The Spanish Government and the Axis :
No. 1. Memorandum by the German Ambassador in Madrid
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Operation: Gibraltar

Conditions for Spain's entry into the war

According to a memorandum presented in June of this year by the Spanish Embassy, the Spanish Government declares itself ready, under certain conditions, to give up its position as a "non-belligerent" state and to enter the war on the side of Germany and Italy. The Spanish Foreign Minister, and also the Minister of the Interior, have up until the last few days repeatedly pointed out this Spanish offer to me, so that it may be assumed that Spain even today will keep its promise made in June.

As conditions for entry into the war, the Spanish Government cites the following:

1. Fulfilment of a set of national territorial demands, Gibraltar, French Morocco, that part of Algeria colonized and predominantly inhabited by Spaniards (Oran), and further the enlargement of Rio de Oro and of the colonies in the Gulf of Guinea;

2. Making available military and other assistance required for carrying on the war.

The memorandum of Admiral Canaris enclosed here [1] gives detailed information regarding the extent of military assistance apparently necessary.

Besides this military assistance, however, economic support of Spain will also be necessary. To this belong, above all else, the delivery of gasoline and, at the beginning of next year, delivery of grain for bread. According to a recent utterance of the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs (of the third of this month) Spain, due to its shortage of gasoline, can wage war without our help 1 1/2 months at the most As concerns the grain for bread, the Minister believes that Spain has sufficient supplies until about March of next year. I consider this latter supposition as too optimistic, unless a strict rationing is carried out.

Besides this necessary assistance however, Spain, beginning with entry into the war, will with respect to a number of other commodities as well be exclusively left to the resources of German and Italian aid.

Advantages of the Operation

1. The effect of the declaration of war on England by a new country will be very strong in England and on the entire world; England's prestige and her prospects for victory will receive a new severe blow, while-upon success of the operation-our prestige will be greatly increased.

2. England will no longer be able to carry on trade with Spain thus will receive from there no more ores and above all no more pyrite.

3. Nullification of English property rights in ore and copper mines, et cetera.

4. A victorious execution of the operation will mean the control of the Straits.

Dangers of the Operation for Spain

1. It would be possible that England, after becoming aware of Spain's war preparations would beat Spain to the draw and begin war operations.

2. For this purpose she could attempt to extend the territory of Gibraltar in order thereby to make the attack upon Gibraltar more difficult. England could further occupy the Canary Islands, Tangier and the Spanish colonies, operations which without doubt will result at least in part after the outbreak of war. Spain even considers the Balearic Islands as being threatened.

3. A break between Spain and England can have consequences for Portugal. The English could occupy Lisbon and Lagos or other places in Portugal so that Spain would have a land front. In case of an occupation of Portuguese harbors Salazar is said to have naturally held out to the Spaniards the prospect of military counter-measures, and to have declared himself agreed to a Spanish entry for rendering assistance against England.

4. Outbreak of the war between Spain and England can bring events to a head in North Africa, especially Morocco, where the situation is very tense. Spain distrusts the Resident General Nogues who is said to be ogling with the English. Therefore a cooperative English-French-Moroccan operation against the Spanish zone and Tangier would be possible.

5. Because of debilitation resulting from the Civil War, Spain is economically unfit to carry through to the end a war lasting more than a few months, if she does not receive economic aid from German and Italian quarters. Aside from gasoline, this, as mentioned above, is true of grain for bread as well.

6. As a result of an intensification of the grave economic situation and eventual starvation and as a result of political and military set-backs (loss of islands, of the colonies) domestic riots could result. This danger I do not consider as very grave at first, since the Army is intact. Should the war be of longer duration however, the situation could become serious.

Difficulties and Dangers for Us

1. For transporting the necessary war material to Spain, only the railroad line Bordeaux-Hendaye-(border)-Irun-San Sebastián-Burgos and so forth and the road running parallel are available. Within the border area occupied by our troops there is only one other passageway over the Pyrenees, namely, at St. Jean Pied de Porc. According to information from General of the Infantry von Both in Biarritz, only passenger cars and light trucks can travel on this pass-road because of its narrow curves. The transporting of all war material must therefore go along the coast where for long stretches, between Bayonne and San Sebastián, the railroad and the road can be observed and fired upon from the sea. A further difficulty exists in the fact that the Spanish railroad has a different gage from the French so that reloadings are necessary and such equipment as railway guns cannot be transported on. Heavy artillery and other [artillery] are therefore confined exclusively to the roads.

2. The claims upon Germany to deliver weapons and supply special troops should meet with no objections. On the other hand, should the war be of longer duration, the economic assistance requested of us could represent a great burden (especially with respect to nutrition).

If the operation is undertaken, it is in any case necessary:

1. To have the preparations go forward in as camouflaged a manner as possible, to make available in Spain supplies of gasoline and war material (ammunition, bombs) which can be unobtrusively transported by railroad and truck, and, not until the last moment, to bring the heavy guns collected in the south of France across the border by fast transit and into the prepared emplacements, while the air arm is absolutely not to make its appearance until the operation begins in earnest.

2. The moment for initiating the preparations and the operation itself must be adjusted to the expected development of things in England itself, in order to avoid a too early entry of Spain into the war, that is to say, a period of war unendurable for Spain, and thus under certain circumstances the beginning of a source of danger for us.


[1] Not printed. Back

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