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Francisco Largo Caballero


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(b. 15 Oct. 1869, d. 23 Mar. 1946).

Prime Minister of the Spanish Republic 1936–7 Born in Madrid, he was forced to leave school and work at the age of 7, eventually becoming a plasterer. Owing to his experience of social injustice, he became active in the trade union movement, and soon rose within the ranks of the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT, General Workers' Union) and the Socialist Workers' Party, the PSOE. After organizing the 1917 general strike he was imprisoned, which made him a national hero and secured his election to parliament, the Cortes, in 1918. Increasingly on the pragmatic wing of the party, he became Secretary-General of the UGT, and Vice-President of the PSOE in 1918.

 After Primo de Rivera's abdication he joined the provisional Republican government, and in 1931 Largo became Minister of Labour. The radicalization of workers and the threat that they might defect to groupings further to the left pushed him to more radical positions in the mid-1930s. In addition, he was embittered and radicalized by right-wing hostility to his labour reforms in the countryside. He was imprisoned for his hostility to the Republic for most of 1935. At first, he opposed a coalition with the Republicans, and thus prevented the creation of a stable government coalition in 1936. In response to the outbreak of the Civil War, he became Prime Minister himself at the head of a Popular Front government. He was unable to resist the growing domination of his Cabinet by the Communist Party, which was responsible for his resignation on 13 May 1937. After the Civil War he went to France, but was imprisoned, first by the Vichy Regime, and then by the Gestapo, which sent him to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He died in Paris.

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