José Moscardó Ituarte

José Moscardó Ituarte
José Moscardó
Bundesarchiv Bild 121-1010, Berlin-Lichterfelde, Suner, Himmler.jpg
Moscardó in Berlín in October 1940, with Ramón Serrano Súñer (dark uniform) and Heinrich Himmler.
Birth name José Moscardó Ituarte
Born 26 October 1878
Madrid, Spain
Died April 12, 1956(1956-04-12) (aged 77)
Madrid, Spain
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1896–1948
Rank Captain General
Commands held Military Governor of Toledo
Captain General of Andalusia
Captain General of Catalonia
Battles/wars Philippine Revolution
Rif War
Spanish Civil War: Siege of the Alcázar
Awards Laureate Cross of Saint Ferdinand

José Moscardó e Ituarte, 1st Count of the Alcázar of Toledo, Grandee of Spain (26 October 1878 – 12 April 1956) was the military Governor of Toledo Province during the Spanish Civil War. He sided with the Nationalist army fighting the Republican government and his most notable action was the defence and holding of the Alcázar of Toledo against Republican forces.

When still a Colonel and military governor of the province, Moscardó was described by the English Major Geoffrey McNeill-Moss[1] as "a tall, reserved, gentle-mannered man, a little awkward, rather punctillious: happy enough with a few people he knew well, but shy in company. He had a strict sense of duty. He was religious. In a nation where most were slack, he was exact."[2]

For some time leading up to the Civil War Moscardó had lived in semi-retirement, a middle-aged soldier. When conflict commenced he assumed the role of Commandant of the citadel in Toledo, with a total garrison of 1,028, which included six hundred Civil Guard under their own commander, 150 army officers, 35 Falangists, 10 Carlists, 25 members of the Monarchist Association, and 40 peasants and workmen. In addition there were 670 non-combatants including 100 men too old to serve, 520 woman and 50 children.

Contents

Spanish Civil War

The Siege of the Alcázar commenced and Moscardó held out for General Francisco Franco's Nationalist forces for 70 days from 22 July to 27 September 1936. Day after day, the Colonel sent out his daily radio report: Sin novedad en el Alcázar ("Nothing new at the Alcázar," or "All quiet at the Alcázar", an ironic understatement). His defiance heartened Franco's supporters everywhere and maddened the Republicans, who committed vast forces in vain assaults on the Alcázar.

On 23 July,[3] Republican forces captured Moscardó's 16-year-old son, Luis. They called the Alcazar on the telephone and Moscardó himself picked up the receiver. The political officer of the Republican force informed him that unless he surrendered the Alcazar, Luis would be shot. Moscardó asked to speak to his son. He then told Luis, "Commend your soul to God and die like a patriot, shouting 'Long live Christ King' and 'Long live Spain.'" "That," answered his son, "I can do."[4] Although a legend has grown up that Luis was immediately shot, he was not in fact shot until a month later "in reprisal for an air raid".[5]

During the siege, a blindfolded Major Rojo approached the badly battered citadel with a white flag on September 9. His mission was to offer the garrison their lives if they would surrender. His proposal was rejected, but on leaving he asked Moscardó if he could convey any requests to the outside. Moscardó asked that a priest might be sent to the garrison to baptise children born during the siege. The Republicans agreed and sent in Canon Vasquez Camarassa. Of the priests in Toledo, only seven who were in hiding escaped massacre by the Republicans, so the Canon was in that respect lucky to be alive, said to be because of his left-wing sympathies. He urged the civilians, the women and children in particular to leave under a white flag. The unanimous reply was a refusal.[6]

When the Alcazar was finally relieved, Moscardó is said to have greeted the relief force's commanding Colonel. He had lost his son but saved his garrison. He stood stiffly to the salute and said, "No change to report."[7]

A similar incident in Spanish history is that concerning Guzmán el Bueno, who chose the death of his son to surrendering the Tarifa fortress.

The defence of the Alcazar became a symbol of heroism in Francoist Spain. Moscardó was promoted to Army General after the relief of the Alcázar, and put in command of the Soria Division. In 1938 he was given command of the Aragon Army Corps, but took part in no further heroic episodes.

Franco, however, knew the value of propaganda and authorized Moscardó to wear a special black cloak of mourning for his son over his army uniform. This he did for the rest of his life, so that every soldier who saw him would know who he was.

In Francoist Spain

In late 1944, Moscardó, in command at Barcelona, led the successful defense against incursions by Spanish communists via the Val d'Aran into Lérida. In March 1945 he was named head of Franco's Casa Militar (personal military staff).[8]

In 1948, he was created Count of the Alcázar de Toledo and a Grandee of Spain.

His singular passion remained football, and, to his pleasure, he coached the Spanish football team at the 1948 London Olympic Games and the 1952 Games in Helsinki.

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ Black, Adam & Charles, publishers, Who's Who, London, 1945: 1772, entry on McNeill-Moss.
  2. ^ Lunn, Arnold, Spanish Rehearsal, Hutchinson & Co., London, 1937: 98
  3. ^ Thomas, p 310
  4. ^ Lunn, Arnold: 99
  5. ^ Thomas, p 311
  6. ^ Lunn, Arnold: 101-4
  7. ^ Lunn, Arnold: 100
  8. ^ Payne, S.G. The Franco Regime: 1936-1975. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1987. p 345, 347.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Augusto Pi Suñer
President of the Spanish Olympic Committee
1941–1956
Succeeded by
José Antonio Elola-Olaso
Spanish nobility
New creation Count of the Alcázar of Toledo
18 July 1948
Succeeded by
Miguel Moscardó y Guzmán

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