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What if Spain had joined the Axis?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by PzJgr, Jan 3, 2001.

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  1. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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  2. max62

    max62 Member

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    As long as I know, there was no problem for spanish fascist officers to join the Blue Division. I remember to have read that they volunteered so many that some of them had to fight as common soldiers. After the war, to have fought in Russia against communism gave enormous prestige to those soldiers and officiers inside Franco´s regime. Over thirty thousands returned, and over six thousands died. In comparison with italians and romanians, they were lucky because the Division returned at the end of 1943.

    General Muñoz-Grandes was the leader of the Division. Hitler speculated about making him the new spanish "Caudillo".

    Blue Division was of little importance in war, but taking Gibraltar would have changed everything.
     
  3. Joe

    Joe Ace

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    Not really. It wouldn't change anything, British ships sailed round Africa and through the Suez canal suring the war, not through the straits of Gibraltar.
     
  4. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    They lose a naval base, a radio listening post, and a air reconissance base. Those can be replaced one way or another.

    They lose a route for spies sent into Europe if Spain is hostile.

    Wait! I'm repeating my post of 22 August.
     
  5. max62

    max62 Member

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    The real question is that, if Spain joined the Axis, and Gibraltar was taken, the strategic value of taking Suez increased enormously too. There would have been completely idiot not to have done it, and, of course, would have been easier taking Suez if you already control Gibraltar.

    One thing leads to the other. If Spain joined the Axis, France had to do it too. If Gibraltar was taken, Suez was taken. If Mediterranean is conquered, Turkey joins the Axis too. And if Mediterranean is taken, French Fleet fights with the Axis and Turkey joins the Axis... then Black Sea and Caucasus are into the Axis power. No defeat in Stalingrad, no problem about oil, coal and wheat resources for the Axis... they would have won the war...

    Something about it was taken into consideration by admiral Raeder at the end of 1940 summer...
     
  6. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    That's a lot of ifs, isn't it?

    What if one of your ifs fails? All the rest will fail too.

    For instance: "If Gibraltar was taken, Suez was taken. " Why? Almost all the Brit supplies in the Western Desert came from the long way around Africa, so why does Gibraltar imply Suez?

    That's being a bit carried away, innit?
     
  7. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    What makes it easier for the Axis to capture Suez if Gibraltar is in Axis hands? I'm not making the connection?
     
  8. max62

    max62 Member

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    If Gibraltar is seized, only Suez is left in order to control totally the Mediterranean, this fact alone increases the importance of Suez.

    Surviving of Malta would have been very difficult without Gibraltar. Vital supplies for Malta in 1942 springtime came always through Gibraltar.

    Joining Spain the Axis would have been a terrible political threat for France (colonial interests in North-Africa). The only way for French to survive as a mediterranean power with Spain and Italy in the Axis, would have been to join the Axis too. French fleet and french colonial Army had a considerable weight.

    Controlling Gibraltar, Kriegsmarine was able to entry Mediterranean sea.

    In order to seize Suez, it was only necessary to send more Panzer divisions and troops to DAK (small amount, in comparison with russian front), to protect maritime supplies, to get more air power. Even if war in Russia was started, the battle in Egypt would have been not for long time.

    But the question is that Hitler´s requirements to Franco in december 1940 were not part of a plan to conquer Mediterranean Sea, but just taking Gibraltar as part of general blockade against GB. It is also true that Spain promised to germans that, if Suez was taken, they would do the same in the other end of the Sea.

    If for reasons of inner policy, Spain joined the Axis in January 1941, according to the Felix Operation plans, the possibilities of the total conquest of the Sea would have appeared clear to german generals. Not to forget that, in those times, Vichy still controled Syria, and the german invasion of Greece was preparing. Suez had few chances, although the success against italians in december 1940. Not to forget too the political impact of german victories in the mediterranean in April 1941 (Rommel and Greece). Imagine that, but adding now, the Axis controling Gibraltar, destruction of british Fleet in Gibraltar (that was part of Felix Operation), entry of Kriegsmarine in the sea... and very probable french joining the Axis too.

    It also depends on the time Hitler would have taken the decision of conquering the Mediterranean Sea. July 1940?, december 1940?, after failure in Moscow, 1941?, previous to Fall Blau, springtime 1942?, even when Torch, november 1942?
     
  9. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Well although I dont see the cause/effect on defending Suez I'll ponder all that.

    On a different line I wonder what the effect will be on Axis imports, without a nuetral Spain as a coundut or route? Did Spain really import most of its coal from overseas from 1941 to 1944? I've seen claims of this, but no actuall numbers supporting it, or any other remarks about imports.
     
  10. max62

    max62 Member

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    As long as I know, Spain had no problem about coal, Asturias region had large amounts of coal. The problem was about oil and wheat. All economic negotiations with germans and americans dealt with this question. After spanish civil war, Spain suffered under a severe shortage of wheat.

    In november 1940, spanish military officiers redacted a memorandum for Franco on consequences of Spain joining the Axis (scheduled for January 1941, Felix Operation). According to this report, a long war would be disastrous for national economy and for spanish possesions overseas (Canary Islands included). But the memorandum also considered the possibility of new routes of supplying through Mediterranean, instead of Atlantic Ocean. That is: after russian-german agreement, in August 1939, it was also possible for Spain to get oil and wheat from the Black Sea.

    So, also for spaniards the total capture of Mediterranean was important.

    By the way, it is not exact to assert that Gibraltar was unimportant for the defence of Suez. Not to forget "Tiger Operation", the urgent sending of british tanks in May 1941, through Gibraltar strait.

    Just a chronology (supossing Spain accepts joining the Axis 7 December 1940, in the conditions really proposed by germans at that date):

    7 December 1940 : general Franco accepts starting german preparations in spanish soil, previous to "Operation Felix". German officers work hardly and fast (railways, airfields...) but no german troops entry Spain yet.

    19 December 1940: after italian disaster in Africa, Mussolini asks Hitler for help. Hitler delayed an affirmative answer (DAK) up to 10 January (more or less), POSSIBLE THIS WAY, WITH FELIX OPERATION ABOUT TO ACCOMPLISH?

    12 january 1941: Felix Operation. "H Force" (Gibraltar Fleet), recently come from escorting a convoy to Malta, bombed by german Luftwaffe, flying from southern France airfields (and now landing in spanish airfields). Carrier "Ark Royal", battleships "Renown" and "Malaya", disabled. Spain artillery finishes the job. The worst catastrophe of Royal Navy. At the same time, Luftwaffe from Sicily disables carrier "Illustrious" and sinks a cruiser (this was real). Spain declares war to GB. German troops entry Spain from France. In one month, two divisions will be in Morocco, three divisiones in the Portugal border.

    And now? Please, keep into consideration the reaction after this new situation of

    FRANCE not joining the Axis, with german divisions in Morocco and Lybia?

    YUGOSLAVIA keeping neutrality, with the Royal Navy defeated?

    ITALY permitting german, spanish and french to control Mediterranean, because of first italian defeat in December 1940?

    GB Germans are in the Mediterranean now... possible to keep Suez, possible to keep Irak´s oil? would it be valuable to ask about armistice conditions? As long as I know, even Churchill would have accepted armistice if Suez and oil fields were lost. it would have been necessary to wait until so late?

    At the same time, for german generals preparing "Barbarrosa", the possibilities now would be great: forcing GB to armistice (more air power for "Barbarrosa" ), controling Black Sea for transport operations in Southern Soviet Union.
     
  11. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    What if the Brits retake Gibraltar?
     
  12. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Then they are committed to a major air/land battle in southern Spain, and more naval fighting for that matter. I suspose in that case Stalin would have his Second Front.

    Originally I thought Spain would be a good avenue for Britian and the US to attack the Axis. But, roads are poor and the industry is not very valuable. and once you conquor some cities then you are responsible for finding the wheat. Southern Italy was something of a economic drain on the Allies from 1943. I'd think 'Liberated' Spain would be the same. Let Hitler send them wheat.

    Advancing north out of Spain to Germany is the longer route. The railroads dont look adaquate and the ports dont seem to be the same capacity as Antwerp, Marsailles, or even the Breton ports. And there are all those mountains. It looks like a larger version of the Italian campaign.

    The Allies were fairly good at decieving the German intellegence organizations and Hitler. Let the German think a Allied army will soon land there, drawing German reserves away from other more important places. The British SOE or OSS can encourage the Communists & other Republicans to bomb factories or shoot German sentrys in the night.
     
  13. max62

    max62 Member

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    The only british plan about a Gibraltar´s seizure was conquering Canary Islands. And it is not sure that they could have made it. They planned to send five thousand soldiers and naval support. Islands are large and with difficult geography. "Felix Operation" included the defense of the islands with coast guns and, above all, Luftwaffe units. It was also possible the air connection from spanish peninsula to Canary islands.

    A possible Axis reaction to the capture of Canary Islands, would be invading Portugal. Spanish military officers suggested this during the negotiations about "Felix". Recently has been discovered a spanish plan (undated) to invade Portugal. Spanish fascists (Falange) considered that Portugal was part of Spain, but this reivindication was not popular in Spain.

    It was never considered saving Gibraltar, even it was never considered defending Gibraltar. It was written so by Churchill himself to Roosevelt. The only chance would be resisting a german invasion in southern Spain, in case of Franco´s decision of fighting on the british side, which is ridiculous.
     
  14. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Probablly not poular in Portugal either. :)
     
  15. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    A little further thought here suggests there might be circumstance where a British/Allied attack on the Iberian penensula might pay off. If the Germans do not provide the material and combat units to properly reinforce it. From 1941 the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe were reaching past their limits of manpower, weapons, and most important transportation. Sending a few hundred aircraft, a mechnanized corps and some motorized support units to Spain means some other critical front comes up short.

    I dont really know enough about the politcs of Spain, or Portugal to comment on what either the government or population might do were the Germans to leave them to face a invasion inadaquatly supported. Would a Spain that was left in the lurch by the Germans reconsider their policy as a Allied army expanded its enclave on the coast?
     
  16. max62

    max62 Member

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    I suppose we are talking now about a Spain joining the Axis in the beginning of 1941 ("Felix Operation"). At that time, german army was preparing the invasion of Russia, but that was not any critical point on german military resources yet.

    I think that with Gibraltar closed down, probably GB would ask for armistice before "Barbarrosa" (in order to prevent losing all Mediterranean and the colonial consequences of this). BUT even considering that Hitler would not be interested in that, invading Spain would be difficult for a small army as british army was. Even I don´t believe capturing Canary Islands would have been easy.

    You can not invade a country with an army of nearly one million soldiers (even without modern weapons), just with an expedition more or less like those of Norway 1940 or Greece 1941. And not to forget that the british needed their best troops for fighting Rommel.

    About Portugal, in 1940, portuguese regime was a fascist one too. Both dictators, Salazar and Franco, had a good relationship. Although some german could think that unifying the peninsula would be like the "Anschluss", in reality spanish people were indiferent. Portugal had a traditional good relationship with GB and, of course, they were very distrustful about Spain. This good relationship with GB moved to the german generals to plan setting on three german divisions in the Spain-Portugal frontier (Operation Felix) in case of the portuguese opening their seaports to the british army.

    It is true that, from a "imperial" point of view, annexionating Portugal made sense: spanish king Felipe II invaded Portugal and annexionated it in 1580 (it was part of Spain for sixty years). And for a poor country like Spain in 1941, just after the spanish civil war, in the peaceful Portugal there were some goods to rob...
     
  17. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    It may have escaped the knowledge of my distinguished Spanish colleague that Franco and Salazar had signed a non-aggression and friendship treaty in March 1939 - before any European war moves - called the Pacto Ibérico, so there was little effective chance of Portugal and Spain going to war. Also Franco had a debt to Salazar due to the full support given during the Spanish Civil War. Some treaties aren't worth the paper they're written in (ask Adolf) but this one stood for some 35 years.

    Geopolítica crítica: el Pacto Ibérico de 1939

    Also, Felipe II did not invade Portugal. Due to a dynastic crisis started by the death of the young and foolish Portuguese king Sebastian in a battle in Morocco, the crown reverted in 1580 to his uncle F.II of Spain - locally know as Filipe I of Portugal - as next in succession line. Both countries were joined for 60 years under a Dual Monarchy, Portugal was not annexed.

    The 1806 plan was still afoot in case Germany decided to act up. Remeber that at the time of the French Invasions the Port. Royal Family moved lock, stock and barrel to Brasil, while government was taken up by a Junta de Governo overseen by the British (General Beresford was practically a viceroy), while everything and everyone that could sheltered behind the Lines of Torres Vedras. This plan had been updated (of course) and was ready to be implemented again, strategic depth being provided by Angola this time.

    Cooperation with the British Government was a given (with whom a treaty has been continuously in force since the 14th Century), the Portuguese brand of neutrality was off the record jokingly known as our "Testicular Diplomacy" - "we cooperate but won't participate" :D

    It might be interesting to know that at the time the was a single on-track rail-line connecting Portugal and Spain, and this came in through the Ciudad Rodrigo / Almeida border, rather intresting mountain country. And the less we speak about roads the the better! This might be ok for Wellington's army and the French (though these did not fare so well, it took them three invasions not to conquer the country), but for a modern army requiring large amounts of fuel, it's not a very good idea.
     
  18. max62

    max62 Member

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    I am aware about the facts related by Za Rodinu, concerning Spain and Portugal. You have to admit that during IIww signed treaties were sometimes very easy to break. Friendship between spanish and portuguese dictators depended on particular conveniences about foreign policy. It is true that existed plans to invade Portugal, and the germans organized those three divisions in case of being necessary to invade that small country.

    Well, in order to assume his "dynastic rights", he had to visit Lisboa acompannied by thousands and thousands of spanish soldiers... That would be like saying that Hitler did not invade Praga in March 1939 either...

    About "Dual Monarchy", you have to remember that, up to XVIII century (Kingdom of Borbons), Spain was not an unified state, and Felipe II, Felipe III and the others were never "Kings of Spain" actually, but kings of several peninsular "states", like Castilla, Aragon and Biscay.

    About roads and railways in Spain and Portugal, it is good not to exaggerate. Germans invaded countries like Yugoslavia and Greece, also with many problems about that (not to speak of Russia). And closing Gibraltar, germans could use Western Mediterranean routes to supply the army. For example, from north-italian ports, like Genova.
     
  19. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Wow, someone taking on Za!
    Interesting discourse on the ins and outs of monarchies.
    "We cooperate but don't participate." Now that's one line I'll remember.
    Would Spain joining the Axis have helped Germany?
    The general consensus is that Spain would just be a burden instead of a real asset. However, in my view Spain could have acted as a replacement pool of sorts to cope with German losses. The question would be the language problem of the Spanish recruits and the attitude of the Spaniards to the war in general, Franco's view notwithstanding.
     
  20. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    I thought so too, the soldiers would count for something. That does not get around the problem of Germany being unable to arm properly the vast army it did build. Even in 1940 older German and Czech weapons had to be used to exapnd the infantry and armored divsions. In 1941 there shortfalls in the automotive transport despite requisitioning every automobile of use in France and Belgium.
     

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