Spain in World War II (WWII) Essay

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Spain in World War II (WWII)

When the subject of World War II comes up students, scholars and historians tend to think of Nazi Germany's influence in Europe, or the Pacific Theater and Japan's aggression. But Spain played a substantial role in WWII as well, and this paper will review and analyze Spain's involvement through scholarly articles on the subject.

Was Spain neutral during WWII? There is conflicting information regarding that question. Although Franco, the fascist dictator in Spain at that time, proclaimed Spain's neutrality, British intelligence revealed "...numerous examples of Spanish cooperation" in WWII, cooperation with both the Germans and Italians in order to carry out "espionage activities" and acts of "sabotage" against the British and their interests in Gibraltar (Cokely, 2007). According to Megan E. Cokely of the London School of Economics, writing in the International Journal of Iberian Studies, when the British discovered that the Spanish government was indeed involved in a cooperative effort with the Germans and Italians - Italy was part of the "Axis" (Germany, Italy and Japan) - British diplomats vigorously protested to the Franco regime. Franco had not honored his word to be neutral, and although the British did not root out this activity in Gibraltar, they proved that Franco was fabricating his public neutrality.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Cokely writes that at the outset of WWII, Britain feared that the Germans would attack Gibraltar, which was a key strategic point right at the entrance and exit of the Mediterranean Sea. There was good reason to fear that the Nazis might attack Gibraltar, because the Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Three days after that, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco declared that Spain's "strict neutrality" in the emerging war, although Cokely explains that Franco was to modify his official position on the war "several times" (Cokely, p. 130). Franco went from strict neutrality to "non-belligerency" to "moral belligerency" and then in October 1943 he went back neutrality, the author said. In fact, the puzzle surrounding Franco's official position has been investigated by many scholars and historians, Cokely writes; she references several historians who believe Franco's aim was to "avoid participation in the war at all costs" (Cokely, p. 130). Still other historians believed that there is "visible evidence" including a "wealth of clandestine" activities that went on in Spain that indicated Spain did indeed collaborate with the Axis (in particular Italy and Germany) in hopes perhaps of enjoying some of the spoils of the war should the Germans prevail.

Author Wayne H. Bowen has written a book titled Spain in World War II in which he asserts that Franco gave strong consideration to entering - e.g., sending Spanish armies and providing munitions - on the side of Germany and Italy. Franco even engaged in "serious" negotiations with the Nazis prior to deciding not to take that step; and yet Spain did support Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy with "workers, soldiers, and economic agreements" (Bowen, 2006, p. 17). Franco was the kind of power broker who supported whichever side was "strongest at the moment," Bowen writes, and Franco was adept at playing the Axis against the Allies - hoping this strategy would help Spain "gain economic and political advantages" (Bowen, p. 17).

Looking back at Franco's strategy of saying he was neutral but secretly providing support for the Axis, it is important to remember that Spain had just recently emerged from its own bloody civil war. Moreover, Franco's victory in the civil war was due in no small part to help from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, Bowen explains; in other words, Franco owed the Axis some help. The Civil war had caused a terrible devastation across the country and there were a quarter of a million dead in Spain, almost three hundred thousand political prisoners (Bowen, p. 19). There can be no question, given historical evidence including a secret treaty that Franco signed with the Nazis in March 1939, that it is fair to link Spain to Hitler.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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