1st Edition

Operation Bribes How Winston Churchill and Juan March Bought Franco’s Generals

By Ángel Viñas Copyright 2025
    526 Pages
    by Routledge

    526 Pages
    by Routledge

    This forensic study of recently opened documents in Britain’s National Archives reveals for the first time the details of an officially unnamed secret operation authorized by Winston Churchill in 1940 to keep Spain neutral in World War II through the financial manipulation of Spanish generals.

    Viñas focuses on the crucial roles played by the British ambassador in Madrid, Sir Samuel Hoare; the embassy’s naval attaché, Captain Alan Hillgarth; and – hitherto unknown to Anglophone readers - the Spanish businessman, Juan March, perhaps one of the richest men in Spain at the time and a financial backer of the military conspirators sparking the Spanish Civil War in 1936. He identifies the likely recipients of the bribes, how they were paid, and the influence they wielded on Spain’s dictator, General Francisco Franco, who together with his notorious foreign minister, Ramón Serrano Suñer, was minded to enter the war on the side of the Axis. With masterly analysis, this book places the bribes paid by Britain in the jigsaw puzzle of why, after all, Spain remained neutral.

    This volume is a pioneering and important contribution for scholars and students of Anglo-Spanish relations, Spanish-Axis relations, and wider strategic aspects during the Second World War.

    1. Franco in the ‘Elastic Neutrality’ Phase

    2. The Controversial Origins of Operation BRIBES

    3. Spanish Goodwill Is Expensive

    4. Bribes, Hendaye and Espionage

    5. Portugal and Serrano’s New Trip

    6. Nazi Pressure and British Strategy

    7. The Strengthening of the Bribing Operation Under Juan March

    8. New Difficulties in Spain and the United States

    9. Flanking Operation BRIBES and New Change of Government

    10. The Backdrop to Operation TORCH

    11. Nicolás Franco Springs into Action

    12. The Unrecognised Significance of Juan March and His Gifts

    13. A Final Melancholic Reflection

    14. Appendix: The Icing on the Cake: Political Planning Against Franco


    Ángel Viñas is Emeritus Professor at the University Complutense Madrid. He is also a former adviser to the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, a director of the European Commission and the EU’s ambassador to the United Nations, and the author of numerous books on Spanish history.

    Richard Carswell is the author of The Fall of France in the Second World War: History and Memory (2019) and the translator of The Man Who Murdered Admiral Darlan (2024) by Bénédicte Vergez-Chaignon.