In 2017, the council of the then mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, presented a restructuring of the gazetteer of the street map of the capital of Spain in which it was decided to eliminate about fifty streets which made any direct reference or allusion to any person, institution or act linked to the Franco dictatorship. Despite being approved by a majority in the municipal plenary session (with abstention from the Popular Party) this change of the Madrid level, the extreme right presented an appeal before the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid and, four years later, the TSJM has ruled in favor of maintaining two of those roads with its old name (streets of ‘General Millán Astray’ Y ‘Fallen of the Blue Division’).
Meeting between Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco in Hendaye on October 23, 1940 (image Photo 12 – UIG via Getty Images)
The first pointing out that the founder of the Spanish Legion, Millán AstayHe did not participate directly in the military uprising (although it must be taken into account that he did support Franco throughout the Civil War and subsequent dictatorship). On ‘Blue Division’, alludes to the aforementioned court that the Spanish military contingent that fought during the Second World War together with the German Third Reich against the Red Army on the Soviet front, did so for Nazism and not as a defense of Francoism, which is why the change of nomenclature of these streets can not accept the then called ‘Law of Historical Memory’.
This ruling of the TSJM has opened a controversial debate in which a large number of historians, political scientists and experts have shown their disagreement, because it cannot and should not be separated the close link between Nazism and Francoism, both at the time of the IIGM, as well as throughout the four decades of Franco’s dictatorship and even today, in which Spanish far-rightists have shown numerous Nazi symbols during their demonstrations and rallies.
And it is a historical error to try to separate both ideological groups, as if they were different things, when there are enough demonstrations of the existing links between them over the last eight decades (especially mutual collaboration in the period of the Civil War, World War II and during the forty years of dictatorship), so historians find the decision made by the TSJM totally unjustified and absurd.
And is that if we take a look at the history books, among the multiple collaborations between Franco and Hitler, We not only find them that they were carried out in war or political matters, but also of an economic nature, highlighting the creation, in 1938 (in the middle of the Spanish Civil War) of ‘Sofindus’, acronym for ‘Industrial Financial Society’ which consisted of a conglomerate of Spanish-German companies through which various services were exchanged between both countries (obviously in Spain it was in the areas controlled by the Francoist rebel side) and in various business fields. The Sofindus germ was a curious ghost company called Hispano-Moroccan Transport Society (and known by its acronym HISMA) created on July 31, 1936, just two weeks after the start of the military uprising against the Second Republic. The creation of said society was carried out by Johannes Bernhardt (a German related to Nazism) and representing Spanish interests was the retired military man Fernando de Carranza Fernández de la Reguera.
With this business agreement, Nazi Germany helped finance and arm the rebels during the years that the Civil War lasted and once it was concluded, and after the start of the IIGM, from the government of the dictator Franco, the German Reich was provided, through Sofindus, all the raw material necessary to manufacture the weapons with which they intended to win the war. Above all tungsten, a mineral used to harden combat weapons, which was abundantly extracted in Galicia and Extremadura (among other regions of Spain).
After the end of the Civil War, in April 1939, thousands of Spaniards, faithful to the Second Republic, decided to flee the country, in search of a better future and, above all, trying to avoid the fierce persecution that had been established since the Franco dictatorship. any person who did not think the same as the regime imposed by the winning side. Many of them ended up (especially because of the proximity between the two countries) but the invasion of the Gallic territory by Germany (in May 1940) and the subsequent capitulation by the French government (June 25 of that same year) , caused that the thousands of Spanish exiles in that country began to be persecuted after applying the laws that the Nazis ordered. From the Franco government came a singular and cruel request: to carry out the persecution and arrest of the republican exiles and the Nazi authorities in command of Vichy France (collaborator with the Third Reich) were provided with the data of thousands of Spaniards who were they were in the neighboring country and who were locked up in various concentration camps. It is estimated that, of the more than 9,000 Spaniards locked up by the Nazis, about 70 percent were killed, which would equal more than 6,000 fatalities.
There was also numerous collaboration and support from the Franco regime towards the Nazis who fled Germany after the end of the WWII and the fall of the Third Reich. There was a notable presence of prominent Nazis in Spain, who came through ODESSA (Organization of Former Members of the SS) after escaping from international justice. The Francoist authorities gave shelter and funding to the main leaders of the aforementioned organization, so that they could carry out the escape plan for their Nazi compatriots.
Under the Franco dictatorship, Spain became a safe place and refuge for a large number of people with a murky past, coming from Nazi Germany.. And it is that for the Franco government it was vital and helpful to have the presence of key characters of the Third Reich, most of them being booked to occupy positions of responsibility (especially as advisers) in private companies linked to the Spanish government.
In the mid-1960s Otto Skorzeny (He had been in the leadership of the SS during the German Third Reich and had been designated, during WWII, as ‘the most dangerous man in Europe’) was one of the promoters of a paramilitary organization that was founded as a private security agency and that was called ‘Paladin Group’, among its founders (in addition to Skorzeny himself) were former members of the Nazi leadership as Gerhard Harmut von Schubert.
The agency’s registered office was in Alicante and that place became a meeting point for numerous characters from the extreme right, both Spanish and other European and even American countries, including the Colonel James Sanders, a Special Operations officer of the American CIA who endowed the organization with the most advanced techniques. In reality, the Paladín Group was a service company dedicated to hiring mercenaries in order to send them to those places where there was a significant communist presence and infiltrate leftist organizations, blow up political events and demonstrations and even attempt against some objectives.
What is reported in this post is just a tiny example of the long and fruitful collaboration between Francoism and Nazism, something that still exists in current far-right parties and organizations.
Image Source: Getty Images