The NAZIs could demand that the authorities in occupied countries turn over their Jews and also did so in countries allied to them. This was, however, not always possible. Hitler met with General Franco on the French border at Hendaye on October 23, 1940. Hitler had assumed that Franco would be a willing ally given the assistance provided his Nationalist forces during the Civil War. Franco refused to enter the War or even allow German troops to transit Spain to attack the British at Gibraltar. Franco flatly refused. This was in part because of Admiral Canaris, the head of German Military Intelligence. Canaris had been apauled by the NAZI brutality he had witnessed in Poland. He had worked with Franco during the Civil War and had a close personal relationship with the Generalisimo. He told him privately that Hitler was now obsessed with Russia and would not risk any kind of diversion in Spain. Thus Franco refused to be cowed. Hitler went on to meet Musolini, who had also assissted Franco. He told Musolini that, "I would rathger have three or four teeth extracted than go through that again". Franco also refused to hand over Spanish or foreign Jews to the NAZIs. Franco in fact probably saved more saved more Jews than any other European country. He did close the Spanish border in an act of solidarity with the NAZIs, but allowed Jews and others with Portuguese visas to transit Spain. Historians debate the actual role of Franco and his ministers and their motivation. Because Franco himself is a highly controversial person, many authors have allowed their assessment oif Franco himself affect their assessment of Spain'spolicie toward Jewish refugees. Thus available assessments need to be treated with caution. The consenus of historians suggest that Spain helped save 20,000-35,000 Jews by letting refugees pass through the country. Another 5,000 Jews were saved by Spanish diplomats.
Jews have a long history in Spain. They were for centuries tolerated im both Islamic and Christian kingdoms. Jews developed a sophisticated culture in Spain. Spain's Jews were expelled by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (1492). The refugees became known as Sephardic Jews after the fall of Grenada. They played an important role in the economic suucss and cultural life in countries like the Netherlands. The expulsion of Jews and Moslems by Ferdinand and Isbellaoccured at the same time that Spain burst on the world scene with Columbus' discoveries. The gold and silver which poured in to Spain with the conquest of Mexico and Peru made Spain for a time a European super power. Spain's subsequent decline is in part due to the decling shipments of bullion. Many histoians believe that the impact of repressive policies such as the use of the Inquisition to curtail discent (and free thinking) and the expulsion of the Jews and Moslems were major factors in Spain's decline. Spain's Jewish population was so small that it sid not play an important role in the Civil War. Many Jews were, however, involved in the international brigades that fought for the Republic.
NAZI Germany and Fascist Italy beginning in 1936 were also active in Spain helping Franco establish a Fascist regime. The Spanish Civil War is often seen as the unveiling of the new German Luftwaffe after Hitler had unilaterally abrogated
the Versailles Peace Treaty prohibiting Germany from building an air force. Fighting began in Spain in July 1936. Spanish Generals Francisco Franco and Quiepo de Llano revolted against the reform-minded Republican Government elected in
Madrid. Franco appealed for help. Hitler immeduately ordered Luftwaffe transport plans to transport Franco's loyalist troops in Morroco to participate in the fighting. He saw a left-wing government in Madrid as harful to the Reich, aiding the
French policy of encirclement. Both Italy and Germany were soon sending arms and men to the loyalists and provided important air elements. The defenseless Basque village of Guernica was the first European city to be destroyed by the Luftwaffe. The democracies and League of Nations respnded with an arms embargo. Only the Soviets aided the Republic. The Spanish Civil War is most commonly seen as the first major battle against fascism in Europe. Less know and more controversial is the social revolution launched by the Republic.
Army general Franciso Franco was the major figure of the Civil War and ruled Spain for three decades. He was the only Facist leader to protect Jews, although it may not be quite correct to classify him as a Fascist. We have seen off-repeated references to the fact Franco's ancestors were Marranos, Spanish Jews who converted to Christianity to avoid expulsion (15th century). We are not sure if this was the case. There is no evidence that we are aware of showing any ancestors that secretly practiced Judaism.
It is of course quite possible. If one goes back to the 15th century, many Spaniards have Jewish abd Moorish ancestors dating nack to the Middle Ages. Geneological recirds going so far back are of course incomplete. Such connectins would not have been published during the Franco era. Franco himself may have been unaware of such ancestors even if they existed. As far as we know, he bever discussed the subject with associates. Hitler knew about the rumors. And especially after his frstating meeting with Franco (1940) referred to it as the reason that Franco was not more coopertive. Franco's policies toward Jews during World War II has been studies at length which we do here. Some have claimed the moderate policy toward Jews was at least in part due to Jewish roots. As far as we know, this has not been studied in detail. We do know that Franco was thoroughly Catholic, both religiously and culturally. Some claim that he was a descendant of Marranos, but we have bever seen a detailed study of his family to substantuate this. We have noted one reoirt that his mother was Jewish. Her family name was Bahamonde which is supposedly a Jewish name. As far as we can tell, his mother was a devout Catholic from whom her son aquired is fervent Catholcism. It may be more likely that Franco's moderate views on Jews were acquired as a young officer in Spanish Morrocco where he ecountered Sephrdic Jews. Perhaps readers will know more about this.
Even by the 20th century, Spain had only a very small Jewish population. Franco apparentlyh had no intention of allowing that community to grow in size. [Rother] The figure most commonly cited is 6,000 people. This may have included some foreign Jews. The number seems to be fairly ccurate because underGerman pressure, the Spnish Government cimpiled a registry if Jews.
The Falange was a political movement founded by José Antonio Primo de Rivera (1933). This was during the Second Spanish Republic and a response to its left-wing shift. Primo de Rivera was the son of General Miguel Primo de Rivera, who was a former prime minister (1920s). Franco after his victory in the Civil War (1936-39) made the Falangist Party the governing party and incorporated a range of right-wing and Catholic groups. Fanco became El Caudillo (the leader) and the Falangists in Fascist traditiion became the Blue Shirts, copying the devices of Italian Fascists and German NAZIs. The relationship between Franco and the Falange was, however, different that the situatioinnin Germby and Italy where Hitler and Mussolini dominated the the NAZI and Fascist Paries.
Despite German urging, Spain neither joined the Axis or entered the War. The NAZIs could demand that the authorities in occupied countries turn over their Jews and also did so in countries allied to them. This was, however, not always possible. Hitler met with General Franco on the French border at Hendaye (October 23, 1940). Hitler had assumed that Franco would be a willing ally given the assistance provided his Nationalist forces during the Civil War. Franco refused to enter the War or even allow German troops to transit Spain to attack the British at Gibraltar. Franco flatly refused. This was in part because of Admiral Canaris, the head of German Military Intelligence. Canaris had been apauled by the NAZI brutality he had witnessed in Poland. He had worked with Franco during the Civil War and had a close personal relationship with the Generalisimo. He told him privately that Hitler was now obsessed with Russia and would not risk any kind of diversion in Spain. Thus Franco refused to be cowed. Hitler went on to meet Musolini, who had also assissted Franco. He told Musolini that, "I would rather have three or four teeth extracted than go through that again".
Franco's policy toward Jews is a matter of considerable debate among historins.
Franco refused NAZI demands to hand over Spanish or foreign Jews to the NAZIs. Franco in fact probably saved more saved more Jews than any other European leader.
He did close the Spanish border in an act of solidarity with the NAZIs, but allowed Jews and others with Portuguese visas to transit Spain. Historians debate the actual role of Franco and his ministers and their motivation. Some Franco apologists claim that Franco played a major role in saving Jews. Other historians dispute this. Most historians conclude that Spanish officials did indeed save Jews, but contend that such acts of rescue took place despite rather than because of Franco and his ministers. [Marquina and Ospina] Rather than humanitarian efforts, Spanish policies seem fominated by obstructionist measures and a desire to profit by the plight of Jewish refugees. Whatever Franco's motives, we know that not only did Franco refuse NAZI demands that he issue anti-Jewish regulations for Spanish Jews, let alone deport them, but he allowed foreign Jews reaching the Spanish border to enter Spain. [Michener, p. 547.] There were Spanish officials that wer more onclined toward the NAZIs. Jose Felix Lequerica was the Minister for Foreign Affairs during the War and also served as Spain's ambassador to the Vichy France regime. Lequerica made it very clear that he believed in the 1492 expulsion edict. For Lequerica, Jews should only be protected if they offered some financial benefit to Spain. The central calculation of the Franco regime was a cost-benefit analysis. In this scenario, Franco according to some historians only reluctantly reversed the expulsion edict for the financil benefits while at the same time thanking the Catholic majesties for having relieved Spain of its Jewish 'burden'. [Marquina and Ospina] Our assessment is that the major factor affecting Franco's policies toward Jews was World War II. The Germans after their victory in the west (June 1940) began pressuring Franco to not only join the Axis, but to turn over both Spanish and foreign Jews. Franco refused to do either. Some importantvoddicials wanted Spain to do both. Franco's views are not fully understood, but it is ckear that he was not anxious to comply with Germab demands. Hitler after meeting with Franco, said he woukd rather have had aooth pulled (October 1940). Fortunately for Spain, Hitler's focus as he made clear in Mein Kampf was on the East. This he did not force the issue. And Spansh policy followed the ebb and flow of Germany military power. Spain did nit have a powerful military. And Franco realized that if the German's won the War, he would have to comply with Hitler's wishes. Thus early in the War he cooperated with the Germans militarily abd economically. He even permnitted a registration of Jews that the Germans demanded. As the Germans began to suffer military defeats he moved away from the NAZIs. Spanish officials in NAZI -dominated countries provided diplomatic protection o aboutt 5,000 Jews. Most of these about (3,500) were in Hungary. The last major action of the NAZIs in the Holocaust was the assault on Hungarian Jews. Spanish diplomat Angel Sanz Briz managed to save thousands of Hungarian Jews while he served as Spanish ambassador in Budapest. [Carcedo] This appears to be the actiins of individual Spanish diplomats, not the vpolicy of the Spanish Foreign Ministry.
Some facts are generally accepted by scholars. We do know that Jewish refugees suceeded in enter Spain during the war, most through France. The actual number is disputed. The most accepted range is 20,000-35,000 people. We have seen larger estimates, but they are primarily advanced by Franco partisans. A wave of Jewish refugees first arrived at the Spanish border durung June 1940 as the German Panzers broke through the French defenses and after reaching thge Channel began moving South. The fall of France exposed both French Jews and foreign Jews that had fled to France to the NAZIs. This was before the Vichy regime began actions against the Jews. The Spanish Government was at first unsure how to deal with the refugees, espciallythe Jewish refugees. The Portuguese consul in Bordeaux, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, issued about 2,000 Portuguese visas, contratry to instructions from his Government. By the end of the year he had written 10,000 such visas. [Fralon] Only a small number of those refugees stayed in Spain. Spanish border guards with few exceptions did not refuse to allow Jewish refugeees to enter Spain. Of course because of Vichy France's policies, it was difficult for Jews to get to the border. The Spanish refugee policies do not appear to have been for humanitarian reasons or a disagreement over NAZI racial policies. Instead, the crucial matter for Franco was Portugal's willingness to allow Spain to pass on these refugees. One historian writes, "Had Portugal - which did itself expect a rapid departure overseas - refused the transit of the refugees, Spain's policy would have turned out differently." [Rother]
France is unique among all the countries which experienced the Holocaust. France was the only defeated Allied country whose government actively assisted the NAZIs. After the French surrender. The Vichy authorities actively assisted the NAZIs track down and deport Jews. [Eizenstat] The first action taken against French Jews after the 1940 invasion was the expulsion from Alsace. To my knowledge, this was one of the very few non-lethal expulsions conducted by the NAZIs. Presumably the master plan for killing the Jews had not yet been fully worked out. Another early action involving German Jews was deporting Jews in Western Landen (Baden, the Saar, and the Palatinate), including some of the oldest German Jewish families, in October 1940 to camps in the French Pyrenees (Gurs, Noé, Récébédou, and Rivesaltes). Gurs was the largest. The death rate was very high because there were not even the most basic facilities. The camps were run by Vichy authorities. The killing of Dutch, Belgian and French Jews began in July 1942 when the death camps in Poland became operational. Vivian Fry, before American entered the War, worked tirelessly in Vichy to build up a rescue network working with the Emergency Resue Committee, a private relief organization. The NAZIs had inserted a "surrender on demand clause" in Article 5 of the Franco German Armistice of 1940. Fry succeeded in rescuing more than 1,500 artists, musicians, politicians, scientists, and writers, many but not all Jewish. The Germans make life a nightmare for French Jew, both in Vichy as well as the occupied area. Many French people risked their lives to protect Jews, including French people that were anti-semitic. One French girl recalls a priest who helped save her and her family describe how he disliked Jews, but saving them from the Germans was the "Christian thing" to do. [Cohn] Others assisted the Germans. Camps were set up in France where conditions were so made that many interned Jews died. While Vichy authorities did not do the actual killing, they actively participated in rounding up Jews and transporting them to the death camps. Jews that reached the Spanish border were allowed to enter Spain. Vichy policies, however, made it very difficult for Jews to reach the border.
Spain at the outset of World War II as a result of Franco's victory in the Civil War was governed by a military dictatorship heaed by Frncisco Franco. Franco had very string ties to the Axis Powers (Germany and Italy) because of their assistance during the Civil War. It is unlikely he would have won without it. Franco ws widly seen as another Fascist leader. In fact there were real diferences, along with the similarities. Franco ws ailitary commander and not the head of the Falange. Hitler and Mussolini. seized power as head of Fascist political parties which gained control of the military. In Spaon it was different, it was the military which bained control over the civil leadership. In addition, Franco did not crush all other civil institutiins. The Church was left independent if bearing a debt of gratitude for being saved from Republicn forces wgich were knon to shoot priests and nuns. It was widely thought that Spain would join the Axis. There is no doubt Franco had pro-Axis leanings and debt of gratitude for the aid from Hitler and Mussolini. The was not, however, a fawning admirer of Hitler He found both the supresion of Jews and the Church by the NAZIs as offensive. And unlike Hitler and Mussolini, Franco did not pull together a collection of syncophants for his government. Franco's regime was divided between Germanophiles and Anglophiles who were anle to freely express their opinions. Franco had appointed Juan Beigbeder Atienza, an Anglophile, to be the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The starteling German victories convinced Franco that he had to begin leaning toward the Axis, in large part because it looked like Germany was hoing to win the War. He thus replaced Atienza with Ramón Serrano Súñer, his brother-in-law and a decided Germanophile (October 18, 1940). This was just before meeting with Hitler at Hendaye. Franco resisted joining the Axis, but copperated with them =m in various ways, both economivally abd intelligence gathering. Had the Germans suceeded in the East, he almost cetainly would have done so. And more than likely turned over Spain's Jews to the Germans. Of course the Germns did not suceed in the east. And has the Soviets and Allies began to achieve military victories, Franco began to shift agin. He appointed Francisco Gómez-Jordana Sousa, sympathetic to the Allies, as minister. Another very influential anglophile was the Duke of Alba, Spain's ambassador in London. As the prospects fir an Axis victory dimmed, Frano moved closer to the allies and attmpted to cover up his pro-xis connections.
A first step in the Holocaust as the Germans conquered country after country was to register Jews so addresses and property holdings were known. Franco at his meeting with Hitler declined to officially join the Axis and we believe refused to turn over Jews to the Germans (June 1940). At the time, it looked like Germany had on the War so Franco had to tread lightly. So he did agree on limited military cooperation and some steps against Jews. Following up on the meeting, the Spanish prepard a list of every Jew in the country, both Spanish and foreign Jews. This would have facilitate efforts to locate, steal their poperty, and deport them so they could be murdered by he Germans. [Aderet] Franco's Security Chief, Jose Mariade Romani, hosted SS Chief Heinrich Himmler at a bullfight in Madrid. Himmler of course was entrusted by Hitler to carry out thevkillingbprocess of Jews all over Europe. Soon after, Finat y Escriva ordered provincial governors to prepare a list of every Jew in their district. He called Jews 'that infamous race'. The list was to include both local residents and foreigners, along with details about "their personal and political leanings, their means of supporting themselves, their commercial activity, the level of threat they constitute and their security classification" (May 13, 1941). Himmler personally requested that the list include Jews even if they had converted to Christianity. Finat y Escriva ordered provincial governors to make special efforts to locate Sephardi Jews, descendants of the Jews expelled in 1492, since they managed to conceal themselves among the local populace necause they could speak Ladino (a Jewish dialect that is based on Spanish( aswell as spamish itself. He added, "Their adaptation to our environment and their similar temperament allow them to hide their origin more easily. These people do not stand out, and therefore it is especially hard to foil their efforts at subversion." At the time. the NAZIs still dominated much of Europe and was preparing to invade the Soviet Union. The list identified 6,000 Jews. Franco appointed Finat y Escriva Spain's ambassador to Germany. This enabled him to deliver the list personally to Himmler. At the time, the Germans were reporting success after success a nd had conquered much of Europe. Spain and Germany also negotiating Spain's entry into the Axis. Ultimately Frabco decided not to join the Axis, probanly because Germany began to experience military defeats. And the Spanish never interned Jew ir tuned them iver to the Germans. The Spanish government subsequently tried to destroy evidence of its cooperation with the NAZIs.
Initially Spanish officials treated Sephardic Jews that possessed or claimed Spanish citizenship the same as other refugees. This policy began to change from early 1943. This date of course coincides with German reversals in Russia and North Africa.) At this time Spanish officials began to show some interest in Sephardic Jews. Various factors may have been involved here. First, German battlefield losses began to make it safer to stand up to the NAZIs. Second, the regime became concerned about leaving Spanish Jews exposed to Germany's anti-semitic legislation. The Spanish concern was that this would alientate the Allies, especially the Unitd States. Although Spain had not enterd the War, as a Fascist country, it was not impossible that the Allies might intervene in Spain. Third, the Spanish government wanted to make sure that Spain and not Germany profited from the assets of Spanish Jews. Jose Maria Doussinague, General Director for Foreign Policy conirms this assessment. [Marquina and Ospina]
Aderet, Ofer. "WWII Document Reveals: General Franco Handed Nazis List of Spanish Jews," Haaretz (June 22, 2010). The article is based on a document found in a Spanish archive and reported b the Spanish daily El Pais.
Carcedo, Diego. A Spaniard in the Face of the Holocaust.
Cohn, Marthe with Windy Cohn. Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany (Harmony), 282p.
Fralon, Jose Alain. A Good Man in Evil Times; The Heroic Story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes - The Man who saved the Lives of countless Refugees in World War II trans. Peter Graham (Carroll & Graf, 2001).
Leitz, Christian. Spain and Holocaust.
Lipschitz, Chaim U. Franco, Spain, the Jews, and the Holocaust (Ed. Ira Axelrod, New York, 1984).
Marquina, Antonio and Gloria Ines Ospina Espana y los judios en el siglo XX; la accion exterior (Madrid, 1987).
Michener, James. Iberia (1968).
Rother, Bernd. "Franco und die Judenverfolgung", Vierteljahreshefte fur Zeitgeschichte 46, 1998.
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