The Spanish Government and the Axis :
No. 5. Letter From Generalissimo Franco to Hitler
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Chief of State
Generalissimo of the National Military Forces

September 22, 1940


I received your letter in which you stated to me your views and those of your General Staff in connection with the problems with respect to Spain which are arising from the war, views which with the exception of small details match my thoughts and plans and those of my General Staffs.

I must thank you for the cordial reception which you and your people prepared for my envoy, Minister Serrano Suñer, who reported to me about your conversation and about your esteemed ideas, which satisfy our wishes, and with which we believe ourselves to be in complete agreement, as you will see from the content of this letter. In spite of complete agreement with your words "to recognize the Spanish claims to Morocco with the one limitation of assuring Germany through favorable commercial agreements a share in the raw material of this area", there is to be sure one point where they are inconsistent, namely in the wishes of Herr von Ribbentrop, expressed in the form of a proposal during the conversations between our Ministers, for the establishment of an enclave for German military bases by occupying both the two harbors of the southern zone. These are, according to our opinion, unnecessary in peacetime, and superfluous in wartime, because in this case, you can count upon not only these harbors but on all of them that Spain possesses, since our friendship is to be sealed firmly for the future as well. The advantages that these bases could offer would neither counter-balance the difficulties which this type of enclave always produces nor the harm which they cause to the areas involved whose outlet to the sea they constitute.

I thank you very much for your idea, put before Minister Suñer, of providing me with an opportunity for us to meet near the Spanish border, for, apart from my eager wish to greet you personally, we could have a more thorough and more direct exchange of ideas than our present communications make possible. I should therefore like to state to you my opinion about the individual points of your letter.

1. In regard to your trains of thought set forth in point one concerning the political and economic effects of the present struggle, I can only say to you that I have agreed from the first day on with your opinion expressed there. Only our isolation and the lack of resources most indispensable for our national existence made our operation impossible.

I am in agreement with you that driving the English out of the Mediterranean Sea will improve the condition of our transports, although it is self-evident that not all questions of the provisioning of Spain will be solved thereby since there are many products and raw materials which Spain lacks, and which are not to be found in the Mediterranean basin.

2. I am likewise, of the opinion that the first act in our attack must consist in the occupation of Gibraltar. In this sense our military policy in the Straits since 1936 has been directed by anticipating the English intentions of expanding and protecting their bases.

I agree with your opinion that it is possible to aim at the success of this operation within a few days by the use of modern equipment and tried troops. In this sense, the equipment which you offer me will be of great effect.

For our part, we have been preparing the operation in secret for a long time, since the area in which it is to take place has no suitable network of communications. With respect to the special conditions of the rock, points of resistance can withstand even the strongest action from the air, so that they will have to be destroyed by good and accurate artillery. The extraordinary importance of the project would, in my opinion, justify a strong concentration of resources.

3. The fall of Gibraltar would actually protect the western Mediterranean, and rule out any danger, except the dangers which might arise in passing should De Gaulle succeed with his plan for rebellion in Algiers and Tunis.

A concentration of our troops in Morocco will prevent this danger.

In this respect, it would be suitable for your control commission to increase the precautionary measures to the utmost.

4. I completely share your opinion about the effectiveness of dive-bombers for the defense of the coasts, as well as about the actual impossibility of establishing fixed artillery emplacements with heavy material on the vulnerable points on the coast. Evidently a mistake has crept into the transmittal of my wish, for my wish concerned not stationary guns of large caliber, but movable material of about 20 centimeters. I consider this necessary for the future as well and indeed in moderate quantities because of the conditions of the terrain which is mountainous and irregular. The possibility of constructing airports is therefore extraordinarily limited. In most cases, these will lie far removed from the coast and from the objects to be defended. Furthermore, one must reckon with the limitations which necessarily result from the storms and rains frequently occurring there.

In any case, the strong air forces offered by you are indispensable.

5. At the pvresent moment, there is actually little probability of the English undertaking a landing attempt on the peninsula. Even if this should be the case, our own resources and those which you offer me would quickly ruin this plan.

6. The possibility of a surprise attack on the Canary Islands by the English in order to create a naval base for themselves to protect overseas connections has always been a worry of mine. Within the scope of our possibilities we are about to lay aside there supplies of food, ammunition, and sufficient artillery-material which we are getting from other less-threatened regions; we effected a partial mobilization several months ago, and also have sent arms for the entire archipelago. We have transferred a group of pursuit pilots there who would no longer have been able to get there once the war had begun. I am of your opinion and consider the presence of dive-bombers and destroyer planes in Las Palmas extremely useful, for which bomb material and spare parts must be sent in advance.

7. Obviously freedom of movement in the western Mediterranean is dependent upon Italian successes in Alexandria and Suez, by which

the destruction of the English fleet in these waters will be made possible. At such a moment, a great part of our provisioning problem would be solved.

8. I consider the offer contained in your Point 8 for our undertaking as extremely useful and absolutely necessary. For the economic aid which you offer me with such foresight and in the highest measure possible for Germany is just as important as the military equipment. For our part, I offer you reciprocal aid of the same type and to the greatest extent possible considering our potentialities.

In the meantime I consider it my duty to point out to you that in my opinion the conversations hitherto conducted by our specialists have taken the course of negotiations more of a purely commercial orientation. By having treated the settlement of old matters, by wanting to solve the economic problems and the post-war exchange of commodities, they have deviated from the main subject, which affects both parties equally and which will find its complete solution in the statements of your letter, with which I completely agree.

I would like to thank you, dear Fuehrer, once again for the offer of solidarity. I reply with the assurance of my unchangeable and sincere adherence to you personally, to the German people, and to the cause for which you fight. I hope, in defense of this cause, to be able to renew the old bonds of comradeship between our armies.

In the expectation of being able to express this to you personally, I assure you of my most sincere feelings of friendship and I greet you,

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