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


Indeed, as witnessed by Britain and France's contribution of its citizens to International Brigades despite official non-intervention policies, the democracies were deeply divided over the Spanish war. The Great Depression had already stretched social cohesion thin, and the added weight of the decision over the Spanish Civil War began to take its toll. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, for example, forced Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden to resign as a result of disagreements over Spain. Eden favored being tough on the dictatorships while Chamberlain favored staying uninvolved and 'ignorant' of Fascist intervention in the hopes of not antagonizing them into provoking a general war. The democracies appeared weakened, especially in France, and Hitler took note of this.15

Britain and France did attempt to curb Fascist intervention on behalf of the Nationalists in one way, though. Alarmed at Italy's wanton submarine warfare on neutral shipping destined for Spain, Britain and France coordinated Naval policies in the Mediterranean in order to hunt down "pirate" submarines in the Nyon agreement of September 1937. Even though it was common knowledge that the submarines were Italian, the democracies still refused to openly accuse the Italians of intervention. Britain in particular still hoped for rapprochement with the Italians, hoping to recreate the Stresa Front against Germany. As a result of the British and French crackdown, Italian 'piracy' stopped, but attacks on neutral shipping were picked up again this time by German aircraft, against which the British and French were largely powerless.16

Furthermore, Germany made use of two incidents to "justify" their intervention should anyone challenge them. On May 29, 1937, the battleship Deutschland was

15. Frank, 374, 386-387.
16. Ibid., 393.
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