Espinosa de los Monteros, Hitler's friend
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
It is September 1938 and one of the bloodiest episodes of the Spanish War, the Battle of the Ebro, is taking place in the Ebro River, where the constitutional republican forces are trying to stop the counter-offensive of the rebel Francoist side. Simultaneously, the Reichsparteitag Grossdeutschland ("The Congress of the Reich Party of Greater Germany"), named after the recent annexation of Austria, is held in Nürnberg. There, watching from the stands, is Eugenio Espinosa de los Monteros and Bermejillo as part of Franco's delegation to the congress. The German language was not a problem for him, since he had spent his youth in Vienna.
Eugenio Espinosa de los Monteros y Bermejillo is the brother of the great-grand father of Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, spokesman for the far-right VOX party in the Congreso de los Diputados. As Antonio Maestre narrates in Franquismo S. A., the Espinosa de los Monteros family was part of the Franco elite and later also during the democracy since 1978. The Marqueses of Valtierra (the title now held by the father of Iván Espinosa de los Monteros), are one of those oligarchic families that, like almost all of them, benefited from the dictatorship. Iván's own father, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros y Bernaldo de Quirós worked for the Francoist Ministry of Commerce until 1972 and for the Spanish delegation in Chicago until 1976. Working abroad seems to have come with the name. Iván's great-great-grandfather, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros y Sagaseta de Ilurdoz had been military attaché in Vienna and ambassador in Paris.
Let's go back to Eugenio Espinosa de los Monteros y Bermejillo. On September 2, 1940, he was appointed Spanish ambassador to Berlin, a position that would last him a year, albeit an intense one. This is the moment when relations between Spain and Germany intensify, to discuss the possible entry of Spain into the Second World War. There followed the successive meetings between Ramón Serrano Suñer, Minister of the Interior and later of Foreign Affairs, and Joachim von Ribbentrop, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nazi Germany, as well as the interview between Franco and Hitler in Hendaye. All ended badly for the interests of Germany, which did not concede to Spain's territorial claims in Morocco.
In all these meetings, Eugenio Espinosa de los Monteros appears in the background. He can be seen in the retinue of September 1940 in the barracks of the SS Division Adolf Hitler, in the Lichterfelde district of Berlin; accompanying Serrano Suñer (who occupies the central position) or Sagardia Ramos - on a guided tour by Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS. In the photos of the Hendaye interview he also appears in the background, next to Serrano Suñer (whom he came to hate) during the salute between the dictators.
Germany's refusal to accept Spain's requests to enter World War II was accompanied by a "revenge" by Franco and Serrano Suñer. This resulted in the Franco government's obstruction of German espionage and propaganda activities both in the Canary Islands and in the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco. As told by Norman J. W. Goda [in The Riddle of the Rock: A Reassessment of German Motives for the Capture of Gibraltar in the Second World War, in the Journal of Contemporary History (Vol. 28, No. 2)], Eugenio Espinosa de los Monteros himself was forced to submit a violent letter to Ribbentrop at the end of November 1940, denouncing illicit German activities in the Protectorate. This fact, which probably did not please a philo-Nazi like him very much, as well as the rudeness during the negotiations - led him to a failed attempt at resignation in December of that year.
It was already in September 1941 when Espinosa de los Monteros was removed from office. However, in spite of the turbulent relations that had taken place between Spain and Germany in recent months, on August 19, 1941, Hitler and Ribbentrop received the ambassador in the Führerhauptquartier (Führer's headquarters), a moment in which a cordial and even friendly attitude can be seen between Espinosa de los Monteros and Hitler.
It is not strange, therefore, that according to the records of the Ibero-American Institute in Berlin (accessible on the Institute's website https://publications.iai.spk-berlin.de/, in the annexes to the article by Nagel, S. Brücke oder Brückenkopf?), Espinosa de los Monteros appears again in the German capital in the summer of 1942. It is surprising, since the former ambassador no longer lived in Berlin, but was stationed in Burgos.
In these records, besides mentioning his visit to the institute, an interesting (and no less informative) retinue is described. This consisted of General Agustín Muñoz Grandes, commanded by Franco to be the head of the División Azul (the Division sent by Franco to fight against the USSR) and an interventionist supporter of the Second World War; Ernesto Giménez Caballero, then a high ranking member of the fascist party Falange and who in December 1941 had tried unsuccessfully to convince Joseph Goebbels through Magda Goebbels to arrange a marriage between Adolf Hitler and Pilar Primo de Rivera (to create a Spanish-Austrian dynasty); as well as other members of the División Azul.
Of course, the Spanish saying "dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres" ("tell me who you hang out with and I'll tell you who you are") leaves Iván Espinosa de los Monteros' great-great-uncle in a bad place. It is true that children are not responsible for what their parents do, much less for what a distant relative might do. However, it is surprising that "the Spain that is getting up early", "the self-made men" (that is, the representatives of the supposed meritocracy as some VOX leaders like Espinosa de los Monteros are trying to set themselves up) - owe a lot to their family position. They owe it to that inheritance of blood enjoyed by Franco's elites (some already in power since the Borbonic Restoration) and later perpetuated during the Democracy, a position from which they teach those who work hard to eat and pay for a house. That is why it is good to remember where certain surnames come from.