Relations between Franco's Spain and Hitler's Germany, 1936-1945
MetadataShow full item record
When I began to write this paper I had planned to focus primarily on the relations between Franco's Spain and Hitler's Germany during the years between 1940 and 1945, that is, during the Second World War. I quickly realized that it was impossible to cover that period adequately without a fairly detailed examination of the beginning of their relationship during the Spanish civil War, 1936-39. Franco's vision of what Nazi Germany was had its roots there, when he first began to see himself and what were to become the Axis powers as the defenders of "Western Civilization". As may be imagined, such a conception of Western civilization was much different from the current notion of blue jeans, McDonald's and Coca-Cola. To Franco it embodied all the traditional symbols of Spanish culture: a strong military, an extensive colonial empire, Castilian dominance, and a pervasive overlay of ritual Catholicism. It is this society, which quite possibly never truly existed, that Franco wished to rescue from the evil clutches of Communism and liberal democracy. What is surprising is that for the most part he succeeded in his goal, while the Berlin-Rome Axis crumbled during the war years. Franco, who was too poverty-stricken to openly participate in World War II despite the occasional carrot of a ready-made empire, was destined to outlast his German and Italian counterparts by far. Indeed, he lived long enough to see his world turn on its ear with an alliance between Spain and the United States. This, not his flirtation with Empire during the World War, would be his proudest moment. The Axis always treated him with a degree of contempt, as if Spain was not quite good enough to associate with them. The United States accepted Franco on his own terms, as an equal.