According to localcollegeexplorer, the outbreak of the Second World War could only aggravate the internal situation of Spain: first of all because the countries involved in the conflict would no longer be able to send the aid that the Spaniards urgently needed, secondly because in the collision between two worlds and two ideologies the position of Francoist Spain was anything but easy; sentimentally pushed, on the one hand, towards the Axis powers, it was rather inclined, on the other, to a policy of neutrality.
Immediately after the invasion of Poland by Germany, Franco also wanted to make the last attempt to save the peace of the world and sent a note to the belligerent powers asking them to avoid the extension of the conflict in every way. The note went unanswered and shortly afterwards Spain decreed “non-belligerence”. The invasion of France and the arrival of German troops at the Pyrenean border created new and serious problems for the Spanish government, also because the pressure for its intervention increased by the Axis powers. Meanwhile, the most heated elements of the Falange were carrying out a violent campaign throughout the country for Gibraltar, for the realization of the Spanish aspirations in the Mediterranean and in Africa. It therefore found good ground in certain political circles,
In the summer of 1940, pressure increased on Franco to secure the Spanish intervention, which would have allowed Germany to occupy Gibraltar and to close at least one Mediterranean door (for the negotiations between Germany and Italy and Spain for its intervention in war, see world war, in this second App., I, pp. 1115-1118; the German military plan “Felice” is also exposed on p. 1146). But the whole attitude of the Spanish government indicated that it wanted above all to gain time without taking on specific commitments.
With the beginning of the Russian campaign (22 June 1941) it was decided to send a corps of 12,000 Phalangist volunteers, the “blue division”, under the command of gen. Muñoz Grandes and a heated anti-communist speech, delivered by Serrano Suñer, resulted in a violent demonstration in front of the British embassy, so much so that Ambassador Samuel Hoare was forced to formulate a vigorous protest.
In the spring of 1942, the new United States Ambassador, Professor Carlton JH Hayes of Columbia University, arrived in Madrid. The relations between the new ambassador and Franco were immediately initiated in the most friendly terms: the latter mainly wanted to clarify how the Spanish “non-belligerence” meant only that the country, not at all neutral in the fight against communism, was instead determined not to participate in the conflict between the Axis powers and the Anglo-Saxon world.
At the end of the summer, following an attack in Bilbao by some extremists of the Falange during a funeral ceremony in honor of the traditionalists who died in the civil war, Serrano Suñer left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was taken over by Count Jordana, notoriously more favorable. to the Anglo-Saxons than to the Germans.
The decisive test for the Spanish “non-belligerence” came on the occasion of the landing of the Allies in Africa on 8 November. When the landing occurred, the US and British embassies rushed to reassure the Madrid government that the United Nations had no intention of violating Spanish neutrality. Franco in turn gave the fullest assurances about Spain’s attitude.
In December, Count Jordana went on an official visit to Lisbon and between the two governments the foundations were laid for a “peninsular block”: by agreeing to openly collaborate with Portugal, England’s faithful ally, Spain came to better define the its position vis-à-vis the Axis powers.
The fall of fascism and the armistice of 8 September 1943 also had repercussions in Spain: Madrid continued to recognize the legitimate Italian government, represented by the ambassador Giacomo Paulucci de ‘Calboli, who on 13 October had the task of handing over to the German ambassador the declaration of war on Germany, but also maintained unofficial relations with the agents of the Salò government, who indeed had the support and sympathy of the Phalangists. In any case, the Falange was gradually losing ground and some clues even suggested that Franco was preparing some reforms, to give his government a more liberal orientation and in keeping with the times that were maturing. After the Allied landing in France and following pressure from the ambassadors of England and the United States, the “blue division” from the Russian front was withdrawn, the export of Wolfram to Germany was reduced to a minimum, the Italian warships that had taken refuge in the Balearics after the armistice were freed, the German consulate in Tangier and the expulsion of Nazi agents who, especially in coastal cities, were engaged in sabotage and espionage. Subsequently the political junta of the Falange was dissolved, the office of minister secretary of the party and the Vicesecretaría de Educacion Popular were suppressed and the Roman salute was also abolished. On 3 August 1944 the Foreign Minister Jordana suddenly died in San Sebastian and was replaced by the ambassador José F. Lequerica, a Basque monarchist and liberal with little sympathy for the Falange; from the earliest days he showed the best dispositions to continue the policy of his predecessor, openly in favor of the Anglo-Saxon powers. Within a few months, the Spanish government broke off relations with Japan.