Franco did not try to save Girbraltar from Germany occupation

Gibraltar almost became a de facto Third Reich possession
Gibraltar almost became a de facto Third Reich possession

Franco was not as high-minded as Micheal O’Cathail suggests (April 8).

In March 1939 he joined the Anti-Comintern Pact and signed a Treaty of Friendship with Nazi Germany.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

At the outbreak of the Second World War he declared Spanish neutrality but changed this to a state of non-belligerency when Mussolini entered the war on 10 June 1940.

Later that month he informed Hitler that he was prepared to enter the war on the side of Germany and Italy after a brief interval during which he would convince Spanish public opinion.

In return he demanded Gibraltar, French Morocco and parts of French West Africa and food and arms to relieve Spain’s dire economic state after the Civil War.

However Hitler did not wish to upset the Vichy regime in France and thought Franco’s price was far too high.

On 23 October 1940 Franco and Hitler, accompanied by their respective foreign ministers, met at Hendaye railway station on the Spanish-French border.

Hitler presented a plan (ISABELLA-FELIX) to Franco whereby German forces would attack Gibraltar via Spain and close the western Mediterranean to the British.

Franco was not interested because Spain was exhausted by the Civil War and in no realistic position to become a belligerent.

Franco confined himself at Hendaye to expressing his sympathies for the Third Reich and Fascist Italy.

Furthermore he managed to irritate Hitler by reiterating his previously stated demands.

In other words, Franco did not wish to save Gibraltar from Germany occupation.

On the contrary, he wanted Hitler to hand him Gibraltar on a plate in return for nothing of any consequence.

As they might say in France, ‘Quelle surprise!’

Gordon Lucy, Belfast