Andrew James John Mackenzie
an historiography
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Bribing the Spanish Fascists


Executing warfare in the modern world is rarely an honourable enterprise, particularly in the Second World War. Both the Allied and Axis powers would engage in acts deemed unsavoury by today’s standards. Recent studies have revealed the lengths that the British government went to dissuade Franco and the Fascist regime of Spain from allying with Germany and declaring war in turn.
In the event that Spain had entered the war, Britain’s supply lines would have been under serious threat in both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Gibraltar, likewise, could have been seized, leaving the entire North African theatre in jeopardy.

A report released by MI6 shows that Britain’s ambassador to Spain, Sir Samuel Hoare, sent cables to London in mid-1940 stressing that he had been told of meetings between Hitler and Franco that could lead to Spain abandoning her neutral stance and joining the war.

 

One cable read as follows:

 

“I personally urge authority be granted without delay, and that if you have doubts, the prime minister be consulted.” Churchill responded, “Yes indeed,” on the deciphered telegram, in red ink.

 

This translated into an agreement to provide Fascist generals with millions of pounds to abandon military involvement against the Allies.

 

A Spanish banker by the name of Juan March was approached as a middle man between the British and the Fascist generals. The sum of $10 million was deposited in the US in 1940, but the American Treasury froze the account as they believed that the money was being used to support Hitler. It took a lot of quick talking by the British Ambassador to convince President Roosevelt that the money was authorized by the British Government and that it was imperative for the British war effort that the funds be released for the use of bribes. In total, it is estimated that approximately $14 million, or $200 million at today’s rates, to Spanish agents during World War Two.

 

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