In 1939, after winning the Civil War with German and Italian support, Franco installed a brutal regime based on the Fascist Falange in Spain that killed some 150,000 political opponents and incarcerated several hundred thousand in concentration and slave labor camps. Under his rule, Spain stayed neutral throughout the Second World War, but did send volunteers, the so-called Blue Division, to fight alongside the Axis Powers against the Soviet Union.

When the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, Spain had a total population of about 24.8 million people; approximately 6,000 of them were Jews. An additional 13,000 Jews lived in Spanish Morocco without Spanish citizenship. During the Civil War, many Jews left Spain, fearing the Fascists and their Axis allies. Antisemitism was an inherent part of the Franco Regime. While immigration became more complicated for the Jews, due to an antisemitic passage in the Frontier Law of 1939, approximately 20,000 to 30,000 refugees of diverse backgrounds were able to leave Europe through Spain. Even though the character of the regime slowly changed during the 1950s, it maintained some antisemitic legislation in certain fields (such as the medical professions).

Archival Situation

The National Archives of Spain are maintained by the Archive department of the Spanish Ministry of Culture. They consist of a number of different collections, held in multiple locations. In addition to the state archives, there are collections in private archives and museums.

EHRI Research (Summary)

EHRI has established that documents relevant to Holocaust research on Spain can be found at local police authorities, the archive of the General Directorate of the Police (Dirección General de la Policía), the Red Cross Archives and the Archive of the Foreign Ministry. Use of the Archive of the Ministry of the Interior appears to be restricted. Spanish provincial archives may also hold Holocaust-relevant sources: the Provincial Archives in Girona near the French border, for example, reportedly have over 8,000 Holocaust-related documents. Outside of Spain, EHRI has found a considerable number of sources pertaining to the Holocaust and Spain at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Further relevant material can also be found at the Archiv der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde Wien and at the German Bundesarchiv in Berlin-Lichterfelde.