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

7

eastern expansion policy - the democracies, he surmised, would now care little if Germany wrested hegemony over Eastern European from the 'barbaric' Communists.

Both Germany and Italy maintained an official position of "non-intervention," however. Indeed, most of Europe desired to stay out of the conflict altogether. Wary of being dragged into another protracted war like World War I, Britain and France, despite sympathizing with the Republicans, took the lead in establishing a Non-Intervention Agreement that was eventually signed by 17 countries including Germany and Italy. To the democracies, "War was seen as a mindless and unnecessary stampede to destruction," according to historian Willard Frank.12 Britain and France hoped to discourage German and Italian participation in the conflict through non-intervention, which entailed prohibiting arms sales to either Republicans or Nationalists, although one could still trade non-militarily with either. Britain and France favored such a policy despite the fact that it soon became obvious that Germany and Italy were practicing anything but non-intervention in Spain. Still, neither Britain nor France called the dictatorships' bluff, with ominous consequences for the future. Thousands of people from all over Europe (including Germany) did volunteer in the so-called "International Brigades" which fought for the Republicans during the war. These people often claimed to have a sense of duty to fight a war against injustice, and many in fact were Communists.13 Although their impact was decisive in defeating the Italians at Guadalajara in 1937 and in preventing Republican collapse for several years, their presence was no match for the combined German and Italian military and economic aid to the Republicans.14


12. Willard C. Frank, "The Spanish Civil War and the Coming of the Second World War." The International History Reviews, Volume 9, no. 3 (August 1987): 373.
13. Buchanan, 122-123.
14. Whealey, Hitler and Spain, 57.
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