Franco’s questionable alliance with Germany
Franco, center, greets Adolf Hitler in Hendaye, October 23, 1940.
Adolf Hitler remembered his meeting with Generalissimo Francisco Franco at Hendaye as one of his worst experiences. They met at this town on the French-Spanish border in October 1940. Hitler was upset for two reasons.
First, the General’s growing hesitancy to support Hitler’s "Operation Felix," the plan to take Gibraltar and extend the operation into Spanish Morocco. Franco did not want Spain to join the war. Unbelievable as it sounds, Franco was advised to take up that attitude by Hitler’s chief of the Abwehr, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, who was an expert for Spanish affairs and twice visited Madrid in 1940.1
Second, Hitler was angered by Franco’s outrageous demands for Germany to supply raw materials, armaments, machinery and even foodstuff with which to fight the war. Franco knew well enough Germany could never fulfill this request. That devious move was also suggested by Canaris. The meeting ended with the signing of a worthless document of mutual cooperation. Hitler reportedly stated about this meeting: "I would rather have my teeth pulled than meet with Franco again."2
Franco’s Jesuit conscience must have pestered him, however. He could not but remember the decisive help given to him by Adolf Hitler during his life and death struggle with the Red Republic from 1936-39, which resulted in unfavorable publicity such as “Guernica” being leveled against “the facists,” including Germany. He did permit Spanish military forces to join Germany’s war in Russia. The Blue Division (Division Azul) under the command of General Agustin Munoz-Grandez fought with distinction for two years at the Leningrad front.
1) John H. Walter, The Unseen War in Europe, p. 155. 1996, Random House, New York
2) Published in “The Journal of Art, History and Literature,” from Count Ciano’s transcript of Hitler's October 28th meeting with Mussolini, written a few days after Hendaye. Ciano was Mussolini’s son-in-law.