On 4 September 1936, Spanish politician and trade unionist Francisco Largo Caballero was designated the 134th Prime Minister of Spain. He also became Minister of War, and just a few months into the Spanish Civil War, he spearheaded a campaign to maintain military discipline and government authority.
Born in Madrid in 1869, Caballero began his career as a decorator who specialised in stuccoing, a decorative sculptural technique used in architecture.
At the age of 21, he participated in a construction workers strike, and four years later, he joined the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers Party). He succeeded party founder Pablo Iglesias (who died in 1925) as leader of the party, and he also became head of the UGT (Workers General Union). Known as one of the historic leaders of the socialist party, Caballero played an integral role in persuading the CNT (National Confederation of Labour) to join the government in November 1936.
Two years previous, he was one of the instigators of the failed armed rising of workers, a revolt that was quashed by the CEDA-dominated government. The right-ring Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right (CEDA) came to power after the elections in November 1933. It was during this period that Caballero, who claimed he would become a 'second Lenin', began talking of a socialist revolution: he also formed a pact of alliance with the Communist Party of Spain (PCE).
In February 1936, Largo dismissed fears of a military uprising, claiming that any attempt to overthrow the government would be defeated by a general strike. However, the Civil War began just months later and the conflict ultimately destroyed the republic.
Caballero was forced to resign in May 1937, after the Barcelona May Days, when communist and anarchist supporters of the Spanish revolution engaged each other in a series of street battles in various parts of Catalonia, especially Barcelona.
Following the collapse of the Republic in 1939, he fled to France: he was arrested by the occupying Germans and spent most of WWII in a concentration camp.
Following the liberation of the camps in 1945, Caballero remained in exile in Paris, where he died one year later. His remains were returned to Spain following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.