20,000–30,000 refugees from the German-speaking areas. Most were in transit.
From 1931 republic; political instability; economic problems. 1936–1939: Spanish Civil War, followed by dictatorship. Wavering between foreign policy of neutrality and "non-belligerence". Economic, military and secret police collaboration with Germany.
Conditions of entry:
Entry and residence possible up to 1936 with no bureaucratic hurdles. No work permit necessary. Pyrenees border closed after the end of the Civil War. From 1940 transit visas only issued upon presentation of a Portuguese entry visa. Many illegal entries, those rejected were returned to France or interned.
Until 1936 only few refugees lived in Spain. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, increasing numbers of Communist emigrants arrived in the country to fight in the International Brigades against the impending dictatorship. After the war, they sought refuge in other countries. When parts of France were occupied by Germany in June 1940, thousands of refugees thronged across the Spanish border to get to Portugal and then overseas. The changed entry conditions forced many to cross the border illegally. This was organised by helpers, but also by human smugglers. Aid organisations often supported the onward journey overseas.