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What if Spain had joined the Axis?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by PzJgr, Jan 3, 2001.

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  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    As mentioned in earlier replies here...

    On June 14th 1940, Spanish troops occupied the city of TANGIER in Morocco, hitherto a free city under international control. Franco offered Hitler a Spanish entry into the war, if he would agree to an expansion of the Spanish colonial holdings in Africa (Spain demanded all of French Morocco, parts of Algeria and an expansion of Spanish Guinea). Hitler did not accept these terms..

    http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/spain/spwwii.html
     
  2. Black Cat

    Black Cat Member

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    Having only relatively recently won a very difficult civil war with German assistance, would Franco have wanted to risk engaging in a war not of his making or interest which may reopen a civil war in which support and supplies would be forthcoming to his enemies from Britain as with France, Greece, Yugoslavia etc?

    Franco was probably very surprised at his meeting with Hitler to find no compelling benefit to him being offered. This was the simple reason for his big wish list - unless there was real and significant offering to Spain and Franco, why risk reopening a civil war and the lives of his countrymen? I agree with the point that this was a little bit of a bluff from Hitler to steer attention away from the coming eastern front. Perhaps Hitler was hoping Spain may attack Gibraltar and that this may give Britain pause to reconsider accepting German peace overtures being offered in 1940?

    On the Gibraltar issue, I would imagine the Spanish would not find attacking this stronghold very easy, far from it. If Franco lost this battle he may also risk being overthrown in anger. Also, if Gibraltar was attacked, the Brtiish were unlikely to sit by and accept it. Attracting the full wrath of Britain and other allies was not an objective of Spain.

    For Hitler, it is difficult to see any strategic benefit of Spain entering the war. He had ports in France to use for the naval war. Hitler never really was interested in the Mediterranean other than to secure Greater
    germany's southern flank. Had Italy never entered the war and remained neutral I doubt Hitler would have wanted to expand the war in this direction. North Africa, though it offered the opportunity for oil, was really about distracting considerable British focus and resources whilst assisting his Italian ally at relatively small cost with a small and poorly supported Afrika Corps, though a Corps brilliantly led by Rommel.

    If Mussolini had been a little more of a realist as was
    Franco than an opportunist perhaps he may also have lived to a ripe old age.
     
  3. TheRedBaron

    TheRedBaron Ace

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    Spain would have been of little use. After the civil war the country was devastated. The ability of spanish troop sis difficult to judge but during the civil war was generally poor, but the efforts of the Blue division have askewed the view of their fighting abilities.

    After the civil war Spain was not in a position to offer anything.

    As an aside my stepfathers grandparents both fought during the Spainish civil war, my stepfather is spanish, both grandfathers were killed during the war fighting on the republican side.
     
  4. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    On the whole Spain would have been a terrible liability for Germany had Franco openly joined Germany in the war.
    Yes, Gibralter would have almost certainly fallen to Spain. But, this buys Germany little. It doesn't preclude a US invasion of North Africa. It doesn't stop the British from supplying their troops there either.
    On the other hand, Spain's coast line adds hundreds of miles to the length of the Atlantic wall. Spain at most would have contributed only a handful of divisions no better equipped (and likely worse off) than those of Italy, Hungary or, Romaina. Spain would also have to keep a large home defense force stood up to protect against invasion. While the Pyrrnes (sp) would present an obstacle they certainly would not have proved as formidable a one as slogging up Italy did.
    Spain could offer no large motorized or armored formations and, really didn't have a large up-to-date airforce.
    Basically, Spain really doesn't bring anything to the table for Germany other than liabilities.
     
  5. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    On the whole Spain would have been a terrible liability for Germany had Franco openly joined Germany in the war.
    Yes, Gibralter would have almost certainly fallen to Spain. But, this buys Germany little. It doesn't preclude a US invasion of North Africa. It doesn't stop the British from supplying their troops there either.
    On the other hand, Spain's coast line adds hundreds of miles to the length of the Atlantic wall. Spain at most would have contributed only a handful of divisions no better equipped (and likely worse off) than those of Italy, Hungary or, Romaina. Spain would also have to keep a large home defense force stood up to protect against invasion. While the Pyrrnes (sp) would present an obstacle they certainly would not have proved as formidable a one as slogging up Italy did.
    Spain could offer no large motorized or armored formations and, really didn't have a large up-to-date airforce.
    Basically, Spain really doesn't bring anything to the table for Germany other than liabilities.
     
  6. Black Cat

    Black Cat Member

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    Having looked up sites on the web on this subject, it does not appear that Franco was in much of a position to assist Hitler in any significant way in 1940. Franco had only just won the hard fought civil war and the country and its people would have been quite worn out. Food and reconstructing the economy were major concerns, and presumably not reopening the civil war, which Britain may have been able to do had it been sufficiently antagonised.

    Hitler was focusing at this time on Russia and the eastward campaign, though the Battle of Britain was now taking place. Capturing Gibraltar was not a German priority as control of the Mediterranean was not the thrust of Hitler's war aims. However, distracting the British by raising fears of an attack on the Rock was perhaps an aim of the meeting at Hendaye and Franco did a little exercising of troops in the vicinity and drew up some attack plans.

    Perhaps Hitler could have used Spanish military assistance but would it have assisted the 1941 campaign? It was not mechanized to the degree of the Germans nor was there much of an airforce. Would Spaniards have wanted to fight on the eastern front in the numbers that would have been useful, though obviously some volunteers did go. Also, Hitler was confident of victory with his own resources at this point, why request help and then share the spoils in some way.

    There appears to have been a nazi interest in having airbases on the Iberian peninsula and the Canary Islands/NW Africa, perhaps for launching attacks on North America and controlling the Atlantic, but this was a longer term aim and not an immediate need. Perhaps Hitler was happy to simply have cordial relationship with Spain and to have its assistance in the
    Atlantic Uboat war (refueling), for vitally needed tungsten and as a route for breaking Britain's blockade of Germany from goods from around the world. As the war progressed Franco appears to have pragmaticaly distanced himself from the nazis though obviously he appears always sympathetic to facist causes and grateful for German assistance in the civil war. I

    If Mussolini had followed Franco's fence sitting he may also have lived to a ripe old age.

    As a final comment I'm not sure Gibraltar would have fallen as suggested. The island is well fortified, the naval presence with its guns was strong, Britain had some air power if necessary (though the Battle of Britain was on) and Britain could blockade Spain and stir up the civil war again or attack other targets in Spain or take the Canary Islands and/or North African possessions, which Franco was very nervous of losing. Also was there any genuine desire by Spaniards to attack Britain at this time or to help Germany. One would imagine that like the Italians, Hungarians, Romanians there was not a lot of appetite by war waery soldiers to be sent away to fight another country's wars in eastern Europe, and that such a policy may ultimately back-fire. Unless Franco could offer his people very significant immediate and tangible benefits for joining the axis (food, materials, new North African possessions to exploit, full compensation for all military/blockade costs - how long is a piece of string?) he could never hope to benefit from allying with Germany, Its no wonder Franco and Hitler never allied.
     
  7. Black Cat

    Black Cat Member

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    Having looked up sites on the web on this subject, it does not appear that Franco was in much of a position to assist Hitler in any significant way in 1940. Franco had only just won the hard fought civil war and the country and its people would have been quite worn out. Food and reconstructing the economy were major concerns, and presumably not reopening the civil war, which Britain may have been able to do had it been sufficiently antagonised.

    Hitler was focusing at this time on Russia and the eastward campaign, though the Battle of Britain was now taking place. Capturing Gibraltar was not a German priority as control of the Mediterranean was not the thrust of Hitler's war aims. However, distracting the British by raising fears of an attack on the Rock was perhaps an aim of the meeting at Hendaye and Franco did a little exercising of troops in the vicinity and drew up some attack plans.

    Perhaps Hitler could have used Spanish military assistance but would it have assisted the 1941 campaign? It was not mechanized to the degree of the Germans nor was there much of an airforce. Would Spaniards have wanted to fight on the eastern front in the numbers that would have been useful, though obviously some volunteers did go. Also, Hitler was confident of victory with his own resources at this point, why request help and then share the spoils in some way.

    There appears to have been a nazi interest in having airbases on the Iberian peninsula and the Canary Islands/NW Africa, perhaps for launching attacks on North America and controlling the Atlantic, but this was a longer term aim and not an immediate need. Perhaps Hitler was happy to simply have cordial relationship with Spain and to have its assistance in the
    Atlantic Uboat war (refueling), for vitally needed tungsten and as a route for breaking Britain's blockade of Germany from goods from around the world. As the war progressed Franco appears to have pragmaticaly distanced himself from the nazis though obviously he appears always sympathetic to facist causes and grateful for German assistance in the civil war. I

    If Mussolini had followed Franco's fence sitting he may also have lived to a ripe old age.

    As a final comment I'm not sure Gibraltar would have fallen as suggested. The island is well fortified, the naval presence with its guns was strong, Britain had some air power if necessary (though the Battle of Britain was on) and Britain could blockade Spain and stir up the civil war again or attack other targets in Spain or take the Canary Islands and/or North African possessions, which Franco was very nervous of losing. Also was there any genuine desire by Spaniards to attack Britain at this time or to help Germany. One would imagine that like the Italians, Hungarians, Romanians there was not a lot of appetite by war waery soldiers to be sent away to fight another country's wars in eastern Europe, and that such a policy may ultimately back-fire. Unless Franco could offer his people very significant immediate and tangible benefits for joining the axis (food, materials, new North African possessions to exploit, full compensation for all military/blockade costs - how long is a piece of string?) he could never hope to benefit from allying with Germany, Its no wonder Franco and Hitler never allied.
     
  8. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    In reality, this is true. Without significant military support from Hitler, there was not much Franco could contribute. But being a what if topic, it is an interesting topic. But you have hit it on the nail
     
  9. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Don't agree on Spanish ports not being valuable. Remember the Battleships had to leave french ports because of British bombing. Taking spain & portugal would greatly enhance the German naval effort,( extra U-boat bases & safe harbor for Raiders & their captures ),& also provide air bases to attack british shipping all along atlantic coast. Gibralter would fall, perhaps with German assistance, then Morrocco would be all the easier to take. Hitler considered that the US would be busy fighting the Japanese for a few yrs before landing on this side of the pond, a great miscalculation. Sealing off med would render Malta obsolete as stated above. The British used bribes in the millions to the Spanish to stay out of the axis. how much raw materials they would get or #'s of valuable troops, I don't know.
     
  10. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    One more thought on Spain. taking Portugal 1st would probably convince Spain to side with axis. How that would be done is the next question.
     
  11. rainbowtrout

    rainbowtrout Member

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    Axis and Spain. Forget Europe. Look at the Philippines, that is where the difference would show up because of one man, Col Jesus Franco.
     
  12. Lost Watchdog

    Lost Watchdog Member

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    Spain joining the Axis would backfire on Franco. The British would occupy the Canaries first up and then Operation Torch would roll up the Spanish North African territories.
    The SOE would have a field day sending Basques, Republicans, Catalans and any other anti-Franco groups back to Spain to engage in guerilla actions to divert Spanish troops and resources from other battlefronts.
    As for Gibraltar, the Spanish would not have to storm it. Just blockade by land and sea and lobbing a few shells in each day would do enough to render it useless as a base leading the British to eventually surrender (after they had run out of apes to eat) or evacuate.
    As the tide of war turned, the best Franco - assuming he was not toppled - could do would be to change sides like the Italians and hope for the best.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    With what is Spain going to blockade? The British squadron based there was probably stronger than the whole Spanish navy.
     
  14. Lost Watchdog

    Lost Watchdog Member

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    A Fishing boat would do. Mine the approaches, sink blockships and dig in coastal artillery. Any approaching force would have to run the gauntlet of the guns and air attack. It might get through the first time but the losses would make return trips too costly. Think of the losses endured getting to Malta or of Truk lagoon where the Japanese naval base was rendered inoperable by carrier planes alone. Remember the old military rule - you do not have to capture a location, merely make its use too costly for your opponent to hold.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Oh that's a job I want ... NOT. Trying to lay mines under Gibraltar's guns not to mention the fleet there. Gibraltar's not exactly an easy site to hem in with mines either. The Britt's got pretty good at sweeping as well. As for the Spanish air force. Hardly likely to be a serious threat to the RN.
     
  16. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    There is a over focus on the stratigic importance of Gibraltar. operationally it was very important to the British, as a naval base, signals intellegence post, air patrol base... Losing Gibraltar would not catastophicaly shut Britian out of its Mediterraian sea route. That had already occured when Italy entered the war. Although Britian was able to defeat repeatedly the Italian capitol ships Italian submarines, torpedo boats, and Axis aircraft were able to close the straits between Italy and Africa to British cargo ships for three years. The Pedistal convoy is a example of what happened when the Brits occasionally tried to fight their way through. So for three years Britian suffered the cost of a extra two - three weeks transit time between the Atlantic ports and ports in Egypt or points east. The Torch campaugh was susposed to be a major step towards reopening the Mediterraian sea route.

    A Allied invasion of Morrocos Atlantic ports will counter the Axis holding Gibraltar. As in Tunisia Allied air and naval superiority will eventually nuetralize Axis forces based in southern Spain. However I'd think it better for the Allies to invade the Iberian penensula as soon as possible. This would clear the Axis air and naval forces away from Gibraltar as quickly as a Morrocan campaign, it would draw Axis forces away from the Eastern and Lybian/Egyptian fronts, would encourage Vichy France to reduce cooperation with Germany, set a example for the Italians to ponder, and give the US Army some much needed experince at large scale ground warfare.

    A Spainish front can also be used as a beter diversion than a Italian invasion as a distractor for the Allied invasion of France.
     
  17. max62

    max62 Member

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    Hi!

    I just came across with this forum, and particularly this thread, dealing with the "what if" question about the possibility of Spain joining the Axis. Excuse me for my defective english...

    This is a question which has been taken into consideration for many spaniards interested in our own history.

    Along the ww2 there were many ocasions in which Spain could be forced by a Hitler´s ultimatum to join the Axis.

    One thing is sure: if it was not, it was because of the minor interest of Hitler and his generals in that subject: ultimatum was never presented.

    The reason why first serious offer of Hitler to Franco was rejected (December 7, 1940), it was because of this minor interest. The only strategic interest of germans was taking Gibraltar, as a part of the sea and air blockade against GB. This "Felix Operation" (Gibraltar straits to be controlled by german Luftwaffe around 10-15 January 1941) was not part of a plan to control the whole Mediterranean Sea.

    The spanish authorities did not want to participate in a long war, they feared the Royal Navy would collapse the traffic of lifestock from America through Atlantic Ocean and they knew that they would obtain few "imperial" compensations in exchange to it.

    Hitler did not presented the "Felix Operation" as a major plan to control the whole Mediterranean Sea, in spite of having means to make it: in those days (december 1940), german army was preparing the invasion of Balcans, and, with Gibraltar closed, it would have been easy to pushed Vichy France to allow the landing of german troops from Greece to Syria (remember Irak case in May 1941). Added to the italian presence and Egypt, the defeat of brits was sure. Even Churchill would have accepted armistice, not to see British Empire to be disabled in Asia and Africa.

    Hitler did not realize that doing so, the control of Mediterranean sea (in springtime of 1941) was permitting too the invasion of the Black Sea by the Axis fleet (german, italian, french...), being that way very easy the conquest of all southern Soviet Union.

    The limitations of "Operation Felix" implied the poor interest of german army about it. No ultimatum, no spanish cooperation. Spain was too weak a country in order to do otherwise.
     
  18. Adrian Wainer

    Adrian Wainer Dishonorably Discharged

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    Well I would not criticize this debate, but I think that defacto Spain was part of the Axis with the Brigada Azul fighting in Russia, okay one could can call them volunteers if one wants to be technical but it was not as if the folks who fought in this unit, sneaked out of Spain and joined up of their own account, this was all done with the approval of the Spanish Government. Furthermore I think these issues are important in that if people can have a fantasy about WW2 ie that Spain was not part of the Axis they can more easily have a fantasy about what happened in the Madrid train bombings and whilst Hitler is dead and gone there are still plenty of his admirers around.

    Best and Warm Regards
    Adrian Wainer
     
  19. max62

    max62 Member

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    The spanish "División Azul" (not Brigada), also called Spanische Freiwillige Division (ID 250, inside 18 Armee, Petersburg Front) was created by spanish fascist volunteers, supported by spanish fascists (Falange) members of Franco Government (particularly Serrano-Suñer). Franco´s regime was a mixture of monarchist, fascists, catholics and other right-wing political tendencies. Spanish Falange always supported the idea of joining the Axis, but Franco and most of military chiefs were much more prudents. Sending "Division Azul" was a compromise.

    Something similar happened in France, where existed the Legion of French Volunteers, but Vichy, as Madrid, although in some moment was about to make it, never joined the Axis either.

    The reason why, we should always look for it in german strategic calculations and the personal will of Hitler. Particularly, the minor interest of Hitler in conquering the Mediterranean sea.
     
  20. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Some cynics claim the Spanish Facist blue divsion was used by Franco as a way to get anoying young Facist leaders out of Spain and killed if possible. I wonder who had aproval authority over the officers who volunteered?
     

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