Wednesday, June 18, 2014

German interest in Syria

The situation in Syria was that the Germans were more concerned about keeping Syria from being occupied by the British than actually moving in forces from Germany. After the armistice in 1940, Italy was given the responsibility for monitoring French colonial forces. They would determine the size and encourage the reduction in strength. One problem with that was that the French North African and Middle East territories were more vulnerable to British attack. By late 1940, the French army in Syria was reduced to about 28,000 men. Hitler got involved with the policy making and recognized that the best way to keep the Free French and British out of Syria would be for the Vichy French to increase their forces. One possibility would have been to bring in some ten thousand Moroccan troops. The immediate problem with that was being able to transport them to Syria. Admiral Darlan, who was the French Foreign Minister in May and June 1941, met with German officials in Paris. There, Admiral Darlan agreed to make arms available to the Iraqi rebels and to allow German and Italian aircraft passage through Syria to Iraq. The Germans made promises to the Vichy government that is they defended the colonies against the Free French and British, they would able to keep them after the war, assuming that the Axis governments won the war. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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