Ramón Serrano Súñer was born on September 12, 1901 in Cartagena. He married Zita Polo, sister of Carmen Polo, wife of Franco, which is why he is popularly known as “Cuñadísimo”. He was a politician affiliated with the national side during the Civil War and one of the greatest exponents of the regime after it.
Between 1938 and 1942 he was Minister of the Interior and Foreign Affairs, as well as President of the Political Board of the Traditionalist Spanish Phalanx and of the JONS. He was also behind the foundation of the ONCE and the EFE Agency.
After the Civil War, Serrano Suñer was one of the most prominent personalities of the regime. On September 1, 1939, the Second World War broke out. Serrano did not agree with Spain’s neutral position on the war and on October 23, an interview took place between Franco and Hitler in Hendaye to negotiate Spain’s entry into the war. However, after this meeting, Spain was left out of the war.
In October 1940, Serrano Súñer was forced to hand over the Ministry of the Interior to Colonel Valentín Galarza, and took over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As a whole, the long crisis meant an important loss of power for Serrano Súñer, who reaffirmed the idea that Spain should enter the war.
On June 21, 1941, Hitler broke the friendship pact with Moscow and launched 200 divisions against the Soviet Union. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, on 24 June, Serrano Súñer delivered the famous speech from a balcony of the General Secretariat of the Movement, located in Calle Alcalá, Madrid:
“Russia is guilty! Guilty of our civil war. Guilty of the death of José Antonio, our founder, and of the death of so many comrades and soldiers killed in that war by the aggression of communism. The extermination of Russia is a requirement of Europe’s history and future.
Such a speech provoked a great stir among the Spanish population and within the party. In this context, the attack on the Basilica of Our Lady of Begoña (in Bilbao) on August 15, 1942, by a group of Falangists, was considered an attack on the military establishment.
The Minister of the Interior and the Undersecretary of the Presidency, Luis Carrero Blanco, urged Franco to dismiss Serrano. Finally, on September 3, 1942, Serrano Suñer was removed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and from the presidency of the Political Board of the Traditionalist Spanish Phalanx and the JONS.
From then on, family relations between Franco and Serrano and their respective families cooled down considerably. He died in Madrid on 1 September 2003.
*Source: “Historia del Palacio de la Isla de Burgos (1883-12010)” de Isaac Rilova Pérez