MADRID – According to the auctioneers, the alleged Franco dagger was given to the Spanish dictator by Mussolini’s son-in-law to congratulate him on his victory in the Civil War.
The German auction house Andreas Thies auctioned off 587 military objects on April 10th.
The most expensive item fetched €35,000. The catalogue described it as “a museum piece of goldsmithing difficult to surpass and a unique historical relic from the history of Spanish and Italian fascism. A magnificent gift of a dagger from the Italian minister of foreign affairs, Count Ciano, to General Francisco Franco.”
Present from Count Ciano
The auction house says Count Ciano, the son-in-law of fascist leader Benito Mussolini, gave the dagger to Franco. It was a gift to congratulate him “on the occasion of the victory of the Spanish fascists and the allied regimes of Germany and Italy in the Spanish Civil War.”
Made in gold with 19 diamonds, the dagger has engravings of the coats of arms representing Italian fascism as well as the yoke and arrows of Spain’s fascist Falange party. The grip has the initials F. F. and the message “to Generalissimo Franco” inscribed on one side. The presentation box, lined with blue velvet, includes a copper relief depicting St. George slaying the dragon and a shield with the inscription “Together we conquer. Madrid, June 10, 1939.”
Ciano became a critic of Mussolini’s and his father-in-law sentenced him to death in 1944. Years later, Ciano’s son Fabrizio would write the book, When Granddad Executed Dad.
Should be in a museum
Historian Gregorio Arencibia, of the Arucas Association of Historical Memory of Arucas in the Canary Islands, says objects of this kind often come up for sale. In his opinion “they should be in a museum as part of the national heritage.”
Unfortunately, there was no legislation dictating what should be done with gifts Franco received from institutions or other heads of state. As a result, the gifts were essentially private. Therefore, they became part of the family inheritance.
However, sources from the Franco family claim to have no knowledge of the dagger’s sale. Central government is currently drawing up the Historical Memory Law. It includes a commitment to carry out an audit of “plundered assets” during Franco’s regime. There would be no compensation to the family for reclaimed assets.