Brill’s Digital Library of World War I


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(827 words)

Author(s): Albes, Jens
Spain This one-time world power had sunk to the level of a second-rate power after the 17th century. During the World War, however, it grew to become the most important neutral state of Europe. Favorably situated geo-strategically – two continents plus two oceans meeting at the Straits of Gibraltar – Spain constituted a veritable island of neutrality, surrounded by the warring states of France with Morocco, England with Gibraltar, and after March 1916 Portugal as well. That caused this land on the Iberian Peninsula to unexpectedly become the object of international interest. Despite considerable diplomatic and economic dependence upon the Allies, in September 1914 Spain declined to enter the war on the Allied side by any means. Thereupon Berlin decided to reattempt persuading Madrid to intervene on the German side. In return, the German government offered its support for Spanish expansion efforts in Portugal, Gibraltar, and Morocco. For Germany, the establishment of a second southern front directed against France was an enticing prospect. However, Spain refused in a…