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Fifth Column

In February 1936, Emilio Mola and several other Spanish Army officers (including Francisco Franco, Juan Yague, Gonzalo Queipo de Llano and Jos? Sanjurjo) began to plot the overthrow of the Popular Front government.

Mola issued a proclamation of revolt in Navarre on July 19th and the Spanish Civil War was underway, the plan being for Franco's troops to cross the western end of the Mediterranean and enter Spain from the south, where they would meet Mola's northern forces at the center of the country and converge from either side upon the city of Madrid.

As Mola moved toward the capital, he was asked which of his four advancing columns might be expected to capture it. His reply? "The fifth column."

[This phrase (by which Mola meant covert supporters working from within) quickly found its place as part of the language.]

[Mola was killed on June 3rd, 1937, when his plane crashed in bad weather. Curiously, General Sanjurjo had been killed in a similar accident a year before. Despite speculation that Franco was responsible for both deaths, no evidence has been found to substantiate this accusation.]

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