera abandoned constitutional government, much to the satisfaction of many in the Church. Masonry was harassed, although not banned. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with its report of a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy, was first translated into Spanish during the dictatorship. The Jews were henceforth the Masons’ regular partners in imagined plotting. But partly because there was only a very tiny and almost invisible Jewish population – they had notoriously been expelled in 1492 – their threat remained an abstract one. The Masons, by contrast, seemed all too real.

Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship fell because its attempts at conservative reform only increased the opposition to it, even within the military; as it fell, it also brought down the Church’s historical ally, the monarchy. When a democratic Republic was declared in April 1931, the forces of secular modernity finally had the chance to steer Spain into the future, and away from the Church. Many Freemasons, true to their Brotherhood’s longstanding constitutional sympathies, took a leading role. Of 468 members of the Constituent Assembly elected in June 1931 with the task of drawing up the Republic’s Constitution, 149 are thought to have been Freemasons – just under a third. This prominence was all the more remarkable given that there were only about five thousand Craftsmen in the whole country. Yet they viewed the Republic as their own creation, as an editorial in a magazine for members of the Scottish Rite made clear: ‘There has been no more perfectly Masonic political revolution than Spain’s. Everything was temperance, justice, order, moderation, humanitarianism, tolerance, and piety.’

To Catholics, even those who supported the Republic, such triumphalism confirmed the worst alarms about a Masonic plot. As did the Republic’s Constitution itself. Civil marriage and divorce were introduced, along with freedom of worship. Religious orders of monks, nuns and priests were barred from any role in education. ‘Spain has ceased to be Catholic,’ as the prominent Republican minister Manuel Azaña crowed in October 1931. To the dismay of Catholics, Azaña would go on to serve as the Republic’s Prime Minister and then President. The government issued provocative directives forbidding religious burials and processions.

Such measures only stoked opposition to the Republic. Anti-Masonic hatred became a token of rightist identity that was guaranteed to raise a cheer among supporters of all the different factions among the Republic’s enemies. The volume of the propaganda was now turned up several notches. The Catholic newspaper El Debate had no doubt that ‘the specter of the Lodges’ was operating behind the scenes. A leading figure among the Carlists, a group that wanted to return to an almost theocratic version of the monarchy, told a rally in Palencia, ‘We are governed by a small number of Freemasons, and I say that any means are permitted against them if they continue trying to de-Christianize us.’ In 1932, a Catholic youth movement launched with a manifesto ‘declaring war’ on Communism and Masonry. Catholic resistance to the Republic centered on a new party, CEDA (standing for Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Rights), which increasingly imitated the rhetoric and style of Nazism. There was an anti-Masonic drumbeat in CEDA’s propaganda: ‘The country is writhing in the anguish of a tragic agony, because of crimes and outrages committed by lunatics who are paid for and commanded by the Masonic Lodges and international Judaism. With the cooperation of Marxist sectarianism, they have broken the sacred bonds of Church and state.’ For a while, a right-wing electoral victory in 1933 checked the secularist advance. In October 1934, CEDA’s leader became Minister of War and immediately moved to ban Masons in the military: six generals were dismissed. New elections in February 1936 saw anti-Masonry once again become a battle cry for the Right. ‘They shall not pass! Marxism shall not pass! Freemasonry shall not pass!’

For all this stridency, the 1936 election result brought the Left to power once more, and with it the forces of anti-clericalism. The polarisation of Spanish society accelerated dramatically. Militias were formed on both sides. There was a rash of tit-for-tat assassinations.

Plans for an army rebellion against the Republic were soon hatched. The man at the center of those plans, General Emilio Mola, believed that the Republic itself had come about through ‘one race’s hatred, as transmitted through a manifesto ‘declaring war’ on Communism and Masonry. Catholic resistance to the Republic centered on a new party, CEDA (standing for Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Rights), which increasingly imitated the rhetoric and style of Nazism. There was an anti-Masonic drumbeat in CEDA’s propaganda: ‘The country is writhing in the anguish of a tragic agony, because of crimes and outrages committed by lunatics who are paid for and commanded by the Masonic Lodges and international Judaism. With the cooperation of Marxist sectarianism, they have broken the sacred bonds of Church and state.’ For a while, a right-wing electoral victory in 1933 checked the secularist advance. In October 1934, CEDA’s leader became Minister of War and immediately moved to ban Masons in the military: six generals were dismissed. New elections in February 1936 saw anti-Masonry once again become a battle cry for the Right. ‘They shall not pass! Marxism shall not pass! Freemasonry shall not pass!’ For all this stridency, the 1936 election result brought the Left to power once more, and with it the forces of anti-clericalism. The polarisation of Spanish society accelerated dramatically. Militias were formed on both sides. There was a rash of tit-for-tat assassinations. Plans for an army rebellion against the Republic were soon hatched. The man at the center of those plans, General Emilio Mola, believed that the Republic itself had come about through ‘one race’s hatred, as transmitted through a skilfully managed organization: I am referring specifically to the Jews and Freemasonry’. On 30 June 1936, Mola issued a long list of instructions to his fellow conspirators in Morocco, where the revolt would begin; they included the following: ‘Eliminate leftist elements: communists, anarchists, trade unionists, Freemasons, etc.’

When the fighting started two weeks later, a cruel vengeance was unleashed on both sides. Hatreds sedimented over decades burst to the surface. There was a wave of anticlerical killings in the Republican zone: close to seven thousand clergy died, including thirteen bishops and two hundred and eighty-three nuns. These murders often took a sadistic, symbolic form. In Torrijos, near Toledo, the parish priest was stripped and flogged, and then forced to drink vinegar, wear a crown of thorns and carry a beam on his back. In the end, his tormentors decided to shoot him rather than nail him to a cross. There is little or no evidence that Masons were involved in the many episodes of anticlerical violence that Spain saw before and during the Civil War. But that made little difference.

On the Nationalist side, bishops hailed the right-wing uprising as a ‘crusade’. The guns of soldiers and militiamen were blessed as instruments for the defense of Christian civilization. More than a century of Catholic anti-Masonic venom made the Brothers a target, part of the ‘anti-Spain’ that had to be crushed. According to one newspaper belonging to the Falange, in September 1936: ‘All of Spain is calling for exemplary and rapid punishment for Masons, those cunning and bloodthirsty men.’ To make matters worse, by a tragic historical coincidence, the British influence that had radiated up from Gibraltar meant that the Craft was concentrated in the south-western corner of Spain, around Cádiz, Huelva, and Seville – the very area that was most savagely ‘purged’ in the first months of the war. So it was that decades of religiously infused anti-Masonic rhetoric culminated in the brutal persecution of Masons at the start of the Civil War.

Mussolini had a long track record as an anti-Mason. But his Fascist movement was not a Catholic force and, except when it came to political tactics, religion played no part in his anti-Masonry. Nor did anti-Semitism. Although Hitler was of course an anti-Semite, he was no more religious than was Mussolini in his anti-Masonry. Like the Duce, the Führer was tactically flexible. His animus against Masonry was always subordinated to his strategic goals: winning power; crushing all sources of actual or potential opposition; waging a race war. By contrast, the Spanish style of Fascism, as it took shape under General Franco, was Catholic through-and-through. Anti-Masonry, and the persecution of Freemasons, were essential to Nationalist propaganda and action.


The  APIS spy network

As the military acquired stable control in Nationalist territory, Craftsmen were more likely to end up in a prison camp or labor unit than staring down the barrel of a gun. However, brutal treatment continued to be meted out to them here and there throughout the Spanish Civil War: it is reported that in Málaga, in October 1937, eighty prisoners were executed just for being Masons. Such ferocity was remarkable enough. More remarkable still was the repressive drive that began during the war and continued well beyond its end. Neither the Duce nor the Führer, once they had broken the Brotherhood as an organization, were particularly zealous in persecuting individual former Masons. The Caudillo, by contrast, was remorseless to the point of obsession.

As a Catholic, and a professional soldier who had made his career in the Moroccan campaigns, General Francisco Franco carried predictable baggage of anti-Masonry. He may also have had personal rancor against the Craft. Some testimonies suggest that he twice tried and failed to join a Lodge, in 1926 and 1932, in the hope of accelerating his military career. It is claimed that he was blackballed on the second occasion by his brother Ramón, a celebrated aviator with Republican sympathies; the two had a very tense relationship. Be that as it may, Franco certainly blamed Masons in the military for blocking his advancement.

Once the Civil War began, Franco put his anti-Masonry into practice even before he assumed supreme leadership of the Nationalist side. In mid-September 1936, he outlawed the Craft in the territory under his command, and declared that persistent members were guilty of the ‘crime of rebellion’. In December 1938, he announced that all Masonic motifs and inscriptions that ‘could be judged offensive to the Church’ would be destroyed.

As the Francoist forces ground out their victory, which they owed in large part to German and Italian military support, the Caudillo began to take measures to purge all Spain of the Masonic plague. The notorious Law of Political Responsibilities, issued in February 1939, made it a crime to have supported the Republic and decreed that the culprits should have their property confiscated; Masons were included within its provisions. A new school curriculum issued in 1939 included lessons on how, under the Republic, the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy had handed the country over to Communism.

Franco acquired the habit of using the sexually loaded term el contubernio to refer to the way Masons plotted with all kinds of subversive elements: it means ‘concubinage’ – a squalid mésalliance, like that of a concubine with her lover. This was the vocabulary of a ravenous phobia. Before long, somebody decided that Franco’s phobia needed feeding.

The Civil War ended in April 1939. The Second World War, in which Francoist Spain would remain neutral, began in September. At around this time, a network of informers began to pass high-level information on the international Masonic conspiracy against Spain directly to Franco. The network was highly mysterious: it was referred to as APIS in official communications, but no historian has yet discovered what the letters stood for. What is known is that, over the next quarter of a century, the Caudillo read intelligence briefs of astounding quality. Among the highlights of the APIS papers are letters to or from Roosevelt, Churchill, Montgomery, Eisenhower and the Secretary-General of NATO. But more valuable still was the substantial body of revelations about the Freemasons’ persistent operations in Spain, and their attempts to infiltrate the Francoist regime.

The main flow of this precious intelligence arrived through three intriguing women. The deep throat was a woman who had access to Masonic strategy at the highest levels. She referred to herself only as A. de S.; her husband, known only as R., was a high-ranking member of the Association Maçonnique Internationale – a federation of Grand Lodges in many different countries. A. de S.’s liaison with the APIS base in Madrid was her children’s nanny, known as Elisa. And the woman in Madrid who edited the reports and prepared them for the Caudillo was Marìa Dolores de Naveràn, who led a second life as a professor in a teacher-training college. The Caudillo frequently intimated to his entourage that, thanks to such spies, he had inside knowledge of Masonic schemes.

Evidently, he trusted his sources. This was unfortunate for him because pretty much all the significant information provided by APIS about Masonic conspiracies was fake. There are a number of clues. The Association Maçonnique Internationale fell apart in 1950, but APIS reports of its mischiefs continued to arrive on the Caudillo’s desk until 1965. There were never any original copies of the English-language documents that APIS agents had supposedly stolen, only Spanish translations. When those translations quoted the original for effect, the quotes often contained howlers in English spelling and grammar. The deep throat A. de S. may well have been completely fictional.

APIS was the espionage equivalent of the great Taxil hoax of the late nineteenth century. Franco fell for it utterly. Researchers currently working on the documents do not know who was behind it. The most that can be said is that Marìa Dolores de Naveràn, who edited the reports, may have been involved. The most likely scenario is that somebody, probably somebody deep in the dictatorship, was hoodwinking the Caudillo to manipulate his anti-Masonic mania against political rivals. Whatever the origins of the APIS deception, Freemasons, or those suspected of being Freemasons, would pay the price.

Salamanca today is a beautiful backwater: a medieval city carved ornately from soft Villamayor stone that glows like butter in the early morning sunshine, to the delight of selfie-snapping sightseers and foreign students on Erasmus scholarships. Some of the more thorough visitors find their way to a museum that lies down a small street behind the cathedral, on the opposite side to the university where Miguel de Unamuno gave his final speech. The little museum’s centerpiece is a windowless Masonic Lodge room. Or at least it purports to be a Lodge room. Accessed through heavy double doors, and arranged around a chessboard floor, it is a lamp-lit box crammed with Masonic stuff: squares and compasses, stone blocks, columns, and an altar emblazoned with the double-headed eagle of the Scottish Rite. The blood-red walls carry pictures of decapitated heads, zodiac signs, Hebrew inscriptions and black gravestones: ‘Here lies Jubelo: ambition made him the murderer of Hiram Abiff’. From the far wall, three seated dummies in black robes stare back at you with goggly eyes painted onto their hoods. The dummy in the centre has a skull-and-crossbones on his chest, and a miniature skull with luminous eyes on the desk in front of him. It is all meant to be spine-tingling. Most tourists are just baffled or amused.

The Salamanca Lodge is the last surviving example of its kind in Europe. It was built as propaganda by the Francoist authorities in the 1940s. Everything in it is a genuine artefact confiscated during police raids on Lodges. Franco’s men took bits and pieces from their hoard to create the spookiest ensemble they could. It is not very hard to make Freemasonry seem weird.



G. Álvarez Chillida, El Antisemitismo en España, Madrid, 2002. ‘One race’s hatred, as transmitted through a skilfully managed organisation’, quoted p. 320.


V.M Arbeloa Muru, ‘La masonería y la legislación de la II República’, Revista Española de Derecho Canónico, 37 (108), 1981. For Masons involved in drawing up the Republican constitution, p. 369. ‘There has been no more perfectly Masonic political revolution’, quoted from Boletín Oficial del Supremo Consejo del Grado 33 para España y sus dependencias, p. 374. ‘The spectre of the Lodges’, quoted p. 380.

J. Blazquez Miguel, Introduccion a la historia de  la Masonería española, Madrid, 1989. Particularly for the late nineteenth-century membership figures and newspapers, pp. 92–105.

R. Carr, Spain: 1808–1975, 2nd edn, Oxford, 1982. On Masonry and the origins of ‘culture war’ in Spain, pp. 127–8.


J. de la Cueva, ‘The assault on the city of Levites: Spain’, in C. Clark and W. Kaiser (eds), Culture Wars: Secular-Catholic Conflict in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Cambridge, 2004.


J. Domínguez Arribas, L’ennemi judéo-maçonnique dans la propagande franquiste (1936–1945), Paris, 2016. On the origins of Franco’s anti-Masonry, pp. 93–118. See the brilliant pages on APIS, from which my account is drawn, pp. 119–45. On Tusquets, pp. 221–73.


J. Dronda Martínez, Con Cristo o contra Cristo. Religión e movilización antirrepublicana en Navarra (1931–1936), Villatuerta, 2013. ‘We are governed by a small number of Freemasons’, quoted p. 285.


J.A. Ferrer Benimeli, Masonería española contemporánea. Vol. 2. Desde 1868 has nuestros días, Madrid, 1980. The key starting point for this topic. For the widely cited early estimates for the number of Masonic victims of the Nationalist repression, pp. 144–50. ‘The country is writhing in the anguish of a tragic agony’, quoted p. 122. CEDA’s leader as Minister of War moved to ban Masons in the military, pp. 287ff. ‘Freemasonry shall not pass!’, quoted p. 278. ‘All of Spain is calling for exemplary and rapid punishment’, quoted p. 143. Málaga, October 1937, eighty prisoners executed for being Masons, p. 146. On Franco’s supposed attempts to become a Mason, pp. 169–70. Franco outlaws the Craft under his command in September 1936, ‘crime of rebellion’, ‘could be judged offensive to the Church’, pp. 140–1. ‘Lucky Hitler!’, Mauricio Karl, quoted p. 141. Card index system in Salamanca contains 80,000 suspected Brothers, estimate p. 157.


J.A. Ferrer Benimeli, El contubernio judeo-masónico-comunista, Madrid, 1982. Catholic youth movement manifesto ‘declaring war’ on Masonry, p. 274.


J.A. Ferrer Benimeli (ed.), Masoneria, politica y sociedad, vol. II, Zaragoza, 1989. In particular the following important essays: J.-C. Usó i Arnal, ‘Nuoevas aportaciones sobre la repression de la masonería Española tras la Guerra Civil’; J. Ortiz Villalba, ‘La persecución contra la Masonería durante la Guerra Civil y la Post-guerra’; R. Gil Bracero and M.N. López Martínez, ‘La repression antimasónica en Granada durante la guerra civil y la postguerra’; F. Espinosa Maestre, ‘La represión de la Masonería en la Provincia de Huelva (1936–1941)’.


N. Folch-Serra, ‘Propaganda in Franco’s time’, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 89 (7–8), 2012. Judges on the Special Tribunal nominated by the regime, p. 235. Continued use of Salamanca archive after 1964, pp. 234–7.


R.G. Jensen, ‘Jose Millan-Astray and the Nationalist “Crusade” in Spain’, Journal of Contemporary History, 27 (3), 1992. F. Lannon, ‘The Church’s crusade against the Republic’, in P. Preston (ed.), Revolution and War in Spain 1931–1939, London, 1984.


F. Lannon, Privilege, Persecution, and Prophecy: The Catholic Church in Spain, 1875–1975, Oxford, 1987. For figures of the number of clergy killed in the Civil War, p. 201.


F. Lannon, The Spanish Civil War, Oxford, 2002. D. Manuel Palacio, ‘Early Spanish Television and the Paradoxes of a Dictator General’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 25 (4), 2005; on the background to Franco’s last speech.


P. Preston, ‘Juan Tusquets: a Catalan contribution to the myth of the Jewish–Bolshevik–Masonic conspiracy’, in A. Quiroga and M. Ángel del Arco (eds), Right-Wing Spain in the Civil War Era, London, 2012. ‘Tusquets saw Freemasons everywhere’, quoted p. 183. P. Preston, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, London, 2012. ‘Eliminate leftist elements’, quoted on p. 133 from Mohammad Ibn Azzuz Hakim, La Actitud de los moros ante el alzamiento: Marruecos 1936, Málaga, 1997. Tusquets starts a fire to cause a distraction, pp. 35–7. On the birth of the Salamanca archive, pp. 487–90.


P. Preston, Franco: A Biography, London, 1993. On Franco’s anti-Masonry, p. 4 and passim. J. Ruiz, ‘A Spanish Genocide? Reflections on the Francoist Repression after the Spanish Civil War’, Contemporary European History, 14 (2), 2005. All of Ruiz’s writing on this topic is fundamental, and I have drawn on him heavily throughout this chapter, such as for the workings of the anti-Masonic tribunal.


J. Ruiz, Franco’s Justice: Repression in Madrid after the Spanish Civil War, Oxford, 2005. Those found to have taken part in the ‘red rebellion’ were singled out for execution if they were suspected of being Masons, p. 200. Rotary Club and League for the Rights of Man as Masonic front organisations, p. 202.


J. Ruiz, ‘Fighting the International Conspiracy: The Francoist Persecution of Freemasonry, 1936–1945’, Politics, Religion & Ideology, 12 (2), 2011. This essay also contains a useful short history of Spanish Masonry. On the supposed Judeo-Masonic conspiracy in the school curriculum, 1939, p. 181. Seventy-six per cent of those brought before the Special Tribunal receive the minimum sentence, p. 191. ‘Fusion within the Presidency of the United States of supreme executive power and the supreme Masonic powers’, quoted p. 194. ‘Daughter of evil’, quoted p. 195.


H. Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, London, 2003 (1961). On Unamuno’s speech, pp. 486–9. On the stripping and flogging of the parish priest in Torrijos, near Toledo, p. 260.


J. Treglown, Franco’s Crypt: Spanish Culture and Memory since 1936, London, 2013. On the archive in Salamanca, pp. 57–84.


M. De Unamuno, Epistolario inédito II (1915–1936), Madrid, 1991. ‘Lately they’ve killed the Protestant pastor’, pp. 353–5.


The archival documentation on the posthumous trials of Atilano Coco Martin are in the records of the Tribunal Especial para la Represión de la Masonería y el Comunismo in Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte – Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica, Salamanca. The images of Franco’s final speech can be viewed at The video in the Salamanca museum explaining its context can be viewed at


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