Many countries wanted to keep out of world war like Switzerland and Spain. They preferred to not get involved. If a country did not get involved, they were considered to be neutral. This meant that they did not send soldiers or supplies to help either side of the Allies or Axis powers. They did not want to show favoritism to one side over the other.
They did this by declaring neutrality to let both sides know that they wanted to stay out of the war. However, it is believed that some neutral countries actually did favor one side over the other, but they signed the neutrality clause in order to act like they didn’t. Spain did this by declaring neutrality but favoring Axis powers.
Let’s go back to 1940. Spain was a nation that was struggling. It was recovering from the effects of the spanish Civil War which had ended with Francisco Franco’s victory in April 1939. A few months later, WW2 broke out. Ideologically, Franco supported Hitler and was supplying the Axis Powers with goods and volunteer fighters(Blue Division) as a gesture for their help during the Civil War.
The Blue Division
He still supported the ideology of Hitler and admired Hitler initially. He wanted the colony of Cameroon but Hitler wasn’t ready to agree. Franco also refused to give the Canary Islands and Morocco to allow Germany to establish naval bases for battles with america in the Atlantic Ocean. Both leaders met at Hendaye in October 1940 in a meeting that was marked by improbable demands by Franco.
Hitler and Franco at Hendaye in 1940.
Hitler sent a secret deal in December in 1940 after the Battle of Britain which Franco kind of agreed to. Spain would help against England in Gibraltar allowing German soldiers to pass through the country and Germany would supply Spain with grain and raw materials. Franco was still very resistant to German soldiers in Spain so he did not allow Wehrmacht to come into Spain and Germany retaliated by not giving raw materials and supplies to Spain. Franco also set up defenses in the Pyrenees which enraged Hitler.
One of the reasons Franco didn’t allow Wehrmacht and an attack on Gibraltar were because half of the supplies to Spain came from the USA which the British Navy could easily blockade and end up starving the country. Spanish oil was imported from the USA which was ready to restrict oil supplies to Spain in case it joined the war.
The military generals of Spain were also anti-Hitler simply because they were being paid by the U.K. to keep the country neutral and they threatened Franco’s leadership. Franco knew he never stood a chance against the British Navy so one could say he kept delaying the alliance and Spanish involvement through his improbable demands. An example of great diplomacy by a military dictator.👏👏