Why didn't Hitler invade Spain?

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Torretta13
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Why didn't Hitler invade Spain?

Postby Torretta13 » 02 Dec 2007 00:04

Just something I was curioius about, especially after reading Kershaw's "Hitler: Nemesis" biography. If closing off the Mediterranean and seizing Gibraltar really would have been so vital to the German war effort, why didn't Hitler simply give Franco an ultimatum: either become an active participant in the war, or suffer the same fate was everyone else on continental Europe. There is no way that Spain could have resisted a German invasion, and since Franco was not doing anything to assist Hitler anyway, what would the drawbacks have been to issuing such an utlimatum, especially if it would have enabled Germany to block the British Navy from using the Mediterranean? Any thoughts or responses, would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Michael Emrys
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Re: Why didn't Hitler invade Spain?

Postby Michael Emrys » 02 Dec 2007 03:29

Torretta13 wrote:...why didn't Hitler simply give Franco an ultimatum: either become an active participant in the war, or suffer the same fate was everyone else on continental Europe.


He may have recalled what happened to Napoleon there.

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Ironmachine
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Postby Ironmachine » 02 Dec 2007 08:34

Well, he did not recall what happened to Napoleon in Russia, did he? :)

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Michael Emrys
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Postby Michael Emrys » 02 Dec 2007 09:19

Ironmachine wrote:Well, he did not recall what happened to Napoleon in Russia, did he? :)


Some of his generals did, which made them nervous. But they were all more or less caught up in "victory disease" and thought "it might be different this time".

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Ironmachine
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Postby Ironmachine » 02 Dec 2007 10:05

Seriously, there were few reasons to invade Spain. Economically, there was little to obtain, and that little could be and was obtained by trading. Militarily, such an operation would have needed many troops, and given the really poor state of transport means in Spain (few if any roads, and railroads with a different width) the invasion could have lasted too much, disturbing Hitler's timetable. Then, there would have been the need of many troops to garrison and control the country, with probably a strong guerrilla uprising against the Germans and a really long coast to protect from Allied attacks.
Gains would be almost negligible. The Mediterranean would not be blocked with Alexandria in British hands, and probably the only advantage would be in bases for submarines harder to block by the British (but these bases would be difficult to keep supplied for the Germans).
So in the end it was too much effort for too little gain.
Now, which ones of these many reasons decided Hitler not to invade Spain is difficult to ascertain. Maybe he had just too much interest about the East to think about the West.

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Michael Emrys
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Postby Michael Emrys » 02 Dec 2007 21:24

Ironmachine wrote:Seriously, there were few reasons to invade Spain.


Seriously, I think you are right.

Now, which ones of these many reasons decided Hitler not to invade Spain is difficult to ascertain.


In addition to all the reasons you list—each of which I agree with—Hitler just didn't want a major fight in the West at this time. He had a strategy for defeating the Commonwealth in the Mediterranean, but it involved in the first instance bringing both Spain and Vichy France into the Axis. As it turned out, the demands of those two countries for joining were incompatible. In addition to demands for supplies of arms, food, and oil—which were entirely reasonable given Spain's vulnerability to embargo and even invasion, but were beyond Germany's ability to provide—Franco wanted some of the French colonies on the Atlantic coast of Africa, and Petain was not about to give those up. So diplomacy failed, and Hitler lost interest in the project.

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Andy H
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Postby Andy H » 03 Dec 2007 01:55

In addition to those reasons already stated, one must also look at the consequences of a German invasion of Spain in Latin and South America. Early during war Germany was looking to foster various relationships within these geographical areas. A German invasion of Spain would have meant a death blow to those idea's, and dented the Axis trade in commodities from them.

Also the Spanish Canary Islands would have been invaded or occupied by invitation, thus making the Allied anti-Uboat efforts stronger. With Spain occupied, what would Portugal do? Along with possible Allied intervention from mainland Portugal, the Portugesse Azores would become a Allied base earlier than they historically did.

Spain and Potugal were both seafaring nations, and though there naval assets were of little true value to the Allies, there merchant fleets with a combined tonnage of around 1.25million tons, could provide a useful reinforcement to the Allied cause. Obviously not all would fall into Allied hands.

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Daniel Laurent
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Postby Daniel Laurent » 03 Dec 2007 11:52

Hi,
Hitler didn't give a hoot to Spain and Africa.
After crushing France, his sole target in the West was to sign peace with the UK, which meant getting Churchill kicked out and Halifax back in power.

All what he have done from June 1940 till June 1941 was intended to that.

End 1940, the three little 'Latin tyrans" (Petain, Franco, Mussolini) were dreaming of extending the war to the Mediterranean Sea (Gibraltar, Malta) and to Africa, each one with his own agenda contradicting the one of the others except regarding the seizure of British colonies.

Hitler visited them, meeting Franco in Hendaye, Petain in Montoire and Mussolini in Florence in November 1940.

Their african war and co-operation offers where followed by,,, nothing beside a big propaganda campaign intended to scare the British, put Churchill in trouble and pacify Staline, letting him believe that the West was the real next target while the Wehrmacht was preparing Barbarossa.

It worked for Staline, but not for Churchill.
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Daniel

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Ironmachine
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Postby Ironmachine » 03 Dec 2007 13:50

End 1940, the three little 'Latin tyrans" (Petain, Franco, Mussolini) were dreaming of extending the war to the Mediterranean Sea (Gibraltar, Malta) and to Africa, each one with his own agenda contradicting the one of the others except regarding the seizure of British colonies.

By the end of 1940, Mussolini had already extended the war to the Mediterraneam Sea and Africa, with the Italian troops invading Egypt on 13 September, the first air attack on Malta being on 11 June 1940, so his dreams had already come true, even if not in the way he surely desired. Petain had better things to worry about than extending the war to any place. And regarding Franco, much has been said and written about his attitud about the war, going across the full spectrum of options from "Franco was winning time demanding from Hitler far more than he was willing to grant" to "Franco wanted desperately to enter the war and Hitler denied him the opportunity", but the reality seems to be far more close to the first option that to the last one. (If you are interested, you can see here the opinion of an eyewitness http://galeon.hispavista.com/razonespanola/re88-gim.htm; it is in Spanish, though).

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Postby panzertruppe2001 » 04 Dec 2007 05:33

Only an opinion. The goal for invading Spain was not occupy a friend country otherwise take Gibraltar. So an invasion of Spain would be a mean to conquer Gibraltar, in other words attack the British. The capture of Gibraltar would be a serious defeat for the Great Britain. But I always suppose that Hitler did not want to defeat England, he only wanted make and agreement. England in the oceans, Germany in the continent.
The same with Dunkerque, Malta and maybe not send enough troops and oil to Rommel in the desert

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Postby webmill » 05 Dec 2007 06:19

panzertruppe2001 wrote:. The goal for invading Spain was not occupy a friend country otherwise take Gibraltar. So an invasion of Spain would be a mean to conquer Gibraltar, in other words attack the British. The capture of Gibraltar would be a serious defeat for the Great Britain.


German Forces taking Gibraltar immediately after the Fall of France, I believe is a major extrapolation of an alternate German Strategy that would change the course of the war.


First I would say after the Fall of France. Hitler was aware the major part of the dilemna of a two front war on Germany was solved and possibly permanently.If Hitler played his cards carefully at this point; therefore Hitler could take his time, as the Panzer Force, Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht built up for the invasion of Russia; and to use his time to try and convince Franco to join the Axis first rather than invade..

the Nazi-Soviet Pact was also giving Hitler the time to build up after the defeat of France; as 15,000 to 20,000 Soviet tanks were not overunning into the German side of the Polish border or into Romania to control the Polesti oilfields.
Hitler now started the Battle of Britain to see if Luftwaffe Air superiority over England could lead to an invasion of England. German troops from the victorious French campaign needed to held to some extent for the possibility of Sea Lion and also transferred to the Eastern Polish border.
Thus it can be deduced ,if Hitler didn't say it, that Hitler worried that an invasion of Spain might trigger a premature entry into the war by the United States.while his forces are in three or four places.--in my assessment

After the Spanish Civil War there were still many Communist / Republican/(and non-facist Franco supporters, not a contradiction I beleive) elements in Spain that held a grudge,( EDIT: or would start a grudge If the stakes were high enough) that would be attracted to a prolonged guerilla war against the German conquerors;with US and British support; these anti Facist partisans might cause some damage; in turn spurring on the French in N Africa to rebell. Southern Vichy France could be the base of operations with British support. Spanish pro allied partisans would be at first in a state of non movement, this author speculates, except for very small bands of raiders and sabatours, but the majority of potential partisans would be waiting to see the outcome of US entry.(and a debate about Spanish partisans here is posible)
And If all of these partisan factions did well in fighting or waiting; the Russian Communists would again in interested in giving support ; But with the US in the war early the Russian Communists would realise they no longer needed to respect the Nazi Soviet pact and Germany can fall to a two front war in late 1940 and early 1941 with a Red army armored attack.Although it would be a hard battle with the victorious German Army of the French Campaign

Although the US at the time of 1940 was a bluff in its US armored force the Russian Communists, I speculate, would believe rapid factory output in the US was possible because they the Russian communist were capable of big production in a short time ; the Communists may attack Germany on this premise; even to the point of lending Russian light tanks to the US to give them a head start along with fighter aircraft, I believe..(and a debate on whether getting tanks from Russia for the US is can do;)

Hitler winning time after time so far from Sept 1939 to May '40 did not want to risk reversal by triggering forces in the Med and also of the US , USSR, and Vichy France that the Germans and Italians would not be able to predict or control easily.

The luftwaffe in 1940 was to small to handle the battle of Britain, Malta, the Red Army tank force on the move and US entry because of Spain and the assaults on Gibraltar all at the same time.
the Germans were also aware in June 1940 that the hundreds of Panzer I and II were light and inferior; replacement with more Pz III and IV was the next project.and a not to soon attrition against Russian light tanks in attack if the Communist doubled crossed the Pact because of US joining the war. a WWI. repeat was Hitlers worry here most likely.

Greece was not yet conquered and so not Yugoslavia, the Axis minor allies of Hungary Romania and Bulgaria were set to join the Axis in Spring 1941. Early US entry might scare these Allies from joining the Axis.
Greece would most likely seek US help against the Italians. Hitlers confidence in Italian infantry to settle all matters that might blow up in the Med from a chain reaction to German troops invading Spain was weak. With the US in the war, Italy might remember they fought on the Allied side in WWI and hesitate to react in unified force as the crises might develop--in my opinion.

The US in 1940 was an bluff in terms of an armored force and Air Force, but its Navy could join the British in the Med and more importantly Hitler needed time to build up has submarine force in 1940. US entry would add US destroyers and technology in terms of more SONAR units. to sink German submarines. The battle of the Atlantic was the higher priority to the German high command and Hitler than a possible successful invasion of the Spain that would possibly prematurely trigger a US entry into the European war. Hitler didn't need to gamble with a invasion of Spain in 1940 as they believed the german submarines would choke Britain out the picture while Germany invaded Russia; if the British did not recieve a maximun assistance in naval/ASW help from the US at the time.


If the US did not enter the war when the German army invaded Spain in 1940, my answer would be Yes the Germans would gain a tremendous advantage. But as barbarrossa started in june 1941, with Spain and France Conquered the US might panic to join the war to save Britain and democracy as the total committment of the German army in Russia left the West front wide open and the US did not consider Italy a major war machine threat..

So too many unknowns in the gamble of a potentially disasterous kind for Hitler in a invasion of Spain in late 1940; which if successful ironically had many rewards to the eventual victory of the German war effort.
Last edited by webmill on 07 Dec 2007 03:23, edited 5 times in total.

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Postby Ironmachine » 05 Dec 2007 08:17

Just some quick thoughts:

But as barbarrossa started in june 1941, with Spain and France Conquered the US might panic to join the war to save Britain and democracy as the total committment of the German army in Russia left the West front wide open and the US did not consider Italy a major war machine threat.

I highly doubt that the US would enter the war in that scenario, given that in the real situation, where the only difference was that Spain was unconquered, the US did not joined the war when Barbarossa started. I do not see Spain as being so important for the United States.

If the US did not enter the war when the German army invaded Spain in 1940, my answer would be Yes the Germans would gain a tremendous advantage.

I fail to see any real advantage. Just the huge number of troops needed to garrison the country would have been a great problem in the eve of Barbarossa.

So too many unknowns in the gamble of a potentially disasterous kind for Hitler in a invasion of Spain in late 1940; which if successful ironically had many rewards to the eventual victory of the German war effort.

Can you please tell me what were the "many rewards to the eventual victory of the German war effort" of an invasion of Spain?

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Postby webmill » 05 Dec 2007 09:45

Daniel Laurent Quote:
Hitler didn't give a hoot to Spain




The aftermath of the Spanish Civil War hit Spain hard; After June 1940, Hitler must have had sympathy for the Spanish; and could've have felt that a German invasion in 1940 would have triggered a continuation of grain shortages due to probable chaos of former Republican fighters not cooperating.

Franco was clear in his letter to Hitler: that Spain was going thru a "period of its greatest starvation" and deprivation.

Franco resultant request to Hitler as the price for the joining the Axis was 400,000 to 700,000 tons of Grain; Hitler was hard pressed himself to find the extra grain in Germany etc to give to the Spanish; Although he may have wanted to. Instead a likely deduction is that Hitler may have concluded with the conclusion of a successful first 6 months of Operation barbarrossa, starting in June 1941, the Ukrainian wheatfields would be available to give grain supplies to Spain to relieve their situation in the not too distant future.

So Hitler would wait until then; Spain joining the Axis after Dec 1941 would mean Spanish troops for the defense of the east Front defense line against the Russia-- up at lenningrad to Moscow to Dnepr river/Kursk/Rostov line , and help Germany consolidate and protect their military gains of territory and resources of the previous summer campaign..
Last edited by webmill on 05 Dec 2007 12:26, edited 3 times in total.

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Michael Emrys
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Postby Michael Emrys » 05 Dec 2007 10:08

webmill wrote:...Spain joining the Axis after Dec 1941 would mean Spanish troops for the defense of the east Front defense line against the Russia-- up at lenningrad to Moscow to Dnepr river/Kursk/Rostov line , and help Germany consolidate and protect their military gains of territory and resources of the previous summer campaign..


I don't see how Spain could have possibly have had the military resources to guard a line anything like that long. I suppose they might have sent a token force—as they did historically—but if Spain joins the Axis, they are going to have to guard their own shores against possible Allied invasion. As someone mentioned earlier in this thread, Britain would have been very happy to take over the Canaries, which they could have easily done.

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Postby Ironmachine » 05 Dec 2007 11:16

webmill wrote:So Hitler would wait until then; Spain joining the Axis after Dec 1941 would mean Spanish troops for the defense of the east Front defense line against the Russia-- up at lenningrad to Moscow to Dnepr river/Kursk/Rostov line , and help Germany consolidate and protect their military gains of territory and resources of the previous summer campaign


Apart from the fact that you are now talking about Spain joining the Axis and not about a German invasion of Spain, with what were the Spanish troops supposed to defend the East Front? You fail to consider that the Spanish Army was, perhaps, barely enough to defend continental Spain against British attacks at this time in the war, but to pretend that they could stand on the East Front with their own equipment is truly laughable. So we have two problems with your argument:
1) Germany would have to completely reequip the Spanish Army to use it in Russia, and that was something that Germany would categorically not be able to do.
2) Spanish forces would be badly needed to defend Spain, so little would be available to be sent to the East Front.


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