Why did Europe tolerate Franco?

That is essentially the question. But I guess its two parts, one, how did Franco stay out of WWII, and at the end of the war against fascism, why did the winners continue to tolerate and trade with Franco’s fascist regime?

I know that he was not an aggressor state like Italy and Germany, most likely because he did not have the resources to become so after the Spanish Civil War, but why didnt the Allies decide to liberate Spain along with the rest of Europe?

What am I missing? If fascism is as evil as its made out to be, then why did they allow such a major nation continue to be fascist?

Well, the world tried to isolate him and even an embargo was imposed, the Isolation was broken in 1953 because The US and NATO looked for allies in the cold war against Russia.

The shame of it all was expressed really good in a cartoon from the era that showed a wedding with Spain as a fat bride with a black veil, The groom, Uncle Sam, was saying to the priest: Yes she is ugly, but she has stupendous (military) bases in the south side!

The question could just as easily be asked of Sweden, Switzerland, and even Finland. All three helped Germany in some way; Sweden by continuing valuable trade that helped the German war effort, Switzerland by handling German finances and freezing out refugees, and Finland, which actually fought alongside Germany against the Soviet Union.

World War II was a big, ugly, messy affair. In hindsight we can say what the “right” thing to do at the time was obvious, but if you’re a country next door to a massive military power whose dictator has already conquered and pillaged countries far more powerful than your own (a situation that applied to Finland vis-a-vis the U.S.S.R.) standing on principle seems like suicide. Also, a lot of the historical details that made the true nature of Nazi Germany a synonym for evil were discovered post-war. Germany had friends all over the world up until then, even in the United States.

So I guess the answer to the question in the OP would be that the Allies couldn’t justify taking out Franco without taking out all these other countries, some of which aided Germany in much more material ways. The word “fascist” didn’t gain the completely negative connotation it has now until after 1945.
War is not something to be indulged in lightly, and by 1945 I doubt ANYONE was up for prolonging it for essentially altruistic reasons. Franco may have been fascist, but he wasn’t slaughtering people en masse or threatening to invade Portugal.

Why did the winners continue to tolerate and trade with Franco’s fascist regime?

Well, why wouldn’t they?

Historically, countries have gone to war (excluding civil wars) for one of two reasons:[ul]
[li]Defensively, if they – or one of their – allies is attacked or invaded.[/li][li]Aggressively, to conquer land for their own gain.[/li][/ul]The Allies in WW2 fought against Germany, Japan, and Italy because Allied nations were attacked, either directly (France by Germany, US by Japan), or indirectly (UK had treaties with Poland, so declared war when Germany invaded that country). In each case, there was a direct threat. Franco’s Spain (and Salazar’s Portugal next door on the Iberian Peninsula) maintained neutrality during WW2, although Spain favored the Axis at the beginning of the war and the Allies at the end, and Portugal sold resources to both sides throughout the war.

Despite the brutality of the Spanish Civil War, and the Nazi involvement therein, it didn’t involve invasion of one sovereign nation by another. So, why would the OP expect that the Allies would “liberate” it? It wasn’t like France or the Netherlands in being an occupied country, nor like Germany or Italy in being one of the aggressive occupying forces. What possible motivation would an Allied military commander have, once he’d liberated SW France up to the Pyrenees, to say “let’s invade Spain”?

Franco maintained a stable state that didn’t threaten other countries, and played fairly well on the international stage. Although he was a dictator, he had support from a very large percentage of Spanish citizens. Although we can look back now and say that Spain has improved by leaps and bounds since his death, it’s not a universally-held belief within Spain, and it’s hard to see how any post-WW2 power would have wanted to invade Spain to effect “regime change” against a country that wasn’t threatening anyone.

Let’s face it, if Franco were still alive (or had passed his dictatorship to a “Franco Jr”), and in control of a country that didn’t threaten anyone else, would there be a call in the global community to effect a “regime change” by military invasion? If so, on what grounds?

I would have thought that the results of recent 21st-Century adventurism would tend to argue against invading countries that don’t pose a threat, purely to change a regime that doesn’t fit one’s own ideology. There are plenty of countries in the world ruled by dictators – does the OP suggest that “regime change” be effected upon each of them? Who’s going to do it? What are the acceptable losses on each side?

Why does Europe trade with Cuba and “allow” it to remain a communist dictatorship?

Maybe the OP was thinking of the EU and how it can exert political pressure on member states, but the EU isn’t then what it is now and Spain wasn’t a member anyway (Spain and Portugal joined in 1986).

Well, I imagine that during the fighting, the allies were happy just not to have to fight the spanish on top of everyone else on the axis roster. Why go looking for more people to fight when your plate is already full?

After the war, the western allies, except for Patton, were just glad to be done with the fighting. The troops wanted to get home and were not happy about the prospect of more fighting. A whole new front, as an agressor, would not have been popular.

And as noted above, Franco was seriously anti-communist. A lot of folks were willing to overlook his past sins just to keep him out of the Soviet sphere.

Franco was not a ‘fascist’, he was a conservative - not some sort of idealist.

Keeping Spain out of WWII was a masterly achievement, and the handover to Juan Carlos was also very skilfull.

There was a Radical movement in Spain - if my raddled memory serves me correctly it was called La Falange and ‘blue shirts’ and the son of a previous dictator figured in it.

The Swiss made rather good bomb sights, they … ahem … got bombed by accident, and the Swedish Bofors AA gun turned up all over the place.

Staying out of WWII required some dexterity

  • Franco was not a /malign/ dictator - although bringing Morroccan troops into Spain was disgraceful.

Spain was never a Fascist country, it was Falangist . There are important differences.

Spain was a fascist country under Franco - extreme right-wing government, militant nationalism, cult of personality - everything on the “are you a fascist?” checklist. And Franco was indeed a pretty malign dictator - after taking over, he ordered huge purges of dissenters including mass executions.

As for the OP’s question, Franco was smart. He played both sides during the war, tilting mostly towards the axis but jumping over to the west when it was clear they were going to win. He never threatened to attack any other country. And by 1945, he had eliminated most of his opposition and had settled down in power. The Soviet Union was seen as the new threat and Franco had impeccable anti-communist credentials.

My opinion is that Franco stayed out as Admiral Canaris, head of the Abwehr. Canaris was a loyal german, but a noted Hitler hater, and part of the German resistance vs Hitler. Canaris was also a known close friend of Franco, and made many trips to Spain.

“By 1938, however, he had realised Hitler’s policies and plans would bring catastrophe to Germany and secretly began to work against the régime. His personal style as a gentleman could not tolerate the gangsterish criminal attitude of most of the Nazi party members. There is a letter that remained from a Spanish contact he had that confirms clearly his opinion against the Nazi regime. He attempted to hinder Hitler’s attempts to absorb Czechoslovakia and advised the Spanish leader Francisco Franco not to permit German passage through Spain for the purposes of capturing Gibraltar. It has been written that all of Franco’s arguments on this stance were studied and dictated in detail by Canaris, while at the same time an important sum of money had been deposited by the British on Swiss accounts for Franco and his generals to further convince them to be neutral (book : Hitler’s Spy Chief, by Richard Basset, 2005)”

If a close friend of yours, who is also the Head of Intelligence for another nation advises you to not accept the blandishments and don’t trust that other leader- you are going to listen.

Thanks for the answers. I know that looking back at history with modern sentiments often leads to incorrect conclusions, which is one reason I asked the question.

I just wondered what the rest of Europe’s view of the Franco regime was, especially in the years just after WWII. After all the devastation caused by two fascist regimes, why would they risk tolerating another? The answers seem to be he was not an aggressor, which was the primary reason to go to war in those days, and that he was an anti-communist, which became the greater concern after WWII, (and now that I think about, even during the war. Any new Spanish front would have required American troops stationed in Germany, which would have probably led to the Soviet armies having a greater occupation zone.) And that Europe and the rest of the world were exhausted after almost a decade of total war.

And those are all fair sentiments. I found this while looking for information regarding the embargo of Spain, and it sheds some light on the situation prior to and during the war. Britain and the US had successfully contained Spanish involvement in the war.

I was also curious why an early version of the anti-apartheid movement did not occur,
but this synopsis seems to suggest the post-war isolation, which was imposed as punishment for their pro-Axis actions, only strengthened Franco’s government rather than weakened it.

Antonius Block, I know that in todays world, dictatorships are allowed to reign by the industrial world. I also believe that regime change does not require military intervention. (cf. India, South Africa), but that is moving into GD which I want to avoid. To why Europe would want to ‘liberate’ it? The same reasons why the West ‘liberated’ Germany and Italy, rather than just seek a return to status ante bellum. I was curious to why Spain was exempt and the answer above show that.

Say what you will, but Franco knew about war (being a general), and understood that entering the war (on the Axis side) would be a disaster for Spain. He did make a token contribution (the “Blue” Legion fought in Russia)-but he was smart enough to know that Spain (and his dictatorship) wouldn’t last very long, if he entered WWII. Q: Home come Mussolini was so dumb as to ally himself with Germany?

Mussolini had dreams of grandeur. He was the most powerful man in Italy but wanted to be the most powerful man in Europe. Franco was content being the most powerful man in Spain.