The venerable Winston Churchill stated in his book The Second World War, Vol.2: Their Finest Hour that General Franco rendered services to the Allies with his duplicitous dealings with Adolph Hitler. That makes even the most voracious anti-fascist take another curious look at the general.
Hitler Stopped by Franco by Burt and Jane Boyar tantalizes the reader by interspersing actual events with fascinating conjecture. The amount of research that went into this book must be staggering, including interviews with former members of General Franco’s Cabinet and military leaders of high rank.
These sources combine to paint a far different portrait of “El Caudillo” than we westerners have always believed. Keeping in mind that these sources were close to the General is a good idea, since human nature tends to paint the best face possible on the people one knows. Franco emerges as one of the few who could see beneath the veneer of Hitler’s feigned congeniality to recognize the unscrupulous despot underneath.
In the “novelized” historical account, Franco is depicted as being just slippery enough to elude the grasp of the man who ensnared so many. The fact that the General survived his encounters with Hitler is testament to his wiliness as both a negotiator and politician. It can be argued that had it benefited his country more, Franco would have lined up more on the German side.
Hitler Stopped by Franco falls a bit short of the promise with which it lures readers. The incessant “dispatches” are intended to provide authenticity but are so copious that they slow the pace of the book to a crawl. All in all, it is an intriguing concept that is a bit over-handled but nonetheless a good read for a history buff on a lazy rainy day.