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PostWhat Were Mussolini's Motivations in Spain? (Angel Vinas, Belgium, 08/19/17 4:08 am)
I´m sorry to disagree with Eugenio Battaglia (18 August) on Mussolini´s motivations in Spain. As I explained in a previous post, Mussolini´s contempt for the Republic predated the military uprising. I stated facts, Not interpretations.
My conclusion, after wrangling with this issue for many years, is as follows:
Mussolini wanted to help install a regime in Spain similar to his. It would be para-fascist at the least, be indebted to him and submissive enough to fit in with his grandiose plans of ensuring Italian dominance in the Western Mediterranean. He would play Calvo Sotelo's card to the hilt so that the fascicized Monarchist leader could grow into a role equivalent to his with a greatly disempowered king as head of State. This was a vision which had very little possibility of realization, but the Duce believed in that.
Things soon developed in the contrary direction. Calvo Sotelo was murdered before the coup. Hitler intervened. Franco was at the head of the African Army. Mussolini tried to seduce him through the Italian consul general in Tangiers in September. Franco, obviously, agreed to all Mussolini´s suggestions. He needed help and needed it quickly.
For the previous assertions there is some scattered documentary evidence but unfortunately not a continuous batch of it.
The idea that Mussolini wanted to prevent Spain from turning red is pure hogwash.
Hitler, at that time, couldn't care less about Mussolini´s ambitions. He had his own geostrategic ideas in a moment of relative indecision as to the course of Nazi foreign policy but helping the non-republican forces fit in well with his plan to undermine France´s rearguard.
Everyone thought the war was going to be finished in a few months. It lasted two years and a half. After the victory Franco would play the German, not the Italian, card. In my book La otra cara del Caudillo, I have been able to demonstrate this orientation with masses of Spanish documentary evidence.
JE comments: Franco was nothing if not a wily opportunist. Didn't the Caudillo clearly see by 1939 that Hitler was far stronger militarily than Mussolini? Although not enough (for Franco) to jump in whole-hog on the Fuhrer's side.