Franco Was Crazy... Like a Fox
|Francisco Franco kept both sides unhappy just enough to keep from being invaded.|
|German troops of the Condor Legion (standing) helped to bring Franco to power - and he returned the favor in equal measure by sending the Spanish Blue Division to help Hitler's futile war of conquest.|
These relatively little things that Franco did for Hitler were enough to keep Germany from invading Spain, which was Franco’s main strategic goal. Franco was helped in this plan by secret information from members of the German resistance to Hitler, principally Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr intelligence agency.
|Franco met Hitler at Hendaye. Hitler later described being so frustrated at Franco's refusal to commit to joining the Axis that it was like "having teeth pulled."|
|Francisco Franco knew how to play the hand that was dealt him and leave the table a richer man.|
|Gibraltar, shown here during World War II, was absolutely critical to British control of the Mediterranean - and Franco made that possible.|
|Soldiers struggle ashore during Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of northwest Africa. Until Operation Torch, the only person protecting the critical British base at Gibraltar was... Francisco Franco.|
|HMS Seraph, shown, released a corpse just off the Spanish coast as part of Operation Mincemeat. This was one of the great deception operations of World War II.|
|Spanish Republican fighters crossing the Pyrenees to reach safety in France in March 1938. The Pyrenees formed a formidable obstacle for anyone trying to invade France from Spain.|
|Spain contributed just enough to the German war effort to win their appreciation and avoid invasion, but not a step further.|
One must remember that Franco had nothing against the Allies. He was non-ideological, being more interested in his Catholic religion than in conquest. He never really thought about attacking the Spanish government until others started the Civil War. The Allies actually had played a key role in bringing him to power in the first place (he was flown to Africa from his post in the Canary Islands at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War by members of British Intelligence). Plus, it turned out that Franco's secret dealings with the British involved various payoffs to him and his generals to keep him out of the war. Thus, making occasional indications that he was leaning toward Hitler was an effective way of upping the payments in pounds sterling to his secret bank accounts. And, who knows... maybe he was taking payments from Hitler, too. Why not?
|Which of the "Axis leaders" stayed in power until his death from natural causes in the 1970s? It wasn't Hitler or Mussolini.|