car accident francisco franco

The accident that could change history

[su_dropcap style = »light»] In [/ su_dropcap] n August 1935, an event that almost tiptoed past could have turned the tide of events that, unfortunately, were to precipitate a year later. In that summer prior to 36, the then chief of the Central General Staff was unharmed from a traffic accident. This was recorded in some telegrams and in a column published in the press. Afterwards, nothing. They were General Franco and his wife, Carmen Polo.

The facts, collected in the aforementioned telegrams, narrate the event with the wording and formalities used in those years. And it was a long-ago Thursday, August 23, 1935: Francisco Franco and his wife had embarked on a road trip to Asturias, "Taking advantage of the absence of the Minister of War and in order to provide himself a short rest, after three months of intense work at the head of the Central Army General Staff".

The vehicle had left early in the morning and was driven by a mechanic sergeant of Engineers, who was accompanied by his assistant (it is known that Franco never obtained a driver's license). However, in the middle of the afternoon, news reached Madrid that the car had suffered a serious accident in the vicinity of Salamanca. One of the telegrams confirmed it: “Salamanca 22, 5 in the afternoon. In the vicinity of Salamanca a serious car accident has occurred to General Don Francisco Franco, Chief of the Central General Staff. "


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The general's car lies belly up (Courtesy of ABC)

Whose fault was it?

The events occurred as follows. Apparently, at twelve thirty in the morning, upon reaching kilometer 201, in the place known as Cabezuelas (Pelabravo term), between the towns of Calvarrasa and Santa Marta, the vehicle "He met two cyclists going in the opposite direction, whose names are Agustín Ricardo Curto Pérez, twenty-four years old, and Matías Martín Cornejo, twenty-six, both farm workers, who were going to look for work."

From here, the description of the accident begins to take on a romantic aspect in which, subtly, the responsibility for what happened falls on one of the parties involved. And it is that,


“Surely stunned by the signals given by the car, they got on top of it, getting run over. The first (of the cyclists) was killed on the spot and the second very serious. The driver who was driving the car made such a huge skid that the car crossed on the road, from which it left and was overturned with the wheels up, for which its occupants had to exit through the windows. The general he was miraculously unharmed; his wife and driver with minor injuries. Immediately many people came to help. "

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The car was a Hispano-Suiza, but the press said it was a 1932 Plymouth Model PB ...
Peasants flocked to see the accident
The cyclists barely had to stop the blow

As had been narrating, the accident has already happened. But there is still the end of the text, which details how the injured were treated, all without going into further details. And it is that fortune made "The governor of Avila, who happened to pass by the scene of the event", collect the wounded and transfer them to Avila, where they were treated at the Casa de Socorro.

The text of the article published in the press states that "The lady of General Franco suffers a blunt wound in the left parietal. Once cured, she was transferred to a central hotel. The worker Matías Martín has significant injuries in different parts of his body, having been transferred after he was cured to the provincial hospital ”.

Of course, and in view of who is traveling in the vehicle, "When the news was known in Salamanca, the authorities and numerous people have come to greet General Franco, lamenting the event, being one of the first to attend the military commander, General García Alvarez."


Misleading the press

The telegrams, however, did not record that a doctor from Salamanca, Filiberto Villalobos, who was also Minister of Public Instruction during the Republic, appeared at the Gran Hotel de Salamanca to lend a hand in health matters and with regard to health. judicial process that had been opened in order to find out those responsible for the accident and subsequent compensation.

According to Luis Santos Gutierrez, in a chapter of his book Of everything visible and invisible, thanks to these efforts Villalobos made the accident go unnoticed for the local newspapers, that the driver of the vehicle be exempted from guilt and that the surviving cyclist, Matías Martín Cornejo, get a permanent job in Pelabravo, where his family lived.

From this point on, later history takes other directions. And since political paths are not the reason for these lines, here ends the story that could change, precisely, History.


Credits and thanks:

The last three photos in this article belong to the Villalobos family archive and have been reproduced in Dreams of harmony. Filiberto Villalobos and his historical time (1900-1955) » (Salamanca, 2005), catalog of the exhibition curated by Ignacio Francia and Antonio Rodríguez de las Heras. We thank José María Lama, author of the blog The stones of the river, for their invaluable and selfless collaboration.

What do you think?

Alberto Ferreras

Written by Alberto Ferreras

Alberto Ferreras (Madrid, 1968) developed his professional career in the newspaper El País since 1988, where he worked as a graphic editor and editor of the supplement Engine until January 2011. Graduated in Photography, he was a finalist for the Ortega y Gasset Award of ... View all


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