Franco's relationship with Britain

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historygeek2021
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Franco's relationship with Britain

Post by historygeek2021 » 20 Apr 2021 02:30

It seems like Franco had a favorable relationship with Britain from the time of the Spanish Civil War. British special agents provided him with a plane to fly from the Canary Islands to Morocco prior to the outbreak of fighting, and the Royal Navy operating out of Gibraltar was hostile to the Republicans and forced all but one of their destroyers to leave the staits of Gibraltar, allowing a convoy of Franco's Army of Africa to successfully sail from Morocco to mainland Spain.

Some more from Wikipedia:
In addition, the British authorities in Gibraltar and Tangier were hostile to the Republic.[12] The British oil companies in Gibraltar refused to sell fuel to the Republican navy. The Tangier International Commission denied the use of the harbor to the Republican Navy, because this was contrary to the city's neutrality, but nevertheless authorized the passage of food, goods and gasoline for the German transport planes to Spanish Morocco
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convoy_de_la_Victoria

This seems to explain Franco's reticence to join forces with Hitler during WW2. DRZW Volume 2 notes that Franco secretly concluded an economic agreement with Britain during the summer of 1940, providing his country with supplies that Germany could never match. DRZW Volume 1 notes that Franco resisted Hitler's efforts to incorporate Spain into a larger area European economy during the war.

Franco owed a debt to Hitler, but he also owed a debt to the British. This article notes that Churchill lavishly bestowed bribes on high ranking Spanish officials during the war: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/ ... day-review

So it seems like a lot of "What If" scenarios that involve Franco joining Germany are less plausible than they would seem based on popular literature claiming Franco was pro-German. Britain and Franco had a favorable relationship before WW2, and this relationship grew stronger during the war. Franco never had any intention of joining Germany in a war against Britain.

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Ironmachine
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Re: Franco's relationship with Britain

Post by Ironmachine » 20 Apr 2021 07:31

The Royal Navy did not in any way "forced all but one of their destroyers to leave the staits of Gibraltar". The British refused to allow the Republican Navy to stay in Gibraltar (and arguably in Tanger) and that, as the remaining main ports in the straits where occupied by the rebels, made it difficult, but far from impossible, for the Republican Navy to operate in the area. Anyway, the "convoy de la victoria" which, on the other hand, despite its propaganda value, militarily was far less important than the air bridge and in no way a decisive operation, and the simple fact that it was not repeated shows that the control of the straits was not in rebel hands.
Also, the British claims that they "lavishly bestowed bribes on high ranking Spanish officials", while often repeated, is far from showing the whole truth. The British may have done so (or thought they did) but it is not clear that the high ranking Spanish officials received them. There were some rather shady characters involved and the matter is far from clear.
As for Franco, I would say he was not pro-German, but pro-Franco. Your claim that "Franco never had any intention of joining Germany in a war against Britain" goes against the conclusions of every serious researcher that have studied the matter, even the most pro-Francoist, and if your only available evidence is what you have shown in this post...

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Re: Franco's relationship with Britain

Post by historygeek2021 » 21 Apr 2021 06:49

Ironmachine wrote:
20 Apr 2021 07:31
Your claim that "Franco never had any intention of joining Germany in a war against Britain" goes against the conclusions of every serious researcher that have studied the matter, even the most pro-Francoist, and if your only available evidence is what you have shown in this post...
That must come as a shock to the authors of DRZW Volume III, who state on page 152 that Franco's conditional offer to join the war in 1940 was based on his expectation that Britain would not continue the war. As soon as it became clear that Britain would continue the war, Franco concluded an economic agreement with Britain on July 24 that provided Spain with supplies that Germany could not come close to matching.

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Re: Franco's relationship with Britain

Post by Ironmachine » 21 Apr 2021 07:35

That must come as a shock to the authors of DRZW Volume III, who state on page 152 that Franco's conditional offer to join the war in 1940 was based on his expectation that Britain would not continue the war.
So the authors of DRZW Volume III are mainly concerned with Germany, so I find their evaluation of Franco's and Spain's positions in 1940 somewhat limited. I have never seen any Spanish document of that time that considered the possibility that the British would not continue the war. Of course, Franco could have had a different opinion on the matter, but there is no conclusive evidence of that.
As soon as it became clear that Britain would continue the war, Franco concluded an economic agreement with Britain on July 24 that provided Spain with supplies that Germany could not come close to matching.
That agreement did not provided Spain with supplies, but kind of allowed Spain to receive supplies from third parties, which is a very different proposition. Also, you are working with a 20/20 hindsight, but Franco, unlike you, has more problems assesing what Germany could and could not provide. In fact, AFAIK, the greatest problem considered by the Spaniards was how the supplies would reach Spain, not whether they were available or not. It is not as if the agreement with the UK allowed Spain to fulfill her needs, either.

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Re: Franco's relationship with Britain

Post by Loïc » 21 Apr 2021 14:17

The popular literature? Franco is someone who trusted in the final german victory until the end of the war, more the researchers are working on this topic more the post-war franquist myth of the pro-allied friendly neutrality because Franco was a so great leader and the only head of state having predicted the allied final victory is a total and definitive historical non-sense, Spain was even on the brink of the war in 1940

it was above all for political and military reasons (battle of Britain, Italian disasters in Greece Libya Tarente) which push Franco to adopt from november 1940 an increasingly dilatory attitude towards the question of the entry into war. The economic argument intervenes in a last time, Spain didn't sign agreements with Great Britain before november and december 1940 (needing the crossing of the wheat from Argentina against a threatening famine as the wheat from France saved from it in the winter 1939-1940) when Franco is now certain to not obtain his colonial compesations, so he is also sure to not go to war immediately but he continues to support the Reich and Italy and still convinced of the final victory of the Reich [*and even until the last months...] and still favors the german war effort despite the active british policy relayed by the United States after december 1941 to buy as more as possible spanish products in order to deprive the Germans of one of its main sources of supply

Michel Catala Historian searcher and specialist of the Spanish and international relationships

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Re: Franco's relationship with Britain

Post by rcocean » 21 Apr 2021 17:12

it was above all for political and military reasons (battle of Britain, Italian disasters in Greece Libya Tarente) which push Franco to adopt from november 1940 an increasingly dilatory attitude towards the question of the entry into war. The economic argument intervenes in a last time, Spain didn't sign agreements with Great Britain before november and december 1940 (needing the crossing of the wheat from Argentina against a threatening famine as the wheat from France saved from it in the winter 1939-1940) when Franco is now certain to not obtain his colonial compesations, so he is also sure to not go to war immediately but he continues to support the Reich and Italy and still convinced of the final victory of the Reich[/i] [*and even until the last months...] and still favors the german war effort despite the active british policy relayed by the United States after december 1941 to buy as more as possible spanish products in order to deprive the Germans of one of its main sources of supply

Michel Catala Historian searcher and specialist of the Spanish and international relationships
I'm not to sure what is meant by "favors german war effort". Given FDR and Stalin's hostility to Franco, and talk of deposing Franco or putting postwar sanctions on Spain, it would've been rather silly for Franco to sacrifice himself prior to Sept 1944 by cutting off German supplies. Besides, these supplies were subject to a bidding war between the allies and Germany and spain needed the $$$. A better question would be, why didn't the Allies try to bribe Franco into the fight on the allied side after the fall of Italy? The answer is ideological and a desire to please Stalin and the domestic left in both USA and UK. After the Darlan Deal was trashed, Churchill couldn't make a move.

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Re: Franco's relationship with Britain

Post by Ironmachine » 22 Apr 2021 08:05

Löic wrote:when Franco is now certain to not obtain his colonial compesations, so he is also sure to not go to war immediately but he continues to support the Reich and Italy and still convinced of the final victory of the Reich [*and even until the last months...] and still favors the german war
What is often forgotten is that at least until the Normandy landings, there was a certain possibility, at the very least in the minds of the Spanish leaders, of a German invasion, so they had to walk a fine line between the demands of the Germans and the demands of the Allies. And of course rcocean is right in that it would be plainly stupid for Franco to believe he could expect a favourable turn of events for him after an Allied victory. All that of course moved him towards helping the Germans, but despite your (or Michel Catala's?) claim I have seen no credible evidence that Franco was still convinced of the final victory of the Reich even until the last months (what does that exactly mean? until September 1943? until October 1943? until June 1944? until August 1944? until January 1945?...).

rcocean wrote:A better question would be, why didn't the Allies try to bribe Franco into the fight on the allied side after the fall of Italy?
Still a better question would be, what for? Militarily it would have added nothing to the war effort, logistically it would have been a great problem and economically it would have meant nothing. And of course, they kind of tried to do it with the "bidding war" you mention, and still they failed. Anyway, the Franco-Spanish border came under Allied control, the matter was wholly irrelevant.

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Re: Franco's relationship with Britain

Post by rcocean » 22 Apr 2021 15:24

Huh? getting Spain on our side, say in early 1943, would've allowed us to cut off all the precious minerals going to Germany from Portugal and Spain. It would've released US troops in Morocco for the fighting in Tunisia (I'm not explain that one to you, look it up), it would've probably brought Portugal into the war also, and given us air bases in the Azores sooner than we did. And most importantly of all, it would've forced Germany to send troops to the Franco Spanish border AND allowed us to totally wipe out the U-boats in the bay of Biscay. The benefits would've been enormous.

But Franco didn't have the right politics, so why even try? The Leftists in the USA & Stalin would've gone crazy and they had the whip hand over FDR and Churchill. Both men were scarred by the blow-back over Darlan.

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Re: Franco's relationship with Britain

Post by Sid Guttridge » 23 Apr 2021 17:38

Hi Historygeek,

There seems to be no evidence that, "British special agents provided him with a plane to fly from the Canary Islands to Morocco prior to the outbreak of fighting....."

In fact, it appears that the British plane was hired on private commercial terms by British Roman Catholics and the pilot, also British, was unaware of the real purpose of the flight when he left.

Franco might have had reason to be grateful to some individual British Catholics, but he had no reason to feel grateful to the British state.

As for the British at Gibraltar not selling oil to the Republican Navy, (1) they had no obligation to do so and (2) it only has differential significance if they did sell oil to the Nationalist Navy. Did they?

France and Spain were the main international players in Tangiers, not the British. All the Tangiers International Zone Administrators, from its creation in 1926 to 1940, were French.

Cheers,

Sid.

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