Notes Covering the Interview Between the Fuehrer and Count Ciano in the Presence of the Reichs Foreign Minister and the State Secretary Meissner in Berlin on September 28, 1940.
At the beginning the Fuehrer directed to Count Ciano the question whether the possibility existed for a meeting with the Duce at the Brenner. He considered it right to bring about an exchange of opinion with the Duce concerning the general situation but especially also concerning the Spanish question, before far-reaching decisions were to be made. Also he wanted to speak with him about the strategic situation. As concerned Spain, Germany, on the basis of the experiences gained during the Civil War, was clear about the fact that one could not make progress with the Spanish without quite concrete and detailed agreements. It was critical for Germany and Italy successfully to end the war in great security and in as short a time as possible.
The Spanish proposals to Germany, somewhat crassly expressed, go as far as the following:
- 1. Germany is to deliver for the coming year 400,000-700,000 tons of grain;
- 2. Germany is to deliver all the fuel;
- 3. Germany is to deliver the lacking equipment for the Army;
- 4. Germany is to put up artillery, airplanes, as well as special weapons and special troops for the conquest of Gibraltar;
- 5. Germany is to hand over all of Morocco and besides that, Oran, and is to help her get a border revision in the west of Rio de Oro;
- 6. Spain is to promise to Germany, in return, her friendship.
One must think it over thoroughly if one intends to enter into such obligations and if one is to bar other possibilities from oneself. Aside from that, he (the Fuehrer) was afraid that the agreements concerning Morocco would somehow leak through and become known in France. In this case the French would possibly even come to an agreement with the English, if they knew that Morocco would be lost to them in any case after the conclusion of the war. At all events, it would be more favorable for Germany if the French remained in Morocco and defended it against the English. If the Spanish were to occupy the territory, they probably would only call for German and Italian help in the event of an English attack, and moreover they would let the tempo of their Civil War prevail in their military measures. It was therefore necessary to talk over very calmly for a few hours with the Duce the whole question in the light of its usefulness and its military significance, especially since the deliveries demanded of Germany would represent a great sacrifice, which after all could not be made only in return for the good graces of the Spanish. Thus far, at any rate, the Spanish had not yet held out the prospect of an equivalent. One must ponder the problem very coolly and examine it in the light of its possible effects. The case would be entirely clear if Spain would assume distinct obligations. Considering the uncertainty of the Spanish attitude, Germany and Italy in this interview between the Fuehrer and the Duce would have to take a similar stand on the Spanish problem. The agreements with Spain would only contain obligations for her partners and in practice would have to be made good militarily by Germany and Italy. The consequences could be very unpleasant. It would not be impossible that, the commitments concerning Morocco and Oran becoming known, North Africa even might fall into the hands of the English. That would make a conquest of this territory necessary. This military undertaking would have to be carried out over the very dubious bridge, Spain, during which the possibility would definitely exist that Spain then would withdraw again into her neutrality. At all events, England would then have in Africa a great number of air bases, which to be sure would not be decisive for the war, but which could really turn out to be very unpleasant, since air penetration from Germany and Italy would be difficult on account of the great distance.
The Fuehrer then mentioned in this connection the invitation which Franco had extended to him to meet with him on the Spanish-French border. He did not yet know whether he ought to accept this invitation. It would all depend on the conversation with the Duce. In any case he was not convinced that Spain had "the same intensity of will for giving as for taking". Moreover it was customary for allies to support one another reciprocally; in the case of Spain, however, the reciprocity would have to be missed.
When Spain was engaged in the Civil War, Germany had supported Franco in a very extensive measure considering her [Germany's] condition at the time. This support moreover had not been without risk. It was not limited only to the delivery of matériel, but volunteers were also made available and many Germans and Italians had fallen in Spain. He did not intend to compute this blood sacrifice in terms of economic values, but instead considered it an outright gift to Spain.
Economically Germany had given out many hundreds of millions for Spain. He (the Fuehrer) had taken the stand that the payment of this debt should be left alone during the war, however that it would have to be taken up again after the victory of Franco. Whenever the Germans demand the payment of the 400 million debt incurred during the Spanish Civil War, this is often interpreted by the Spanish as a tactless confusing of economic and idealistic considerations, and as a German, one feels toward the Spanish almost like a Jew, who wants to make business out of the holiest possessions of mankind. Therefore in all agreements with the Spanish one must to begin with clearly stipulate the terms, and if Germany is to furnish grain, the question of compensation must be settled now already.
Italy and Germany had done very much for Spain in the year 1936. Italy just had its Abyssinia undertaking behind her, while Germany was in the midst of her rearming. Without the help of both the countries there would today be no Franco.
From all these considerations a joint discussion with the Duce was necessary before making further decisions which could be very far-reaching. In no case should any step which would be undertaken with regard to Spain lead to a deterioration of the strategic position in the Mediterranean Sea.
Count Ciano replied that the Duce certainly would gladly seize the opportunity for a discussion with the Fuehrer. He had already frequently spoken to him (Ciano) about it. Would the Fuehrer like to make a suggestion concerning the date.
Moreover the Duce had the same fears as those the Fuehrer had just mentioned concerning the difficulties involved in an entry of Spain into the war. Italy also had not forgotten the experiences of the Spanish Civil War. At that time Franco had declared that if he received 12 transport planes or bombers, he would have the war won in a few days. These 12 airplanes became more than one thousand airplanes, 6 thousand dead, and 14 billion lire. With all due sympathy for Spain, this had upon reflection proven in fact to be right, and now again the Duce feared that many sacrifices would be demanded of Italy and Germany without return. Aside from this, it was to be feared that following the pattern of the Spanish Civil War, Spain's demands as now reported would be increased more and more in the further course of events. Therefore caution was in order and a discussion very appropriate.
It was then decided to hold the discussion between the Fuehrer and the Duce at the Brenner in connection with the visit of Serrano Suñer in Rome on Friday, October 4, 1940.BERLIN, September 29, 1950
Source: THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT AND THE AXIS : Documents - DEPARTMENT OF STATE Publication 2483 - EUROPEAN SERIES 8 - Washington, DC : Government Printing Office, 1946. Published online by The Avalon Project at Yale Law School
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