Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

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Ironmachine
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by Ironmachine » 19 Sep 2019 12:11

Sid Guttridge wrote: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.
I don't think that superiority at sea was in any way necessary to take Gibraltar. It seems the Germans didn't considered it necessary either, as their plans for Operation Felix showed.
Sid Guttridge wrote: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.
Yes, that's possible. However, Franco was no fool, as he should have been aware that any German presence might lead to de-facto German possesion, as Gibraltar in fact was far more valuable to Germany than to Spain. IIRC, Franco told Hitler that the reconquest of Gibraltar had to be carried out by Spanish troops, so he may accept the weapons, but not the men. All would depend on the global evolution of the war, but on the other hand it is hard to believe that Franco would enter the war by his own choice unless Great Britian is virtually defeated.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by Ironmachine » 19 Sep 2019 12:16

Berto wrote: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.
Did the Axis have the oil necessary for operating that fleet in a sustained manner? And even if the oil was there, are the Germans really willing to supply the Italian fleet?

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by DrG » 19 Sep 2019 14:48

JAG13 wrote:
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?
Have you ever read of any mission comparable to the sheer folly that you have suggested?
In this forum nobody is an expert of everything, of course, but please do us the courtesy of writing about themes of which you have at least a basic knowledge and keep your far-fetched theories for yourself or for that complete waste of time that is the "What if" section of this forum.

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DrG
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by DrG » 19 Sep 2019 15:30

Returning to the origin of this topic, let's assume that the opening post was not about Gibraltar, which we can all agree was under British possession and Franco was completely unable to give it to any other country, but any other Spanish base in the Atlantic.
As already mentioned, this action by Franco would have caused a strong British opposition, both towards Spain (under British control for its imports, especially food) and Germany. We should recall the "Easter Agreement" signed by Italy and UK on 16 April 1938; one of the conditions most firmly put forward by UK was that Italy retreated its armed forces from the Balearics as soon as possible. It was a conditio sine qua non for the negotiations and it can be regarded as a good example of the stance that UK would have kept if Germany had managed to get a naval base on the Spanish Atlantic coast.

I see that the chance of an Italian Navy's activity in the Atlantic has been raised too. This idea surfaced more than once during the Second World War, always under the assumptions that Spain had sided with the Axis (or even forced to do so after a German occupation, ostensibly to prevent the menace of an Allied landing) and Gibraltar had been conquered or at least besieged (losing its offensive capacity, i.e. its ships and aircrafts).

As far as I know, no actual planning was ever made, given that it was a relatively remote hypothesis, but it would have to face some serious problems, anyway:
1) The British, through the Suez Channel, could have reinforced the Mediterranean Fleet in Alexandria. This force ceased to be a menace since the sinking of the Barham in Nov. 1941 and the damages inflicted on the Valiant and Queen Elizabeth in Dec. 1941, so the problem of a new battle force in Alexandria, especially after the sinking of Repulse and Prince of Wales, was regarded as a minor one, but until the beginning of 1942 it could not be ruled out.
2) The Italian Navy was always hampered by the very short range of its destroyers, which were the most obsolete component of the fleet. This map, by Vincent P. O'Hara, provides a clear indication of the maximum range of the Italian fleet (from its main bases of Spezia and Taranto and the secondary bases of Naples and Messina), due to the limitations of the destroyers.
Destroyers.jpg
In the Atlantic, this shortcoming, given also the lack of fleet tankers, would have been dramatic. Precisely for this reason, the Breakthrough Fleet, planned before the war by adm. Cavagnari but never really implemented due to lack of money and of the Diesel engines planned for the oceanic cruisers, was based upon the "espolatori" (scouts) of the "Capitani Romani" class. The first ones of these beautiful, very advanced and successful ships were the only ones which managed to enter in service and fight in WW2, reclassified as "light cruisers". In the original plan, they should have operated as very large fleet destroyers for the oceanic operations, thus overcoming the limits of the usual destroyers.
3) The lack of fuel was of course another serious limitation, which would have been overcome only if the escort to North African convoys could have been made by minor vessels, such as corvettes or motor torpedo boats.

Despite these problems, for a short while the chance of an Italian Atlantic fleet was taken into account by Mussolini and the High Command of the Italian Navy. It happened at the beginning of 1943, when Mussolini hoped that the defeat in Stalingrad would have made Hitler sign an armistice with USSR, or at least would have made him order a strictly defensive stance on the Russian Front, therefore freeing enough divisions for the (more or less friendly) occupation of Spain and the defeat of the Allies in Algeria and Morocco, while the African front would have been stabilized along the Mareth Line on the border between Tunisia and Libya. This would have meant that the Western Mediterranean would have been turned into an Italian-controlled basin, leaving the escort of convoys to unexpensive and fuel-saving small units.

In January 19443, this one was the extremely optimistic scenario in which Supermarina developed the plan for the Navy for the year 1944. By the end of that year, the Italian Navy planned the availability of a battle force of 9 battleships and 4 aircraft carriers:
- 3 "Littorio" class battleships;
- 2 "Duilio" class battleships;
- 2 "Cavour" class battleships (both Cavour and Cesare would have been updated with new AA artillery, etc.);
- 2 "Dunkerque" class battleships, repaired in Toulon and put into Italian service;
- 1 fleet aircraft carrier (Aquila);
- 1 escort aircraft carrier (Sparviero);
- 2 light aircraft carriers (former heavy cruisers Bolzano and Foch, repaired and turned into aircraft-launchers).

Hitler's refusal to reach an agreement with USSR and the limited success of the battle of Kasserine Pass turned this scenario into the realm of unfeasibility within a few weeks.
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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by Berto » 19 Sep 2019 15:35

Ironmachine wrote:
19 Sep 2019 12:16
Berto wrote: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.
Did the Axis have the oil necessary for operating that fleet in a sustained manner?
Again, it depends. What is the effect of an Axis-controlled Gibraltar on Malta, the British Mediterranean Fleet, the British position in Egypt? Most the Italian Navy's fuel consumption during the war was caused by the daily needs of the supply convoys towards North Africa. If the North African campaign does not happen the way we know it, if the British are forced to abandon Malta and/or Egypt, if the Royal Navy's operational capacity in the Mediterranean is either heavily limited or negated altogether, then Italy would have a lot of fuel that can be spared for Atlantic operations. It is all a huge "what if".
And even if the oil was there, are the Germans really willing to supply the Italian fleet?
Rendering the Italian Navy unable to operate outside the Mediterranean would negate one of the main advantages that an Axis-controlled Gibraltar would provide, so I think yes, in this hypothetical situation.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by JAG13 » 19 Sep 2019 20:20

DrG wrote:
19 Sep 2019 14:48
JAG13 wrote:
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?
Have you ever read of any mission comparable to the sheer folly that you have suggested?
In this forum nobody is an expert of everything, of course, but please do us the courtesy of writing about themes of which you have at least a basic knowledge and keep your far-fetched theories for yourself or for that complete waste of time that is the "What if" section of this forum.
Lol! Ok, if it is so far fetched it would be simple and quick to demonstrate just that, otherwise is just barking.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by DrG » 20 Sep 2019 01:29

JAG13 wrote:
19 Sep 2019 20:20
Lol! Ok, if it is so far fetched it would be simple and quick to demonstrate just that, otherwise is just barking.
If you were able to understand the explanation you wouldn't even have written your childish proposal of a sortie through the Gibraltar Strait: you are just an ignorant and rude troll and I won't waste my time with you. Please leave this thread and return to your mental masturbations in the "What if" section of the forum.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by JAG13 » 20 Sep 2019 01:41

DrG wrote:
20 Sep 2019 01:29
JAG13 wrote:
19 Sep 2019 20:20
Lol! Ok, if it is so far fetched it would be simple and quick to demonstrate just that, otherwise is just barking.
If you were able to understand the explanation you wouldn't even have written your childish proposal of a sortie through the Gibraltar Strait: you are just an ignorant and rude troll and I won't waste my time with you. Please leave this thread and return to your mental masturbations in the "What if" section of the forum.
Lol! You have been rude from the start and now you are wailing about rudeness without ever providing a single argument on the discussion, you are the ignorant tool here, although an entertaining one... go on.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by pugsville » 20 Sep 2019 03:16

Berto wrote:
19 Sep 2019 15:35
Ironmachine wrote:
19 Sep 2019 12:16
Berto wrote: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.
Did the Axis have the oil necessary for operating that fleet in a sustained manner?
Again, it depends. What is the effect of an Axis-controlled Gibraltar on Malta, the British Mediterranean Fleet, the British position in Egypt? Most the Italian Navy's fuel consumption during the war was caused by the daily needs of the supply convoys towards North Africa. If the North African campaign does not happen the way we know it, if the British are forced to abandon Malta and/or Egypt, if the Royal Navy's operational capacity in the Mediterranean is either heavily limited or negated altogether, then Italy would have a lot of fuel that can be spared for Atlantic operations. It is all a huge "what if".
And even if the oil was there, are the Germans really willing to supply the Italian fleet?
Rendering the Italian Navy unable to operate outside the Mediterranean would negate one of the main advantages that an Axis-controlled Gibraltar would provide, so I think yes, in this hypothetical situation.
The Loss of Gibraltar would seriously undermine the viability of Malta making resupply immensely difficult (it was already very difficult and large losses in Malta convoy escorts show)

It would have almost no effect of the supply and movement of troops and equipment to Egypt. Which almost entirely went around Africa already,

The German Italian co-operations was extremely sketchy. The Germans were loath to give the Italians anything, equipment resources, it was very grudgingly at beat the view generally being it wasted compared to use of the resources by the Germans themselves. Nazi Germany also lacked anything approaching a working combined chiefs of staffs, they simply did not have an overall strategic decision making body, by various competing bodies with the air force and navy running their own highly un co-operative shows. they only overall con0-ordintaion through Hitler whose strategic understanding was extremely limited. And there was a never any decent talks about strategic operations o co-operation by the various Axis powers and Allies. Hitler just dictated. Hitler never engaged in any sort of give and take compromise discussions and when needed t o avoid those discussions with Mussolini. The profound lack of strategic co-operation and co-ordination was extreme.

just finished a book on Franco-Hitler relations. And The talks never progressed. Germans said what they wanted, the Spanish what they wanted, the Germans just kept reiterating position A. Franco said they would need serious economic and military e aid to enter the war. The German response enter the war and we'll see what we can do. Vague undertakings, teh Spanish wanted concrete aid before anything happened. The Germans never really responded.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by JAG13 » 20 Sep 2019 04:16

pugsville wrote:
20 Sep 2019 03:16

The German Italian co-operations was extremely sketchy. The Germans were loath to give the Italians anything, equipment resources, it was very grudgingly at beat the view generally being it wasted compared to use of the resources by the Germans themselves. Nazi Germany also lacked anything approaching a working combined chiefs of staffs, they simply did not have an overall strategic decision making body, by various competing bodies with the air force and navy running their own highly un co-operative shows. they only overall con0-ordintaion through Hitler whose strategic understanding was extremely limited. And there was a never any decent talks about strategic operations o co-operation by the various Axis powers and Allies. Hitler just dictated. Hitler never engaged in any sort of give and take compromise discussions and when needed t o avoid those discussions with Mussolini. The profound lack of strategic co-operation and co-ordination was extreme.

just finished a book on Franco-Hitler relations. And The talks never progressed. Germans said what they wanted, the Spanish what they wanted, the Germans just kept reiterating position A. Franco said they would need serious economic and military e aid to enter the war. The German response enter the war and we'll see what we can do. Vague undertakings, teh Spanish wanted concrete aid before anything happened. The Germans never really responded.
Well, Franco did the same Mussolini did in 1939, plenty of talk and a disproportionate and ridiculous list of military and economic demands intended to make Germany back off without straight rejecting Hitler.

Of course the Italians screwed up just like in WW1, stabbed the French on the back when Paris fell and the war appeared to be finished, Musso didnt want to be left without a share of the spoils, the stories around that particular event are, well... pathetic.

Hitler was aware Ciano was talking to and passing information to the allies, so there would be no info for Italy beyond the strictly necessary. Cant blame them for that.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by pugsville » 20 Sep 2019 04:48

JAG13 wrote:
20 Sep 2019 04:16

Well, Franco did the same Mussolini did in 1939, plenty of talk and a disproportionate and ridiculous list of military and economic demands intended to make Germany back off without straight rejecting Hitler.

Of course the Italians screwed up just like in WW1, stabbed the French on the back when Paris fell and the war appeared to be finished, Musso didnt want to be left without a share of the spoils, the stories around that particular event are, well... pathetic.

Hitler was aware Ciano was talking to and passing information to the allies, so there would be no info for Italy beyond the strictly necessary. Cant blame them for that.
But there was complete lack of ability or desire to negotiate form Nazi Germany, there was no attempt to came back with any sort of proposal for the Spanish. War would have meant really severe economic problems for the Spanish, they lacked almost any decent weapons and equipment. IF Germany wanted Spain to enter the war they had to be forthcoming with something. There was never any concrete reply form the Germans. It was not that negotiations failed, they were not attempted.

While Spain made have a long list, It was probably realistic in terms of what Spain needed if it was to have any real participation in the war, to commit Spain to a war without the economic resources or military equipment to be able to maintain it's economy and defend itself would have been extreme folly from Franco's perspective. If the Germans wanted Spanish help, and that was necessary for Gibraltar then the Germans had to be willingly to support Spain for that to happen. They were not. So it was never going to happen.

Nazi Germany's inablity to negotiate, have any sort of combined strategic planning at all made alliances, co-ordination, co-operation extremely difficult.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by JAG13 » 20 Sep 2019 07:20

pugsville wrote:
20 Sep 2019 04:48
JAG13 wrote:
20 Sep 2019 04:16

Well, Franco did the same Mussolini did in 1939, plenty of talk and a disproportionate and ridiculous list of military and economic demands intended to make Germany back off without straight rejecting Hitler.

Of course the Italians screwed up just like in WW1, stabbed the French on the back when Paris fell and the war appeared to be finished, Musso didnt want to be left without a share of the spoils, the stories around that particular event are, well... pathetic.

Hitler was aware Ciano was talking to and passing information to the allies, so there would be no info for Italy beyond the strictly necessary. Cant blame them for that.
But there was complete lack of ability or desire to negotiate form Nazi Germany, there was no attempt to came back with any sort of proposal for the Spanish. War would have meant really severe economic problems for the Spanish, they lacked almost any decent weapons and equipment. IF Germany wanted Spain to enter the war they had to be forthcoming with something. There was never any concrete reply form the Germans. It was not that negotiations failed, they were not attempted.

While Spain made have a long list, It was probably realistic in terms of what Spain needed if it was to have any real participation in the war, to commit Spain to a war without the economic resources or military equipment to be able to maintain it's economy and defend itself would have been extreme folly from Franco's perspective. If the Germans wanted Spanish help, and that was necessary for Gibraltar then the Germans had to be willingly to support Spain for that to happen. They were not. So it was never going to happen.

Nazi Germany's inablity to negotiate, have any sort of combined strategic planning at all made alliances, co-ordination, co-operation extremely difficult.
Oh, by then Canaris had painted a very bleak picture of Spanish capabilities and needs plus, well, the purpose was to free the Italian navy... and the Germans had strong convictions regarding the military value of their Italian allies...

Yes, Spanish needs were vast and so were their demands of French territory, again, designed to disuade Hitler from insisting. They succeeded.

It would have only really worth it if Sea Lion was actually viable and the Germans valued RM support, THEN it would have made sense to try and "pay" the price, but both premises were false.

Ciano, Musso's son in law, told the British the Italians would not follow Hilter into Poland, and told the Belgian ambassador in Jan 1940 that the Germans would invade the Netherlands, and the Germans knew that, so that and their opinion on Italian military worth put an end to any serious attempt at coordination.

Personally, cant blame them.
Last edited by JAG13 on 20 Sep 2019 07:23, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by Ironmachine » 20 Sep 2019 07:22

JAG13 wrote:Well, Franco did the same Mussolini did in 1939, plenty of talk and a disproportionate and ridiculous list of military and economic demands intended to make Germany back off without straight rejecting Hitler.
pugsville wrote:But there was complete lack of ability or desire to negotiate form Nazi Germany, there was no attempt to came back with any sort of proposal for the Spanish.
The real problem is not that Germany did not attempt to negotiate but that that it was impossible for Germany to fulfill all the Spanish needs. As soon as Spain enters the war, its supply lines would be completely cut out. That means that Germany not only would have to completely (and I mean just that, completely) reequip the Spanish Army and the Air Force (and the Navy would just be left out, as there was nothing that could be done about it), which was beyond Germany's capacity, but also provide all the oil, most of the food (Spain was already having a famine problem), medicins, industrial tools, civilian transport (trucks, railways...), etc. if they want Spain to be able to just defend itself, something that Germany couldn't do.
It seems that people here is not aware of the painful state of the Spanish Armed Forces and the Spanish economy in 1939-1940, but Franco was. His list of military and economic demands was in no way disproportionate or ridiculous, it was, if anything, very conservative and reasonable. Franco may have been forced to enter the war if presented with an ultimatum by Hitler, but it is very difficult to believe that any kind of negotiation would have pushed him to war. Simply put, Germany had no way of satisfying Spanish needs and desires.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by pugsville » 20 Sep 2019 07:29

JAG13 wrote:
20 Sep 2019 07:20
Oh, by then Canaris had painted a very bleak picture of Spanish capabilities and needs plus, well, the purpose was to free the Italian navy... and the Germans had strong convictions regarding the military value of their Italian allies...

Yes, Spanish needs were vast and so were their demands of French territory, again, designed to disuade Hitler from insisting. They succeeded.

It would have only really worth it if Sea Lion was actually viable and the Germans valued RM support, THEN it would have made sense to try and "pay" the price, but both premises were false.
I just read

Franco and Hitler : Spain, Germany, and World War II (Stanley G Payne)

And from that I would say initially the Spanish were quite genuine in their negotiation , they intended to enter the war. Their demands were NOT designed to put Hitler off. But they thought reasonable needs that would be needed if Spain entered the war. Which they wished to do.

it was not till 1942 that they were in effect putting Germany off.

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Re: Hitler's price: Gibraltar?

Post by JAG13 » 20 Sep 2019 07:31

Ironmachine wrote:
20 Sep 2019 07:22
JAG13 wrote:Well, Franco did the same Mussolini did in 1939, plenty of talk and a disproportionate and ridiculous list of military and economic demands intended to make Germany back off without straight rejecting Hitler.
pugsville wrote:But there was complete lack of ability or desire to negotiate form Nazi Germany, there was no attempt to came back with any sort of proposal for the Spanish.
The real problem is not that Germany did not attempt to negotiate but that that it was impossible for Germany to fulfill all the Spanish needs. As soon as Spain enters the war, its supply lines would be completely cut out. That means that Germany not only would have to completely (and I mean just that, completely) reequip the Spanish Army and the Air Force (and the Navy would just be left out, as there was nothing that could be done about it), which was beyond Germany's capacity, but also provide all the oil, most of the food (Spain was already having a famine problem), medicins, industrial tools, civilian transport (trucks, railways...), etc. if they want Spain to be able to just defend itself, something that Germany couldn't do.
It seems that people here is not aware of the painful state of the Spanish Armed Forces and the Spanish economy in 1939-1940, but Franco was. His list of military and economic demands was in no way disproportionate or ridiculous, it was, if anything, very conservative and reasonable. Franco may have been forced to enter the war if presented with an ultimatum by Hitler, but it is very difficult to believe that any kind of negotiation would have pushed him to war. Simply put, Germany had no way of satisfying Spanish needs and desires.
Military and economic needs, yes, logical after such a destructive civil war, the territorial ones were a different matter and way beyond any possible Spanish contribution.

IIRC Franco made preparations in case the Germans tried to enter by force.

Germany lived on Soviet credit and plundering its conquests... it had little to spare so no hope of supplying Spain beyond French weapons.

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