A ceremonial dagger given by Mussolini’s foreign minister to General Franco to commemorate his victory in the Spanish Civil War in 1939 has been sold at auction in Germany for €35,000.
The Andreas-Thies auction house sale catalogue, listed the dagger with a starting price of €10,000 as “a museum piece in a goldsmith’s work that can hardly be surpassed and a unique historical relic of the history of Spanish and Italian fascism. A magnificent gift dagger from the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count Ciano, to General Francisco Franco”.
Ciano, who was also Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law had travelled to Spain to congratulate Franco “on the occasion of the victory of the Spanish fascists and the allied regimes of Germany and Italy in the Spanish Civil War.”
The dagger, “worked in gold” and “with 19 diamonds”, is engraved with the shields of Italian fascism and the yoke and arrows of the Spanish Falange. On the handle it bears the initials FF and one of the sides reads “Generalissimo Franco.” The blue velvet presentation case includes a copper relief depicting Saint George slaying the dragon.
The enscription in the “magnificent” presentation box is set on a shield and reads: “Together we conquer. Madrid, June 10, 1939.”
The Spanish Civil War which had started as military insurection in July 1936 against the 2nd Republic ended in March 1939 with the fall of Madrid to Franco´s Nationalist forces.
The dagger was presented to Franco by Ciano who has came to Spain to return a visit that Franco´s foreign minsiter ( and brother-in-law) Ramón Serrano Suñer had paid to Italy immediately after the Civil War had ended in March 1939.
The Italian dictator had with Hitler´s Condor Legion, provided enormous support to the Nationalist side during the war.
It is estimated that some 75,000 troops of the Italian Corps of Volunteers under General Bastico provided a vital strategic advantage to the Nationalists forces.
Although the last of the Italian forces had left Spain by the time of Ciano´s visit to Madrid, the war had imposed a huge strain on the Italian economy and Mussolini was keen to arrange reparations for the contribution made.
The sale has generated some controversy in Spain, not least that of the title rights of sale as although there was no rule regulating gifts to Franco as head of state.
The recent court decision concerning the late dictators Pazo de Meirás estate in Galicia are erring towards the return of the Generalismo´s “gifts” to the state.
Some gifts such as Hitler´s one of a Mercedes car to Franco was eventually passed to the Spanish state.
However much was believed to have been kept.
Upon Franco’s death in November 1975, his widow, Carmen Polo, supervised the loading into lorries of “innumerable jewels, antiques, paintings and tapestries to transport them to various family properties or shelters abroad.”
The new historical memory law that the Spanish Government is drafting, includes the commitment to carry out an “audit” on “property plundered” during the Franco regime of 1939-1975.
Some historians believe the dictator plundered hundreds of millions of Euros during his tenure.