Generalissimo Francisco Franco was a very cunning politician who ruled Spain from the 1939 year to the 1973 year. An interesting fact is that he vehemently hated everything Soviet, was an ally of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, while after the fall of their regimes his power resisted, and Franco was the “handshake” leader of Spain for all democratic countries.
He began his war with the Soviet Union back in the years of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939 years), the USSR then assisted the Spanish Republicans, and German and Italian units fought on the side of the rebels. Franco won the war, but at great cost: the country lay in ruins, 5% of the pre-war population died (almost half a million people), more than 600 thousand people fled the country, including a significant part of the intellectual elite, i.e. as a result Spain lost more than 10% of its population. The major cities of Spain and the country's infrastructure were severely destroyed.
Therefore, Franco had all the arguments to gently reject Hitler's proposals for sending troops to the Eastern Front — against the USSR. Although the victory in the Civil War and power in Spain, he received in fact thanks to the help of Rome and Berlin and the policy of "non-intervention" of France, England. Of course, Franco did not hesitate to give oath assurances that he was ready to fight against the "godless and communist USSR" with all his might. But in the end, he convinced Berlin that it would be better to let Spain be a neutral state - it would be more profitable, it would be able to trade with other countries and supply the axis countries with everything necessary, first of all it was about supplying tungsten.
Hitler was not pleased with this situation, since he believed that the Spaniards were superior in their fighting qualities to the Italians, and besides, they should hate the citizens of the USSR and would be useful on the Eastern Front. Many radicals from the Spanish Phalanx wanted to fight the USSR (it was the far-right political party in Spain, it was founded in 1933, the first leader was José Antonio Primo de Rivera, under the regime of Franco was the only ruling party of the state, the ideology was close to the Italian fascism) who believed that Spain should more thoroughly support the Third Reich by sending troops to the Eastern Front. Therefore, many believed that Spain would become an active member in the Crusade to the East.
Franco managed to cheat: first, he seemed to have fulfilled his duty to Berlin by sending a Blue Division to the Eastern Front (250-I Wehrmacht Infantry Division), which was so named because of the blue shirts, the form of the phalanx; secondly, he satisfied his comrades in the party, having actually entered the war with the USSR, putting off the most radical military in the division; thirdly, he did not burn the bridges in front of Britain and the United States, without entering into an active war on the Eastern Front and legally maintaining neutrality.
Hitler miscalculated about the fighting efficiency of the Spaniards, 250-I division fought near Leningrad and was considered a weak compound. It was made up of soldiers of the regular army, civil war veterans, members of the Spanish Phalanx militia. 13 July 1941 of the Year "Blue Division", which counted 18 693 man - according to Spanish tradition, it was 4 infantry and 1 artillery regiment, left Madrid, during its existence passed through it, according to various estimates, from 40 to 50 thousand people . The Spaniards, like many southerners, were distinguished by lack of discipline, low fighting spirit. Quite often, her soldiers deserted, going over to the side of the Red Army, many of them were former Republicans. Therefore, the German command placed divisions of the division on secondary areas, as well as on the protection of railway junctions.
In October, 1943, Franco led the division out of the front and disbanded it, but many Spaniards remained in the service of the Reich. They fought in parts of the SS, so, in Berlin surrounded before the surrender of the garrison, they fought up to 7 thousand Spaniards. Colonel Antonio García Navarro, former chief of staff of the 250 Division, was among the remaining volunteers.
The Anglo-American allies of the USSR did not stop diplomatic relations with Spain. Thus, during the conversation between Franco and the new US ambassador to Spain, Carlton Hayes on 9 on June 1942, Franco said: “The danger for Europe and Spain comes not so much from Nazi Germany, but from Russian communism. Spain is not so much willing to win the Axis, but to defeat Russia. After this conversation, a message was sent from the Office of Strategic Services of the United States (the US intelligence agency preceded by the CIA): “If it is necessary to strike the USSR, the Franco regime can become a true ally for us.”
When it became obvious that the USSR would not collapse, the British and Americans began to convince Franco to withdraw the "Blue Division" from the USSR in order not to create problems for them and not to force them to become enemies of Spain. London and Washington were interested in preserving the anti-communist regime of Franco, they were not worried about the fact that he collaborated with Hitler. It was necessary to save Spain as one of the anti-communist regimes in Europe. In principle, Franco himself understood this perfectly well; he did not want his regime to fall with Hitler’s fall. In the end, he had a great game: he stayed as an ally of Hitler, actually getting power with the help of Rome and Berlin; then became an ally of the Anglo-Saxons, quietly ruled Spain until his death in 1975. And no one accused him in the international arena that he was an ally of Hitler, Mussolini, and in Spain he still has many supporters.