The reinforcement of the defense of the Canary Islands during the Second World War consisted fundamentally in the accumulation of military forces and weapons on the islands. In addition to the nearly 40,000 military personnel around 1943, there were also hundreds of artillery pieces, whether on the coast, campaign, antiaircraft and against tanks. The beaches most vulnerable to a landing were also fortified with more than 400 nests for automatic weapons throughout the Archipelago, of which some still persist, explains Díaz.
The English became interested in the Islands as an alternative to Gibraltar
Also at that time, the Canary Islands Naval Command and the Canary Islands and West Africa Air Zone were created, origin of the current Canary Islands Naval Command and Canary Islands Air Command, and the construction of the Canary Islands Naval Base began, initially designed for a flotilla of 12 submarines that were never built, adds the historian.
But the defensive measures were not limited to the military sphere, but also affected the economy of the Archipelago with the creation of the Economic Command by reserved decrees of August and September 1941, by which the captain general assumed the powers of the General Commissariat of Supplies and Transport in the two Canary provinces, responding directly to the Undersecretariat of the Presidency of the Government, specifies.
“The main limitations of this defensive effort consisted of the lack of command cadres and specialists, the lack of modern heavy weapons, the shortage of air and naval forces, and external economic dependence, which made it difficult to accumulate food and fuel reserves. to resist a naval blockade should Spain enter the war, ”Díaz details.
In his presentation The Canary Islands in the crisis of the international system and the new world order: from the Civil War to the end of the Franco regime, Díaz also explained that the foreign policy of the Franco regime maintained a constant objective from the Civil War until the disappearance of the dictator : the survival of the regime in a changing international context, which it also tried to take advantage of every time it thought it had found the right moment.
“The insertion of the Canary Islands in international relations during the long period that begins in July 1936 and ends in November 1975 is not alien to this idea, although it was also influenced by the great world processes that marked those years: the Second World War. , the Cold War and Decolonization ”, he assures. In the years of the Civil War and World War II, the Franco regime’s approach to the Third Reich culminated in the warmongering temptation that began in June 1940 and implied a revaluation of the islands, not only to support the German naval war in the Atlantic. but also to establish one of the bases that would protect the future colonial empire in central Africa.
The Naval Base was designed for a flotilla of 12 submarines never built
“The reaction of Great Britain, whose economic interests still dominated the island economy in 1936, resulted in the development of a series of plans to occupy them as an alternative to Gibraltar, the loss or disablement of which was taken for granted in the event that Spain finally entered. in the contest ”.
The historian Juan José Díaz (in the image to the left of these lines) gave a lecture at the León y Castillo House-Museum on the international role of the Canary Islands during the Civil War and during the Franco regime, when the United Kingdom planned to invade the Archipelago as an alternative to Gibraltar. Above these lines, a battery that is conserved in Taliarte, Telde. |