Spain: Why Hitler Did Not Invade?

I said: I lived in Germany in 1933, and its perspective on the world was explainable geographically. Soviet communism was largely Jewish in origin and it now controlled the huge country to the east. Americans are concerned about terrorists using next-door Mexico as a base from which to infiltrate this country. Multiply this fear by a thousand and you have some idea of the prevailing psychosis in the Germany of 1933. 

Hank Levin replies: Your comment deserves some commentary.  Although many of the founders of the communist movement were Jewish, that leadership had long passed by the decade of the thirties (you yourself have commented on what happened to Trotsky).  Jews were heavily persecuted by Stalin, culminating in the purges of 1936-37.  Your comment looks dangerously like an excuse (unintentional as it may be) for the Nazi roundup, persecution, and extermination of the Jewish people as a rational action on their part.  Although that may have been the way you saw things as a visitor to Germany in 1933, it was far from the political reality in Russia where Jews were living a precarious existence.  Prior to Hitler there were well-documented pogroms in the thirties in Russia, Georgia, and the Ukraine and considerable collaboration by locals in rounding up Jews in the latter two republics when the Nazis invaded.  Jews were not in the driver’s seat of the communist party in Russia in the thirties as your comment might intimate.  Jews were part of the socialist bloc in Germany, but so were many other religious groups.  Jews made up only a small percentage overall if you check the figures.  Also, this is no crime in a political democracy, and hardly an excuse for what Hitler and the Nazis attempted to do.

RH: I was careful to say "Jewish in origin". One of the ironies of history is that in due course it became antisemitic, but that is another story. Of course, no sane person would attempt to justify what Hitler did to the Jews.  I was simply trying to explain the German psychosis.
Christopher Jones writes: Whatever Hitler's ideas as an amateur historian were, one thing is clear: there would have been no talks at Hendaye if Juan Negrín or some other marxist was premier in Madrid.  You don't have to be von Clausewitz to realize that a Moscow-beholden government in Madrid, (that had defeated a conservative military rebellion) could pose a grave danger to the Führer's "New Order" in Europe -- and happily invite Wellington II to the peninsula. Given the ruinous state of Spain in 1940-1941, Hitler may have even had more luck than Napoléon.  However, I believe that while Hitler was happy that fellow brother dictator Francisco Franco was in power in Madrid, he knew that he couldn't be too crass or use too strong language which would only push Franco towards the Allies. [A difference: Franco was a career soldier who came to power after a failed "pronunciamiento" while Hitler and Mussolini rose to power through the constitutional process; I have always said that Franco only used fascist trappings while they were in fashion, in the depths of his Galician soul he was just another soldier, a bit like Narváez] Another point that contributed to Hitler's indecision which is often forgotten by most politically correct historians [who try to show a Hitler as an alien who was beamed down from outer space]: the National Sozialisten were engaged in a war against perceived "jewish bolshevism" to establish their brand of socialism (of the nationalist type) as the way to the future. [The Molotov Ribbentrop pact was a tactical move]However Catholic conservative and non socialist Franco rubbed the Führer in the wrong way, they shared a common enemy: communism.

RH: A basic aim of WAIS is to get Americans to see the world as foreigners see it.  I lived in Germany in 1933, and its perspective on the world was explainable geographically. Soviet communism was largely Jewish in origin and it now controlled the huge country to the east. Americans are concerned about terrorists using next-door Mexico as a base from which to infiltrate this country. Multiply this fear by a thousand and you have some idea of the prevailing psychosis in the Germany of 1933.
Historian Jim Tent points out: Hitler was an avid reader, and his preferences included military history (The U.S. Library of Congress received many of his works after WWII). Therefore, he would have been cognizant of the fatal steps Napoleon undertook in the Iberian Peninsula, including the rise of Wellington to prominence. I cannot state with finality that this stayed his hand in October 1940 over his failed negotiations with Franco at Hendaye concerning a Wehrmacht expedtion to take Gilbraltar from the landside (Operation Felix). However, Hitler would not have brushed aside Franco's objections lightly and undertaken an outright invasion of Spain without reassurances that such a measure would proceed with little or no opposition. He received none. His Condor Legion, etc. had seen first-hand the tenacity of Spanish fighters (on both sides) in the period 1936-39, and, with his self-accumulated background in European and military history, he did not want to enter into a campaign in a region that was remote and that posed the possibility of history repeating itself with a latter-day Wellington springing anew. Hitler's "Tischgespraeche" (his monotonous monologues at night) reveal his extensive readings in European history, even if his interpretations were often bizarre or self-serving. Besides, he was convinced in the autumn of 1940 that his invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 would succeed without a hitch, and then he could return to the Iberian situation shortly thereafter.  RH:  If Hitler was such an avid reader of history, why did he not learn a lesson from Napoleon's failed invasion of Russia?

From: Ronald Hilton []
Sent: Sunday, March 27, 2005 5:28 PM
Subject: Re: SPAIN: The Civil War Dead -- mit disem kerl ist nichts zu machen

I thought we buried the discussion of the phrase "Mit diesem kerl ist nichts zu machen" back in 2003, but Paul Preston had exhumed it yet again to support his "interpretation" of events.  I quote from a WAIS post he sent on 25/07/03: "According to de las Torres, Hitler left the meeting muttering 'with these fellows, there is nothing to be done' ('mit diesem Kerl ist nichts zu machen').  Clearly, had Hitler been threatening to use two hundred divisions against Spain, he would hardly have made a remark so redolent of impotence."  Then and now, I doubt that Hitler's remark is a sign of impotence and it certainly has no bearing on the fact that he could count on massive military might, if needed, to invade Spain, exactly like Napoléon could count on his armies when he decided for a "regime change" in Madrid in 1808.

I agree with Paul Preston that the republic had no chance of victory, and I also dislike "what ifs."  However because of his sympathies, Preston takes my comment out of context: the losers (the communists) are currently engaged in playing petty games as they vent their frustration on the statues of Franco and José Antonio -- these die-hards should be reminded of the fate of Poland or Holland under a Nazi governor.  Franco did his country a great service and some of us will be forever grateful.

RH: I agree with those who say that, had the Republicans won,  Hitler would probably have invaded Spain.

Robert Whealey writes: It is my understanding that from 1936 to 1945, Hitler read newspapers, but had no time for books. He made his decisions on Spain by listening to Goring, Canaris and Mussolini.  He kept an eye on London and Paris through dozens of observers.The real mystery is weather he read Weizsaker's memos directly or did he only listen to Ribbentrop's screening of Weizsaker's reports from Spain.  As for Goebbels, who wrote a lot about Hitler, Goebbels did the listening. Hitler obtained his ideas about Spain's economy from Goring. Franco was asking for too much steel, and military equipment. Neither of them had much oil.  Spain's military problem was a naval problem for Hitler.  Napoleon's armies in Spain were irrelevant to the problem at hand.

Randy Black writes: Judging from laws being proposed in Russia today and according to the Russian media, it would appear that Jews once more are living in a precarious position in Russia.  A petition signed by 5,000 including the overrated chess champion Boris Spassky, proposes to outlaw all Jewish organizations in Russia. Spassky last won a world championship in the early 70s and lost most of his international matches thereafter.
Excerpt: (3/28/05) from "Ban Sought on Jewish Organizations" by Anatoly Medetsky

About 5,000 people, including former world chess champion Boris Spassky, have signed a letter asking prosecutors to ban Jewish organizations because they believe one of the basic Judaic books professes religious hatred, said a center that monitors religious freedom…… The letter came two months after 20 State Duma deputies sent a similar letter to the Prosecutor General's Office.

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: April 16, 2005