Emilio Mola
Emilio Mola y Vidal, 1st Duke of Mola, Grandee of Spain (June 9, 1887 – June 3, 1937) was a Spanish Nationalist
National Faction (Spanish Civil War)
The National faction also known as Nationalists or Nationals , was a major faction in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. It was composed of a variety of political groups opposed to the Second Spanish Republic, including the Falange, the CEDA, and two rival monarchist claimants: the Alfonsists...

 commander during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. He is best-known for having coined the term "fifth column
Fifth column
A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within.-Origin:The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War...


Early life

Mola was born in Placetas
Placetas is a city in the Villa Clara Province in the center of Cuba; before the change in the country's government in 1959 the province was called Las Villas. Close towns include Zulueta , San Juan de los Remedios , Cabaiguán and Fomento , and Santa Clara and Camajuani...

, Cuba
Captaincy General of Cuba
The Captaincy General of Cuba was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire created in 1607 as part of Habsburg Spain's attempt better to defend the Caribbean against foreign powers, which also involved creating captaincies general in Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Yucatán. The restructuring of...

 - at that time a Spanish province - where his father, an army officer, was stationed. He enrolled in the Infantry Academy of Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

 in 1907. He served in Spain's colonial war in Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 where he received the Medalla Militar Individual, and became an authority on military affairs. By 1927 he was a Brigadier-general.

Mola was made Director General of Security in 1930. This was a political post and his conservative views made him unpopular with opposition liberal
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and socialist
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 politicians. When the left-wing Popular Front
Popular Front (Spain)
The Popular Front in Spain's Second Republic was an electoral coalition and pact signed in January 1936 by various left-wing political organisations, instigated by Manuel Azaña for the purpose of contesting that year's election....

 government was elected in February 1936 Mola was made military governor of Pamplona
Pamplona is the historial capital city of Navarre, in Spain, and of the former kingdom of Navarre.The city is famous worldwide for the San Fermín festival, from July 6 to 14, in which the running of the bulls is one of the main attractions...

 in Navarre
Navarre , officially the Chartered Community of Navarre is an autonomous community in northern Spain, bordering the Basque Country, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Aquitaine in France...

, which the government regarded as a backwater. But the area was a center of Carlist activity and Mola himself secretly collaborated with the movement.

Civil War

In the spring of 1936, Mola joined a group of army officers led by José Sanjurjo
José Sanjurjo
General José Sanjurjo y Sacanell, 1st Marquis of the Rif was a General in the Spanish Army who was one of the chief conspirators in the military uprising that led to the Spanish Civil War.-Early life:...

 who desired to oust the Popular Front
Popular Front (Spain)
The Popular Front in Spain's Second Republic was an electoral coalition and pact signed in January 1936 by various left-wing political organisations, instigated by Manuel Azaña for the purpose of contesting that year's election....

 government. Mola's energy and organizational ability soon made him the group's chief planner, while Sanjurjo remained a figurehead. Mola, whose codename was director, sent secret instructions to the various military units to be involved in the uprising. After several delays, July 18, 1936 was chosen as the date of the coup. Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

's participation was not confirmed until early July. Although events ran ahead of schedule in the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco, Mola waited until July 19 to proclaim the revolt. When Mola's brother was captured by the Republicans in Barcelona, the government threatened his life. Mola replied: "No, he knows how to die as an officer. I can neither take back my word to my followers and probably you cannot either from yours." Mola then ordered systematic executions in captured cities for the purpose of instilling fear.

The Nationalist coup
Spanish coup of July 1936
The Spanish coup of July 1936 marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Following a period of troubles in the Second Spanish Republic, a group of officers attempted to overthrow the democratic government in a military coup. Planning started in early 1936, and the coup was launched on 17 and 18...

 failed to gain control of either Madrid or other urban areas, though most of the army supported it. As the situation devolved into civil war, Sanjurjo was killed in an air crash on July 20. Mola then became Nationalist commander in the north, while Franco became commander in the south. On September 5, a Nationalist offensive
Campaign of Guipúzcoa
The Campaign of Gipuzkoa was part of the Spanish Civil War, where the Nationalist Army conquered the northern province of Gipuzkoa, held by the Republic.-The campaign:...

 sent by General Mola under Colonel Alfonso Beorlegui
Alfonso Beorlegui Canet
Alfonso Beorlegui Canet was a Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry in the Spanish Army. In the Spanish Civil War, he led the Nationalist campaign to capture Guipúzcoa in August and September 1936....

 took Irún
Irun is a town of the Bidasoa-Txingudi region in the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain...

 and closed the French border. Mola's forces went on to secure the whole of the province of Guipúzcoa, isolating the remaining Republican provinces in the north.

A junta
Junta may refer to:Governance:* Military-led government:** By military junta or committee**Military dictatorship regardless of structure* Other governance:** Junta ** Specific to Spain:*** Junta , 1808–1810...

 in Burgos
Burgos is a city of northern Spain, historic capital of Castile. It is situated at the edge of the central plateau, with about 178,966 inhabitants in the city proper and another 20,000 in its suburbs. It is the capital of the province of Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castile and León...

 proved unable to set overall strategy thus Franco was chosen commander-in-chief at a meeting of ranking generals on September 21. Mola continued to command the Army of the North and led an unsuccessful effort to take Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 in October. In a radio address, he described Nationalists sympathizers in the city as a "fifth column" that supplemented his four military columns.


Mola died on June 3, 1937, when the aircraft in which he was travelling crashed in bad weather while returning to Vitoria. The deaths of Sanjurjo and Mola left Franco as the preeminent leader of the Nationalist cause. This led to the suspicion that Franco contributed in some way to the deaths of his two rivals, but no evidence has been produced. Generalissimo Franco as Head of the Spanish State granted him the posthumous title of Duke of Mola, Grandee of Spain, and the title was immediately succeeded by his son, Emilio Mola y Bascón.
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