General Francisco Franco has always been under-estimated as "a minor dictator." Hardly!
"Generalísimo Francisco Franco, the Caudillo of Spain, was the most tenacious and most successful of twentieth century dictators. He is remembered widely as the astute general under whose leadership the Nationalist cause was victorious in the Spanish Civil War, and the Communist threat exterminated, and as the head of state who successfully negotiated safe passage for Spain through World War Two, played Hitler off against the Allies, modernized his country and orchestrated the Spanish economic miracle of the 1960s. Having deftly schooled the young prince Juan Carlos to be his successor, by the time of his death in 1975 he had steered a unified Spain to worldwide respectability and envy. To many, the Caudillo was Spain incarnate - a heroic figure to match his predecessors El Cid, Charles V and Philip II"
The above is historical fact. Our book dramatizes Franco playing Hitler off against the Allies and keeping Germany out of Spain and Spain out of World War II. This is the story of how he did it. It was difficult, and dangerous, but the record stands: Germany was not able to use Spain to win the war against England in 1940.
We have "novelized" this story in order to make history more readable and hopefully, more widely read. But our material is drawn from interviews and conversations with primary sources, family members who were privy to tightly held information. Personal details such as Hitler's physical gestures, Franco's comments and manner, were told to us by Ramón Serrano Suñer, Franco's brother-in-law and Minister of Foreign Affairs at that time, today in his nineties he is the only surviving member of the six who attended the meeting at Hendaye aboard Hitler's train. They were: Hitler and Franco, their foreign ministers, Serrano Suñer and von Ribbentrop, and one interpreter each.
Among other people we interviewed were personal friends and their help went beyond normal interviews. An example: the Marqués de Santa Cruz spent many hours with us at dinner in our home in Marbella reminiscing about his life as Counselor to the Duke of Alba, Spanish Ambassador to London during World War II, who was also a cousin of Winston Churchill. These conversations have been used in the scenes with Alba and Churchill.
Much other information came to us from Mrs. Franco, their daughter Carmen (today the Duchess of Franco), some of General Franco's papers and an eight page letter written by his interpreter at the meeting, the Baron de las Torres, and interviews with the Baron's son.
The only departure from documentable non-fiction occurs in four scenes with invented dialogue such as Hitler alone with von Ribbentrop, or in his office with his General Staff. Enough has been written on Hitler's manner, dialogue and pendular mood swings for us to portray him with reasonable accuracy. And the historical facts supported by his own letters to Franco concerning those moments make it clear as to what he would have been saying.
Other than those four instances every other statement, every scene, every conversation is faithful to historical fact and is supported by unquestionable sources.
--Authors Jane and Burt Boyar
To read the horrifying Prologue of Hitler Stopped by Franco, click here
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