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Luis Orgaz Yoldi (28 May 1881, Vitoria – 31 January 1946, Madrid) was a Spanish general who was a leading figure on the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War. He later went on to become a critic of the regime of Francisco Franco and agitated for the restoration of the monarchy.

Early yearsEdit

From his earliest days Orgaz was a staunch advocate of monarchism.[1] As a consequence he was under a veil of suspicion during the tenure of Manuel Azaña, leading to Orgaz being placed under house arrest and then exiled in the Canary Islands in 1931.[2] The suspicions were not groundless however as, like many leading monarchists in Spain at the time, Orgaz was involved in a number of plots aimed at a restoration. Close to General Emilio Mola, Orgaz was one of a number of leading officers who joined the general in conspiracy against the Popular Front government in early 1936.[3]

Civil warEdit

Following the outbreak of the Civil War he was placed in command of the Nationalist forces in the Canary Islands.[4] During the early stages of the Civil War he was one of the first leading figures to echo Alfredo Kindelán's calls for a single leader for the Nationalist side.[5] He was also quick to indicate his support for Francisco Franco for the role.[6] Indeed, along with Kindelán, Nicolas Franco, José Millán Astray and, from 1937, Ramón Serrano Súñer, Orgaz formed a central part of Franco's most trusted confidantes in the early part of the war.[7]

In December 1936 Orgaz was moved to command of the Central Front, although an early attempt to attack Republican positions was a failure due to the significant numerical advantage enjoyed by the International Brigades in the area.[8] A renewed offensive along the same lines in January 1937 resulted in a stalemate.[9] He had official command at the Battle of Jarama although in reality the orders to keep pressing, which resulted in extensive loss of life for both sides, came direct from Franco.[10] With the Italians highly critical of the command at Jarama Franco moved to placate them by relieving Orgaz of his command in favour of Andrés Saliquet Zumeta.[11]

However the move was more cosmetic than a rebuke to Orgaz and Franco's faithful lieutenant returned to influence immeidately when he was tasked with organising the mass army required for the conflict.[12] As a consequence he led a massive recruitment drive during the early months of 1937.[13]

Monarchist conspiracyEdit

When Franco assumed control he named Orgaz as Alto Comisario and commander in chief in Spanish Morocco.[14] However the two drifted apart and by 1941 Orgaz was openly discussing the possibility of military action against Franco, having realised that he had no intention of restoring the monarchy.[15] By March 1942 rumours were rife that he, Kindelan and General Eugenio Espinosa de los Monteros were on the verge of launcing a monarchist coup.[16] Events got so far that in August 1943 he initimated to Pedro Sainz Rodríguez that he was ready to lead 100,000 men in open rebellion as long as the faction around Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona that Sainz led could ensure recognition from the Allies.[17]

Uncertain of how much support he had Orgaz abandoned his coup plans and instead took the lead in an army petition to Franco calling for restoration, presented on 13 September 1943 by General José Enrique Varela.[18] His change of position had also been heavily influenced by Franco pointing out to him that he had a dossier detailing a number of corrupt deals that Orgaz had brokered in North Africa, revelations that could potentially ruin the conspiratorial general.[19]

Final yearsEdit

Orgaz was promoted to the position of Head of the General Staff immediately after the Second World War as Franco made a number of appointments designed to bring potential enemies back into the fold.[20] However he managed less than a year in the position before his death in early 1946.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Paul Preston, Franco, Fontana Press, 1995, p. 177
  2. Preston, p. 82
  3. Antony Beevor, The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-39, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006, p. 55
  4. Beevor, p. 63
  5. E. de Blaye, Franco and the Politics of Spain, Penguin, 1976, p. 106
  6. de Blaye, p. 108
  7. Beevor, p. 379
  8. Beevor, p. 212
  9. Beevor, p. 214
  10. Beevor, p. 236
  11. Preston, p. 230
  12. Preston, p. 231
  13. Preston, p. 237
  14. de Blaye, p. 113
  15. Preston, p. 443
  16. Preston, pp. 456-7
  17. Preston, p. 496
  18. Preston, p. 498
  19. Preston, p. 499
  20. Preston, p. 527

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