Franco: Silent Ally in World War II

Franco: Silent Ally in World War II

Franco: Silent Ally in World War II

Franco: Silent Ally in World War II


During World War II, Beaulac, as a member of the United States diplomatic mission to Spain, participated in the delicate intrigue as Hitler tried to entice or coerce Spain into fighting for the Axis while the Allies sought to keep the Franco forces neutral.

Spain's policy was aimed at frustrating German designs, which made it, in effect, pro-Allied. Yet for survival Franco had to maintain an overt attitude of friendship with the Axis as well as a posture of enmity toward Russia. This friendship that Franco, his aides, and the controlled media professed for Hitler provided Spain's sole defense against German invasion.

Once Spanish policy became clear, the Allied policy was to be as helpful as possible. Spain was starving, weary of war, divided politically and spiritually. The United States and Britain chose not to punish Spain for her avowed friendship with the Axis but instead to make it as easy as possible for Franco to stay out of the war. Both countries continued to trade with Spain and supply her with commodities that would enable her to survive. That the Allies and the Spanish were able to carry out a policy that was often unpopular and difficult constitutes a great diplomatic victory- one that may have altered the course of World War II.


"In February 1945, with his totalitarian dream a nightmare, Allied soldiers pressing in from three points of the continental compass, and defeat a certainty, Adolf Hitler spent precious moments in retrospective analysis. His concern was to find a satisfactory explanation for the total destruction of his empire. . . . Throughout these deliberations a single theme returned again and again-- Spain! Here was the key to German defeat! Hitler observed, 'Taking advantage of the enthusiasm we had aroused in Spain and the shock to which we had subjected Britain, we ought to have attacked Gibraltar in the summer of 1940, immediately after the defeat of France.' As he contemplated the premature end of his Thousand-Year Reich the Fuehrer found the Spanish stalemate sufficient rationalization for his failure."

What follows is a story of British-American diplomatic victory in Spain during World War II, a victory that is seldom hailed and never celebrated. It is also a story of seven Madrid actors in that victory: of Generalissimo Francisco Franco y Bahamonde, Chief of the Spanish State and Caudillo of Spain; of his foreign ministers, Colonel Juan Beigbeder Atienza, don Ramón Serrano Suñer, General Count Francisco Gómez Jordana y Sousa; of the British ambassador to Spain, Sir Samuel Hoare, and the American ambassadors, Alexander W. Weddell and Carlton J. H. Hayes.

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