National Spain Invites You to visit the war routes of the North
Repository: Spanish Civil War Collection, Special Collections & Archives, University of California, San Diego
Creator: Servicio Nacional de Turismo (España)
Date Created: 1938-04
Type: Travel brochure
Extent: 1 item
This is a tourist brochure the Francoists created in April 1938, under the newly formed National Spanish State Tourist Board. Although the war would not end for yet another year, the self-styled “Nationalists” sought to display their military dominance over the Republicans and to legitimate their regime by offering guided tours of former battle sites located in regions they had recently occupied. The tour advertised here, “War Route of the North,” which began on July 1, 1938, would be the first of many such battlefield tours. By December, a “War Route of the South” running through Andalusia would be added to the Tourist Board’s offerings. These Rutas Nacionales de Guerra (National War Routes) commenced every other day, between July and October in the north and between December and April in the south. They lasted until the end of the Second World War. Given evidence drawn from tour logs, one can estimate that somewhere between 6,670 and 20,010 people, mostly foreigners, joined these tours. Although battlefield tourism had occurred before in other places, these particular tours were state sanctioned, and they commenced before the belligerents had achieved total victory. The brochure also sets itself apart from other types of tourist brochures by combining wartime propaganda with a recreational tourist narrative.
This brochure demonstrates but one of many avenues through which the Francoists endeavored to establish their legitimacy to foreign powers and domestic audiences and justify their coup and subsequent cruelty. Together with carefully written tour guide scripts, the brochure crafts a number of narratives that would become the backbone of the Franco regime; namely, the Francoists’ ability to maintain order against the forces of leftist “disorder;” the importance of honoring the insurgent soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the greater good of the nation; and the necessity of a “Nationalist Crusade” against the “Godless Reds.” Many of these narratives are located within the text and the seventy-plus images scattered throughout, but they are strangely juxtaposed with more benign images and text that mirror traditional leisure and sightseeing tourist brochures.
That the Francoists could conduct guided tours during wartime already gave the regime the appearance of legitimacy: they could build an infrastructure, set up tours, and give people safe passage across sealed borders. Maps on the brochure, and images depicting razed cities, soldiers rebuilding bridges, General Franco and other insurgent generals, Republican prisoners—all demonstrate the Francoists’ complete domination over the Republicans. The insurgent soldiers’ sacrifices appear through references to the battles of Waterloo, Verdun, and the Somme. Photos of “Red” destruction are contrasted with orderly women welcoming their liberators. The Crusade narrative becomes clear through the advertised tourist sites like Covadonga, where the Catholics began their centuries’-long “reconquest,” and Castro Urdiales, where the castle of the Knights Templar stood. Despite the propagandistic nature of this tourist brochure that clearly exalts the Francoists and disdains the Republicans, the text beckons tourists to “form your own judgment of the real situation in National Spain to-day.”