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British counter-intelligence in Gibraltar: Deciphering Spanish neutrality during the Second World War

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Gibraltar, with its strategic position as a gateway to the Mediterranean, was also a centre for Axis espionage and sabotage during the Second World War. Although Franco proclaimed Spain's neutrality during the war, British intelligence revealed numerous examples of Spanish cooperation with both the Germans and Italians to carry out espionage activities and acts of sabotage against British interests in Gibraltar. This intelligence provided the basis for ongoing British diplomatic protests to the Spanish authorities, who denied Spanish involvement and gave token promises of remedial action. While British intelligence may not have eliminated belligerent activity, it clearly proved that Franco had not honoured his word: Spain was not neutral during the Second World War.

Keywords: British intelligence; Gibraltar; World War II; espionage; sabotage

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: London School of Economics and Political Science alumni.

Publication date: 2007-07-19

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  • The International Journal of Iberian Studies (IJIS) is the academic journal for scholars from around the world whose research focuses on contemporary Spain and Portugal from a range of disciplinary perspectives. IJIS is interested in history (20th century onwards), government and politics; foreign policy and international relations.
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