70 Years Ago: Tangier Under Franco’s Rule

TALIM Oficina de Tanger Because I like to delve into parallel history, here's what was going on in Tangier December 3rd, 1940:

A band of Italian hooligans entered the British Post Office, tore down some photographs and news bulletins and damaged the counter grille.  There seems to be no necessity to comment upon these events, which will be treated by the majority of our readers with the contempt which they deserve.

So huffed The Tangier Gazette & Morocco Mail, "The First Newspaper to be Published in the Moorish Empire – 1883," as its masthead went.  The TALIM research library has a treasure trove of these leather-bound newspapers; circa 1907-1922 is only available on microfilm (for which we have no working reader).

I hope to dip into these volumes as time goes by, and give TALIMblog readers a sense of this place in the late 19th and early to mid-20th centuries, when the Gazette and the Legation were both thriving institutions (well, we hope we're still thriving, though no longer as a diplomatic mission).

Those hooligans were of course anti-British Italian patriots, moved to violence as the respective forces were battling it out in the Mediterranean, a stone's throw from Tangier.  Meanwhile, Tangier International Zone was under Spanish occupation since June 1940, Franco's newly victorious Falangist forces sensing Allied weakness after the German blitzkrieg through the Benelux and France.

Spain's occupation of Tangier (undated stamps from the Spanish Oficina de Tanger from Mosescreek.com) was to last until the war's end, but it doesn't seem to have affected the pro-Allied stance of the multilingual Tangier Gazette.  "Nazi Claims and British Facts," another headline from December 1940, makes no apologies for its allegiance.

As we head toward the Legation's commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the North African Operation Torch landings of November 1942, we'll do a bit more of this "parallel history."  I can't wait to tell you about some of the treasures we've found…

Gerald Loftus

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