Luis Bolin

Luis Bolin

Luis Bolin was born in Málaga, Spain in 1897. Educated at the University of Granada, he was employed as a journalist in France during the First World War.

In 1920 Bolin became the press attaché to the Spanish Embassy in London in 1920. The following year he joined the information section of the League of Nations. He later worked for the right-wing daily newspaper, ABC.

Bolin became active in politics and on 19th July 1936 he arrange the aircraft that took General Francisco Franco, the military governor of the Canary Islands, to mainland Spain. Afterwards, Bolin became Franco's press director and during the Spanish Civil War was responsible for arranging for war correspondents to make tours of the battle areas.

In February 1938 Bolin was appointed as head of the Spanish State Tourist Department. He held the post throughout the Second World War. His book, Spain, the Vital Years, was published in 1967.

Luis Bolin died in 1969.

Primary Sources

(1) Luis Bolin was a supporter of Miguel Primo de Rivera. He explained why in his book, Spain, the Vital Years (1967)

Unlike the national rising against an even graver situation that set off civil war in 1936, General Primo de Rivera's move was a classic coup d'etat, swiftly and ably executed by a man who did not hesitate to take the entire responsibility on his shoulders. He relied on the partially expressed support of the Army, though not all its leaders backed Primo, nor were they with him unflinchingly until the end.

There was no opposition from political parties or labour unions. The majority of the nation resigned itself to a fait accompli and hoped for the best, or for something sensational, but there were no street scenes, no riots, no shooting. Objective and far-sighted citizens, without a stake in the political arena and no possibility of gain from turbulence and unrest, heaved a sigh of relief and applauded the coup d'etat, once its success became evident.

A brief period sufficed to show that the dictator meant business. Instead of persecuting his predecessors or making them responsible for the shortcomings of the regime, Primo de Rivera devoted himself to constructive work. The murder of two postal employees in a railway van, committed shortly after his access to power and punished by a Court of Justice with the extreme rigour of the law, showed that crime was no longer profitable. Plans for military action in Spanish Morocco were revised from bottom to top; in less than three years, the entire Protectorate was pacified and the war was brought to a victorious end.

There were no strikes, production attained new levels, private enterprise flourished. A network of roads, properly banked and well-surfaced, spread over the country. At long last, Spain's valuable hydraulic resources began to be harnessed and exploited. Work was carried out in harbours and railways, schools were built, industry and trade registered progress, and national economy soared. Two exhibitions of an impressive character, held in Seville and Barcelona in the year 1929, proved that Spain could thrive rapidly under a system guaranteeing peace, prosperity and the rule of practical law.

(2) Luis Bolin, Spain, the Vital Years (1967)

In 1936-9 Great Britain and other European and American countries were beginning to think in terms of the coming world conflict. The fact that Hitler and Mussolini helped the Spanish Nationalists was a cause of great and perhaps natural prejudice in those countries, though it should be noted that those who criticized us for accepting Hitler's help saw nothing strange in the acceptance of Stalin, who had invaded Poland with Hitler, as their ally in World War II. When men

are fighting for all that is dear to them they accept help from wherever it comes. But the loose habit of referring to all authoritarian regimes other than the Communist as 'Fascist' made it hard for people to appreciate the vast differences that separate the Spanish Falange from Nazism.

(3) Luis Bolin was the Nationalist press chief in charge of propaganda and censorship during the Spanish Civil War. Bolin wrote about Guernica in his memoirs, Spain, the Vital Years (1967)

During the advance on Bilbao, Guernica became part of the front line. It contained several small factories, one of them engaged in the manufacture of arms and ammunition. It was an important road junction and a depot of substantial size for the massing of reserves on their way to the trenches. The Republicans in Bilbao needed a sensational story to offset their reverses. They dispatched Asturian miners to dynamite Guernica and set fire to its buildings and swore that they had been blown to smithereens by German bombs. To destroy an entire small town, not hundreds but thousands of bombs would be required. The resources for such wholesale destruction are entirely lacking to either side in this war. It should be noted that the destruction though involving many buildings spared the Guernica tree and adjoining structure. Basque separatists took great care not to damage the tree which they held in special veneration.

(4) Luis Bolin, Spain, the Vital Years (1967)

I drove up from Malaga and joined our troops before they entered Barcelona. No attempt had been made to defend the city. Its inhabitants were tired of fighting, sick of their rulers, and hungry for food and peace. There had been the usual amount of looting and much senseless destruction. Santa Maria del Mar, a priceless jewel of Gothic art, had been burnt at the outbreak of war; San Pedro de las Puellas, the earliest Christian monument in Barcelona, had experienced the same fate. The stench was awful. Unswept for years, the streets were full of autumn leaves and garbage, part of the accumulated filth which the Reds bequeathed to every town that they occupied for any amount of time. Near the port, at the eastern end of the Ramblas, I saw houses damaged by bombs which had been aimed at ships anchored in the harbour. Apart from this and from the destruction wrought upon it by the Reds, Barcelona was unharmed.

Large quantities of food, rushed up in endless lines of lorries from happier parts of Spain, were being handed out by smiling, well-scrubbed girls in the blue uniforms of the Falange. My job was to accommodate the legion of civil servants, businessmen, and employees, already in Barcelona and eager to set the city on its feet. Hotels had to be staffed, cleaned up, and supplied with food and all the necessary requisites. The record of their personnel had to be investigated, for it would have been senseless to assign positions of trust to possible devotees of murder, arson, and loot. To have fought against us was one thing; to be a criminal was another. The dust at the Ritz, the best hotel in the town, was inches thick. I told the manager to summon as many char-women as he could find, for I needed them all. Once they arrived I reviewed them, complete with brooms, mops and pails. 'Has the day at last arrived for us to resume scrubbing floors?' one of them asked me. 'It certainly has,' I replied. 'Thank God for that!' she answered, throwing up her hands to the skies.