On October 23, 1940, Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco met at Hendaia, Lapurdi, in the Northern Basque Country. The purpose of the meeting was to negotiate the incorporation of Spain into the Axis Powers (made up of Germany, Italy, and Japan) and find out any areas of possible agreement. On the one hand, Hitler saw Spain as a unique geopolitical and strategic territory in his expansionist aspirations. After the occupation of France, Hitler planned to conquer Great Britain as part of his aspiration to control Europe. Hitler thought that Spain, because of its geostrategic position, could play an important role in his quest for expansion. Thus, Franco had to accept the Germans’ conditions and join the Axis powers. On the other hand, the Spanish Dictator, convinced of an imminent German victory over Great Britain and the final Nazi domination of Europe, fully intended to join the Axis. After the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), nonetheless, Franco’s Spain was still too weak militarily to combat side-by-side with the Axis powers in the World War II (1939-1945). In turn, Franco asked Hitler for some African territories and military equipment. Eventually, Hitler and Franco did not reach any specific agreement. As a crossroads between North and South Europe, this coastal Basque town became the scenario of this meeting between the Nazi and Franco regimes.
War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946, edited by Sandra Ott, is a collection of essays that explore common themes related to the impact of warfare in Spain and Europe as a whole during this critical ten-year period.
Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.