The role of Spain and Franco during World War II

MADRID – What was Spain’s role during World War II? Was the country on Germany’s side or not? Was Francisco Franco a “friend” or enemy of Adolf Hitler, or was there no relationship? Spain did not take an active part in World War II and more or less kept its distance by taking a neutral stance. Something that turned out not to be right in practice.

According to historians, Franco and Hitler They were not feeling well and were certainly not friends. In October 1940, Hitler met Franco at the southern French border station Hendaye, where only a half-hearted agreement was reached, in which Spain only agreed to cooperate at a time that suited Franco.

Both Franco and Hitler left the meeting dissatisfied, however Franco had, however, reached its goal, which was to create the possibility of neutrality. Hitler later stated that he would rather have a pair of cheek teeth extracted without anesthesia than have another such encounter with Franco. Later it was sometimes written that Hitler hated Franco and that was why Spain neutral became.

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On July 18, 1936, it became Spanish Civil War† The first days of the uprising were about gaining power in Spanish Morocco. On the one hand, Franco sought the support of the indigenous Moroccan people and, on the other hand, control of the Spanish troops stationed there. Franco faced a transportation problem. Most naval units were loyal to the republic and blocked the Strait of Gibraltar. It was therefore not possible for his troops Spanish Morocco to the Spanish mainland.

Franco turned to Italian Mussolini which provided an unconditional offer of arms and aircraft. At the same time, the German Abwehr chief Wilhelm Canaris succeeded Nazi Germany To persuade Hitler to support the Spanish nationalists. From July 20, Franco established an airlift to the nationalist-dominated city with the help of 22 German Junkers Ju-52 aircraft Seville

With the help of his representatives, he began negotiating with Great Britain, Germany and Italy to get more help, and especially more planes. Negotiations with the latter two were successful and new aircraft arrived in Tétouan on 2 August. On August 5, Franco managed to break through the blockade with his new one German-Italian Air Forcewhich allows him to bring in 2,000 soldiers per. ship.


Monday, April 26, 1937 in the municipality Guernica one of the worst, if not the worst, bombing in Spanish territory. To this day, it is not known exactly why these horrific bombings, which killed between 300 and 1600 people and left 800 to 900 people wounded, were carried out by German planes.

It is generally believed that this was an “exercise” before the outbreak of World War II. But the fact that bombing took place in the Spanish Civil War, and Franco occupied the village less than two days later, is of course no coincidence. Various aircraft of the German army threw more than 31 tons of explosives at the small municipality of Guernica to destroy or bring to the knees Republicans who did not stand on Franco’s side.

[su_note]Read more about the bombing in Basque Guernica here[/su_note]


Spain had withdrawn due to German and Italian aid in the Civil War benevolent towards Germany and Italy. The governments of these countries were ideologically related to the rule of Franco and, moreover, hoped for a form of return for the aid rendered.

When France was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940, Franco hoped to reap a great reward by going into a war that seemed already won. Given the national frustration over the loss of colonies forty years earlier, Franco expected to have at least the whole of French Morocco, Gibraltar and Tangier. Franco also wanted more financial support.

Below WWII the anti-Nazi German Admiral Wilhelm Canaris had several meetings with Franco, during which he informed Franco about Nazi Germany’s plans for Spain. As leader of the Abwehr, Canaris was well-informed, but he secretly conspired against Hitler and National Socialism.

Canaris made sure that Franco placed his best and most experienced troops near the border with France and filled the area there with anti-tank obstacles – despite apparent camaraderie with Germany.

While German bands held parades in Madrid, the Spaniards opened at the border with Vichy France so that Jews and even hostile French Communists and liberals gained access to Spain. Refugee centers were also set up inland.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews fled via Spain to equally neutral Portugal and from there often to Britain, the United States and Latin America. Later, however, it turned out that Franco also had a list of the names of thousands of Spanish Jews on it. handed over to Heinrich Himmler.

Franco allowed the formation of the Blue Division in 1941 , a Spanish branch of the German Wehrmacht, composed mainly of Falangist volunteers. The Blue Division was to restore and thank the Condor Legion (which carried out the bombing of Guernica) in the Civil War and fought on the Eastern Front.

However, the division was withdrawn as early as 1943, when it became clear that the Allies were winning and tensions between Franco and the radical Nazi leadership Rose.

From 1943, Franco and thus all of Spain introduced himself formula neutral in World War II, instead of the previously proclaimed “non-warlike”.

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