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Great Britain bribed Spain to stay outside the Second World War

Large sums of money were sent to Franco supporting generals which today would amount to 700 million €.

Great Britain impeded Spain from entering the Second World War with a policy of widespread bribery sent to the general, among which we find Nicolás Franco, brother of Francisco Franco and then the Spanish ambassador in Lisbon, and other personalities of the regime to a total amount in today’s money of 700 million €.

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With the agreement of MI6 – in documents declassified by the British Government, Winston Churchill, the then British Prime Minister, ordered the sum of 14 million dollars (232 million € at today’s exchange rate) to bribe the pro-monarchy generals and important personalities of the new regime born during the civil war.

Among those bribed, we find the generals José Enrique Varela, Army Minister between 1939 and 1942 with Antonio Aranda – two million dollars each, the member of the Falange Valentín Galarza, who was the general secretary of the Falange and in 1940 was the minister for Governing, with a million dollars and general Alfredo Kindelán, general captain of Cataluña with half a million dollars.

The British also name the generals Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, Luis Orgaz, Moreno, Alonso, Solchagar and Muñoz Grandes, although they specify ‘only Queipo and Orgaz were paid’

A grand part of these British ‘controlled’ hands could have supported the coup against Franco and the restoration of the monarchy in the person of the King Alfonso XIII, or the Prince of Asturias, don Juan de Borbón, in the event that Franco would have entered the war supporting Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, permitting Nazi troops crossing Spain to occupy Gibraltar.

‘Churchill was very aware of the damage which would result from the Nazi occupation of Spain or Gibraltar, as it would infringe the capacity of Great Britain to defend her own coasts, because it would cut a vital route of communication between the Far East and the Mediterranean passing through Tunisia’ notes the historian Peter Day in his book ‘Franco’s Friends’.

‘When he substituted Chamberlain as Prime Minister, in May 1940, he decided the best tactic consisted in bribery targeting the Franco generals to keep Spain out of the war’ he tells in a well documented book.

To do so, he spoke to the British ambassador in Spain, sir Samuel Hoare, and personally gave him instructions for a personal friend destined in Madrid, Alan Hillgarth an MI6 agent, to implement the strategy of ‘reptile funds’ on a grand scale with the Spanish.

Hillgarth responded exclusively to the ambassador Hoare, the director of MI6 Stewart Menzies and the very Winston Churchill.

Among the collaborators which Hillgarth counted on in his ‘campaign for evangelism’ we find David Eccles, president of the Anglo-Spanish Construction Company to which Day he textually said ‘We understand we cannot fight for Gibraltar, we have nothing to use. So we can use bribery. I was an apostle for bribery’.

Eccles was later a conservative minister under Winston Churchill after the war. This ‘bridge’ to Spain served to channel funds via an account in the Swiss Bank Corporation in New York, where the financier Juan March, helped Franco and his cause in a decisive way. March had direct contact with the more than thirty generals in the regime.

The Britons also used, says Day, another source of funding away from the British Treasury: Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, which supplied power to Cataluña and supposedly supplied some 20% of all the electricity used in Spain, funded , it seems, with some 41 million pesetas (468,220,000 € )

Great Britain had plundered the funds from the Barcelona Traction during the war to pay for bribes and corruption which continued to keep Spain neutral and to guarantee that Germany could not obtain tungsten ore which the Nazi’s needed for their weapons industry’, said the British historian.

The company was of Belgian-Canadian ownership and was completely solvent in 1948 when March decided to take control of a minimum part of its value, with the result of bankruptcy being declared.

The owners tried to block the declaration, and opened a judicial cause which ended at the International Court of Justice in The Hague debating the question between Belgium and Spain in 1970.

‘The embassy communicated with (Hugh) Ellis-Rees, a Treasury civil servant (who had access to the reserved funds) and who acted as the voice of Madrid when Great Britain had removed 41 million pesetas from the company to pay for information and intelligence’ relates Day.

Both Lawton and Clark immediately left Spain but their properties and accounts in Spain were left exposed, and could have been confiscated by the courts. Their lawyers insinuated this would only happen on the orders of the Foreign Office.

Finally, nothing happened and March took control of the electricity company.

The paradox is all this, if the version of the historian is correct, the MI6 served funds, for these ends, which proceeded from Spanish consumers paying their electricity bills to Barcelona Traction.