February 13, 1941 – With the war escalating in Europe, and the U.S. still reasonably out of it, reports of a meeting between Spanish dictator, Generalissimo Francisco Franco and Vichy French Premier Marshal Petain gave for much speculation as to what would be the next in store.
Here is a newspaper account of the meeting and its ramifications, as reported in Australia by The Barrier Miner on February 14, 1941:
“Meetings between General Franco and Mussolini at Bordijrhera and subsequently between Franco and Marshal Petain at Montpellier have roused a flood of speculation. The meetings may be designed, to get Spanish assistance for ltaly or the withdrawal of Italian troops from Tripoli to Spanish Morocco. They way have arranged to exert fresh pressure to secure Spanish and French help for Germany, or for the formation of a Latin front. Spanish help in Libya is not likely to be given. The suggestion made by some commentators is that Mussolini has asked Franco to redeem his debt for Italian aid in the civil war bv lending support in the Libyan campaign. This would involve the transit of German troops through Algeria and Tunisia, for which Marshal Petain’s consent would have to be obtained.
This fact is put forward to explain the subsequent meeting with Marshal Petain at Montpellier.
Spanish intervention on these lines would run completely counter to Franco’s policy of non -belligerency, and as’ he has successfully maintained this policy in the face of strong German pressure, he is unlikely, to desert it for Mussolini.
Even if Spain agreed to help Italy, the transit of German troops across North Africa would run counter to Petain’s policy, and more important, to the views of Gen. Weygand. The same argument applies in a lesser degree to the suggestion that the conversations were to arrange for the withdrawal of the Libyan Army to Spanish Morocco. This also would probably involve a breach of the armistice terms to which Gen. Weygand and Petain are determinedly adhering. Another suggestion is that the meetings have been arranged at Hitler’s suggestion as a fresh means of bringing pressure to bear ‘on Petain and the Spanish Government. Mussolini met Franco, it is suggested, to urge upon him the strength of Hitler’s position and the necessity, for, immediate compliance with Hitler’s demands, and to pass on this warning to the French Government. Some commentators believe that the meetings are an attempt to form a Latin front, consisting of France,Spain, and Italy. This project has often seriously’ been discussed by
prominent Frenchmen, and Petain is believed by many to favor it. The front would not oppose Hitler, but would decline to give him any active co-operation. Such an arrangement would have been conceivable in 1939, but it is difficult to see how Mussolini could so-patiently change direction at this stage without forfeiting much of his control over the situation in Italy.”
Also featured is a talk between photo-journalists covering the war – the insights and techniques are fascinating and the interviews are, for the most part, rare.
All that for February 13, 1941 as reported by the NBC Blue Network.