What If Franco's Spain Had Entered the War? | HistoryNet MENU

What If Franco’s Spain Had Entered the War?

By Mark Grimsley
4/12/2010 • Battle Films, Politics

It is June 12, 1940. France is on the verge of defeat. Hitler appears certain to conquer Great Britain and win the war outright. Pleased with this development, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco rejects neutrality and announces a tacitly pro-German policy of nonbelligerence, modeled after that of Italy before its entrance into the war just two days earlier. On October 23, he signs an agreement committing Spain to join the Tripartite Pact—which Germany, Italy, and Japan concluded the previous month—at a time to be agreed upon by the four powers. Its terms assure Spain of badly needed military and economic assistance from Germany and Italy, and the restoration of Gibraltar, which Britain had seized from Spain in 1713. It also promises an expansion of Spanish territory in Morocco at the expense of Vichy France.

Spain does join the pact. Then, on January 10, 1941, it declares war on Great Britain, a step timed to coincide with the start of Operation Felix, the Nazi plan to capture the British fortress at Gibraltar. Sixty-five thousand German troops cross from occupied France into Spain, and by February Felix gets seriously under way. At that juncture, Hitler curtly informs Vichy France that Spain will receive a portion of French Morocco. Spanish troops occupy the expanded territory without firing a shot.

The tiny Gibraltar peninsula—less than three square miles in size—comes under intense pressure from German infantry and armor, as well as relentless bombardment from heavy artillery and near-continual air raids. Within a month, the British garrison of 30,000 capitulates. The loss of Gibraltar closes the western Mediterranean to the Royal Navy, although British forces in the Middle East can still be supplied via the Suez Canal. Franco had urged Hitler to preempt this with an offensive to seize the canal, but Hitler, unwilling to adopt a Mediterranean-oriented strategy, declines to do so. His primary purpose in capturing Gibraltar was to strike a blow to British morale; furthermore, Franco’s entry into the war has made it possible to base German U-boats in Spanish ports.

The seizure of Gibraltar, however, fails to shake Britain’s resolve to continue the war. The United States, its foreign policy increasingly tilted toward Britain, ends trade relations with Spain, thereby forcing the diversion of substantial Axis economic resources to that country. Spain has planned to invade Portugal, but is incapable of doing so on its own. Hitler is uninterested in helping. Focused on Eastern Europe, he does not want to invest troops in a theater peripheral to German interests.

On June 22, 1941, Hitler invades the Soviet Union. The Falange, an organization of staunchly anti-Communist Spanish fascists, recruits a division of volunteers for service on the Eastern Front. Known as the Blue Division, its battlefield performance wins Hitler’s admiration; its commander, Maj. Gen. Augustín Muñoz Grandes, receives the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, an honor rarely bestowed on a non-German. As many as 45,000 Spaniards serve in the Blue Division, which suffers 13,654 casualties during its two years of service.

The above scenario closely fits the historical record. Spain did indeed declare nonbelligerent status, and did sign an understanding that it would eventually join the Tripartite Pact. As late as December 1942, Franco believed that at the right moment, Spain would join the war on the side of the Axis Powers. A Falangist Blue Division did serve on the Eastern Front until mid-1943. The number of casualties it sustained during that period is historically accurate, as is the name of its commander and the award he received.

The sequel to Spain’s entry into the war is more difficult to imagine, but one possible scenario is the following:

In November 1942, the British Eighth Army defeats the Afrika Korps at El Alamein and gradually pushes the Germans toward Tunisia. That same month, the British and the Americans launch Operation Torch against the southwestern coast of Spain, partly in order to satisfy President Roosevelt’s insistence that U.S. troops begin combat operations against Germany before year’s end, and partly to retake Gibraltar as a prelude to operations aimed at containing the Afrika Korps in Tunisia. With comparatively few Germans still in Spain—most have redeployed to the Russian front—the western Allies have little difficulty gaining a foothold, and recover Gibraltar in January 1943.

In May 1943 the British and the Americans land in northwest Africa. They easily seize Spanish Morocco, as well as the Vichy French ports of Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers. Although Hitler reinforces the Afrika Korps, British and American forces overrun Tunisia by October, capturing some 230,000 Germans and Italians.

The Allies then weigh their options—to expand their foothold in Spain, or invade Sicily. Since Italy is the more dangerous foe, they decide upon the latter course, followed by an invasion of southern Italy. They anticipate, correctly, that the stress of this disaster will result in the collapse of the Mussolini regime.

Franco believes himself certain to meet the fate of Mussolini if the war continues. Accordingly, he enters into negotiations with the western Allies, but to his consternation the Allies demand Spain’s unconditional surrender, as well as his own resignation. The Spanish officer corps, never enthusiastic about Franco’s adventurism, forces him to accede. Franco is soon afterward assassinated, whether by pro-Communist Republicans or Falangist diehards no one can say. The Spanish pretender to the throne, Don Carlos, is restored as monarch.

Although the above scenario is speculative, three things are virtually certain: Spanish belligerency would have yielded disaster for a country already ravaged by civil war; the Franco regime would not have survived; and the monarchy would have been restored—as some Spanish generals actually urged during the war and as did in fact occur upon Franco’s death in 1975.

Historically, both Germany and the Franco regime fully expected Spain to enter the war at some propitious time. But Spain required too much economic and military aid, while Germany demanded that Spain cede to it the Canary Islands and Spanish Equatorial Africa to support its submarine offensive. This Spain refused to do, though the disagreement might have been resolved simply by granting Germany basing rights. More serious—and ultimately a deal breaker—was Spain’s desire for an expanded colonial presence in Morocco. Germany agreed in principle to allocate part of French Morocco to Spain at the war’s conclusion. But Hitler’s refusal to offer specifics gave the Franco regime considerable pause.

With that said, Hitler was initially willing to grant Spain the territorial concessions Franco desired. He reversed himself when a combined force of British and Free French attempted to seize Dakar, a strategic port in French West Africa held by Vichy France, between September 23 and 25, 1940. Though the expedition was a fiasco, it convinced Hitler of the importance of retaining good relations with Vichy France as a bulwark against potential future Allied incursions. Had this minor event not occurred, it is likely that the Franco regime would indeed have entered World War II—with little effect on the conflict’s outcome, but with cataclysmic results for Spain.

62 Responses to What If Franco’s Spain Had Entered the War?

  1. Paul Penrod says:

    Spain would have been more of a headache to German as an active ally then as a benefit. As it was, Germany could resupply and base U-Boats in Spanish ports surreptisiously without active Spanish participation. Exports of foodstuffs and iron ore as well as the manpower of the Azul Division (for which Franco sent Hitler a bill!) were provided as well. Even had Germany been able to aquire the Azores as a lonf range U-boat or seaplane base, they lacked the naval presence to keep it for long. The British, wary of the threat to Gibraltar, walked teh diplomatic tightrope to keep Spain neutral and Franco was adept at playing both sides against the other. An Axis Spain would demand Luftwaffe units, both air and flak, available German ground units, and already scarce materials (such as oil) that Spain by proxy could already import from elsewhere as a neutral and by sleight of hand ship it to Germany via Vichy France or Italy. An Axis Spain would involve a showdown between El Caudillo and Il Duce over control of the Mediterranean. For Hitler, one tinpot dictator to prop up was enough, and one could only imagine how this additional economic, military and political burden would interere with Barbarossa. In conclusion, Spain benefited Germany more as a friendly neutral, not as a co-belligerent

    • In reference to Mark Grimsley’s commentary on General Franco joining the Axis, he fails to consider one important point. If, in his account, Franco with the aid of the Axis military had taken Gibraltar, the Churchill government would likely of fallen, and a new government, perhaps under Lord Halifax, would been more amenable to a negotiated peace with the Axis powers. In a similar scenario of alternate history, Churchill is voted out of office with the fall on Ceylon, now Sri-Lanka, to Imperial Japanese forces in 1942.

  2. Spanish Furniture Packs says:

    i think war is not a solution for every problems.

  3. fredrick says:

    My opinion is that if Facist Spain had joined the Axis Powers in 1941, Franco would have expanded territory in Morocco with the slight help of Germany, Italy, and the permission of Vichy France. Spain would get this help from Germany because of the Spanish Blue Division (División Azul) in the German army, fighting the Allied Soviets in the Russian Eastern Front. Spain would have a quick recovery from the bloody Civil War (1936-1939) that the beat down country had endured from the help of their German, Italian, Japanese, and Vichy French allies. But after the great defeat of the Nothern Afrika Campaign, Italy retreated back to their country with Germany and Vichy France, and Spain would retreat back to their colony of Spanish Morocco. The Allies would focus on invading the Italian Peninsula and ending the Facist Mussolini Regiem. After the great loss and knowing Italy would eventually fall, Spain would get little or no help from the Germans because of the overwhelming surrounding of the Allied Forces in Europe, and later be invaded in France on D-Day. Spain would not survive the war with no help from their allies. With the clever way Franco played with politics, he would have no choice but to abandon the Axis Powers, back down from the war to neutrality, and for the Blue Division to return back to Spain from the Eastern Front. Spain would benefit from the war with the colony expansion of Morocco. When the Cold War started in 1947, Franco would lean towards the U.S. and gain respect from them because of their strict Anti-Communist policy. They would soon become trade partners and even later allies and try to stop Communism from entering their countries. Spain would be a strong wealthy country just like many years ago. In 1975, Franco would die in office and the leadership would be handed over to Juan Carlos who has Spanish Monarch ancestors. Juan Carlos would turn the country in to a Parliamentary Democracy. He would crown himself King and appoint a President or Prime Minister. This was as big transition but Spain had got used to it quickly and its now the Spain we all know today.

  4. lyndon says:

    Whatever happened to members of the Blue Division captured in the U.S.S.R.?

    Were they tried as war criminals?

  5. David Menaza says:

    They were treated like any other captured invader – badly, although not as badly as the Germans. The Soviets captured about 372 Blue Division soldiers during the war. A little less than 300 were returned to Spain in 1954 after Stalin´s death.

    By the way, many people served in the Blue Division not because of Fascist commitment but trying to clean up their reputation or their families’. That is, a reputation of being “Red”.

  6. Paul Richard Ward says:

    Dear Mr. Grimsley, et al.;
    This is an excellent piece, with a few caveats. First, I am writing as a military historian and Wargamer. Scenarios in which the Spanish join the Axis, Either in 1939 or 1940, have been fought for years. In almost every case, the game goes as follows, and the results are always dire for the Allies.
    In many simulations I have participated in, the Spanish require no assistance whatsoever to take Gibralter. Their strenght of their post civil war air force and army are more than capable of overwhelming the garrison there. And, if they are given, as a prize, French Morocco, it can be quickly integrated into their own territories.
    Now as for what Spain gives the Axis: First, it cuts off the Med from the Atlantic Fleet. No more Gibralter as a base. The Italian and German fleets can cooperate, and German capital ships can now run into the Med and hide. Yes, the R.N. Med Fleet can stay in Alexandria, and be supplied via Suez, but that supply line is very long, and the Med Fleet has nothing to do but protect the Suez, which, with the other end of the Med closed off by German Dive Bombers, is a Canal to nowhere! The Germans/Italians/Spanish now control all of the Western Med, and Malta falls easily with no re-supply via Pedestal convoys. The Italians and Spanish can now supply the Afrika Korps with no interference from Britain. This puts great pressure on 8th Army, and in most of our games, the German/Italian/Spanish forces take Egypt by the end of 1941.
    Yugoslavia and Greece are no problems for the Axis. With Egypt out of the way, the Germans move into Irag/Persia. ( and some of our scenarios have the Turks joining the Axis in late 1941 ) No more lend-lease route to the USSR. A German Army moves into southern USSR via Persia, and the resulting pressure causes a Soviet collapse by the end of 1942. ( It also helps if you can get the Japanese to go into Siberia in late 1941, to draw off the Siberian armies, and help Russia into her early grave. This also keeps Japan from doing something stupid like bringing the U.S. into the war )
    In the West, the German/Italian surface fleet comes out of the Med, and enters the Atlantic, which has been the happy hunting ground of German U-boats since Autumn of 1940. The Atlantic convoys, Britain’s lifeline, are severely impacted, and Britain experiences food and fuel shortages. By the end of 1943, Britain is forced to seek peace, or be invaded.
    By the end of 1945, Germany, Italy, and Spain have subdivided Africa into three Zones ( Spanish West, Italian East, and German South ) and the Axis are now getting ready to deal with the United States, who has just polished off Japan.
    Essentially, if the Spanish had enterered the war on the side of the Axis, Germany, barring the unforseen, would have won the war. In OTL, Hitler met with Franco in the Summer of 1940, and Franco chose to stay neutral. My question has always been, “What the Hell did Hitler say to Franco that so Pissed him off that he wouldn’t join such a Sure Thing? ” It must have been really insulting !


    Paul R. Ward

    • fiestival says:

      @Paul Richard Ward,

      actually, while the scenario you present sounds terribly bleak for the allies, i find a few problems with it that need addressing.

      firstly, while you might say that the spanish had a military capable of subduing gibraltar without aid, most sources agree that the spanish had insufficient funds and food to undertake this mission without support from the axis pals. even if germany had tried to help, franco had shown a strong adversion to having german troops on spanish soil and would likely have tried in vain to take gibraltar.

      secondly, i think there are some problems with the progression from the capture of gibraltar to that of egypt. you seem to be implying that the loss of gibraltar will lead to the complete inability of the british troops to reinforce/defend egypt. however, a lot of the troops that fought in the northern african front were indian, and in fact the Indian Army, by 1945, was the largest all-volunteer force in history, rising to over 2.5 million men.

      thirdly, your portrayal of the collapse of soviet russia has several problems. for one, without the fall of egypt in the abovementioned point, the germans moving into iraq/persia is not feasible. you also propose a scenario where the japanese forces move into siberia. the fact remains that the japanese were not interested in helping the axis invade russia. in fact, hitler only declared war with the united states (after pearl harbor) in the hopes that that could be the incentive for japan to follow suit and declare war with the USSR, a tactic that failed to achieve its target and backfired spectacularly. thirdly, i doubt the USSR would fall that easily, even if it were attacked from the multiple fronts that you present. the soviets were by no means at the end of their tether when they stopped the german offensive, and they had the numbers to make up for the multiple fronts.

      while you seem to think that the US would finish off japan first, in history the states actually focused on europe before their island hop to japan. i’m pretty sure that had britain been in as perilous a state as you suggested, the US would have rushed to prevent the axis from completely controlling europe.

      lastly, i think you must remember that at through world war two, the countries that were against the axis included: russia, china, the US of A, canada, mexico, brazil, australia, india(a british colony, but let’s ignore that for now) etc. The states listed above, if you check on land area as of today, are the 7 largest countries in terms of land area in the world. this is ignoring the shrinking of russia after the collapse of the soviet union. keep in mind that there were forces which did not have time to deploy due to the ending of the war on the side of the allies, including argentina, which is 8th currently in terms of land area. even if we ignore all of the previous points and assume that the axis manage to seize continental europe and africa, do you think that they have the resources or the manpower to continue their fight against the rest of the world?

      • David Thompson says:

        Agree entirely (re: USSR)
        What was the Stalin quotation? Something like, “I can lose 100 men to Hitler’s 1. And I can continue to do that until Hitler hasn’t got an army left…………..
        If Hitler wants a war of annihilation, then he’ll get a war of annihilation.”
        Also, the extreme winter would still have happened regardless of the Axis member states.
        Also, you are completely correct regarding Japan. There is no doubt whatsoever about that.
        The Eastern Front would have ended up much the same as it did without Spain.
        A belligerent Spain may have prolonged WWII. But definitely no more than that.
        The outcome would have been vast destruction for the Iberian Peninsular, the fall of the regime, and the death of Franco, crca 1945-1947.

  7. David Menaza says:

    Military plans can stand everything but reality. I think after the first two years of the war, the agressors (Germany, Italy and Japan) had squandered the advantage of surprise and were battling overwhelmig odds. They took too much too quickly. Of course, Paul is right when he sees a gross strategic error in not closing the Mediterranean by pushing Spain to war and taking Gibraltar, but in the end, I think Germany, mostly alone, (they never had a common strategy with Japan) wouldn’t have been able to tackle Britain, USA and USSR at the same time. Maybe the war would have lasted longer, but in the end…

  8. C. Gallego says:

    If Spain has entered the war at Axis side, what probably would happen is that we will be defeated by the allies and we will be part of the Marshall program with the consequently entrance of money, so nowadays, I mean before that last crisis, our economical and industrial level would be more powerfull than it was.

    Anyway, from my point of view, my country wasn’t prepared for a democracy during the 40’s and 50’s because of the extreme left and right wing that existed here. Both of them will want the power so….civil war again. The country was completly splited.

    That dictatorship era, with the “Transición” before is what made my country an established and strong democracy.

  9. JOSEP says:

    From my point of view, the participation of Franco´s regime in 2 WW would allow British troops to land in the Iberian peninsula. That would distract a lot of resources (men, weapons, oil) that Hitler intended to deploy to the Eastern Front.

    As in current EU politics, Germans were not interested in the Mediterranean front but in East Europe, as a way to control rural and mineral rich Ucraine, and reach the Caucusus and from there to the oil rich areas in Iraq.

  10. Francisco Cabrera says:

    Spain was nearly starving, Germany lacked the resources to feed and suply Spain (we just finished our Civil War), and British Navy only allowed to enter in Spain bearly enough food and material to let the country not to die. The late Queen of Spain, Doña Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, had an interview with Franco and told him about the resources that UK still had. Ah, and Franco was Franco, not a fascist.

  11. TOMMY CONNOLLT says:


  12. juliani eskobar says:

    spain is a cowardly country………….they would not attempt or try against the british………….ever since napoleon and his french imperial forces invaded spain and took over their spanish throne and their spanish crown……….spain has become a weak inferior nation in all of europe……their whole spanish monarchy and it’s bloodline has been cut………napoleon made sure he put an end to it……..by cutting their spanish monarchy and restoring his own brother as their new spanish king……..and ever since 300 years of french take over………spain hasn’t been tha same………….so 300 years later of spanish defeat………..spain would have no chance to survive in ww2……..spain would be defeated in less than 5 seconds by tha britsh or the russians…………..so spain made a smart move on their part

    • David Menaza says:

      Cowardness, as bravery, is a personal quality. Peoples are not coward or gallant. There are, nonetheless, features that seems to be more commonly found in some backgrounds. Self-hate is common in Spain, for example. We have a ditto here: “If he speaks ill of Spain, he is a Spaniard”. Nº 13 is a Spaniard, and a coward.

      I live in Madrid, and am eager to mantain my words with my fists if he dares to show up. He won´t.

      • Arriba España says:

        +1 bro. From his name I can 100% afirm that this user has to be a red basque separatist who has a mind-conflict and was brain-washed with the Dark Legend created about Spain by the Brits.

  13. Pitimax says:

    Re. No.7 (Paul Ward)

    Spain could never have taken Gibraltar at the time without substantial material and personnel support: she was still shattered from the Civil War. However, the usefulness of the Base would have been lessened by Artillery, at least until British forces had neutralised those positions. More seriously for Spain, if Gibraltar had been negated they would have faced British threats to the Canary Islands and Ceuta, as indeed was in Churchill’s mind, let alone the catastrophic loss of trade and communications. An idea, not so much a plan, existed for a British thrust into neighbouring Spain from Gibraltar to provide a buffer zone for the Fortress.

  14. Anthony Blomme says:

    One thing that I find that out one forgets is the Siberian terrain. If Hitlerr attacked Russia it would have been in the winter. Hitler would have dealt with England first for they were they were a larger threat because they had the supplies to fight back and their secret weapon the radar. Russia on the other hand was short of supplies and Hitler would have made an attack on England anyway for he would have wanted to make an example to those who opposed him. By the time German forces were finished with the arial bombardments and started taking on Russia the results would have been the same. Stalingrad would have been more devastating than the original battle for both sides. If Stalingrad fell the Russian people would be drafted in and would have started a guerrilla war demanded by Stalin. Stalin would have been too stubborn to give in to Germany. In the spring when the snow melts the siberian ground is turned to mud, Siberia being made up mostly swampland and forests is a terrible area to travel by any vehicle for they will get stuck. This would have happened to the Germans the wet conditions would have slowed them down forcing hitlers officers to halt and rest and try in the summer when the ground is more firm. This would have given the Russians just enough time to make a massive counter attack. With the help of the United States commingling from Alaska and the Atlantic ocean starting a two way war. The Japanese would possible have to turn their attention to protecting their homeland spreading their forces and weakening the lines. In the end the Russians would have not been so easy to take on because of the logic behind Hitlers mind.

  15. Chris Woolley says:

    If Spain entered the war and attempted to take gilbraltar it would of failed in my opinion. The royal navy would of been able to keep it in the war much easier in comparison to the siege of malta, in which was a much harder ordeal and malta survived regardless, also the history would of played out more in favour for the allies, possibly because now Spain can’t assist the axis on the backhander with atlantic trade due to disruption from the “battle of the atlantic” and maybe america’s trade embargo. Also i think D-day would of occured earlier and would of been more successful due to the extra coastline Hitlers atlantic wall would have to cover and garrison, also the fact allied planners would choose to land in spain instead of normandy, also i think the liberation of italy would of still happened first but would of gone smoother if hitler sent troops to spain as well to prevent an allied invasion through a now non neutral coastline. Overall the spaniards no offense in 1939 were not exactly well equipped and well unified due to the left and right political situation, yes they were seasoned due to their civil war, but they had just down sized from 61 divisions to 24 of which only one was motorised.

    Another swing on this is if Spain did take Gilbraltar and the kriegsmarine used the med as a hideout and spains ports to re-base, the atlantic war would of of been lost even if the states entered the war, this would of knocked the invasion of normandy on the head and the 8th army would of lost like previous comments have stated the seuz canal is the long way round, to long…. plus spanish forces combined with italian and german forces would of overwhelmed egypt and malta and spilled into the middle east opening up another front with russia from the south. From russia’s defeat Britain would of been next, which would of been starved and alone with little canadian and “maybe” american troops to fight off operation sealion. To go as far forward and say that the atom bomb was developed due to heavy water production wasn’t sabotaged, america would of been an easier target from the spanish azores, combined with an atomic bomb landing on the east coast of the states ending the war and axis drawing the the new atlas of The third reich from spain, italy, france, british isles, non neutral scandanavia, eastern europe, northern africa, middle east, russia, japanese expansions upto americas surrender, and maybe the european empires/colonys which turned over to axis rule.

  16. Basque-Spaniard says:

    Spain in early Franco Era had a strong soldiers, we can see they bravery in the blue division even being only volunteers and not profesional soldiers. They saved german troops in lago Ilmen and they stopped the soviet offensive one year because of the battle of krasny Bor with only 5900 spanish Soldiers vs 44.000 soviet soldiers+2 tanks division. And spain had between two-three millions soldiers to defend the country. Furthermore, the spanish navy was bigger than actual. But, spanish economy, wasn´t development as germany or great britain. Even more, spain hadn´t discovered yet spanish guinean oil.The problem of spain was not in the army or in the navy or in air force was in his own economy.
    But what if civil war never happened?? what if Alfonso XIII had been still as a king??. I think spain it will support Great Britain.Why ?? because spanish economy in that times had a strong economy agreements. What agreements?? UK will help spain in his development of his country in exchange of increase the exports of spanish raw materials(fruits, metals etc…). Do you now what will happened if spain´s oils (burgos, in central spain and spanish guinea) had been discovered??. I think german nazi soldiers would invaded spain.

  17. Basque-Spaniard says:

    Spanish Models of governments :
    (XVI-XVIII) Absolutist Monarchy: Pro-German
    (XIX-XX)Parlamentary Monarchy: Pro-german, Pro-British, pro-french.
    (XX)Republican: Pro-French and Pro-communist.
    (XX)Dictatorship: Pro-German and Pro-British.

    Spanish Conservatives: Pro-German
    Spanish Liberals: Pro-British
    Spanish Labourism(moderate socialism): Pro-French
    Spanish Comunists: Pro-Russian, Pro-chinese and Pro-leftist spanish-american goverments.

  18. Michael says:

    One of the more sadly uninformed posts I’ve seen. Have you even read about the Napoleonic era? Probably not. The Spanish resisted for years forcing Napoleon to commit troops that could be put to use elsewhere. Troops were under attack regularly by guerrillas.

  19. Michael says:

    This was at juliani eskobar.

  20. Chris Woolley says:

    The guy is a moron don’t rise to it, calling an entire nation cowards because of a guerilla war which they eventually won with british and portugese aid 300 years previously doesn’t make it a dead cert that spain would of crumbled easily, look at germany give it 30 years and boom there back from disaster with half of europe under there thumb, now 300years even \a cowardly country\ like Spain could beat off Germany, France, Great Britain and so on….. Oh i don’t agree that Spaniards are cowards far from it, look at the foolish blue brigade, they fought hard, died needlessly in a far away battle field which changed no spanish lives at all,but still brave but foolish

  21. Basque-Spaniard says:

    There is an interview between Ramon Serrano Suñer, the spanish foreighn office, and Hitler in Hitler`s castle in bavaria that is historic.
    Hitler said: Is spain now enter as an ally in the war?
    Ramon Serrano Suñer said: I know that our army is glorious like you said that we are showing in russia, and is true, but hitler, I´m your friend and we will support you if we could, I promise you, but we can´t enter in the war, we have suffer a lot in the civil war and we aren´t prepared to enter in this war.
    Then hitler get upset in the chair and hitler said: Ok, now we understand the problem. Now, mariscal keitel will show you the plan to close the mediterranean sea that was prepared to do it a week later when spain entered at the war.

    Secondly, I´m not moron I proud catholic with White skin, blonde hair and green eyes.

  22. Basque-Spaniard says:

    The only political party that was created buy franco was a coalition of extreme-right, conservatives and liberals.
    Extreme-right wanted to joined the axis, conservative wanted to be beligerant and liberals wanted absolutely neutrality. This liberals had got contacts even with churchill. In spain we now that in Franco Era there was two ideological visions, pro-german and pro-british.
    1939-1943: Extreme-right were at the goverment mostly but Franco prefer to send a blue division of volunteer than enter in the war.
    1943-1955: Conservatives.
    1955-1975 the liberals take power.
    Franco decided three positions:
    War between Allies and Axis: Neutrality.
    War between Russia and Axis: Axis.
    War between Japan and Allies: Ally.

  23. Basque-Spaniard says:

    Maybe you will surprised with the last position but when japan imperial army invaded The philippines. This japanese soldiers attacked spanish consulated in manila and this fact got angry franco and support US in all that they needed.

  24. Chris Woolley says:

    Not calling anyone a moron over what nationality or colour skin they have, just the fact they or you? juliani escobar? have called the entire Spanish race cowards, if anything i’d say they were smart to stay out of things, eventually the mediterean would of been reopened regardless of Spanish joining the axis anyway. Franco knew this like you said with his talks in bavaria, spain will not join the war (at this time) weakened army due to the civil war, only 24 divisions and one of which was motorised.

  25. David Menaza says:

    Dear Basque-Spaniard:

    Lo de “moron” no significa moro, sino gilipollas; iba dedicado, por lo que puedo colegir, al tal juliani eskobar ese.

    Dear all the rest:

    There seems to be a funny confusion here. Basque-Spaniard has thought that “moron” adressed to him, and misinterpreted it for the Spanish word for “Moorish”. Basques, in my experience, are quite touchy in terms of race and religion. Anyway, let´s keep it cool, OK? No need to abuse anyone – not even juliani.

  26. David Menaza says:

    And in regard to Franco… he was the quintessential Galician. In Spain we say that if you meet a Galician in a flight of stairs you never know whether he is coming down or climbing up. I don´t think he was very intelligent, and certainly was not cultivated, but he was cunning, in a mean, sordid way. And he outsmarted Hitler. He never threw his lot with anyone till he knew he was going to the winning side. A survivor.

  27. Chris Woolley says:

    Whats wrong with being Moorish anyway,Spain makes me laugh how quite alot like to hide 500 years of jewish and arabic blood and influence upon the penisusula, to be basque or spanish or what ever your a mix of african, arabic, jewish, italian, french, geneoan, milanese, byzantine and so on…. deal with the fact that your descendants at some point were not all shining knights in shining armour killing the evil non believers in their reconquistor.
    I’m English and i’m not the naive idiot to go around saying i’m Basque not Spanish, i know my linage at some point must have scandanavian or germanic or celtic, or french norman blood to be honest i don’t care, people who go around shouting i’m 100% this or that irratate me, people like that cause these wars to start with, look at Hitler the prick, not german, not Arian, he was Austrian with Jewish blood in him.

  28. David Menaza says:

    Hi Chris:

    Of course, there´s nothing wrong with being Moorish, excepting the fact that they do not longer exist. We call Moorish (or Mudejars) those muslims living in Christian territory during Medieval and Early Modern Age in the Iberian peninsula. Christians living in Muslim territories were called Mozarabic. Jews were called many things (few of them nice) in both fields, with an ever changing and permeable frontier that separated two civilizations for nearly eight centuries. Moorish were expulsed from Spain by king Philip III in 1615. Most of them settled in Northern Africa.

    Regarding to our common friend Basque-Spaniard, I am not implying that he is racist at all, not having the pleasure of his acquaintance. But it was his jumping (erroneous as it turned out) at the possibility of being mistaken for a Moor what prompted my comment. But look, he first defined his religion, then his racial traits.

    I myself do not feel pride or shame for my mixed origins. My mother was from Northern Castile (near the Basque Country), my father from Murcia, in Southeasthern Spain, a region conquered first by the Aragonese then by the Castilians in XIIIth century. I cannot trace back my origins more than four or five generations, and I don´t really care. I´ve been raised Catholic, as most people in this country for the last 500 years, and am currently an atheist (but cannot forsake the Holy Mother Church, there is no approved procedure ;-), apparently).

    Religion is more important an issue regarding to our nation self-perception than race. Being \clean-blooded\ or of \Old Christian stock\ in opposition to \New Christians\ (that is descended from Muslim or, even worse, Jewish converts) was very important in Renaissance Spain. It supposed a different legal standing, as many institutions enforced from the Late Middle Ages what were called \blood-cleansing statutes\, strikingly similar to those later established in Nazi Germany for access to the SS or to the Nazi Party. First of all these legal compulsions was one approved by Toledo Cathedral Council in 1436, if memory serves me well. Moreover the Inquisition kept a watchful eye on those with insufficient credentials in terms of Christianity. Ironically, many inquisitors themselves were New Christians.

    Concerning Celts and Gauls, these are rather vague terms inherited from Roman ethnologists, many of which were also generals and conquerors, like Julius Caesar. When the Romans came to the Iberian peninsula during the Second Punic War (IIIth Century BCE) they found a conglomerate of tribes, slightly less developed than them, with just a few cities, mostly in what is know Andalusia and the Mediterranean façade, and some Greek and Carthaginian foundations. Those peoples closer to them they called Iberians, from the Iberus river (today Ebro) which was settled as a kind of demarcation line splitting Roman and Cathaginian zones of influence. This area formed later the Roman province of Hispania Citerior (in Latin literally: \the Spain closer to us\). The Iberians probably spoke very dialectalized non Indoeuropean languages and some linguists suppose they are the ancestors of today’s Basque (or Euskera), which some relate with North African Berberian (which is different from the common Maghreb Arabic). Northwestern Spain was the land of the Celts, subdivided in multiple tribes and even less developed than the Iberians. They were related linguistically with Gauls from what today is France and even the northern part of the Italian Peninsula (those tribes that periodically migrated South and sometimes even defeated Roman armies). There was a moving stripe, several hundred miles wide, where Celts and Iberians mixed, and the term Celtiberian came to be used by archaelogists to define their few findings, or rather to conceal their ignorance. The Romans created a province called Hispania Ulterior (\the Spain further from us\) encompassing these lands, before the final subduing of the whole Peninsula by Augustus in the Ist century CE. He also redistributed the territories in three provinces of Imperial rank, Tarraconensis (capital city Tarraco, today Tarragona, southern Catalonia); Lusitania (capital city Emerita Augusta, today Mérida, in Extremadura) & Baetica (capital city Corduba, nowadays Córdoba in Andalusia).

    In a way we Spaniards never have ceased to be an uneasy badly-molten bunch of tribes, so bear with us. Some other day we may talk about that island of yours \like a little body with a mighty heart\.

  29. Basque-Spaniard says:

    I have to say that if Franco had entered in the war. I think that the war will be the same like the napoleonic war and will have the same final like we know.
    The problem wil be later. ¿Monarchy or republic?.
    Liberal-Monarchy: the same as actual and pro-ally.
    Republic: A satellite country of the soviet Union.

    The latest spanish republican elections:
    Conservatives: 19%
    Liberals: 8%
    Labourism: 21%
    Comunism: 26%

  30. J. Pascual says:

    @David Menaza: Excellent dissertation David. A crystal-water description in a perfect Shakespeare’s language. Proof of it is no Anglo-Saxon came up with the usual sarcastic answer trying to exploit any of many fake Spanish clichés…

    Un saludo.

  31. David Menaza says:

    Too long perhaps to be pleasant to read, but thank you for your compliments, anyway. We have our own fair share of clichés about Anglosaxons, Frenchies, Germans…

  32. Lyndon says:

    Why didn’t the Blue Division fight with the Germans until the end of WW2?

  33. Phil says:

    It was the spanish guerrilla fighting that was the downfall of Napoleon. And the blue division was one of the most effective fighting forces of ww2. Spain may have been broke, starving and war torn, but certainly not cowardly. You might want to take a look at france, or maybe italy for that.

  34. Basque_Spaniard says:

    Well, the truth is that Blue Division was withdraw by order of Franco pressured by the Allies. Don´t forget, that Nationalist spain was a a coalition of pro-capitalist government the same as spain divided.
    Enough had expelling and defeating the republicans-socialist and communist government. If Franco provoked a division even between their lines would have been a disaster for him.
    Nevertheless, a few thousand of voluntarees of blue division refused to go back to spain and formed a blue battalion in order to continued fighting against Soviet Union until the battle of Berlin.
    The heart of the problems of spain started in liberal-monarchy of Alfonso XIII. Corruption, bad manage of the economy and industrial revolution, the grew of socialism-communism power , the regional nationalism movements (Basque Country, Catalonia) etc…
    The political parties instead of take responsabilities of their mistakes they blamed the king of all. The main parties were the conservative and the liberal party.

  35. Jeffrey J. Lack. says:

    I am an American Veteran. This is not so complicated to answer.
    My neighbor, a man in his mid 90’s, is one of the last remaining American survivors of Operation D-Day. Because of pride we as humans easily complicate things. Allied victory over the Axis powers was not a sure thing. The fate of all man-kind was as stake. My answer is simple. To fight in WWII if you could aim and fire a rifle you were a problem. Millions more Spaniards with rifles aimed at Allied men would have been a major problem for the Allies. I myself love history. However I prefer peace. According to 100 of the world’s greatest literary critics the greatest novel ever written as in número uno is DON QUIXOTE by Cervantes. Personally I would much rather be insane and attack windmills than take a human life. Think about it…

  36. Basque_Spaniard says:

    Spain never considered the allies as enemies, other thing was Soviet Union. Maybe we can have a little friction with UK because of Gibraltar but underneath is a country largely pro-Allied.
    In spite of Franco being pro-Hitler ,when he met with him he took a tremendous disappointment. Hitler wanted everything from Spain in exchange of nothing.
    All Franco´s generals persuaded Franco to enter in a war that spain was risking a lot in which only the Germans would take advantage. Only the Fascist sector of the party would have been satisfied.
    Finally, Franco decided to make a big military defense wall at the Pyrenness reinforced with 50.000 soldiers in order to blocked any foreighn intervention and isolated from europe.
    When ,Aik, Eisenhower came to Spain was received as a hero and Franco gave him a big hug. USA decided to help Spain, the only allied country. This fact spain never forgot.
    Franco take US dollars and put a technocratic(economists) government expelling more fascists ones. Spain rebuild all the country and the fostered the second spanish industrial revolution.
    When Franco was too old kept his word and reestablished monarchy. Everything what happenned later was in King hands.

  37. Charles says:

    Of course, Spain had recovered Gibraltar without German help.

    Spain 1939 with the surrender of the Republican army . troops

    Spanish fleet recovered integrates ..

    950 Tanks.
    125 Panzer 1 Purchased Germany during the civil war
    Fiat 145
    210 T 29 Republicans captured Russian origin .
    65 T 28
    2500 artillery pieces included ( 300 ) 88
    In 1936 the eighth world fleet recovered . almost complete in Cartagena
    Mandatory military service, young republican prisoners forced into military service. 2,500,000 Total men .

    4 million Mauser rifles only in the reserve. 3 million in the hands of soldiers ..
    Military production about 120 million cartridges every 6 months , and recovered arms industry triggered by Franco in 1940 , Star, Mauser , Astra etc. ..

    850,000 Machine Guns

    475 aircraft , including Stukas and Mesermitch , Polikarphovs captured. Fiat and Italian .

    Legion and Spanish Falange , authentic crazy people . During the Battle of Russia impressed Hitler. Obviously Spain is the 2nd most mountainous country in Europe after Switzerland. A hell for ambushes and forts , guerrilla warfare. Poor communications .

    • Enric Martinez says:

      And they would fight from the mountains shooting at Gibraltar? Really?
      Do you know what they really did with all the Republican soldiers? They either killed them or they went to France. Many ended in Dachau.

      This Franco guy wasn’t too smart when it came to these things, eve Hitler complained that he was killing his own people.

      And the same goes for Falange, they were Franco’s competition, Jose Antonio, the leader was left to be killed by the Republicans.

      So much for these guys taking Gibraltar.

  38. Basque_Spaniard says:

    The spanish fleet was composited by: 1 aircraft Carrier, 6 Cruisers
    20 Destroyers, 5 Submarines and amphibous equipment for 15.000 marines.
    The spanish army: 285.000 Active soldiers and 2.5 millions in reserve if it was necessary.
    The tanks like you said is truth but you forgot something the Spanish \Verdeja\ tanks recently built at the final of Civil war, a tank that was based on Panzer and T-26 but reinforced with Basque Steel and modern cannon . Even this last tank was checked against the Panzer and the T-26 with surprising success. Verdeja was the name of the inventor. This tank was planned to substitute the old Trubia Spanish Tank, a ww1 tank used on RIF war.But like I said before, one thing is what you have by buying foreign equipment and what you can produce. Spain in those days was not developed the majority of spanish industry was on the north coast, Madrid, Aragon and Catalonia. Once ended the Civil war the major part of the PIB was spent in rebuilding the country, so it hadn´t enough money to produce armament in big scale like other european countries or USA.
    For the example of the spanish tanks:
    Was created the prototype in Aragon, produced in series in Asturias and complete the newest innovations(cannons, armour and armament) in Bizcaye.
    Verdeja 1: Light Tank
    Verdeja 2: Medium Tank
    Verdeja 3: Medium-heavy Tank
    These tanks were superior even for the German Panzer III but not to the Panzer IV. I dont know what will have happenned if German tried to invade Spain, I think Franco will have introduced in the battle these tanks.
    Maybe, no-one knows nothing about tanks but they existed and were produced between 1938 and 1945. Im not joking.
    And one thing about these tanks´s motor were Ford, I mean American.

    • Enric Martinez says:

      ” I dont know what will have happenned if German tried to invade Spain,”

      What would have happend? Two Words: Sturzkampf Fleigzeuge :)
      They would have bombed the living daylights out of anything that moved no matter how much Biskaian Steel, and I seriously doubt that the Frnaoc guys would have had any chance with their biplanes against the Messerschmidt.

  39. Chriw Woolley says:

    It’s not how many ships, tanks and equipment they might of had, it’s how they could use them and how well maintained they were, they had a massive civil war and most of their fleet was composed of old American ships, old German aircraft and of German/Russian tanks of which they wouldn’t be able to get replacement parts for easily, but after researching these Verdeja tanks which were modern for there time, they were never produced in huge numbers and like you said they would never be able to keep up production with any enemy such as Germany, also I’d presume they would use their tanks like the French did spread out amongst their divisions and not on mass like the Germans, we all know what happened to the French and British tanks on the on set of the war, the Spanish would learn the same mistake as the Poles and the Danes that an outdated army of obsolete weaponry and tactics will always lose even when the numbers are in your favour, the Spanish would not know this new type of Blitzkrieg warfare just as much as anyone else who came up against them the first time round, I just wonder if the Germans would of been stopped before they took all of the industrial north thus dooming the Spanish eventually if they were left to fight with what they had left, maybe the US or great Britain would land and intervene? who knows but I do know the Germans had the means to take Spain via air and sea like Denmark and most of the Greek islands, but that would create twice as much Atlantic wall to defend and cost the Italians/Germans a huge Occupation force to keep it, with the Spanish being so good with guerrilla warfare, it would also be easier for Spanish resistance to be supplied by the RAF via the Azores which was allowed access by ?Salazar?, I think if Hitler invaded Spain it would of only been because Spain had a faction aiding the Allies, Franco had been pressured to join the allies, or if Spain had suddenly removed Franco and replaced him with a Allies friendly leader, on the other hand the Allies would only of invaded Spain if Hitler had occupied Spain, Spain had invaded Portugal, Spain had occupied Gibraltar, Spain had started blockading the Med, Spain had somehow come across materials for an atomic bomb like with Norway and it’s heavy water resulting in a allied invasion/liberation, or long shot if Sicily or Southern Italy had failed they could choose Greece which was already being dealt with by Tito and allied SOE support, Southern France which had plans already by Free French African forces to liberate, leaving the Americans and British Dominion forces to start a second front in Spain either with or without the permission of the Spanish, I’d like to think if a force was to randomly land in Spain Franco would huff and puff about it but work both sides by allowing the allies to use Spain as a base of operations into France with promises of a chunk in French Africa and by still sending Hitler reports of how the Spanish are resisting the allies covertly by attacking supply lines, in the real fact Franco has hit a gold mine by having the French owe him one and would help the allies with troops as soon as it looked like they were winning.

  40. Portuguese says:

    If Spain joined the war, Portugal would have joined too.Actually Portugal joined the war. Some Portuguese soldiers flew to England and joined the war as if they were regular english citizens(dont forget the Portuguese-English Aliance, the oldest in the world). Portugal also loaned Azores to USA and England ( USA still has a base there).Obviously all of this had to be done in secret. If Portugal joined the war , Spain would join the Axis and attack Portugal (Obviously USA and England would immediatly come here).If Spain joined the war, Portugal (with some English Backup) would imediatly attack Spain. That is why Portugal and Spain stayed neutral.

    • Portuguese says:

      By the way, Portugal was very prepared to defend a possible Spanish invasion, and was VERY prepared too to attack Spain. (USA,Portugal and England even thought on some tatics). We all knew that Hitler wanted to destroy Russia and then attack Portugal (because our aliance with England, we could be a dangerous spot for him). There was a possibility of doing a distractive D-DAY by Portugal (followed by the real D-DAY in FRANCE, a Strong attack from Portugal/USA/England to Spain, would make Hitler move most of his troops to south of France, leaving the North weaker to that real D-DAY.)

    • Portuguese says:


      Here you can read a little bit more about Portugal during WWII, scroll down to the Military Coperation part and you will see the importance of Portugal during WWII.

      • CHARLES says:

        I do not think that happened. Portugal was allied with Franco during the Spanish Civil War. In fact, sent troops called Viriato about 20,000 to help Franco during his war.

  41. Chriw Woolley says:

    Portugal were always going to be on the side of the allies, their oversees interests, what was left of them abroad were at risk of German/Japanese occupation, the best way to avoid losing them was to carry on with the Anglo-Portuguese alliance, yes there may of been some co-operation between Spain, either volunteers or trade, but that was to show that they were being “neutral” Spain did the same by aiding the allies in some ways and the Axis in another way, Portugal would of tried to stay neutral but eventually allowed another front on their soil if Spain became aggressive.

  42. Basque_Spaniard says:

    In Franco Era, the coalition political party was divided between Anglophiles and Germanophiles.
    The Anglophiles loyal to the British in WW2 in order to be neutral on the war and reestablish the monarchy of Alfonso XIII and Germanophiles in favour to join with Germany and the Axes.
    With the divided opinion on the war, Franco decided to help the Axis in the war against Soviet Union the unique war that created accord.
    With the allies neutrality except against japan.
    For the ones who dont know the composite of Franco´s party.
    1º Liberal-Monarchist party. (loyal to the Alfonso XIII as a king)
    2º Conservative-Monarchist party. ( Basque and Navarrian party defenders of their ancient status (the Fueros or Federal Government of these regions) .
    3º CEDA (Conservative) party. (Coalition of Liberal-Conservative party)
    4º Falange (Fascist) party. ( Far-right party favour of Hitler´s regime)
    In any case, Franco was considered an accord man in order to avoid commies regime in Spain. Was pro-monarchist and conservative but didnt let the politicians take the control again because they treated badly to the King Alfonso XIIIth. He decided to live and let live to the Royal Family until Spain´s economy and the king were prepared.
    In the 50s, the coalition party with Franco decided to rebuilt and strength the economy before the change of the regime. Franco saw the Juan Carlos I prepared for the Job and not Juan (the Father).
    At the first time, Franco was, how to say, surprised by Hitler. Hitler rebuilt the country and invade europe with landslide victories that caused great admiration and thats why he decided to up to the government to the Falangists in order to please Hitler but after a time he began to know him better was dissapointed. Arrogance, racist, proud, tighty etc… Finally, he decided to change from Germanophiles (falangists) to the Anglophiles (monarquists, liberals and conservatives).
    Dont forget that Spains royal family was Anglophile and the Alfonso XIIIs son was at the UK´s royal navy so if UK wanted to change Franco dictatorship will be more easily to reestablish royal family in spain than the Republic more loyal to the Soviet Union and the risk to another Civil War.

  43. […] What If Franco's Spain Had Entered the War? article on the subject […]

  44. Yanito says:

    Gibraltar was not “seized by Britian” it was ceded to Britain. Also Gibraltar becoming part of Spain would not be a “resoration” but an annexation.

  45. Kenneth Vilhelmsen says:

    It is fiction – what would have happened if Spain joined the Axis-powers – no BS – only educated guesses…..It would be prudent to read the whole page…..

  46. Jaro says:

    Basically, the course of war wouldn’t have changed much, except that Spain would have suffered more losses than she did in our timeline (which would be quite painful indeed seeing as the civil war itself dealt her a blow worthy of any other country’s WWII casualties). I think the post-war Spain would most likely be a mix between Italy and Greece: most definitely highly corrupt and desperately poor for Western Europe’s standards at least until the 1960s. I can’t quite imagine an Italy-style powersharing deal between the Communists and post-Francoist Christian Democrats due to the historical issues. Another civil war would be a highly likely scenario. Now, would there be an economic boom in the 60s and 70s like there was in our timeline? Hard to say. On the one hand, Spain wouldn’t have been as isolated as she was in real life 40s and 50s, although I’m not sure a democratic and highly influenced by leftist ideologies government would quite be able to pull off any sort of big-scale capitalist reforms. To sum up, not much would have changed, really, except that Franco would be seen as one of the bad guys and Spanish history would have condemned the Falangists as Nazi pawns. Well, maaaaaaaaybe a lack of a right-wing dictatorship in Spain would have influenced an earlier toppling of Salazar’s regime in Portugal but I don’t really think it would be enough (seeing as Portugal was much less isolated than Spain anyway).

  47. Charles Morgan says:

    The British will never give Gibraltar back to Spain.

  48. JG (Zoilo Almonte) says:

    Spain might have ironically been better off in the long-term in this scenario. They would have joined the Western bloc much earlier and would not have been stuck with 40 years of Francoist isolation and stagnation.

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