Many Republican figures fled the country in the wake of the civil war, and military tribunals were set up to try those who remained. These tribunals sent thousands more Spaniards to their death, and Franco himself admitted in the mid-1940s that he had 26,000 political prisoners under lock and key. The Franco regime also essentially made Catholicism the only tolerated religion, banned the Catalan and Basque languages outside the home, forbade Catalan and Basque names for newborns, barred labor unions, promoted economic self-sufficiency policies and created a vast secret police network to spy on citizens.
Though he sympathized with the Axis powers, Franco largely stayed out of World War II (1939-45) but did send nearly 50,000 volunteers to fight alongside the Germans on the Soviet front. Franco also opened his ports to German submarines and invaded the internationally administered city of Tangier in Morocco. Following the war, Spain faced diplomatic and economic isolation, but that began to thaw as the Cold War heated up. In 1953 Spain allowed the United States to construct three air bases and a naval base on its soil in return for military and economic aid.
As Franco aged, he increasingly avoided daily political affairs, preferring instead to hunt and fish. At the same time, police controls and press censorship began to relax, strikes and protests became more commonplace, some free-market reforms were introduced, tourism increased and Morocco gained its independence. Franco died on November 20, 1975, after suffering a series of heart attacks. At his funeral, many mourners raised their arm in a fascist salute.