Britain Divided: The Effect of the Spanish Civil War on British Political Opinion

By K. W. Watkins | Go to book overview

Appendix E

Extract from the speech on Foreign Affairs delivered by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in the House of Commons on 25 May 1944

From Italy one turns naturally to Spain, once the most famous empire in the world and down to this day a strong community in a wide land, with a marked personality and distinguished culture among the nations of Europe. Some people think that our foreign policy towards Spain is best expressed by drawing comical or even rude caricatures of General Franco; but I think there is more to it than that. When our present ambassador to Spain, the right hon. gentleman the member for Chelsea [ Sir S. Hoare ] went to Madrid almost exactly four years ago to a month, we arranged to keep his airplane waiting on the airfield, as it seemed almost certain that Spain, whose dominant party were under the influence of Germany because Germany had helped them so vigorously in the recentlyended civil war, would follow the example of Italy and join the victorious Germans in the war against Great Britain. Indeed, at this time the Germans proposed to the Spanish Government that triumphal marches of German troops should be held in the principal Spanish cities, and I have no doubt that they suggested to them that the Germans would undertake, in return for the virtual occupation of their country, the seizure of Gibraltar, which would then be handed back to a Germanised Spain. This last feature would have been easier said than done.

There is no doubt that if Spain had yielded to German blandishments and pressure at that juncture our burden would have been much heavier. The Straits of Gibraltar would have been closed and all access to Malta would have been cut off from the West. All the Spanish coasts would have become the nesting place of German U-boats. I certainly did not feel at the time that I should like to see any of those things happen and none of them did happen. Our ambassador deserves credit for the influence he rapidly acquired and which continually grew. In his work he was assisted by a gifted man, Mr. Yencken, whose sudden death by airplane accident is a loss which I am sure has been noted by the House. But the main credit is undoubtedly due to the Spanish resolve to keep out of the war. They had had enough of war and they wished to keep out of it. (An Hon. Member: 'That is a matter of opinion'.) Yes, I think so, and that is why my main principle of beating the enemy as soon as possible should be steadily followed. But they had had enough, and I

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Britain Divided: The Effect of the Spanish Civil War on British Political Opinion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • I - British Interests and the Spanish Civil War 1
  • 2 - Image and Reality 13
  • 3 - Non-Intervention 71
  • 4 - The British Right 83
  • 5 - The British Left 141
  • 6 - Spain and the Second World War 196
  • 7 - 'Conflicts -- Resolved and Unresolved' 202
  • Conclusion 234
  • Postscript 237
  • Appendix A 239
  • Appendix B 245
  • Appendix C 246
  • Appendix D 248
  • Appendix E 249
  • Appendix F 252
  • Bibliography 255
  • Index 262
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