Culture & History Digital Journal, Vol 7, No 1 (2018)

Small State Anti-Fascism: Norway’s Quest to Eliminate the Franco Regime in the Aftermath of World War II

Helge Øystein Pharo
Professor of International History Emeritus. University of Oslo, Norway


In the early postwar years Norway was among the most active in the campaign against Franco’s Spain, supporting the policy of keeping Spain out of the UN, and pushing for UN members to break off diplomatic relations with Spain. Within a few years the policy of ostracism was seen to fail as it appeared to strengthen rather than weaken the Franco regime. Spain was then gradually allowed into the warmth. Until the early 1950s Norway’s retreat from its 1946 position was very reluctant, and it was in 1949 the last Western European state to accept normalization. Spain retaliated with economic pressures, and by 1951 Norway had relented and joined in the general reestablishment of normal diplomatic relations, and in 1955 accepted the package deal that brought Spain into the UN. The article discusses the foreign policy concerns and the domestic political struggles that explain Norwegian policies, including the veto on Spanish NATO membership that was never given up.


Norwegian foreign policy; Universality and UN membership; Isolation of Franco Spain; NATO membership; Diplomatic relations; Trade war; Small state activism; Anti-Fascism

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