11 March 2008

Spain Was on Hitler's Side In World War ll

A U.S. academic with a long interest in Spanish history, Stanley G. Payne, has published a book which says Spain actively helped the Nazis and that its neutrality during the war was a myth. Afterwards, Spain became a useful cold war ally for the United States.
Franco, the “murderous little Christian gentleman” as H.G. Wells called him, developed his links with the Third Reich during the Civil War. Without Hitler’s help, Franco’s insurrection would have failed, says Payne. Though Franco owed a debt to Germany for its help, Spain did not enter World War ll but neither was it neutral. It declared itself ‘non-belligerent’, a term Mussolini had invented and this was Spain’s cover to provide economic, logistical and political help to Germany.

Spain's dictator, the British journalist Max Hastings says, was clever enough not to enter the war and this astuteness saved his life, though he was “a monster with more blood on his hands than Mussolini”. He “persisted with the wholesale murder of his defeated civil-war enemies all through the second world war, and indeed afterwards. He sustained his tyranny until dying in his bed in 1975”.

Relations between Franco and Hitler were a clash of titanic egos. They met only once, on October 23, 1940. The Spaniard arrived late because his train was delayed and not as a deliberate slight to Hitler. He indulged in long-winded talk and put forward a lot of conditions for joining the war, asking mainly for new colonies in Africa. Hitler liked to monopolise conversations and found Franco surprisingly loquacious who insisted on speaking about himself.

The Fuhrer was bored with Franco's long discourses on Morocco’s importance for Spain and personal anecdotes of a military campaign there. Hitler flew into a rage after the meeting. Later he termed Franco a “Latin charlatan”.

That Spain did not join in was, as Hastings says, because “the moments at which the Spanish were willing to fight never coincided with those at which the Germans thought their price for doing so worth paying”.

Spain made up for this by sending its elite "Blue Division" to fight alongside the Germans on the Russian front. Franco’s regime had an ambiguous attitude towards the Jewish refugees of the Holocaust and a plan to invade Portugal, a plan but never the intention to do so, says Payne.

It provided real help to the Axis forces, from building observation posts in Gibraltar, collecting information and passing them on to the Germans and allowing the refuelling of German U-boats in its ports and refuelling of Italian bombers. Britain paid millions of dollars to Franco to keep Spain out of the war but there is no evidence it influenced the decision either way.

Hitler thought of the Spanish as “the only Latins disposed to fighting” as opposed to the Italians and the French. Hitler had an ambivalent view of the Spanish army, calling it “tremendously indisciplined” and a “gang of no-gooders” but again thought the Spanish troops were good fighters when attacked. He had a more benign view of the Spanish Press, calling it the best in the world, no doubt for the favourable way it covered Germany till 1943.

In Hitler's opinion, Islamic rule was the most intellectually stimulating, the happiest and the best period of Spanish history. This chimed with his favourable view of Islam which, he once said, was the best religion and he regretted it had not spread all over Europe.

He despised the Spanish clergy, religious obscurantism, and was astonished Franco’s wife attended mass every day. He thought Spanish women were “extraordinarily stupid”. Many anarchist trade unionists in exile in France were recruited to work in German factories and Hitler received favourable reports about them. He wanted to get rid of Franco after the war and replace the Catholic clerical “filth” in Madrid with a purer alliance of Falangists and anarchist workers.

Though the USA was harshly critical of Franco during the war, it embraced him as an ally against Communism and, as Hastings says, “Franco profited once more from a tide of history sweeping past Spanish coasts”.

Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany and World War ll by Stanley G Payne
Sources: Crónica, El Mundo, Times London


Anonymous said...

H G Wells who like Hitler believed in the 'extermination of the unfit' and who admired Mussolini seemed to have a lot in common with Hitler. Both loathed Franco and both loathed Catholicism and both believed the mytj of the Spanish 'Black Legend'.

Anonymous said...

Hitler hate H G wells whilst he supported Franco.

Get your facts straight.

And as for believing in Eugenics and supporting Mussolini, i tihnk you are confusing Wells with Churchill