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Thread: What if - Spain joined the Axis in 1939.

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    What if - Spain joined the Axis in 1939.

    Reading through the existing posts (including the "could have germany won" thread), I have never came across a discusion about the posibility of Spain entering the war in 1939.

    I would imagine that such an action would have had a significant impact on the European theatre (and posibly on the outcome of ww2 in europe), mainly because Spain entering the war meant that gibraltar felt and the mediterranean sea would be closed to the royal navy.
    Could have the allies keep Egipt under this circumstances? Is the Italy invasion still posible?

    Secondly, millions of combatants(?) would become available to the Axis powers, some of them veterans of the civil war.

    Please discuss

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    Senior Contributor 1979's Avatar
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    mainly because Spain entering the war meant that gibraltar felt and the mediterranean sea would be closed to the royal navy.

    How about the suez ? the bulk of supplies for the 8th army came that way, the Gibraltar route was used only when the risk were deemed worth taking.

    Could have the allies keep Egipt under this circumstances? Is the Italy invasion still posible?

    yes and yes .

    Secondly, millions of combatants(?) would become available to the Axis powers, some of them veterans of the civil war.

    A Coin army might be useful for rear area security but :
    a) Franco did not have millions , maybe half a million and the number of troops he could deploy 1000 km away from home while leaving his considerable shore line exposed is even less.
    b) tHE AXIS needs logistics/equipment more than raw manpower.
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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    The Spanish civil war was just finished when Germany entered Poland.

    With 500,000+ casualties, country still divided, in ruins and the military exhausted, Franco's regime was too weak to lead Spain at another instant war. Still too much opposition to be handled (especially in the Basque region) before to even think of any military adventure.

    He knew neither the country nor his regime could have afforded a war and would have been a great gamble to enter a war with England.

    Moreover, despite the shared ideology and German help during the civil war he didn't like Hitler at all. He put claims that he knew Germany can not deliver.
    There was a personal meeting between Hitler and Franco in Hendaye (Occupied France, late 1940) to discuss the Spanish declaration of war to the Allies, but Franco asked so many things (food, weapons, Gibraltar, French N. Africa's colonies) that was impossible to reach an agreement.

    Another fact that there was not much of liking is the Spanish stationing troops in the Pyrenees to deter Germany from occupying Spain.

    OTOH, if for some reason Franco would have been confident there is something to gain by joining the Axis it would additionally stretch the Brits and their supply lines. Also their fleet would have been stucked in the Mediterranean and would have serious issues supplying the troops in North Africa, Malta and Crete. With Spanish neutrality, British ships were passing the Gibraltar without issues.

    Not to sound that Franco was all against Hitler, he sent "volunteers" to help the Germans in Russia, as well he allowed German spies operate within Spanish territory.
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    Im thinking just more land and assets to be divided up among the victors at the close of WWII.
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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
    Im thinking just more land and assets to be divided up among the victors at the close of WWII.
    Yep. One more worthless ally for Hitler to carry. Franco loses his empire very quickly. France & Britain go on the offensive very quickly to avoid a two front war. A French army full of recent Spanish refugees enters Sth Spain. SOE has a ball organizing infiltrators. The RAF & French airfice get valuable practice. The RN blockades Spain. Franco throws in the towel before the first Panzer division is stationed on the Franco-German border & sues for peace. Franco very possibly ends up on the allied side (whoknows, he was a shifty bugger). In any case, Franco is WAY too smart & Spain WAY too messed up to let any of this happen in the first place.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dante View Post
    Reading through the existing posts (including the "could have germany won" thread), I have never came across a discusion about the posibility of Spain entering the war in 1939.
    Spain did not approve of the German attack on Poland.
    In fact, the Spanish government expressed formal regret at the German invasion of a fellow Catholic nation, which they had been on friendly terms with.
    Last edited by redco; 30 Aug 11, at 04:50.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    OTOH, if for some reason Franco would have been confident there is something to gain by joining the Axis it would additionally stretch the Brits and their supply lines. Also their fleet would have been stucked in the Mediterranean and would have serious issues supplying the troops in North Africa, Malta and Crete. With Spanish neutrality, British ships were passing the Gibraltar without issues.
    On the outbreak of war with Italy almost all the supplies for the North African Campaign went around Africa and up the Red sea to the Suez canal.

    Not to sound that Franco was all against Hitler, he sent "volunteers" to help the Germans in Russia, as well he allowed German spies operate within Spanish territory.
    Franco was less pro-Hitler, more anti-communist.

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    Senior Contributor 1979's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    One more worthless ally for Hitler to carry.
    Course Hitler had a chance of winning if there weren't those treacherous axis minors who turn on him one by one...
    J'ai en marre.

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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1979 View Post
    Course Hitler had a chance of winning if there weren't those treacherous axis minors who turn on him one by one...
    Not at all 1979. I'm pretty sure he was going to lose anyway & I don't think the presence or absence of his worthless allies did much to alter that. For the record, I said 'worthless', not 'treacherous' and I meant it. I can see little of value that Hitler's allies added that he could not have obtained otherwise. Sure, there were numbers of warm bodies of varying worth as soldiers (mostly toward the lower end of usefulness) and there was all that Jew-killing which saved valuable German resources for the killing of Jews elsewhere. On balance, however, I'd plump for 'worthless' as a reasonable description. In any case, my statement didn't necessarily imply that all Hitler's allies were worthless. "one more' only requires one to be correct. if you can't find one Nazi ally that qualified as 'worthless' then you really aren't trying. Personally I can think of several.


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    let's start with Italy than since it's often trumped as the one did contributed the most to the axis downfall.

    First of all she had a navy in the Med that outnumbered all allied vessels put together. What British ships are fighting in the Med are not fighting in the Battle of the Atlantic, that means lower escort for merchant convoys and more chances for the German submarines.
    The number of german divisions in North Africa was 3 until 1943 , while the British deployed 3 corps size formations in 1942 .
    Than there is the worthless Italian merchant navy that supported a army size formation for two years across contested waters.
    Surely the german merchant navy could the same...or could it?
    J'ai en marre.

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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dante View Post
    Reading through the existing posts (including the "could have germany won" thread), I have never came across a discusion about the posibility of Spain entering the war in 1939.

    I would imagine that such an action would have had a significant impact on the European theatre (and posibly on the outcome of ww2 in europe), mainly because Spain entering the war meant that gibraltar felt and the mediterranean sea would be closed to the royal navy.
    Could have the allies keep Egipt under this circumstances? Is the Italy invasion still posible?

    Secondly, millions of combatants(?) would become available to the Axis powers, some of them veterans of the civil war.

    Please discuss
    Dante,

    My previous reply was a little rushed. Allow me to make some more considered observations.

    As others have already observed, Spain was in no shape to undertake another war in 1939. In addition to hundreds of thousands of dead & wounded there were hundreds of thousands of prisoners, many of whom would die in the years to follow. There was also widespread destruction. Spain was also poor. Its gold reserves were sitting in the Kremlin. The nation was broken. Wars cost money.

    Franco could undoubtedly field an army of experienced soldiers, but how many & for how long? And how well equipped? Franco's army was not a modern fighting force. Its arsnel was a hodgepodge of often second rate weapons. Its doctrines owed more to WW1 than WW2. The Spanish Civil war was less a modern war than a boxing match between two unskilled & unfit opponents wher one slowly overcomes the other. Against a modern army, even an inexperienced one, Franco would have struggled. His airforce would never have been able to compete with what France & the UK could field. Worse, his navy was a mess. Even before the SCW it was outmatched by the sort of fleets the RN regularly fielded in the Med in WW2. The bulk of the Spanish navy had gone over to the Republic during the SCW (bad news for the officers, many of whom met a bad end) - as a result it would have been necessary to train new crews for many ships before sending them into another war. A number of ships had been lost.

    Additionally, Franco headed an unwieldy coalition of factions who often barely tolerated each other (and sometimes did not - violence between the factions was not unknown) and he inherited a nation that contained millions of people who hated him. Such people might need little prompting to rise up....if they thought it would remove him.

    Franco was one of the more able dictators of the C20th. He managed to combine luck & guile to maneuver his way to the to of the Nationalist side. He managed to weld together his fractious coalition into a winning team. In a nation that had been virtually ungovernable for over a century he was the undisputed leader for over 35 years. When Hitler came knocking he presented a list of demands he knew could not be met. When Hitler was on top he did just enough to make sure he would be seen as an ally if Hitler won. Once Hitler was in decline he began to shift toward the winning side.

    Consider this. In July 1940 France had fallen & Britain looked like it might. Spain had been at peace for a year. Perhaps the best opportunity Spain would ever have to regain Gibraltar presented itself. Why didn't Franco take it? Too risky. As long as the RN remained strong Spain was vulnerable. Spain's empire would be in peril, along with its fragile economy. A big risk for little gain.

    So, lets say Franco is suddenly possessed by the spirit of Mussolini for a time & decides to declare war in 1939. What next? First, France seals the border & secures its territory - no great effort. Franco wasn't up to invading anybody wiht the possible exception of Gibraltar, which might prove impossible to hold. While this is going on there are probably a few bombing raids - nothing too effective I suspect. Most important, however, British & French fleets proceed to blockade Spain. Spain's economy is in serious strife. Sure, some trade is still possible, but it is heavily constrianed. The empire in Africa is under serious threat now. Even if the Allies don't invade Morocco etc. they might choose to assist tribesmen who had only recently been in uprising.

    While all this is going on France can train up Spanish refugees, of whom there are hundred of thousands in camps on the border. This did happen to a small extent in OTL. here it would be bigger & better. Some would sabotage, others form regular units. French Catalans & Basques would also prove valuable agents of infiltration. In OTL France & Britain chose not to take teh war up to Germany. This was partially because they were still arming & mobilizing & partly because they believed that their plan to absorb a german attack was a winner. They might decide that the way to put Spain out of the war was to starve it out. They might, on the other hand, decide that knocking Spain out of the war was a priority to secure French flanks. While a full scale invasion & occupation of Spain would be difficult, an attack on a Spain that had been blockaded for 6 months might be enough to get Franco to agree to terms.

    Assuming that France still falls (and don't assume that the rest of history stays the same - who is to say what lessons the allies might learn if they fight Spain first) and Franco is still in the war (or re-joins) it does indeed make life difficult for the RN in the Med. Some supplies (for Malta, for instance) did go through the straits of Gibraltar, as did a lot of RN vessels. Ultimately, however, unless Britain falls & the US stays out, it is all for naught. Spain just ends up as a huge coastline for Hitler to cover & another ally of questionable ability & loyalty (see: Vichy France & Italy) to defend/arm/support. Spain pitching in for Hitler might change some events, but not the eventual outcome.


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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1979 View Post
    let's start with Italy than since it's often trumped as the one did contributed the most to the axis downfall.

    First of all she had a navy in the Med that outnumbered all allied vessels put together. What British ships are fighting in the Med are not fighting in the Battle of the Atlantic, that means lower escort for merchant convoys and more chances for the German submarines.
    The number of german divisions in North Africa was 3 until 1943 , while the British deployed 3 corps size formations in 1942 .
    Than there is the worthless Italian merchant navy that supported a army size formation for two years across contested waters.
    Surely the german merchant navy could the same...or could it?
    OK, so Italy helped German lose the battle of the Atlantic later and tied down 3 british corps that wouldn't have been fighting Germany anyway. And all for the cost of several hundred thousand soldiers (just in Tunisia). Yeah. Really worthwhile. On the upside, those captured german troops don't get a free holiday in Siberia. Guess someone gets a win.

    Would have been better for Adolf if Benito had more brains than balls & stayed neutral. Germany could have used Italy to circumvent the Allied blockade (to a point) - a nice little earner for Benito, Adolf gets to use all his troops & planes losing to Russia. In fact, with thesaintedRommel in the lead tank the Russians will probably just surrender anyway.

    If anyone should have been sending Benito Xmas cards it was Tojo. Without the sideshow in the Med Britain might actually have been able to mount a credible defence of her far eastern colonies.

    Hitler was going down anyway, but the freakshow he cobbled together didn't make that any less likely.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    OK, so Italy helped German lose the battle of the Atlantic later
    no Italy helped Germany fight the battle of Atlantic.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    and tied down 3 british corps that wouldn't have been fighting Germany anyway.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XIII_Corps_(United_Kingdom)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XXX_Corps_(United_Kingdom)
    the only problem with that argument is that they did.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    And all for the cost of several hundred thousand soldiers (just in Tunisia). Yeah. Really worthwhile. On the upside, those captured german troops don't get a free holiday in Siberia. Guess someone gets a win.
    wrt to french Tunisia it was
    Hitlers call not Mussolini .
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    Would have been better for Adolf if Benito had more brains than balls & stayed neutral. Germany could have used Italy to circumvent the Allied blockade (to a point) - a nice little earner for Benito, Adolf gets to use all his troops & planes losing to Russia. In fact, with thesaintedRommel in the lead tank the Russians will probably just surrender anyway.
    I guess that meas no Italian troops in Russia.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    If anyone should have been sending Benito Xmas cards it was Tojo. Without the sideshow in the Med Britain might actually have been able to mount a credible defence of her far eastern colonies.
    yeah i forgot about that .
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    Hitler was going down anyway, but the freakshow he cobbled together didn't make that any less likely.
    if we include japan in the freak show it gave him the chance to fight on for as long as he did.
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    Senior Contributor Mihais's Avatar
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    Dante,there was no real way Franco would join the Axis in 1939.In 1940 it may have been different.Suppose for the sake of the argument that Franco does it after France falls.Hitler grants him French NA etc....Gibraltar falls,no doubt about it.In the same time,Hitler also must support Spanish troops to get their promised land,otherwise French colonial troops would have eaten them alive.That can be done with relative ease,logistically.there's a rail to S Spain,a short sea ride,than another rail along the coast.A much easier drive than what Rommel faced in Libya and Egypt.The French would have escaped S,so an occupation army is needed to guard NA.
    On the positive side,Op Torch becomes unfeasible,but in 1940 that's still a far (and avoidable)prospect.Also a plus would be the additional naval bases.The German surface fleet can support now the Italians in the Med,which might turn the balance against the RN.Subs that far S can make life much more difficult for British convoys towards Far East or Egypt.
    Such objectives were however in German reach without bothering with Spain,however.Spanish involvement is simply not needed in 1940.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mihais View Post
    Dante,there was no real way Franco would join the Axis in 1939.In 1940 it may have been different.Suppose for the sake of the argument that Franco does it after France falls.Hitler grants him French NA etc....Gibraltar falls,no doubt about it.In the same time,Hitler also must support Spanish troops to get their promised land,otherwise French colonial troops would have eaten them alive.That can be done with relative ease,logistically.there's a rail to S Spain,a short sea ride,than another rail along the coast.A much easier drive than what Rommel faced in Libya and Egypt.The French would have escaped S,so an occupation army is needed to guard NA.
    On the positive side,Op Torch becomes unfeasible,but in 1940 that's still a far (and avoidable)prospect.Also a plus would be the additional naval bases.The German surface fleet can support now the Italians in the Med,which might turn the balance against the RN.Subs that far S can make life much more difficult for British convoys towards Far East or Egypt.
    Such objectives were however in German reach without bothering with Spain,however.Spanish involvement is simply not needed in 1940.
    The axis was already overextended, last thing you need is another hundred of miles of shoreline to defend or divisions to spread on the land.
    J'ai en marre.

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