Franklin D. Roosevelt And Covert Aid To The Loyalists In The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

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Journal Of Contemporary History


In 1938, US president Franklin D. Roosevelt became involved in an illegal scheme to circumvent the US arms embargo, which applied to both sides in the Spanish Civil War. Seeking strategies to aid the Spanish Republic against General Franco’s Nationalists, Roosevelt supported a scheme to ship to France aircraft, which would then quietly be trans-shipped to Spain. The scheme was notable for three elements: its colourful nature, involving sending FDR’s alcoholic brother-in-law to Paris as a secret emissary; its deep flaws and ignominious collapse; and its importance as an indication of Roosevelt’s changing perceptions of the Spanish Civil War and his ideas about creative policy-making in a deeply constrained domestic and international environment.

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