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


having a pro-Communist government in Spain in the event that Franco could not send his troops to combat the Republican forces. This latter development would make the Fuehrer's expansionist goals difficult to achieve. He also saw an opportunity to gain raw materials from Spain that Germany would need if it were to launch a war. Hitler therefore sent his first shipments of aid to Franco that same month.30

Germany's involvement in Spain lasted until the end of the war in 1939. During that time, Hitler began accelerating events in Europe. In March 1938 he annexed Austria outright, and in October of the same year at the Munich Conference he forced the democracies to allow him to annex of the Sudetenland. In March 1939, Hitler invaded and annexed the remainder of Czechoslovakia despite agreeing at Munich not to do so. At this point the last significant population of ethnic Germans not living in Germany was in Western Poland. It was thus Poland to which Hitler turned his attention. In response, Britain and France pledged to guarantee Polish independence, now realizing the shortcomings wrought by their appeasement policy in terms of European security.31 Furthermore, it was Poland that Hitler, acting on his foreign policy goal of eastern expansion, invaded on September 1, 1939, starting World War II. Nazi foreign policy in the 1930s is marked by continuity despite its diversity - all was done as part of a plan to gradually move Germany into a position where it might expand eastward. With its intent to prevent a hostile Communist government in Western Europe, to distract the democracies from Central Europe, and to obtain raw materials from Spain, Nazi Germany's participation in the Spanish Civil War fits into this pattern.

30. Peter Monteath, "Hitler and the Spanish Civil War. A Case Study of Nazi Foreign Policy." Australian Journal of Politics and History, Volume 32, no. 3 (1986): 439-440.
31. Noakes, 738.
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