WWII: Germany Invades Spain

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An alternative history game that simulates a German invasion of Spain during the Second World War.

Spain was neutral during WWII. Franco, Spain’s fascist dictator, sympathized with the Axis powers that had aided him during Spain’s civil war. German and Italian forces proved critical in helping Spain’s fascists defeat a Soviet backed opponent. Nevertheless, Franco kept Spain out of the war because the cost of entering the war on Germany’s side would have been incredibly high. Upon entering the war on Germany’s side, the Allies would certainly have occupied the strategically important Canary and Balearic islands. Allied governments would also work with separatists in areas like Catalonia or the Basque region to disrupt Axis military operations. If the Allies won, the victors would likely reward Catalan and Basque support with independence. Lots of Republican supporters emigrated after the Civil War ended. Many of these committed leftists were already fighting for the Allies. The Allies could easily organize these refugees into a government in exile. The last thing Franco needed was a Spanish De Gaulle taking over after the war. Long-term, joining the Axis would be a disaster for Franco’s career.

In the short-term, however, Spain could not anger Germany by siding with the Allies. After the fall of France, the Wehrmacht could quickly invade and occupy Spain. The Germans invaded Greece after the Greeks joined the Allies in 1941. The Germans also occupied Northern Italy after Italy switched sides in 1943. Both countries had to endure brutal occupations and devastating partisan warfare. The Allies would have treated an occupied Spain the same way they would have treated an Axis Spain. Spain would lose its vulnerable island territories, and the Allies would back a resistance movement dominated by Republicans and separatists. A pro Allies Franco ends up in the exact same place he would have been had he joined the Axis: out of a job.

Keeping Spain out of WWII was the only way for Franco to keep his job as Generalissimo. Unfortunately, Spain was a potentially useful piece of real estate for Germany. With units based in Spain, Germany could take Gibraltar from the British and close the western entrance to the Mediterranean to Allied shipping. This game allows you to simulate a hypothetical German invasion of Spain as part of a German attack on Gibraltar. Germany actually drew up three different plans to attack Gibraltar via Spain:

1) Operation Felix: Germany invades a hostile Spain that has joined the Allies. This scenario envisions a chain of events similar to the one that brought Greece into the war on Great Britain’s side. A Vichy French attempt to seize Spanish colonies in North Africa could have forced Spain to join the Allies, just as Italy’s invasion of Greece in 1940 pushed Greece into the Allied camp. Germany would feel it needed to invade Spain to keep Spanish territory out of Allied hands.

2) Operation Isabella: Germany invades Spain to support Fascist forces after a pro-Allied coup. This scenario envisions a chain of events similar to those that led to Germany’s invasion of Northern Italy after Mussolini’s ouster from power in 1943. The Allies control most of Spain, but they must keep the Germans from linking up with pockets of Fascist resistance.

3) Operation Felix-Heinrich: Germany planned to capture Gibraltar after defeating the Soviet Union. Once the Soviet Union was out of the war, Germany would be in a much stronger position, and Spain would likely feel compelled to join the Axis. This scenario assumes that German forces try to take Gibraltar from Spanish territory. You play as the British, and you really have your work cut out for you in this scenario.