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Falange — The Secret Axis Army in the Americas

by Allan Chase
1943, Put­nam, 278 pages
Down­load Pt. 1 | Down­load Pt. 2

In 1936, Reichs­mar­shall Her­mann Goering—one of Hitler’s top aides and the head of the Luftwaffe—observed that “Spain is the key to two con­ti­nents.” Goer­ing was enun­ci­at­ing a key prin­ci­pal of Ger­man and Nazi geopol­i­tics. By con­trol­ling Spain, the Nazis felt they could con­trol both Europe and Latin Amer­i­ca. Geo­graph­i­cal­ly dom­i­nat­ing the entrance to the Mediter­ranean Sea from the Atlantic and “flank­ing” France, Spain also wield­ed tremen­dous influ­ence in Latin Amer­i­ca through the strong cul­tur­al and eco­nom­ic ties between the Span­ish and Latin Amer­i­can aris­toc­ra­cies. In addi­tion, the pro­found Catholic influ­ence in both Spain and Latin Amer­i­ca, aug­ment­ed Span­ish clout in that part of the world. (In FTR#532, we exam­ined the Vatican’s involve­ment with fas­cism. The Vatican/Fascist axis was anoth­er major con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the influ­ence of the Falange through­out the Span­ish-speak­ing world.)

In order to uti­lize Span’s geopo­lit­i­cal influ­ence as a tool for Nazi impe­r­i­al designs, the Third Reich turned to Gen­er­al Wil­helm von Fau­pel and his Ibero-Amer­i­can Insti­tute. Von Fau­pel was a bit­ter oppo­nent of the Weimar Repub­lic, and read­i­ly accept­ed the Nazis as the anti­dote to Ger­man democ­ra­cy. Known as an “I.G. Gen­er­al” for his links to the I.G. Far­ben com­pa­ny, von Fau­pel also main­tained close ties to the pow­er­ful Thyssen inter­ests which, like Far­ben, were the pow­ers that backed Hitler. (The Bush fam­i­ly were also close­ly linked to the Thyssens.) Dur­ing the 1920’s, von Fau­pel had served as a gen­er­al staff advis­er to the Argen­tine, Brazil­ian and Peru­vian mil­i­tary estab­lish­ments and was famed through­out Latin Amer­i­ca for his skills as an offi­cer. Because of his Latin Amer­i­can ties and his links to the cor­po­rate inter­ests that backed Hitler, von Fau­pel became the Reich’s point man for the fas­cist takeover of Spain and sub­se­quent con­struc­tion of a Fifth Col­umn through­out the Span­ish-speak­ing world.

In 1934, von Fau­pel assumed con­trol of the Ibero-Amer­i­can Insti­tute, an aca­d­e­m­ic think tank orig­i­nal­ly found­ed as a legit­i­mate schol­ar­ly insti­tu­tion. Under von Fau­pel, the orga­ni­za­tion became a front for orga­niz­ing the Nazi infil­tra­tion and con­quest of Spain. Reject­ing roy­al­ist and Catholic sec­tar­i­an right­ist par­ties, von Fau­pel and the Nazis set­tled on the Falange as their cho­sen vehi­cle for gain­ing dom­i­nance over Spain. After arrang­ing the assas­si­na­tion of Gen­er­al Jose San­jur­jo (a roy­al­ist rival for the lead­er­ship of Spain after the over­throw of the Repub­li­can gov­ern­ment), the Ger­mans and their Ital­ian allies installed Fran­co as head of the fas­cist Falange.

” . . . Gen­er­al Jose San­jur­jo, wear­ing a pea­cock­’s dream of a
uni­form-the Lon­don-made gift of Adolf Hitler-board­ed
a Junkers plane in Lis­bon and ordered his pilot, Cap­tain
Ansal­do, to take off for a secret land­ing field in Spain. But
on July 17 the old gen­er­al was actu­al­ly head­ed fo: anoth­er
land­ing field his Nazi com­rades had cho­sen with­out his

A few remarks he had let slip to inti­mate friends in Esto­ril
ear­li­er that year had, unknown to San­jur­jo, reached cer­tain
Berlin ears. On April I 3, 1936, for instance, San­jur­jo had
com­plained, “They want me to start a rev­o­lu­tion to serve
the bankers and the spec­u­la­tors, but I won’t do it.” Two
weeks after say­ing this, he made anoth­er trip to Berlin. He
remained in Ger­many for only a few days, and on his return
he went to work in earnest on his plans for the pend­ing
revolt. What hap­pened in Berlin while San­jur­jo con­ferred
with von Fau­pel is of lit­tle moment now. His fate had already
been sealed before the vis­it.

Very short­ly after San­jur­jo’s plane took off from Lis­bon,
a Ger­man time bomb plant­ed in the bag­gage com­part­ment
explod­ed. The blaz­ing frag­ments of the Junkers mono­plane
became the pyre of the Anoint­ed Chief of the Span­ish Rev­o­lu­tion.
Jose San­jur­jo had the dubi­ous hon­or of being the
first of the Nazis’ mil­lion vic­tims of the Span­ish War. . . .”

Falange; pp.20–21.

Von Fau­pel then pro­ceed­ed to direct the con­struc­tion of the “Falange Exte­ri­or” as the fas­cist Fifth Col­umn move­ment through­out the Span­ish-speak­ing world (includ­ing the Philip­pines).

Author Chase describes the Falange Exte­ri­or on page 31 of Falange:

“On the sur­face, von Fau­pel had—in the Falange Exterior—delivered to the Third Reich a remark­able net­work, extend­ing from Havana to Buenos Aires, from Lima to Mani­la. This net­work, accord­ing to its cre­ator, was capa­ble of con­cert­ed espi­onage, polit­i­cal diver­sion, arms smug­gling, and any­thing that any oth­er Fifth Col­umn in his­to­ry had accom­plished. It remained only for the Wehrma­cht to give von Faupel’s instru­ment the tests which would deter­mine whether the Aus­lands Falange had been worth all the trou­ble its orga­ni­za­tion had entailed. The answer was soon pro­vid­ed by a num­ber of Falangists—among them one Jose del Cas­tano.”

Del Cas­tano was the pri­ma­ry Falange orga­niz­er in the Philip­pines. (Recall that the Philip­pines had been a Span­ish colony before the Span­ish-Amer­i­can war.) Del Cas­tano had orga­nized the Falangists in the Philip­pines into a very effec­tive Fifth Col­umn, much of whose mem­ber­ship had enlist­ed in the Philip­pine Civil­ian Emer­gency Admin­is­tra­tion, charged with dis­pens­ing first aid and oth­er emer­gency ser­vices in time of war. Dur­ing the Japan­ese attack in 1941, del Castano’s agents went to work. Chase describes what hap­pened on pages 46 and 47:

“ . . . Toward the end of Novem­ber, Jose del Cas­tano made a thor­ough check-up on the work of the Falange Exte­ri­or in the Philip­pines. He sent a cod­ed report to Madrid, via prepa­ra­tions tak­en by his Falanges. On Decem­ber 7, Spain’s Japan­ese Axis part­ner bombed Hawaii and the Philip­pines. . . In Mani­la, after the shock of the first attack, the peo­ple looked to the gov­ern­ment, to the Army, to the Civil­ian Emer­gency Admin­is­tra­tion, for guid­ance. In most cas­es, the aver­age Fil­ipino turned to the C.E.A.—under ordi­nary cir­cum­stances, the prop­er thing to do. But on Decem­ber 7, 1941, the C.E.A. was so shot through with Falangis­tas as to be the foun­da­tion of the Axis Fifth Col­umn in the city. . . On Decem­ber 29, the Japan­ese air forces staged their first great raid over the city of Mani­la. For three hours the Jap planes rained bombs on the forts along the bay, the docks, and the homes of the poor­er Fil­ipinos. Then the planes flew off. But some­thing had hap­pened dur­ing the bom­bard­ment. The civil­ian defense orga­ni­za­tions seemed to have bro­ken down com­plete­ly. War­dens were receiv­ing orders to be every­where except the places where they were need­ed most. Stretch­er-bear­ers were drop­ping like flies with bul­lets in their backs. Streams of con­fus­ing and con­flict­ing orders had most C.E.A. work­ers run­ning around in crazy cir­cles.”

On page 47, Chase also notes that the Falangis­tas spread wild rumors to under­mine the will to resist the Japan­ese invaders, rumors that were all the more potent because they orig­i­nat­ed with per­son­nel with­in the Emer­gency Admin­is­tra­tion.

“Wild rumors spread like hur­ri­canes through the city—rumors the char­ac­ter of which had already become famil­iar in all lands invad­ed by the Nazis in Europe: MacArthur had fled to Wash­ing­ton. Que­zon had gone over to the Japs. The entire Amer­i­can Air Force had been destroyed. The Amer­i­can Army had received orders to shoot all Catholics and imprison all Fil­ipinos. Hen­ry Mor­gen­thau had per­son­al­ly req­ui­si­tioned all the funds in the Philip­pine Nation­al Trea­sury. Ad infini­tum. There was some­thing offi­cial about these rumors, some­thing had been added that made even lev­el-head­ed cit­i­zens give them cre­dence. For these rumors were not being spread by obscure Japan­ese spies: they orig­i­nat­ed direct­ly from Civil­ian Emer­gency Head­quar­ters, from the lips of the hard-work­ing air-raid war­dens who had been so dili­gent about tack­ing up the posters bear­ing the ten emer­gency point­ers for the cit­i­zen. ‘Get your facts straight from C.E.A.’ . . .”

Com­pare this with some of the wild rumor-mon­ger­ing that occurred in the wake of 9/11—controlled demo­li­tion of the World Trade Cen­ter, cruise mis­sile hit the Pen­ta­gon, etc.

For the con­tem­po­rary read­er, it is vital to remem­ber that Latin Amer­i­can (and the Philip­pines) were nev­er “de-Falan­gized.” Fran­co and his fas­cists remained in pow­er in Spain until 1975. Por­tu­gal remained under the con­trol of the fas­cist dic­ta­tor Salazar for decades after the war. The deci­sive influ­ence of Latin Amer­i­can fas­cists in the decades fol­low­ing the war (includ­ing their inti­mate col­lab­o­ra­tion with ele­ments of U.S. intel­li­gence) is a mat­ter of pub­lic record. The lega­cy of the Falange Exte­ri­or is very much with us today.


One comment for “Falange — The Secret Axis Army in the Americas

  1. Thank you for infor­ma­tion we are inves­ti­gat­ing our fam­i­ly tree an the Gen­er­al might have been my great grand­fa­ther.

    Posted by Marta M Sanjurjo-Napoles | July 30, 2011, 10:33 am

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