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Persecuted and Saved
/ Chased and free / The policies of Francoist Spain with refugees
The policies of Francoist Spain with refugees: tolerance, repatriations, arrests

During the first two years of World War, crossing to Spain was relatively easy, although at certain point it was agreed to return the detainees to their country of origin. The situation changed dramatically in November 1942, when the Germans occupied the remaining free part of France and settled along the entire border with Spain. The deployment of soldiers and customs officers was ordered to waterproof the border crossings.
In November 1942, Germans settled in frontier departments to monitor the high mountain passes. The transition from one country to another was extremely dangerous, for this reason expeditions were prepared to the very last detail and some itineraries were abandoned in order to go through less guarded ones. Despite all precautions, tragic incidents could not be prevented.

Franco's regime policy towards foreigners entering Spanish territory was characterized by improvisation and changed over the years in terms of both the evolution of the World War as well as the origin of escapees. The behaviour of Spain had much to do with the outcome of the war, from the German lead until settling to the Allied side, which made change its preferences for the Germans to a more favourable position to the Allies.

We must talk about an initial tolerance with permissiveness in passing through Spanish territory of refugees carrying the documentation, a further tightening of surveillance that led to the repatriation to France of the arrested, and finally, an internment in prisons and concentration camps. During this last stage the Spanish stance increased flexibility towards the Allies and culminated in a greater willingness to facilitate their gradual departure from Spain.

Although the position of non-belligerency and equidistance to the two sides that fought in the Second World War, initially Spain held a great complicity with the Nazi regime. In consecutive, the German embassy had a significant influence in everything related to border enforcement and detention of refugees that moved from France. The presence of Gestapo in Spain and its close relations with the Spanish police favoured the German intervention.