SECRET files released this week reveal that MI6 spent almost €155 million bribing Spanish officials to stay out of the second world war.
The documents disclose how Britain’s ambassador in Madrid warned London that unless top Spanish military officials were paid off, there was a real chance that Spain could abandon its neutrality status
and join forces with Nazi Germany.
The ambassador, Sir Samuel Hoare, demanded an initial €1 million from the Foreign Office in June 1940 with the note: “I personally urge authority be granted without delay, and that if you have doubts, the Prime Minister be consulted.”
“Yes indeed,” responded Churchill in red ink to Hoare’s telegram.
At least $10 million, the equivalent of around €155 million in today’s value, was spent on Spanish agents during the second world war, according to the documents.
These agents went on to influence dictator Franco’s opinion about joining the conflict.
While his politics lent naturally towards Hitler – and he supplied the Axis steel and other products – he was persuaded to stay neutral.