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Unternehmen »Felsennest«: how the Brandenburgers wanted to conquer Gibraltar.
On December 4, Admiral Canaris was sent to Madrid. Here, these negotiations with the Spanish government and General Franco were aimed at ensuring Spanish participation in the attack on Gibraltar and, therefore, Spain's entry into the war on the German side.
While negotiations in Madrid continued, Oberst Piekenbrock dispatched ten highly trained English-speaking agents to the British fortress at the western end of the Mediterranean, whose job was to locate other "soft" spots in the British defense of the rock and fortress and report them immediately by radio.
While directive No. 21 "Barbarroja" (campaign against the Soviet Union) was being drawn up on December 6, 1940, the High Command of the Wehrmacht gave Admiral Canaris the task of obtaining from General Franco at least the Spanish consent for the Wehrmacht cross and fly over the Franco-Spanish border and authorize the march to the south coast. In addition, Franco also had to give permission to place German heavy artillery in the Canary Islands. The "Brandenburgers" were to be kept ready for employment.
The following day, the personnel with the reconnaissance task of Division I of the Abwehr in Spain and operating against Gibraltar and the Azores were reinforced by several members of the Army General Staff. On December 7, Admiral Canaris asked Franco for permission to allow units of the "Brandenburger" to move through Spain to conquer Gibraltar.
On December 8, the "little Greek" from Dortmund-Apierbeck - as Canaris was called - had to inform Hitler that Franco was avoiding any answer to the question about a declaration of war from Spain. Hitler instructed him to continue all espionage operations against Gibraltar, but at the same time made it known that the attack on the rock, which was scheduled for January 10, would not be carried out for the time being.
Admiral Canaris, trying to remove the obstacles to the coup in Gibraltar, on December 10 sent an official offer of peace to Greece and mediation in the Greek-Italian conflict through the Hungarian envoy in Madrid. This offer included the fact that, after returning to neutrality, Greece would be allowed to keep all previously conquered territories in Albania.
On December 10, Hitler decided: »Operation" Felix "will not be carried out. The political prerequisites for this no longer exist. "
With this he had abandoned one of the most important attack targets in this phase of the war. At the same time, the new theater of war was created in the Mediterranean Sea and eventually North Africa, tying up strong German forces there and subsequently weakening the eastern front later.
Sources: Gebirgstruppen im Kampf um Festungen : die deutsche Planung zum beabsichtigten Angriff auf Gibraltar.
The Brandenburger Commandos: Germany's Elite Warrior Spies in World War II.
Nazi Spymaster: The Life and Death of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris.
Cheers. Raúl M .