General Manuel Campins was executed in Sevilla on the morning of August 16, 1936. It is said he went to his death bravely and calmly. This contrasts with his actions on the crucial days between July 17, when the Army of Africa rebelled against the government, and July 20, when the garrison in Granada he commanded joined the rebellion. Campins, who had only recently assumed his post, condemned the uprising several times and refused to obey orders from the rebel commander in Sevilla, General Queipo de Llano, while at the same time writing to his friend, General Franco, and placing himself under his orders. On July 20, he signed the declaration of the state of war. Despite Franco’s request that Campins be pardoned, Queipo de Llano had him executed.
The following year, the roles of those who requested pardons and those who ordered executions were reversed, although the result remained the same. Domingo Batet (in the photo), a decorated general but a firm defender of the Republic who had been arrested by his subordinates in Burgos, was executed on February 18, 1937. He was a personal friend of Mola, Queipo de Llano and Miguel Cabanellas. The last two requested a pardon, but Franco refused, perhaps to get revenge for the death of Campins, perhaps because years before, when Franco and José Millán Astray commanded the Spanish Legion, Batet had written a highly critical report about them. For his part, Cabanellas also had blood on his hands. In July 1936, the government had sent General Miguel Núñez del Prado, his friend and fellow mason as well as commander of the Air Force, to Zaragoza to persuade him not to join the revolt. Núñez del Prado knew it was a suicide mission. He was arrested and sent to Pamplona, where Mola had him executed.
The deaths of these three brave officers are only a small part of the storm that shook the high command of the Spanish armed forces in the summer of 1936. Only 4 of the 21 major generals and 17 of the 59 brigadier generals joined the revolt. None of the six generals of the Civil Guard did so. The events of July forced many of these men to choose a side. Many made unexpected choices. The result was that many of those who honoured their oath of loyalty were executed by their comrades who had rebelled. Rebel generals whose attempts to join the coup failed were executed by Republican authorities. In addition, there were the many serving or retired officers who were murdered, almost all in the Republican rearguard. Finally, there were the Republican generals Franco had executed after the war.