Friday, June 30, 2006

Revising History - 3

Andrew Roberts in another review  in the Daily Telegraph:
In the light of Beevor's discoveries in Moscow, it is worthwhile considering what would have happened if a Stalinist Spain, a satellite of the USSR, had emerged, as it easily might have done. By June 1941 it would have made more sense for Hitler to have invaded Spain than Russia, leading to the loss to the Allies of Gibraltar and the strategically vital western Mediterranean, which in real life Franco's neutrality effectively protected.
Hitler could have continued into Spain in 1940, immediately after the fall of France, though no doubt it would have taken until 1941 to finish the job. Stalin may well have abandoned Spain even if it had become a Stalinist satellite. Speculation is  endless. The important thing is that nobody could have foreseen Spain's neutrality. Everybody fighting against Franco's fascists had to assume that they would cooperate fully with the Nazis.

In the event, Spain did cooperate to an extent. Everyone who has read or seen Das Boot will remember the episode when a u-boat puts into Vigo: 'But isn't Spain neutral ?' asks one of the German sailors.

It should also be remembered that there are two sides to the straits of Gibraltar. For what was happening to the South, I first looked here, but it was not very clear on the wartime situation. Looking at my copy of Collins Atlas of World History, Spain controlled the coastal strip. The Allies held the rest of Morocco, which was a French colony.

Update: Morocco was held by Vichy France until November 1942, when it was captured by  Anglo-American forces. ('Allies at Arms', - Part 2, BBC, 2001) Gibraltar was used by Eisenhower as his base for the operation.

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