During the Civil War, the Palau Robert, a neoclassical building dating to 1903, housed the Catalan Government’s Culture Ministry. Later, after the entry into the city of Franco’s troops, the building was requisitioned and converted into the Headquarters of Occupation Services, centre of operations for Francoist repression.
On 26 January 1939, the rebel army occupied Barcelona, and Franco subjected the city to a special regime of occupation. The goal was to organise the repression against the so-called “red-separatists” and to establish order amongst the victors in order to prevent in-fighting. General Eliseo Álvarez Arenas was appointed head of the Occupation Services, which controlled the Civil Government, the Military Government and Barcelona City Council. Indeed, hierarchically, Occupation Services was above all other services, including health care, the press, propaganda and even the bank.
Under the so-called special regime of occupation, Barcelona was kept in a state of war and the new authorities exercised iron control over all activities. Materials of all kinds (particularly vehicles and food) were requisitioned, more than 15,800 Catalan Government functionaries were purged, the city’s newspapers were censored, street names were changed, sculptures with any political or Catalan nationalist connotations were removed, etc. The special regime of occupation officially ended on 1 August 1939, when the new City Council, under Mayor Miquel Mateu i Pla had taken up office, Barcelona Provincial Council had been established and the General Headquarters of the IV Military Region, corresponding to the area of Catalonia, had been set up.
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