This is the first book in any language to answer these intriguing questions. Stanley Payne, a leading historian of modern Spain, explores the full range of Franco's relationship with Hitler, from 1936 to the fall of the Reich in 1945. But as Payne brilliantly shows, relations between these two dictators were not only a matter of realpolitik. These two titanic egos engaged in an extraordinary tragi-comic drama often verging on the dark absurdity of a Beckett or Ionesco play. While Payne investigates the evolving relationship of the two regimes up to the conclusion of World War II, his principal concern is the enigma of Spain's unique position during the Second World War, as a fascist country struggling to maintain a tortured neutrality. Why Spain did not enter the war as a German ally, joining with Hitler to seize Gibraltar and close the Mediterranean to the British navy, is at the centre of Payne's narrative.
Franco's only personal meeting with Hitler in 1940 to discuss precisely this is recounted here in groundbreaking detail that also sheds significant new light on the Spanish government's vacillating policy toward Jewish refugees, the Holocaust, and Spain's German connection throughout the duration of the war.
Stanley Payne is Hilldale-Jaune Vicens Vives Professor of History Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a world authority on the history of European fascism and is the author of many books on Spanish and modern European history, including The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, and Communism and The Collapse of the Spanish Republic, 1933-1936, both published by Yale University Press.