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However, Mussolini was not interested in Franco's help due to the recent series of defeats his forces had suffered in North Africa and the Balkans. Franco signed the Anti-Comintern Pact on 25 November In , the planning of Operation Torch American landings in North Africa was considerably influenced by the apprehension that it might precipitate Spain to abandon neutrality and join the Axis, in which case the Straits of Gibraltar might be closed.

A Witness from Spain

In order to meet this contingency, it was decided by the Combined Chiefs of Staff to include a landing in Casablanca, in order to have an option of an overland route via Moroccan territory bypassing the Straits. Franco's policy of open support to the Axis Powers led to a period of postwar isolation for Spain as trade with most countries ceased. President Franklin Roosevelt , who had assured Franco that Spain would not suffer consequences from the United Nations a wartime term for those nations allied against Germany , died in April Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman, as well as new Allied governments, were less friendly to Franco.

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A number of nations withdrew their ambassadors, and Spain was not admitted to the United Nations until Although it sought to avoid entering the war, Spain did make plans for defence of the country. Initially, the mass of the Spanish army was stationed in southern Spain in case of an Allied attack from Gibraltar during and However, Franco ordered the divisions to gradually redeploy in the mountains along the French border in case of a possible German invasion of Spain as Axis interest in Gibraltar grew.

By the time it became clear that the Allies were gaining the upper hand in the conflict, Franco had amassed all his troops on the French border and received personal assurances from the leaders of Allied countries that they did not wish to invade Spain. Before Franco and Hitler's October meeting in Hendaye , there had been Spanish-German planning for an attack, from Spain, upon the British territory of Gibraltar which was, and is, a British dependency and military base. At the time, Gibraltar was important for control of the western exit from the Mediterranean and the sea routes to the Suez Canal and Middle East , as well as Atlantic patrols.

The Germans also appreciated the strategic importance of north-west Africa for bases and as a route for any future American involvement. Therefore, the plans included the occupation of the region by substantial German forces, to forestall any future Allied invasion attempt.

Spain during World War II

The plan, Operation Felix , was in detailed form before the negotiations failed at Hendaye. By March , military resources were being ear-marked for Barbarossa and the Soviet Union. Operation Felix-Heinrich was an amended form of Felix that would be invoked once certain objectives in Russia had been achieved. In the event, these conditions were not fulfilled and Franco still held back from entering the war. The first step in the operation would have been the conquest of Gibraltar. That was another great opportunity we missed. As the war progressed and the tide turned against the Axis, the Germans planned for the event of an Allied attack through Spain.

There were three successive plans, progressively less aggressive as German capability waned:. This was planned in April as a reaction to a proposed British landing on the Iberian peninsula near Gibraltar. German troops would advance into Spain to support Franco and expel the British wherever they landed. Ilona was a scaled down version of Isabella , subsequently renamed Gisella.

Devised in May , to be invoked whether or not Spain stayed neutral. Ten German divisions would advance to Barcelona and, if necessary, towards Salamanca to support the Spanish army in fighting another proposed Allied landing either from the Mediterranean or Atlantic coasts. Devised in June , Nurnberg was purely a defensive operation in the Pyrenees along both sides of the Spanish-French border in the event of Allied landings in the Iberian peninsula, which were to repel an Allied advance from Spain into France.

The territory was restored to its pre-war status on 11 October Tangier joined with the rest of Morocco following the restoration of full sovereignty in According to a book, Winston Churchill authorised millions of dollars in bribes to Spanish generals in an effort to influence General Franco against entering the war on the side of Germany. Despite lacking cash, oil and other supplies, Francoist Spain was able to supply some essential materials to Germany. There was a series of secret war-time trade agreements between the two countries.

The principal resource was wolfram or tungsten ore from German-owned mines in Spain. Tungsten was essential to Germany for its advanced precision engineering and therefore for armament production. Despite Allied attempts to buy all available supplies, which rocketed in price, and diplomatic efforts to influence Spain, supplies to Germany continued until August Payment for wolfram was effectively set against the Spanish debt to Germany.

Other minerals included iron ore, zinc, lead and mercury. Spain also acted as a conduit for goods from South America, for example, industrial diamonds and platinum. After the war, evidence was found of significant gold transactions between Germany and Spain, ceasing only in May It was believed that these were derived from Nazi looting of occupied lands, but attempts by the Allies to obtain control of the gold and return it were largely frustrated. As long as Spain permitted it, the Abwehr — the German intelligence organisation — was able to operate in Spain and Spanish Morocco, often with cooperation of the Nationalist government.

Gibraltar's installations were a prime target for sabotage, using sympathetic anti-British Spanish workers. One such attack occurred in June , when a bomb caused a fire and explosions in the dockyard. The British were generally more successful after this and managed to use turned agents and sympathetic anti-Fascist Spaniards to uncover subsequent attacks.

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A total of 43 sabotage attempts were prevented in this way. In January , two Spanish workers, convicted of attempted sabotage, were executed. The Abwehr also maintained observation posts along both sides of the Straits of Gibraltar , reporting on shipping movements. In early , the situation changed. The Allies were clearly gaining the advantage over the Axis and one double agent had provided enough information for Britain to make a detailed protest to the Spanish government. As a result, the Spanish government declared its "strict neutrality".


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The Abwehr operation in southern Spain was consequently closed down. In the first years of the war, "Laws regulating their admittance were written and mostly ignored. Trudi Alexy refers to the "absurdity" and "paradox of refugees fleeing the Nazis' Final Solution to seek asylum in a country where no Jews had been allowed to live openly as Jews for over four centuries. Jews claiming Spanish ancestry were provided with Spanish documentation without being required to prove their case and either left for Spain or survived the war with the help of their new legal status in occupied countries.

Diplomats discussed the possibility of Spain as a route to a containment camp for Jewish refugees near Casablanca but it came to naught due to lack of Free French and British support. Almost all of them survived the war. Shortly afterwards, Spain began giving citizenship to Sephardic Jews in Greece , Hungary , Bulgaria , and Romania ; many Ashkenazic Jews also managed to be included, as did some non-Jews.

The Spanish diplomatic corps was performing a balancing act: Alexy conjectures that the number of Jews they took in was limited by how much German hostility they were willing to engender. Toward the war's end, Sanz Briz had to flee Budapest, leaving these Jews open to arrest and deportation.

An Italian diplomat, Giorgio Perlasca , who was himself living under Spanish protection, used forged documents to persuade the Hungarian authorities that he was the new Spanish Ambassador. Although Spain effectively undertook more to help Jews escape deportation to the concentration camps than most neutral countries did, [33] [34] there has been debate about Spain's wartime attitude towards refugees. Franco's regime, despite its aversion to Zionism and "Judeo"- Freemasonry , does not appear to have shared the rabid anti-Semitic ideology promoted by the Nazis.

About 25, to 35, refugees, mainly Jews, were allowed to transit through Spain to Portugal and beyond. Some historians argue that these facts demonstrate a humane attitude by Franco's regime, while others point out that the regime only permitted Jewish transit through Spain. Following the defeat of Germany in , the Spanish government attempted to destroy all evidence of cooperation with the Nazis, but this official order survived.

At the end of the war, Japan was compelled to pay high amounts of money or goods to several nations to cover damage or injury inflicted during the war. In the case of Spain, the reparations were due to the deaths of over a hundred Spanish citizens, including several Catholic missionaries , and great destruction of Spanish properties in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Part of a series on Francoism Organizations.

Related topics. Main article: Blue Division. Main article: Operation Felix. Main article: Operation Isabella. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. In their approach to the Spanish problem the British and French Governments, acting from most praiseworthy motives, made an initial blunder. Neither of their peoples wanted war. In the first place, neither had persuaded itself that war was inevitable.

In the second place, both felt that if war had to come they needed more time to complete their rearmament. Consequently, the diplomacy of the British and French Governments consisted of an effort to localize the Spanish conflict. In theory and on paper this policy was sound. Furthermore, at the beginning neither the Germans nor the Italians liked the policy of non-intervention. Both had already intervened in Spain. Both felt that the issue of the Spanish Civil War would decide the ultimate success of their own schemes for world conquest.

Both feared that non-intervention would force the ejection of the military experts and air men whom they had already sent into Spain. They set out to defeat it, and thanks to the German technique of propaganda, and thanks to the spirit of appeasement latent in the great democracies, they succeeded. They twisted non-intervention into an instrument of Fascist victory. Our Government had as excellent intentions as the British and French, but the course it adopted towards the Spanish Civil War also was a blunder. That blunder, in present circumstances, stands out as clearly as the silhouette of a dive bomber -- not a dive bomber you are reading about, but one you are actually under!


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