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Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany, and World War II

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Was Franco sympathetic to Nazi Germany? Why didn't Spain enter World War II? In what ways did Spain collaborate with the Third Reich? How much did Spain assist Jewish refugees?   This is the first book in any language to answer these intriguing questions. Stanley Payne, a leading historian of modern Spain, explores the full range of Franco’s relationship with Hitler, from 19 Was Franco sympathetic to Nazi Germany? Why didn't Spain enter World War II? In what ways did Spain collaborate with the Third Reich? How much did Spain assist Jewish refugees?   This is the first book in any language to answer these intriguing questions. Stanley Payne, a leading historian of modern Spain, explores the full range of Franco’s relationship with Hitler, from 1936 to the fall of the Reich in 1945. But as Payne brilliantly shows, relations between these two dictators were not only a matter of realpolitik.  These two titanic egos engaged in an extraordinary tragicomic drama often verging on the dark absurdity of a Beckett or Ionesco play.   Whereas Payne investigates the evolving relationship of the two regimes up to the conclusion of World War II, his principal concern is the enigma of Spain’s unique position during the war, as a semi-fascist country struggling to maintain a tortured neutrality. Why Spain did not enter the war as a German ally, joining with Hitler to seize Gibraltar and close the Mediterranean to the British navy, is at the center of Payne’s narrative. Franco’s only personal meeting with Hitler, in 1940 to discuss precisely this, is recounted here in groundbreaking detail that also sheds significant new light on the Spanish government’s vacillating policy toward Jewish refugees, on the Holocaust, and on Spain’s German connection throughout the duration of the war.    


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Was Franco sympathetic to Nazi Germany? Why didn't Spain enter World War II? In what ways did Spain collaborate with the Third Reich? How much did Spain assist Jewish refugees?   This is the first book in any language to answer these intriguing questions. Stanley Payne, a leading historian of modern Spain, explores the full range of Franco’s relationship with Hitler, from 19 Was Franco sympathetic to Nazi Germany? Why didn't Spain enter World War II? In what ways did Spain collaborate with the Third Reich? How much did Spain assist Jewish refugees?   This is the first book in any language to answer these intriguing questions. Stanley Payne, a leading historian of modern Spain, explores the full range of Franco’s relationship with Hitler, from 1936 to the fall of the Reich in 1945. But as Payne brilliantly shows, relations between these two dictators were not only a matter of realpolitik.  These two titanic egos engaged in an extraordinary tragicomic drama often verging on the dark absurdity of a Beckett or Ionesco play.   Whereas Payne investigates the evolving relationship of the two regimes up to the conclusion of World War II, his principal concern is the enigma of Spain’s unique position during the war, as a semi-fascist country struggling to maintain a tortured neutrality. Why Spain did not enter the war as a German ally, joining with Hitler to seize Gibraltar and close the Mediterranean to the British navy, is at the center of Payne’s narrative. Franco’s only personal meeting with Hitler, in 1940 to discuss precisely this, is recounted here in groundbreaking detail that also sheds significant new light on the Spanish government’s vacillating policy toward Jewish refugees, on the Holocaust, and on Spain’s German connection throughout the duration of the war.    

30 review for Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany, and World War II

  1. 4 out of 5

    Malakh

    Este estudio de Stanley G. Payne acerca de la estrategia de Franco durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial y sus relaciones con Alemania sigue la línea de Javier Tusell, en especial de la obra que el autor considera fundamental sobre la diplomacia española del período, Franco, España y la Segunda Guerra Mundial: entre el Eje y la neutralidad. Se inicia con los orígenes del régimen de Franco, tratando la Guerra Civil y la intervención extranjera, en una magnífica síntesis que evidencia el profundo cono Este estudio de Stanley G. Payne acerca de la estrategia de Franco durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial y sus relaciones con Alemania sigue la línea de Javier Tusell, en especial de la obra que el autor considera fundamental sobre la diplomacia española del período, Franco, España y la Segunda Guerra Mundial: entre el Eje y la neutralidad. Se inicia con los orígenes del régimen de Franco, tratando la Guerra Civil y la intervención extranjera, en una magnífica síntesis que evidencia el profundo conocimiento que posee Payne del conflicto español. Posteriormente, el libro sigue fase por fase las relaciones entre Madrid y Berlín durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, ocupándose de esclarecer las propósitos y aspiraciones de cada una de las partes. En la estrategia de guerra alemana, España solamente empezó a tener importancia en julio de 1940. Tras la conquista de Francia que asombró al mundo, Hitler se encontró inerme ante Gran Bretaña, pues por entonces ya estaba claro el fracaso en el que iba a resultar la operación León Marino. Por tanto, Berlín hubo de optar por una estrategia periférica, en la cual la Península Ibérica se tornaba esencial, debido a la posibilidad de cerrar el Mediterráneo por Gibraltar y la posesión de archipiélagos atlánticos. Es en este momento cuando comienzan unas relaciones más estrechas entre ambas naciones, que continuarán a lo largo del conflicto, aunque con especial énfasis en los dos años posteriores. En este período tendrán lugar las negociaciones para la entrada de España en la guerra. Pese a lo que se ha escrito, Alemania tenía intención de arrastrar a Franco a la beligerancia en el lado del Eje y se encontraba dispuesta a realizar concesiones económicas y territoriales para lograrlo. España, según Payne, «quiso entrar, pero estaba muy debilitada económicamente». Para el hispanista estadounidense, lo que frenó la entrada española en el conflicto fueron las contrapartidas que solicitó Franco, que Hitler nunca le concedió. Es decir, que España no intervino en la guerra por el alto precio que puso a su participación; no obstante, tanto Franco como su ministro de Exteriores, Serrano Suñer, se encontraban dispuestos a la beligerancia. Esta postura ha recibido serias críticas, ya que, si bien Franco pudo tener la tentación de tomar parte en los momentos en los que parecía cercana una victoria germana (la conquista de Francia o la invasión de la Unión Soviética), es probable que nunca tuviera una intención real de participar, y de ahí las desmesuradas reclamaciones que mantuvo como condición al Führer. España estaba devastada económicamente tras la Guerra Civil y aventurarse en la contienda mundial era absolutamente inviable. Esta era la principal razón por la que Franco no deseaba entrar en la guerra que, sumada a su escepticismo respecto a la victoria alemana, configuró su decisión respecto a la intervención, y no la posibilidad de lograr más o menos territorios en el norte de África. «Pese a lo que se diga, España no fue neutral», llegó a afirmar Stanley Payne durante la presentación de su obra en Madrid. Esta sentencia es evidentemente errónea y, como ha declarado Fernando Paz, nace de la identificación de neutralidad con equidistancia. Siguiendo la lógica de la aserción de Payne, ni Estados Unidos fue neutral durante los primeros dos años de guerra, ya que prestó un enorme apoyo a Gran Bretaña – mucho más decisivo y de mayor grado que aquel suministrado en algún momento por España –, ni Suecia lo fue durante la totalidad del conflicto mundial, ya que permitió el paso de tropas alemanas por su territorio en dirección a Finlandia. En conclusión, se trata de una obra de prosa formidable, en la que se pueden hallar citados numerosas documentos, cartas y conversaciones, así como una amplísima bibliografía a la que Payne hace referencia. También incluye sendos capítulos acerca de la División Azul y la postura española ante el Holocausto que pueden resultar de interés. No obstante, la conclusión que saca de las evidencias es cuestionable y la tesis que presenta no termina de convencer.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jay Green

    Interesting enough but devolves in the second half into an economic history of Spain during WWII rather than an examination of the personal relationship between Hitler and Franco, perhaps unsurprising given the paucity of material to work with.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Franco and Hitler by Stanley Payne follows the rise of Francisco Franco and his fate as it was linked to the pro-Nazi policy pursued by non-belligerent Spain during World War II. The book stays at a high level focusing on the military, diplomatic and political implications for Spain during World War II. The economic consequence of tying to Nazi Germany is also covered. The Spanish policy vis a vis Jews is covered both in the history of Judaism in Spain and then how they sheltered Jews or at leas Franco and Hitler by Stanley Payne follows the rise of Francisco Franco and his fate as it was linked to the pro-Nazi policy pursued by non-belligerent Spain during World War II. The book stays at a high level focusing on the military, diplomatic and political implications for Spain during World War II. The economic consequence of tying to Nazi Germany is also covered. The Spanish policy vis a vis Jews is covered both in the history of Judaism in Spain and then how they sheltered Jews or at least made halfhearted efforts to do so during the war. Ultimately the book rests on the fact that while Franco was a dictator he was not a fascist in the sense of Hitler and he had a tenuous hold on power that led to constantly reorganizing the government and trying to keep Spain’s economy from dragging the country under. Spain was never a serious participant in World War II and the state of their economy or military would never have allowed them to be. Franco wanted to envision himself as a great power but was enough of a realist to know he was not and took actions accordingly. For those wanting to learn more about Spain in World War II this is one of the more concise books I have read on the subject and excellent scholarship on the part of Payne.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Avis Black

    I had always wondered how Spain avoided being dragged into World War II, so I decided to read Franco and Hitler by Stanley Payne. The author is an academic whose speciality is Spain of the 1930s and 40s, and though his book is written in an academic style, it’s not a painful one to read. Payne says that Franco was not so much a fascist, but a conservative traditionalist who was more interested in using the Falangists (Spain’s fascist party) to his own ends. Spain had just emerged from civil war, I had always wondered how Spain avoided being dragged into World War II, so I decided to read Franco and Hitler by Stanley Payne. The author is an academic whose speciality is Spain of the 1930s and 40s, and though his book is written in an academic style, it’s not a painful one to read. Payne says that Franco was not so much a fascist, but a conservative traditionalist who was more interested in using the Falangists (Spain’s fascist party) to his own ends. Spain had just emerged from civil war, and Franco was skeptical that Spain could sustain another war so soon after. He was also worried that World War II would turn into World War I, with both sides trapped inside slow-grinding trench warfare, and that a victory would be disastrous even to the winner. Interestingly, Portugal’s Salazar warned Franco in 1940 not to join the Axis. Salazar thought Hitler would lose. Considering that this was before either America or the Soviet Union had entered the war, that was remarkably prescient. Salazar also warned Franco of the dangers of falling under German hegemony. Britain, by contrast, used the old-fashioned way of persuading Spain to stay neutral by bribing the heck out of the Spanish generals, a revelation that only came out many years later. Since the generals tended to be traditionalists like Franco instead of Falangists, they were an important counterweight to the ‘gung-ho for Hitler’ side of the Spanish policial scene. Churchill also let Spain know that he would perfectly okay with giving Spain a share of Morocco. But the Germans really, really wanted Spain to enter the war. They had given Franco military assistance during the civil war, so they called in their chits. Spain replied by giving the Germans a shopping list filled with demands for economic aid and war material, all of which Germany needed for its own war effort. Spain asked for a million tons of grain, 16,000 boxcars of food, and a small navy, demands so impossible that the Germans concluded these were pretexts intended to avoid entering the war. Meanwhile Hitler, who was thinking of Atlantic bases for his navy, asked Spain to seize Gibraltar. What’s more, he asked Spain to give Germany one of the Canary Islands. Franco was taken aback at this demand for part of Spain’s soverign territory and refused. Eventually, Franco and Hitler came face to face for their famous meeting. According to all accounts, Franco did the talking, and Hitler did the listening. The latter came home saying, "I'd rather have three teeth pulled than talk with Franco again." Franco was a “narrow-minded chatterbox with the manners of a sargent major. With me,” the fuhrer whined, “such a man would not even have become a local leader." For his part, Franco wanted actual delivery—instead of promises—of economic and military goods, but Hitler refused. Franco also suggested that Hitler make the strategic decision to seize the Suez Canal, which Hitler ignored to his detriment. At this time, German naval officers also tried to talk Hitler into seizing Egypt, the Suez Canal, Palestine, and Syria for the oil reserves, but Hitler had already promised Mussolini a free hand in North Africa, and he was more concentrated on Europe's doings. Hitler could have destroyed the British overseas empire at this time, but he failed because of his promises to Mussolini. The Mediterranean and North Africa was a sphere of influence that Hitler had already ceded to his Italian allies. By this time, Spain's generals had little enthusiasm for the war because the country was looking at the possibility of famine. Spain was forced to import food from Britain and America to keep from starving, which is rather inconvenient if you've declared war on them. Eventually, the Germans realized Spain would never enter the war as long as Britain was in a position to make Spain suffer. This caused Hitler to give up on Spain for a while. Spain did go so far as to contribute its famous voluteer Blue Division for the Russian front, chockful of Falangists eager to get at the communists. Hitler thought the men of the Blue Division were undisciplined, but determined fighters nevertheless. Later on, Hitler tried again to persuade Spain to enter the war, and the Spanish were given German arms—in fact, by 1943, 20% of all the German war output went to the Spain, where, you will note, it did absolutely nothing for the Axis war effort. The Americans also organized an embargo of Spain, which put severe pressure on Franco to play neutral for real. Nonetheless, Franco tried to maintain a friendship with Germany as long as possible, because he thought that even if defeated, Germany would still be a great economic power (Franco was foresighted about that) that he wanted to do business with. As for Hitler, he began to rationalize the non-intervention of Spain and try to make it look like his own idea. He claimed the seizure of Gibraltar would not have offset the cost to Germany of defending Spainish territory if Spain had entered the war (the Germans were under no illusions that they would’ve had to do most of the fighting for their ally). Having to support Italy had been bad enough; having to support Spain would have been even worse. Near the end of the war, in a fit of sour grapes, Hitler said he now believed that few of the Spanish Republicans had actually been communists, and had he known this at the time, he would not have sent his air force to bomb them during the Spanish Civil War. Payne characterizes Franco’s overall strategy throughout this time as, “Take a hard line and then lie low.” He says that though neither Germany nor Spain lied to each other, they both over-emphasized their friendship and ended up misleading each other. Franco died of old age in 1975. As for Hitler, he shot himself in that bunker 30 years earlier. The narrow-minded chatterbox had not been so stupid after all.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Alonso vargas

    Un interesante estudio entre las relaciones de ambos dictadores tras la guerra civil española y durante la II Guerra Mundial. Sus ambiciones y planes individuales dejaron a España fuera de la guerra.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chet Slonina

    As an avid reader of WW II history, I found this book filling may voids in my knowledge of Franco and Spain as well as the Hitler mentality toward Franco and Spain. The book is well researched and gives an excellent overall view on what was and what could have been with Franco's decisions during the World War era as well as Hitler England and the United States. Dry at times but is made up for with those parts that I always find fascinating adding to a deeper understanding of what things turned o As an avid reader of WW II history, I found this book filling may voids in my knowledge of Franco and Spain as well as the Hitler mentality toward Franco and Spain. The book is well researched and gives an excellent overall view on what was and what could have been with Franco's decisions during the World War era as well as Hitler England and the United States. Dry at times but is made up for with those parts that I always find fascinating adding to a deeper understanding of what things turned out how they did with European countries.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nishant Pappireddi

    An illuminating book about the extent of Spain's cooperation with Nazi Germany throughout the war. An illuminating book about the extent of Spain's cooperation with Nazi Germany throughout the war.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    Five stars for scholarship, clarity, and excellent notes. But final evaluation for my purposes is four stars, as there's more here than I really cared about. A very worthwhile book, and similarly to Payne's history of the Spanish Civil War that I read and reviewed in 2013, this volume contains much information that debunks commonly held ideas about the depth of Franco's fascism (he wasn't) and about the significance of the civil war in shaping WW Two (there wasn't much). Two chapters deal with S Five stars for scholarship, clarity, and excellent notes. But final evaluation for my purposes is four stars, as there's more here than I really cared about. A very worthwhile book, and similarly to Payne's history of the Spanish Civil War that I read and reviewed in 2013, this volume contains much information that debunks commonly held ideas about the depth of Franco's fascism (he wasn't) and about the significance of the civil war in shaping WW Two (there wasn't much). Two chapters deal with Spain's diplomacy and the Holocaust -- the first includes a history of Jews in Spain, the second details Spanish efforts to shelter or rescue Jews (mostly limited or undertaken by individual diplomats rather than rigorous official policy). The conclusion chapter contains a very good summary of most of the book, minus some of the material on the Civil War, and plus some concluding thoughts that Franco's policies were successful in maintaining his regime but disastrous for Spanish economic development and post-war integration into the victorious western bloc. Only the Cold War softened Anglo-American attitudes toward Franco's Spain and began the country's rehabilitation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Larry Loftis

    Few know how close Hitler came to invading Spain, or how cunning Franco was in playing as an ally who would eventually take control of the strategic Gibraltar. The Hitler/Franco meeting at Hendaye was especially important and this book gives background for it all.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Thorough without getting bogged down in minutiae, this book answered all my questions about Franco's role in WW2. Even though it's written by an academic historian, it is very readable for lay audiences. It reveals a portrait of a man who was adept at playing all sides off against each other. Thorough without getting bogged down in minutiae, this book answered all my questions about Franco's role in WW2. Even though it's written by an academic historian, it is very readable for lay audiences. It reveals a portrait of a man who was adept at playing all sides off against each other.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John

    A book only a history geek would like - guilty. The only book I've seen that penetrates the Franco/Hitler dynamic. A book only a history geek would like - guilty. The only book I've seen that penetrates the Franco/Hitler dynamic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Альберто Лорэдо

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chema kayser

  14. 5 out of 5

    E. Kahn

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul W

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shane Hill

  18. 4 out of 5

    William Sariego

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karl

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michel Emile

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Wolinsky

  22. 4 out of 5

    Max Graham

  23. 4 out of 5

    Samuel B. Shaw

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jaime Fernandez

  25. 5 out of 5

    M1844

  26. 5 out of 5

    Luke Rovenstein

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nitasha Salam

  29. 5 out of 5

    John Wimmer

  30. 5 out of 5

    Oaa2288

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