Tom Goldstein, Nazi Germany and the Spanish Civil War:
Continuity in Hitler's Foreign Policy


impact on the outcome of the war, providing air support with which the Republican forces could not compete.

Furthermore, Germany backed Italian intervention in the Spanish Civil War, hoping to drive a wedge between the democracies and Italy, and thus prevent a recreation of the Stresa Front, which Britain, France, and Italy had formed in 1935 to oppose German rearmament.7 By aiding and encouraging Italian support for the Nationalists, Hitler hoped that the tension already existing between Fascist Italy and the democracies would be exacerbated because Britain and France were against a Nationalist takeover of Spain and foreign intervention altogether in the conflict. Italian support for the Nationalists thus defied British and French aims. Mussolini, for his part, desired not only to expand his influence in the Mediterranean but also, like Hitler, to stave off Communism in Spain. Soon after conflict broke out in Spain, Italy was sending Franco troops in addition to material, and Italian submarines began attacking neutral shipping in the Mediterranean.8

Germany also used the Spanish war as a chance to improve its image with the democracies. Because the Spanish Communist Party was a prominent part of the Republican coalition, and because the Soviet Union became the only nation to give outright support to the Republicans, the Germans used their Propaganda Ministry at full force to pose as the 'defenders of Western civilization' against the Communists.9 Furthermore, Soviet policies in Spain toward its own Republican allies became increasingly radical, leading to major fracturing within the Republican forces as the

7. J. Noakes, and G. Pridham, eds. Nazism, 1919-19-1945: Volume 3: Foreign Policy, War and Racial Extermination: A Documentary Reader (Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 1994), 664.
8. Whealey. Hitler and Spain, 9-14.
9. Robert H. Whealey, "Nazi Propagandist Joseph Goebbels Looks at the Spanish Civil War." The Historian, Volume 61, no. 2 (1999): 348.
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