The Nazis in Mexico : Mexico and the Reich in the prewar period, 1936-1939

Winckler, Andreas Eberhard
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There are three main reasons for undertaking a survey of the relations between Germany and Mexico on the eve of World War II. First, only one specific work exists on the topic, and it was published in Germany. All other publications, whether in Spanish, English, French or German deal very limitedly or indirectly with the relationship between the two countries in the prewar period. These secondary sources fail to describe and analyze properly the political and economic implications of both sides' foreign policy. The second reason is the geographical location of Mexico. It represents the Achilles' heel of the United States and thus the topic involves more than bilateral relations. Hence external political influences and trade agreements with Mexico naturally drew the interest of the United States. Its interference must be seen on two levels: first, the business interest, in particular by the oil companies before and after the expropriation in 1938; and secondly in the political realm of the Good Neighbor policy. Thus it is desirable to look at a complex set of foreign relations, especially in the triangle formed between Washington, Mexico City and Berlin. Finally, there was and is a good deal of rhetoric on the subject. While the German trade inroads in Latin America were at least rationalized by some critics in order to curb them, German political and ideological penetration by propaganda aroused uneasiness and more often fear. This psychological component was often treated emotional and irrational, and on both sides of the Rio Grande writers and political observers tended to express their anxieties about the 'Fifth Column' in exaggerated, sometimes even paranoid fashions. Of course, as we will see, these antagonists of National Socialism found evidence of German agitation in Mexico. They failed, however, to put this evidence in context of the political reality, meaning that the perceived German threat was harmless vis a vis its counter forces. For this reason, the thesis will attempt to show that the degree of German propaganda was clearly outweighed by the political success of the Cardenas administration and thus was doomed to insignificance. One might add that the Reich did not even perceive any intention to a 'spiritual conquest of Latin America' - as Franco imagined it after winning the Spanish Civil War. The only goal Germany might have aimed at, was a dissolution of the western hemisphere solidarity.