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By David J. Dunthorn

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The Dictator would depart under allied pressure, so they thought, and from the ranks of the anti-Franco opposition, some would be called upon by the Allies to form the government of a new Spain. But the worrying question was – who? Spanish Opposition before 1945 27 Republicans and monarchists were both apprehensive that the other side could be chosen: hence their mutual eagerness to jettison whatever ideological baggage they believed compromised them in the eyes of the western democracies. A significant part of the non-communist republican opposition sought to erase the communist stigma attached to the Second Republic: hence the move to disqualify the Negrín government in February 1939 and then the formation of the JEL in Mexico and the ANFD in Spain as alternatives to the communist initiatives.

This reflected, of course, its concern over the strategic vulnerability of the Iberian Peninsula. Thus, a report prepared by British Military Intelligence in September 1940, whilst acknowledging that the internal republican opposition provided a potential nucleus for resistance against a German invasion, still cautioned against using it for fear of losing the support of influential elements in the Spanish government who were opposed to Spain’s intervention in the war. This warning was repeated in February 1941, when Gladwyn Jebb, Chief Executive Officer of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), was told by the Chiefs of Staff that too obvious a use of republicans might offend Franco and provoke his entry into the enemy camp.

In this way Gil-Robles held out the possibility of a change of regime and an end to the divisions of the Civil War, but without the threat of social revolution so feared by the Spanish Right. Despite Gil-Robles’ urging, however, the Pretender’s break with Franco in January 1944 was not as final as first appeared. The simultaneous imposition of Anglo-American oil sanctions on Spain was an unfortunate coincidence obliging Don Juan to counter Franco-inspired stories that he was merely a tool of foreign interests.

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