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Post Made in Germany: Franco Preferred the Germans to the Italians
Created by John Eipper on 03/26/19 10:08 AM

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Made in Germany: Franco Preferred the Germans to the Italians (Anthony J Candil, USA, 03/26/19 10:08 am)

Ángel Viñas (March 25th) is right, as usual, and the feelings that Nazi Germany and the Wehrmacht created in Nationalist Spain were warmer and deeper than those towards Italy.

Germany was seen as a powerful, efficient and noble friend while Italy was considered almost the opposite and not very different than Spain itself. German soldiers always conveyed an impression of military perfection while Italian soldiers were seen as ineffective and not up to the task of supporting and helping the German war effort.

The performance of Italian military during the Spanish Civil War was considered very poor. After Guadalajara, a lot of jokes about Italian soldiering, courage and the effectiveness of Mussolini's soldiers were current throughout Spain.

The trademark "Made in Germany" was preferred over "Made in Italy" all over, not only among Franco's cronies but generally among the whole population.

Not only during the war but many years after, I noticed that Volkswagen, or Mercedes certainly were considered far better than Fiat or Alfa Romeo, and even superior to Cadillac or Chevrolet. This applies to home appliances, even today. If they were German they were considered reliable, solid and durable. Preferred photo cameras were Leicas and Voigtlanders, and not Kodak. Fridges should be Bosch or Siemens rather than Kelvinator or Westinghouse. Italian appliances were not appreciated.  An exception was motorcycles such as Ducati.

And a similar feeling took place regarding Japanese-made items.

Perhaps related to the repayment of the debt was the establishment of an Italian car maker, FIAT, that in Spain became SEAT, making almost all the Italian models of the brand--the 600, 124, 1500, etc. SEAT stands for "Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo," while FIAT was "Fabbrica Italiana de Automobili Torino", and being owned by the Spanish government. Today SEAT is a private company owned by Volkswagen!--e.g. Germany.

As far as I know the debt with both Mussolini's Italy and Germany was paid back. It is my understanding that Spain made payments to Italy until the mid-1960s, in spite of the fact that Mussolini applied a discount of almost 50 per cent.

To Germany the debt was equally paid under different forms, through the export of food and wolfram to Germany almost until 1945, supplies to German U-Boats, and so forth. I also understand that after the war a substantial amount of the debt still pending was paid as well, but this time it went to the tripartite powers in occupied Germany. But I don't really know.

However, what about the debt incurred by Franco with the US--e.g. Ford and Texaco?

Certainly Franco won the Civil War thanks to military aid from Germany and Italy, but he wouldn't have won without fuel and trucks, and those were provided by Texaco and Ford. Did Franco pay his debt to both companies? I suppose Spain did but I don't know for sure. I'll appreciate if Ángel (or Paul Preston) can elaborate on this a bit more. This is an episode that's worthy of another book: "American and British Aid to Nationalist Spain during the Civil War." Now that soon the 80th anniversary of the end of SCW will take place it's about time.

A big hug to y'all!

JE comments: We hug you back, Tony! So glad you checked in.

WAIS often discusses national "characters," which can be enlightening as long as we're careful about stereotypes. Antony Candil brings up a subset of this concept: perceptions of products made in different countries. Assumptions of quality (or lack thereof) last far longer than realities. I can think of only one nation that has remade its reputation: Japan. I'm just old enough to remember when "made in Japan" was shorthand for shoddiness. Korea seems to be going through a similar process in recent years.

Oh, and I'd like to know more about Franco's Ford trucks (Michigan connection).

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  • Franco's Strained Relationship with the Italians; In Praise of Italian Design (Roy Domenico, USA 03/27/19 3:05 AM)
    I've been following the WAIS discussion of Mussolini, Spain, etc. and Anthony Candil's post (March 26th) prompted a couple of responses.

    First, it's odd that even in 1937 or '38, many people would consider Germany a "powerful, efficient and noble friend." As our friend Paul Preston has shown, Franco had a sometimes strained relationship with Mussolini, but this was in large measure because Italy was providing the lion's share of foreign support--to the extent that Málaga and Santander were taken by the Italians (not to mention that they effectively ruled the Balearic Islands through much of the war). The Italians were always breathing down Franco's neck and he thus wasn't too sorry for the defeat at Guadalajara--although many of the victors at that battle were anti-fascist Italian exiles.

    As far as the quality of Italian manufacturing products goes--Anthony can't be entirely correct. Italian finely crafted goods go far past the Ducati and perhaps if their record on manufacturing can't match the Germans', their record on design certainly outdoes them.

    JE comments:  No quarrel from me, Roy!  Sports cars and fashion immediately come to mind--but we could include almost anything high-end. The Italians particularly excel in luxury goods.  Any speculation as to why?

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  • Texaco and Franco (Henry Levin, USA 03/27/19 3:44 AM)
    The book on the Lincoln Brigade pays special attention to the purported "neutrality" of Texaco, which was actually supporting only the Nationalists. Perhaps one of our experts can say more about this and the role of Roosevelt and his government.

    Also, Tony Candil fails to repeat the slogan heard around the world when FIAT is referred to: "Fix It Again, Tony." We rented a Fiat in Bello Horizonte, and Brazilians uttered this many times when we had a problem.

    JE comments:  I wonder if our own Tony (Candil) has ever had to fix a Fiat!  On Ford (Fix or Repair Daily/Found on Road Dead), Pat Mears has a comment (next).

    Adam Hochschild is one of the most entertaining of the popular historians.  See this great 2016 piece in Mother Jones on Texaco's support for Franco:


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  • Ford and the Third Reich (Patrick Mears, Germany 03/27/19 3:58 AM)
    I enjoyed reading Anthony Candil's post and John E's comments. Some time ago (in 2009-2010), when researching while writing a chapter for one of the Collier on Bankruptcy publications on the topic of automotive insolvencies, I came across quite a bit of material on the connections between Ford Motor Company and the Third Reich and spent some time digging into this material (although it was not really pertinent to the topics addressed in my chapter). I suspect that John and many other fellow WAISers are aware of this learning already.

    In any event, here is a link to an article (one of quite a few published over the years): https://www.thenation.com/article/ford-and-fuhrer/ . There are also some fairly recent books that address this subject, e.g., an anthology entitled Working for the Enemy: Ford, General Motors and Forced Labor During the Second World War, The Politics of Industrial Collaboration During World War II: Ford France, Vichy and Nazi Germany by Martin Horn and Talbot Imlay (2015), Big Business and Hitler by Jacques Paulweis (2018), and Max Wallace's The American Axis (2018), to name a few.

    JE comments:  I've never had a clear idea of what happened to Ford and GM's German operations during the war.  Were the Ford and Opel plants simply confiscated?  We do know of Hitler's great admiration for Henry Ford, whose sentiments were apparently reciprocated (at least prior to 1941).

    I am reminded of the IBM-Nazi collaboration, which we discussed at length on WAIS several years ago.

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  • Mussolini's Military Capacity was Severely Weakened in Spain (Paul Preston, UK 03/27/19 2:14 PM)
    The Ford Motor Company provided the fleet of trucks that enabled Franco to move reinforcements rapidly to where the Republic had managed surprise breakthroughs. They were fueled with gasoline provided by Texaco.

    The arrangement about the trucks came through the cousin of the exiled King Alfonso XIII, Prince Alfonso de Orleans Borbón, one of the creators of the Spanish air force. He had gone into exile with the King in 1931 and, almost penniless, had got a job sweeping floors in bars. Energetic and resourceful, remembering that he had once met Henry Ford, he wrote and asked him for a job. The American magnate replied quickly and instructed him to report for work at the Ford factory at Asnière, outside Paris. He did so first as a cleaner, then as a salesman. Then he was soon transferred to the Ford headquarters at Dagenham in England where he worked variously, under the pseudonym Mr Dorleans, in stock control, accountancy and public relations. Within four years, his dynamism and initiative saw him made director of the company's European operations.

    BTW, on Mussolini and Spain, two points. 1) Ángel Viñas's research, which I have read, completely turns on its head, what we (me included) previously thought about his role in aiding the conspirators who started the Spanish Civil War. 2) My research on Mussolini's role in the Spanish Civil War saw him duped by Franco into providing aid on a scale that seriously diminished Italy's military capacity in the Second World War. Drawing on the work of the great Lucio Ceva, I concluded that, if the Italian equipment that was left behind in Spain had been available to Graziani in North Africa, things might have been somewhat different.

    In September 1939, Italy had ten relatively well-equipped divisions and 800 functioning combat aircraft. By May 1940, there were 19 divisions and 1600 relatively modern aircraft. If what was used up in Spain had been available in September 1939, Italy would have had 30 divisions. 764 aircraft were left in Spain, including one hundred Savoia-Marchetti SM79 trimotors--a quarter of those available for bombing, air-torpedoing and reconnaissance. An additional 442 modern artillery pieces and 7,000 vehicles might have made a decisive difference in Albania or in Libya where Graziani complained that he could not attack Egypt for the lack of 5,200 aircraft. Similarly, had the 373 Fiat C.R.32 fighters left in Spain, condemned as obsolete, been available in North Africa, they could still have dominated the even more antiquated British aircraft in use there.

    JE comments:  Fascinating.  At least once before his demise, Il Duce must have regretted the Spanish adventure.  And the meteoric rise of Mr Dorleans merits a book in itself.

    So good to hear from Sir Paul Preston for the first time in 2019.  We're honored to welcome you back, Paul!

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    • Ford and Texaco's Aid to Franco (Anthony J Candil, USA 03/29/19 3:07 PM)
      My thanks to Sir Paul (not Paul McCartney but our own Sir Paul Preston; March 27th), but I am curious: Were those trucks and oil paid for by Franco's Spain or were they provided for free? Do we know how much that aid was worth?

      Another question:  I understand Ford provided no fewer than 12,000 trucks; is that right?

      JE comments:  At first glance the number sounds high, but perhaps not.  The US supplied some 375,000 trucks (and 50,000 jeeps) to the Soviet Union in WWII.  That's a heck of a lot of mobility by any measure.

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      • Ford Trucks Provided to Franco (Paul Preston, UK 03/30/19 9:21 AM)
        To answer Anthony Candil (March 29th), I think Ford provided Franco the trucks on tick and 12,000 is the number that I have seen. I have no idea about cost.

        JE comments: Gosh, I had to look that up. "On tick" is British for on credit.  Does a day go by without learning something on WAIS?

        Of the 12,000 trucks, a few hundred at least must survive on the Peninsula.  Can anyone enlighten this antique car enthusiast?


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