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Germany and Spanish republic of the People's Front: formation of a position (on diplomatic materials)

a. G. Babitsky. Germany and Spanish republic...


UDC 94(4301.086



Belgorod state university

In article the process of formation of the German position concerning the Spanish People's Front on the example of the narrow chronological period is in detail investigated: February-July, 1936, i.e. since its arrival to the power and prior to the Civil war in Spain. The German, British diplomatic documents and materials of Archive of foreign policy of the Russian Federation are the basis for the analysis of a problem. Studying the German policy for republican Spain deepens understanding of its evolution in connection with the beginning of the Spanish civil war.

The main content of the international aspect of civil war in Spain of 1936 — 1939 was made by policy of "non-interference" to events on the Iberian Peninsula. The fascist countries, Germany and Italy, took part in an Agreement on the non-interference signed in August, 1936, being guided by a complex strategic, economic, political, strategic and ideological prichin1.

We will track registration of the relation of Berlin to the Republic of the People's Front in Spain (February-July, 1936).

The victory of the Socialist People's Front on elections in Spain in February, 1936 meant serious threat for the German interests in this country. The analysis of a political situation in Spain made by the German chargê d'affaires in Madrid Felkers on March 26, 1936 began with the instruction on its complexity and unpredictability. The right political forces of Spain, first of all "The Spanish phalanx" of H.A. Primo de Rivera, suffered on elections crushing defeat which, according to Felker-sa, had to be aggravated still in the future, on the elections to authorities appointed to April 12 on mestakh2. It should be noted that Spanish right were not proteges and obedient representatives of the German and Italian interests on the Pyrenees as specified Soviet historical nauka3. For Berlin the finding in power in Madrid of the Phalanx was unambiguous more favourably in terms of the state interests of Germany and an international situation.

Felkers represented losing political positions and influence of Spanish "falangist" by the victims of prosecution from left: "The Fascist party was officially dismissed by the government. Her heads and a large number of members were arrested. The government used several local attacks of young fascists on Marxist leaders to ban all organization, and repeatedly stated... that all deprivations of the recent past transferred the people happened because of fascists. This relation from the government led to prosecution of fascists through the whole country, people .tolpa often committed brutal crimes [over representatives of right-wing parties]" 4.

1 Esenwein G., Shubert A. Spain at War: The Spanish Civil War in Context 1931-1939. - L.; N.-Y., 1995. - P. 11-14.
2 Documents on German Foreign Policy (DGFP) 1918-1945. Ser. C. (1933-1937). The Third Reich: First Phase. - L., 1966. - Vol. 5: March - Oct. 31, 1936. - P. 308-309.
3 Fascism history in Western Europe / otv. edition G.S. Filatov. - M, 1978. - 318 pages; M.T. Meshcheryakov. Spanish republic and Komintern: national revolutionary war of the Spanish people and policy of the Communist International. 1936 - 1939 - M., 1981. - 224 pages; Sipols

V.Ya. Diplomatic fight on the eve of World War II. - M, 1989. - 335 pages, etc.

4 Documents on German Foreign Policy... - P. 310.
32 SCIENTIFIC SHEETS No. 1(32), 2007

Certainly, acts of political violence were present at the Spanish republic and what the moment of a military mutiny of July, 1936 was closer, that they became more large-scale and are more numerous. However at the end of March in estimates of the German diplomats in Spain it is possible to observe probing of the soil, first, for formulation of a negative position of Germany to the People's Front, secondly, for expansion of propaganda war against "the communistic government" on the Pyrenees.

In Felkers's report considerable strengthening of the left forces is stated. At the same time the German chargê d'affaires accurately divided the centrist government of Asanya and the left wing of the People's Front under the direction of the Largo of the Caballero. Saw the main danger in the fact of coming to power of the People's Front Felkers that on its left flank there were no differences between the left socialists, communists, syndicalists and anarchists. Along with rumors (information directly is called unconfirmed) on active work in Spain of Komintern acting through Bel Kun and the German communist Noy - a manna association of all above-mentioned currents under the obshchemarksistky slogans was the most disturbing representatives of the German Foreign Ministry in Madride5.

In the Soviet historical science the popular belief that Nazi Germany considered succession of events in Spain 1936 first of all from ideological positions which were essential in the subsequent decision of Hitler on intervention in civil voynu6 was broad. But the objective analysis shows that the German leaders and diplomacy assessed a political situation in Spain extremely carefully and rather adequately and did not dare to follow own promotion. Against the background of anti-Communist moods it was noted that "development of the situation in Spain on the Russian sample is very doubtful; it is unlikely finally the Soviet system" 7 will be installed here.

Felkers emphasized that fatalistic tranquility is peculiar to the Spanish mentality: "In general Spaniards are too lazy to complete something up to the end, however they are noble and intolerant of any dictatorship whether it is imposed at the left or on the right" 8. This assessment was divided also by the Portuguese ambassador in London Monteiro who shared with the British foreign minister Iden (March, 1937) opinion that bigger danger to Spain is not communism which is absolutely hostile to the Spanish character, and anarkhizm9. About traditions of anarchism, "the Spanish workers who deeply sat down at consciousness", not without regret reported to Moscow during civil war the Soviet representatives in Ispanii10.

At the end of March, 1936 Felkers predicted collision of centrists of Asanya and a socialist wing of the Largo of the Caballero. The German diplomat doubted that Asanya will decide to use in that case armed forces for fight against left. The position of army of Spain was defined as unstable: on the one hand, the government sought to make it apolitical, about other, officer corps which are traditionally adhering to the right views, with alarm watched coming to the power sotsialistov11.

As a conclusion in the report it is suggested that in any given form the collision of the government of Asanya with communists is inevitable; however there will be it peaceful political means or to use of army, unclear. Anyway, serious shocks in Spain were called very veroyatnymi12.

5 Documents on German Foreign Policy... - River 309-310.
6 See: A.A. Krasikov. Spain and world politics: half a century of diplomatic history. - M, 1989. - 349 pages; M.T. Meshcheryakov. Fight for freedom: national revolutionary war of the Spanish people in 1936-1939 - M., 1964.
7 R.S. Ovinnikov. Behind the scenes of policy of "non-interference": the Spanish question in policy of imperialists of England, France and the USA on the eve of World War II. - M, 1959. - 326 pages; Si-pols V.Ya. Diplomatic fight on the eve of World War II. - M, 1989 - 335 pages
8 Documents on German Foreign Policy... - P. 311-312.
9 Documents on British Foreign Policy (DBFP). Second series: 1930-1939/ed. E.L. Woodward and others. - L., 1980. - Vol. 18. - River 439.
10 M.T. Meshcheryakov. Spanish republic and Komintern... - P. 102.
11 Documents on British Foreign Policy... - River 311-312.
12 In the same place. - River 313-314.

A.G. Babitsky. Germany and Spanish republic


The management of the Reich reacted to similar conclusions of the diplomats usile-

niy attention to the intra Spanish events. Activization demonstrates to it in the spring — at the beginning of summer of 1936 of the German intelligence services on the Iberian Peninsula that is traced even on diplomatic documentam13.

Less than a month before the beginning of the armed anti-republican mutiny, June 27, 1936, Felkers stated forcing of a situation in Spain to "a critical mark". The German diplomat noted activization of two main left currents of a political range — "the Moscow communism" and anarcho-syndicalism — and emphasized that the right forces combat by terrorist methods both against the government, and against rivals from the socialist camp. Assessment Felkersom of increasingly frequent acts of violence is represented essentially important from right, destabilizing a situation in the country: "These clear, but untimely attacks immediately forced disagreements in the revolutionary camp on which further strengthening such were laid great hopes, to cease, and, besides, forced the government to defend the People's Front" 14.

Thus, the chargê d'affaires of Germany let know that for the Reich at that stage the escalation of violence was unprofitable from Spanish right as in this case the People's Front which is torn apart by political contradictions could rally before threat from the general opponent again. The German leaders reasonably expected that over time disagreements in the People's Front will develop into irreconcilable, and the coalition which won February elections and forced to attend both totalitarian, and democratic Europe will break up by itself.

Confirmation of it is the mentioned Felkers's report of June 27. In it it was told about inability of the Spanish government to control a situation in which it did not find mutual understanding neither with left, nor with right. Moreover, the government was in a condition of constant alarm: on the one hand, because of rumors about the amplifying support of socialists by Moscow, with another — because of foggy information on cooperation between the Spanish and French fascists. Felkers directly said that both of these opportunities exist more in imagination of members of the government of Spain, than in deystvitelnosti15.

So, the German diplomacy in Madrid provided to Berlin in February-July, 1936 information on a situation in Spain on the basis of which the German leaders could draw conclusions that succession of events on the Pyrenees went without significant influence of external factors. Certainly, at Spain among the left-wing parties and currents there was a certain influence of the USSR and Komintern, however it was not defining. It was noted also by the representatives of fascist Germany who were sensitively watching the slightest hint on "communistic threat".

The German leaders rather objectively imagined a ratio of political forces in Spain, saw strong and weaknesses of the People's Front. In a week prior to the Spanish mutiny the German diplomacy recognized that "a situation in Spain of a sverkhtrevozhn if to look at it in connection with systematic and dangerous activity of the Soviet Russia in Western Europe and favor to the left Spanish government of French" 16. Germany was interested in noncommunistic Spain, however did not render the direct large-scale help to the right forces before a mutiny of July, 1936.

The anti-Communist promotion developed by the Nazi press after the February victory of the People's Front should not mislead concerning a course of the German leaders. The last expected succession of events in Spain; the certain concern about observance of the German economic interests on the Iberian Peninsula expressed, in particular, in the middle of July, 1936

13 Documents on British Foreign Policy... - River 504-505.
14 In the same place. - P. 694.
15 In the same place. - River 694-695.
16 In the same place. - P. 828.


No. 1(32), 2007

the background Buelow and Kanaris in Felkersu's telegram, is explained by the general unstable situation in strane17.

Assessment of the German diplomacy of a situation in Spain by the beginning of a July military mutiny demonstrate that the foreign policy of Germany was formed on the ideological bases to a lesser extent, than it was accepted to think of it. The policy of heads of the Third Reich did not follow the tastes of the promotion shouting of universal Bolshevist threat.

The anti-Communist motive both for Germany, and for Italy in reality will be no more than convenient pretext for intervention in the Spanish affairs and justification of the actions acting through the European public opinion.

From the German ruling circles, according to the British diplomacy and investigation, more all the army and the MFA was interested in the Spanish adventure. The German policy represented nearly the most "pragmatic reading the Spanish situation" 18.

Responding at the end of July, 1936 to rebellious Franco's request for support, Hitler did not plan to enter the conflict on the Iberian Peninsula. Motives of its military intervention were very prudent. Speaking at the Nuremberg process, Goering noted that he advised Hitler to test in Spain German aviatsiyu19.

As further succession of events in Spain and Europe, non-interference policy crash testifies, Hitler's progress on internal (global rearmament of Germany) and external arenas (occupation of Czechoslovakia, an anschluss of Austria) in anticipation of World War II was caused among other factors and the fact that London and Berlin with different degree of objectivity estimated the "communistic threat" generated by Spain of the People's Front.

17 Documents on British Foreign Policy... - P. 738-739.
18 Esenwein G., Shubert A. Spain at War... - P. 199.
19 International Military Tribunal Nuremberg: 42 vol. / IMT. - Nuremberg, 1948. - Vol. IX. -



Belgorod State University

of In article the process of formation of the German position is in detail investigated concerning the Spanish Popular front of rather narrow chronological period: February - July, 1936, i.e. since time of its arrival to authority and prior to the beginning of the Civil war in Spain. The German, British diplomatic documents and materials of Russian Foreign Affairs Archive are put in a basis of the analysis of a problem. Studying of the German policy concerning republican Spain promotes fuller understanding of a course and character of its evolution in the connection with the beginning of the Spanish civil war.


Christopher Long
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