Franco’s questionable alliance with Germany

Published by admin on Sat, 2011-10-29 01:34

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 Múñoz Grandes 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.


World War II


The most complete account of the historical meeting between Hitler and Franco, at the railway station of the Basque town of Hendaye (Hendaya), on 23rd October 1940, is probably this one: Only six persons were present inside the railway car where the meeting took place: Hitler with his Foreign Affairs Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and their interpreter Herr Gross, plus Franco with his Foreign Affairs Minister Ramon Serrano Suner and their interpreter Baron de las Torres. Von Ribbentrop and Serrano Suner conversed between them in French during an interval, but Hitler and Franco needed the interpreters. The account comes from the German report by Paul Schmidt (of whom Gross was a subordinate), and the Spanish report by Baron de las Torres. The German Ambassador in Madrid, Baron Eberhard von Stohrer, and the Spanish Ambassador in Berlin, General Eugenio Espinosa de los Monteros, did not enter the railway car.

Significant was the "Blue" Division of Volunteers (250. Einheit Freiwilligen "Blau" Division, Division "Azul" de Voluntarios). The day after the German attack to the Soviets (22nd June 1941), Serrano Suner called for volunteers. In few days tens of thousands enlisted all over Spain. Most were of Falange Espanola or professional military, a few were Spanish Carlist Requetes or Portuguese Viriatos. Initially 17910 men were selected, over 29000 others formed later reinforcements. They had over 16000 casualties (5000 dead) and nearly 400 prisoners (220 freed in 1954, a few others in 1956, the rest died in the gulag). They received two Knight Crosses, two Gold Crosses, 138 Iron Crosses 1st Class and 2359 Iron Crosses 2nd Class. Nearly 3000 refused to return to Spain, thus forming the Blue Legion as part of the Waffen-SS, under SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Miguel Esquerra. These heroes fought their last stand in Berlin, April

A number of minor comments. First, I don't believe Franco needed any advice from Canaris on how to be devious, and "frankly", I don't believe it. Secondly, I've never believed Spain could have been any use to Germany, and they needed everything Franco ever asked for. The counry was devastated, 650,000 had been killed out of a total population of 36 million, the people were starving, there was no fuel, and the 39-40 winter was one of the coldest on record. It was like Germany in 1945 already. Franco correctly foresaw that the only result would be the total destruction of Spain by the British, plus the destruction of his regime and everything he ever worked for, probably a Communist Spain in the end. If Hitler wanted North Africa, why didn't he occupy the French colonies? Thirdly, it's Múñoz Grandes, with an s.    The real reason for the Blue Brigade was to show the Germans that Spaniards could fight like lions, to keep the Germans from invading Spain, that the Spanish could not trifled with. They were instructed to defend every inch of ground as if they were defending Spain itself. Franco was a Catholic and a soldier, and he saw his duty as one of defending and preserving Spain.    

Thanks for the correction on the spelling of Múñoz Grandes - that was a bad error. And to think, The Barnes Review editor didn't even catch it. :)

Also, an interesting note: Hitler understood and spoke near-perfect French, and understood English very well, if it wasn't spoken too quickly. He just didn't like people to realize that simple fact. Looks like Franco didn't realize this.  

Another point. There were no National Socialists in Spain, none. There were Falangistas, whose leaders had all been killed, and there was Franco, who was not even a Falangista. He exploited them, that's all. He did a great deal of good, either under their influence or in the classical spirit of medieval Catholic charity, but it is unrealistic to expect him to think like a National Socialist. Lastly, he had more brains where the British were concerned that Hitler did. He understood the British and Americans very well, and didn't trust them worth a damn. In fact he survived for 30 years after the war precisely by exploiting their stupidity (and thanks to a load of wheat from Argentina and powdered milk from the Americans). He milked the Americans like cows.    One question: if Franco had 220,000 of his enemies trapped on beach, utterly helpless, would have have allowed them to escape to fight another day?Not on your nelly. He would have killed or captured the lot of them and paraded the survivors through Madrid. Maybe put them to work in the Valley of the Fallen. Wouldn't that have been a joke? Cheerio, old chappie!  He who fights and runs away, will live to fight another day. Franco knew this. Hitler did not. Franco once said, when the situation seemed absolutely hopeless, "Communists are murderers, and murderers are cowards".  
Good thing to remember.     

He who fights and runs away, will live to fight another day. Franco knew this. Hitler did not.

Hitler did know this, but he didn't have the means to care for all those men properly (you know the British POWs were always well cared for) and couldn't see himself slaughtering or starving British men. Hitler admired the British, there's no doubt. And he thought they could still be persuaded ...

That should go down well with today's White Nationalists who complain that Hitler warred against his own people in the East ... as though the "Whites" in the East were going to be any friendlier or helpful to German hegemony that the Whites in the West. It was all a no-win situation for the National Socialists because of anti-Germanism.

If you want to hold that Franco was a better man than Hitler, go ahead. I sure won't follow you there. I guess with the name Carlos, you want to stand up for Spain.

The dogs bark; the caravan passes.

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