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Hunting Nazis in Franco's Spain

216 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / no illustrations

ebook available

West European History | World War II | Spanish & Portuguese History

  Hardcover / 9780807155639 / May 2014
In the waning days and immediate aftermath of World War II, Nazi diplomats and spies based in Spain decided to stay rather than return to a defeated Germany. The decidedly pro-German dictatorship of General Francisco Franco gave them refuge and welcomed other officials and agents from the Third Reich who had escaped and made their way to Iberia. Amid fears of a revival of the Third Reich, Allied intelligence and diplomatic officers developed a repatriation program across Europe to remove these individuals and return them to Germany where occupation authorities could further investigate them. Yet, due to Spain’s longstanding ideological alliance with Hitler, German infiltration of the Spanish economy and society was extensive, and the Allies could count on minimal Spanish cooperation in this effort.
In Hunting Nazis in Franco’s Spain, David Messenger deftly traces the development and execution of the Allied repatriation scheme, providing an analysis of Allied, Spanish, and expatriated Germans’ responses. Messenger shows that by April 1946, British and American embassy staff in Madrid had compiled a census of the roughly 10,000 Germans then residing in Spain and had drawn up three lists of 1,677 men and women targeted for repatriation to occupied Germany. While the Spanish government did round up and turn over some Germans to the Allies, many of them were intentionally overlooked in the process. By mid-1947, Franco’s regime had forced only 265 people to leave Spain; most Germans managed to evade repatriation by moving from Spain to Argentina or by solidifying their ties to the Franco regime and Span-ish life. By 1948, the program was effectively over.
Drawing on records in American, British, and Spanish archives, this first book-length study in English of the repatriation program tells the story of this dramatic chapter in the history of post–World War II Europe.

DAVID A. MESSENGER, associate professor of history and global & area studies at the University of Wyoming, is the author of “L’Espagne Républicaine”: French Policy and Spanish Republicanism in Liberated France and numerous articles and book chapters dealing with the Franco regime’s international stance from the civil war through the Cold War.

Praise for Hunting Nazis in Franco's Spain

“A fascinating, meticulously researched account. . . . Messenger makes an important contribution to our understanding of Iberian-German relations during the 1930s and 1940s. The book is highly readable and particularly compelling when the author pieces together details of the ‘hunt’ for certain individual Germans.”—German Studies Review

“By centering his work on Spain, Messenger provides a new dimension to our understanding of the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. His analysis of Anglo-American policy toward Spain, the activities of Franco's government (which often obfuscated in the face of Allied demands), and the actions of the Nazis themselves should interest those who wish to learn more about the politics of the postwar world.”Library Journal

“Unlike postwar Germany or Italy, Franco’s Spain underwent no process of de-Nazification. On the contrary, after 1945, Franco, who never repented of his links with Hitler and Mussolini, allowed Spain to become a haven for many Nazis on the run from the Allies. David Messenger’s splendidly researched study is a major contribution to the literature both on Franco and on the post-1945 hunt for war criminals. It is as compellingly readable as the best spy novels.”--Paul Preston, author of The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

Hunting Nazis in Franco’s Spain is a fascinating book, well researched and a great read. In it David Messenger describes vividly the role of the Fascist but neutral nation as an ideal forum for international clandestine operations during the war and a safe haven for many Nazis after it. Messenger skillfully places his research in the wider context of World War II and the early Cold War, and by doing so challenges many preconceptions about the Nazis in Franco’s Spain.”—Gerald Steinacher, Hymen Rosenberg Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“While films and novels are filled with outlandish tales of escaped Nazis and resurgent fascist conspiracies, David A. Messenger’s book is a dramatic account of the real adventures of the last remnants of Hitler’s Europe. Pursued by the Allies and an embarrassment to the Franco Regime, many minor Nazi figures—spies, merchants, and former diplomats—found refuge in Spain after World War II. This book outlines the methods used by the US and UK to extract these former functionaries of the Third Reich, and the responses, from reluctant compliance to outright defiance, of the Spanish government. Even more fascinating is the range of responses by the German expatriates themselves, as they attempted to ingratiate themselves with their Spanish hosts, while minimizing their significance and visibility to initially intense, but eventually lackluster, Allied demands for their surrender. Messenger’s book adds to our understanding of the immediate postwar era in Europe, the nature of the Franco Regime, and even the emergence of the Cold War.”—Wayne H. Bowen, Southeast Missouri State University, author of Spain during World War II

"Using recently declassified records, David Messenger unearths the aftermath of the wartime relationship between Hitler's Germany and the Franco regime. The result is a fascinating Cold War tale that includes Allied hunts for German agents in Spain, Madrid's role in protecting Nazi fugitives, continued espionage by former German operatives, and the political rehabilitation of those who had served the Nazi regime."--Norman J. W. Goda, University of Florida

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