World War II brought much grief and death, but while some countries fought fiercely against the enemy, others supported them officially or secretly. The Third Reich had its allies who fought against the USSR. Spain declared its military neutrality, but helped the Nazis in every way.
However, it is still not clear what role was actually played by the House of Winter and whether a port was built on the peninsula of Handia in the Canary Islands. However, some historians claim that Nazi submarines were serviced not there but at other ports in the archipelago, notably the port of Las Palmas.
Spanish neutrality and the German submarine fleet
The main official allies of Nazi Germany were Japan and Italy. Also, Romanians (until 1944) and Hungarians fought against the USSR. Bulgaria, Thailand, Finland helped the Germans. Some states accepted neutrality, but had friendly relations with the Third Reich and even secretly helped. Among such states were Turkey, USA, Sweden, Spain. During the Second World War, Francisco Franco was in power in Spain. It was a dictator who began collaborating with Nazi Germany and Italy back in 1936. Then there was a civil war in the country. And the fascists helped Franco to become in power, completely suppressing the resistance in the state.
Japan and Italy were Nazi Germany’s major official allies. The Romanians (until 1944) and the Hungarians battled the Soviet Union as well. The Germans received assistance from Bulgaria, Thailand, and Finland. Some governments became neutral, but maintained good ties with the Third Reich, often covertly assisting them. Turkey, the United States, Sweden, and Spain were among the countries involved.
Francisco Franco ruled Spain throughout World War II. In 1936, it was a tyrant who started collaborating with Nazi Germany and Italy. The nation was in the midst of a civil war at the time. And the fascists aided Franco’s rise to power by crushing all forms of opposition inside the country.
Spain proclaimed military neutrality on paper. It did not take part in the anti-Hitler coalition’s struggle against Germany. Franco, on the other hand, aided the Third Reich on several occasions. The Blue Division is well-known. It featured roughly 20,000 Spanish volunteers who fought with the Nazis until 1943. On the other hand, Spain provided Hitler with further assistance that few people were aware of.
It was all about offering the Nazis the Canary Islands as a base of operations for their submarine fleet. The Canary Islands were, in reality, a long way from Europe, yet there were covert outposts there as well.
The submarine fleet, as well as its refueling and ammo storage, were all located here. Under the guidance of a certain Gustav Winter, a port for Nazi submarines was allegedly created in the southwest direction of Fuerteventura island (Jandia Peninsula).
Indeed, the house of “Winter” is still legendary, and its secrets are not fully revealed. There are several versions of what could have happened there. The building rises on a hill next to Cofete Beach, which is located in the southeast of Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands.
Despite the fact that people lived on the Jandia Peninsula, in 1937, it was rented by the German industrialist Gustav Winter. After 2 years, everyone who lived there was forcibly relocated to other places, freeing the territory. Construction of Winter’s house began in 1940. Winter completely redeems these lands from the Spanish authorities. However, there is a version that the Nazis did this under the guise of an industrial company led by Winter.
The villa resembles a castle surrounded by high walls. There was even a runway there. However, the house was not built for the personal use of an industrialist. It was rumored that the Germans used this villa for military purposes. It was a secret military base that could well serve as a beacon for fascist submarines.
After all, it was not without reason that it was argued that it was in this place that a special port was built. There is a version that prisoners of concentration camps were taken as workers doing dirty and hard work. But then they were killed to keep the facility secret.
Nowadays, not all experts agree with the version that Cofete Bay, where the Winter’s house is located, was a place for servicing submarines because of the shallow water. Most likely, the port could be located 32 km from Cofete Beach, which in all respects could be used to receive large-scale vessels.
Winter’s villa was probably a point of contact or a beacon for German submarines. There is an assumption that under the house of Winter, there are underground passages leading to a cave that opens out to the sea. It is possible that research will be carried out at the house in order to unravel all its secrets, which he kept for many years.
Cheating with the “Potemkin village”
Repeatedly, experts in the field of history tried to uncover all the secrets of the House of Winter and prove the fact that Spain used the Canary Islands to help the Nazis. José Benitez, a professor at one of the Spanish universities, also worked on this issue. He even published several articles in international publications. Benitez is sure that Winter’s house was actually built in 1940, but in order to confuse all “interested”.
In fact, Nazi submarines were actually served in several major ports in the Canary Islands. The main load fell on the port of La Luz (now Las Palmas), which was located on the island of Gran Canaria. But on the Jandia Peninsula, there was no port built by Winter.
According to Professor Benitez, the port of Winter was only a “Potemkin village”, and his villa of pure water was a prop. Perhaps historians were confused by one document. It was a letter from a German officer to the Wehrmacht command, in which he said that Winter was acting by his own rules and had already attracted the attention of British intelligence.
According to archival documents, even during the First World War, the port of La Luz was considered one of the nodes of the German system “Etappen-Dienst”. This was a system not only for ocean communications, but also for refueling surface and underwater equipment, especially Nazi submarines. This “system of stages” was secret, it conditionally divided the World Ocean into certain zones of action. Each such area had its own communication centers. The port of La Luz in the Canary Islands was one of them.
Fuel and ammunition behind Franco’s back
Some experts and a number of journalists suggested that since Spain officially had military neutrality, then most likely this story with the Nazi submarines was not known to the country’s top leadership, that is, everything took place behind Francisco Franco’s back.
However, it sounds strange and implausible. In Spain, a tough dictatorship was established, and besides, foreigners could hardly do anything without Franco’s permission. In addition, submarines are not as easy to hide like a needle in a haystack. Also preserved are radiotelegrams to the Canary Islands, warning of the arrival of Nazi submarines and orders to prepare diesel fuel for them.
In order not to draw special attention to the boats, the fuel was pumped from a dry cargo vessel, which ply the port harbor. Fuel was pumped into it from oil tankers, which the Germans towed to the port of La Luz at the beginning of the war.
According to the documents, there was at least 40 thousand tons of fuel. German submarines were actively refueled, as a rule, at night, inside the port of La Luz. It is known that in the period 1941-1942. 23 German submarines received not only fuel, but also ammunition and provisions. Moreover, all this was delivered not only to the Canary Islands, but also to other ports in Spain.
Even though documents confirm the fact that Spain helped the army of the Third Reich, although it declared its neutrality, it was not punished after the war. Worst of all, many Spaniards do not feel ashamed that their country was once complicit in Nazi crimes. Someone gave their lives for the sake of future generations, and someone just took the opportunity, sitting well on two chairs.