Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

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dakrause
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Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by dakrause » 17 Sep 2019 22:49

I recently read Hitlers Spy Chief: The Wilhelm Canaris Betrayal(2013)

One of the questions that came to mind was why Hitler did not ask for Gibraltar in exchange for helping Franco in 1936. I suspect Franco would have readily agreed, but Hitler did not make the request so as to not give the Allies(who were not taken shape) advance warning of his ambitions(the agreement could have leaked out, even if made under utmost secrecy).

But let's say Hitler did make that request, and Franco had agreed. How would WW2 have been different?

pugsville
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by pugsville » 18 Sep 2019 01:34

It would have made no difference what so ever.

Hitler stumbled into ww2. He had no real plan of immediately attacking Britain and France. Such agreement gives Hitler a degree of foresight he clearly did not have. Nor was Franco likely to give up what he saw as rightfully Spanish. Sure Hitler could have withheld aid and 'forced' Franco to sign bit it's hardly likely to increase the chance of Spanish compliance.

If Franco had signed some piece of paper during the civil war it would not have changed his ego-political calculations in 1940 when it could have been implemented.

Franco agreed in principle in 1940 that Spain would enter the war and would take Gibraltar when conditions were met for Spain to enter the war, which would be unchanged by the some piece of paper. Spain required large military and economic aid in order to be ready to enter the war. The Spanish economy was in extremely poor shape, widespread shortages and poor nutrition. Spain was totally dependent on imports from Britian and the USA. Which would be closed off instantly of Spain joined the war, economic collapse and the demise of the regime were not far fetched. Franco had serious fears and would not take this step lightly and wanted large amounts of economic aide delivered BEFORE he acted. Similarly the Spanish military was totally unprepared for war and lacked almost all modern equipment, and Franco wanted substantial assistance BEFORE he acted. Agreement or no agreement Franco would not have acted without his conditions being met.

On the Loss of Gibraltar. It would have made less difference than most people think. The British convoys to the middle east ran around Africa the long war once Italy entered the war so no difference there. It could have made supplying Malta much harder. But Malta is often over rated, 5% more supplies to the Axis in North Africa is not a huge game changer. The British had plans to seize both the Canaries and the Azores. these would have been pretty substantial compensation, allowing the closing of the mid alantic air gap for example. It would enable the italian navy to leave the Mediterranean but given it;s overall performance during the war, it's unlikely to make much difference at all. See the performance of Italian submarines.'

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Ironmachine
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by Ironmachine » 18 Sep 2019 07:33

dakrause wrote:One of the questions that came to mind was why Hitler did not ask for Gibraltar in exchange for helping Franco in 1936.
First, it would have been fairly stupid indeed to ask Franco for something Franco did not have, and would not have had even after winning the war.
Second, when Franco first asked Hitler for help (see viewtopic.php?f=32&t=159088&p=1386966&h ... r#p1386966) and Hitler began to provide help, Franco was still just one in a long line of generals in the rebel side; he had no authority, either real or moral, to make any concession with regard to Gibraltar. In fact, if known in Spain any such concession surely would have precluded his appointment as supreme commander of the rebel side (he had many adversaries among the top commanders of the rebellion).
Third, if the Allies get a clue of that agreement about Gibraltar, the problem would have not been for Hitler, but for Franco. Great Britain and France would have immediately provided full support to the Republicans (the lesser of two evils) and a blockade of the National zones would have been established. There's no way the rebels could have won the war in that scenario.
And fourth, why would Hitler have wanted Gibraltar? In a war against Great Britain, it was useless for the Germans without Spanish cooperation, and unnecessary with it.
dakrause wrote:I suspect Franco would have readily agreed,
I suspect he would have not.
dakrause wrote:But let's say Hitler did make that request, and Franco had agreed. How would WW2 have been different?
Let's suppose that Hitler made the request, that Franco agreed, and that the National side won the SCW more or less as in OTL. If Hitler for any reason decides on a Mediterranean strategy and wants to occupy Gibraltar (and that's a big if for a man so obsessed with the war against the Soviet Union), there is no way he could attack the Rock without Spanish cooperation, either active or passive. So there are more or less at the same spot we find in OTL, were Hitler is really asking Franco to join the war and Franco is procrastinating and asking for large amounts of food, materials and weaponry that Hitler can not provide. No significant difference.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 18 Sep 2019 11:55

Hi dakreuse,

It was not within Franco's legal power to give Gibraltar away. Under the original treaty with the British, Gibraltar could only be British, or Spanish. No third country could receive it and the local inhabitants were not eligible for independence, and still aren't.

Sid

mars
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by mars » 18 Sep 2019 14:19

dakrause wrote:
17 Sep 2019 22:49
I recently read Hitlers Spy Chief: The Wilhelm Canaris Betrayal(2013)

One of the questions that came to mind was why Hitler did not ask for Gibraltar in exchange for helping Franco in 1936. I suspect Franco would have readily agreed, but Hitler did not make the request so as to not give the Allies(who were not taken shape) advance warning of his ambitions(the agreement could have leaked out, even if made under utmost secrecy).

But let's say Hitler did make that request, and Franco had agreed. How would WW2 have been different?
There was one problem though: Gibraltar was not Franco's to give, it was under British control

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Ironmachine
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by Ironmachine » 18 Sep 2019 16:26

Sid Guttridge wrote:It was not within Franco's legal power to give Gibraltar away. Under the original treaty with the British, Gibraltar could only be British, or Spanish. No third country could receive it and the local inhabitants were not eligible for independence, and still aren't.
In fact, you are wrong. The original treaty (the Treaty of Utrech) does not say that Gibraltar could only be British or Spanish. It really says (in Article X) that Gibraltar (the city, the castles, the harbour, the defenses and the fortresses) is owned by the British Crown in perpetuity:
"El Rey Católico, por sí y por sus herederos y sucesores, cede por este Tratado a la Corona de la Gran Bretaña la plena y entera propiedad de la ciudad y castillos de Gibraltar, juntamente con su puerto, defensas y fortalezas que le pertenecen, dando la dicha propiedad absolutamente para que la tenga y goce con entero derecho y para siempre, sin excepción ni impedimento alguno.
However, if the British Crown decides to get rid of Gibraltar (giving it away, selling it , or whatever), the Spanish Crown must be the first one to which Gibraltar is offered. But if no agreement is reached, Gibraltar can be offered to any other country without any limitation:
Si en algún tiempo a la Corona de la Gran Bretaña le pareciere conveniente dar, vender, enajenar de cualquier modo la propiedad de la dicha Ciudad de Gibraltar, se ha convenido y concordado por este Tratado que se dará a la Corona de España la primera acción antes que a otros para redimirla."
Also, it would be well within Franco's legal power (once he is head of state) to give Gibraltar away once it is again Spanish, or renounce Spanish rights to Gibraltar, or something similar. The only thing that really could prevent Franco giving away Gibraltar to the Germans is that Franco does not own Gibraltar in the first place.

However, it really doesn't matter. In peace, there is no way the UK is going to renounce to Gibraltar, so it really doesn't matter what Spain and Germany agree to do. In war, there is no need for Hitler to ask Franco about Gibraltar; if he takes it, he keeps it, and there's nothing Franco can do about it.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by Berto » 18 Sep 2019 19:33

It would enable the italian navy to leave the Mediterranean but given it;s overall performance during the war, it's unlikely to make much difference at all. See the performance of Italian submarines.'
In the Atlantic a couple of dozens of Italian submarines sank 600,000 tons of Allied shipping... During Betasom's period of operations, Italian submarines sank on average 34,5 tons of shipping per boat lost, whereas German U-Boats sank 40,6 tons per boat lost in the same timeframe. Not that much of a difference. In 1942-1943 Italian submarines operating in the Atlantic sank on average as much tonnage as their German counterparts.

The Italian fleet entering the Atlantic would have allowed the European Axis to jointly operate ten battleships, thirteen heavy cruisers, twenty light cruisers, a hundred destroyers... it would definitely have made a lot of difference.

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JAG13
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by JAG13 » 18 Sep 2019 22:06

pugsville wrote:
18 Sep 2019 01:34
On the Loss of Gibraltar. It would have made less difference than most people think. The British convoys to the middle east ran around Africa the long war once Italy entered the war so no difference there. It could have made supplying Malta much harder. But Malta is often over rated, 5% more supplies to the Axis in North Africa is not a huge game changer. The British had plans to seize both the Canaries and the Azores. these would have been pretty substantial compensation, allowing the closing of the mid alantic air gap for example. It would enable the italian navy to leave the Mediterranean but given it;s overall performance during the war, it's unlikely to make much difference at all. See the performance of Italian submarines.'
If the Italians had wanted, they could have bypassed Gibraltar, use smoke at night to block searchlights and ran past... after all, thanks to the Spanish they would wlaways know what was at anchor there and prevent surprises.

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DrG
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by DrG » 19 Sep 2019 01:30

JAG13 wrote:
18 Sep 2019 22:06
If the Italians had wanted, they could have bypassed Gibraltar, use smoke at night to block searchlights and ran past... after all, thanks to the Spanish they would wlaways know what was at anchor there and prevent surprises.
Utter nonsense.

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JAG13
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by JAG13 » 19 Sep 2019 01:56

DrG wrote:
19 Sep 2019 01:30
JAG13 wrote:
18 Sep 2019 22:06
If the Italians had wanted, they could have bypassed Gibraltar, use smoke at night to block searchlights and ran past... after all, thanks to the Spanish they would wlaways know what was at anchor there and prevent surprises.
Utter nonsense.
Lol! How so?

pugsville
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by pugsville » 19 Sep 2019 02:19

Berto wrote:
18 Sep 2019 19:33
It would enable the italian navy to leave the Mediterranean but given it;s overall performance during the war, it's unlikely to make much difference at all. See the performance of Italian submarines.'
In the Atlantic a couple of dozens of Italian submarines sank 600,000 tons of Allied shipping... During Betasom's period of operations, Italian submarines sank on average 34,5 tons of shipping per boat lost, whereas German U-Boats sank 40,6 tons per boat lost in the same timeframe. Not that much of a difference. In 1942-1943 Italian submarines operating in the Atlantic sank on average as much tonnage as their German counterparts.

The Italian fleet entering the Atlantic would have allowed the European Axis to jointly operate ten battleships, thirteen heavy cruisers, twenty light cruisers, a hundred destroyers... it would definitely have made a lot of difference.
Why wasn't the Italian submarine effort sustained?

the Axis never had 10 battleship in active service combined.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by pugsville » 19 Sep 2019 02:25

JAG13 wrote:
18 Sep 2019 22:06
If the Italians had wanted, they could have bypassed Gibraltar, use smoke at night to block searchlights and ran past... after all, thanks to the Spanish they would wlaways know what was at anchor there and prevent surprises.
Night time encounters with the radar equipped royal navy did not go with for the Italian navy,

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JAG13
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by JAG13 » 19 Sep 2019 02:30

pugsville wrote:
19 Sep 2019 02:25
JAG13 wrote:
18 Sep 2019 22:06
If the Italians had wanted, they could have bypassed Gibraltar, use smoke at night to block searchlights and ran past... after all, thanks to the Spanish they would wlaways know what was at anchor there and prevent surprises.
Night time encounters with the radar equipped royal navy did not go with for the Italian navy,
1. The RM would ALWAYS know what RN ships would be at or around Gibraltar and plan accordingly, if wanted.

2. What RN surface search radar equipped ships were there in 1940 Gibraltar? Or anywhere, since RN surface search was barely being deployed by then.

Berto
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by Berto » 19 Sep 2019 07:43

Why wasn't the Italian submarine effort sustained?
In what sense?
the Axis never had 10 battleship in active service combined.
True, nine at most in 1940 (Littorio, Vittorio Veneto, Cesare, Duilio, Doria, Cavour, Bismarck, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau). Titpitz only entered service after Taranto. Though depending on when this hypothetical takeover of Gibraltar takes place, Taranto might not happen at all, and the Axis could have potentially operated ten battleships.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Sep 2019 10:06

Hi Ironmachine,

Thanks for a valuable correction. I was grossly oversimplifying the case.

It was hardly feasible for Hitler to take Gibraltar without Spanish co-operation on land and in the air, and superiority at sea, which was dependent largely on Italy getting control of the Mediterranean.

It was also hardly politically feasible for a nationalist like Franco to cede Gibraltar to a third party.

However, I can imagine German heavy artillery and aircraft being stationed there with Spanish co-operation. There were already German plans to do the same in the Canaries.

Cheers,

Sid.

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