The author of a new book looking at Adolf Hitler's role in the Spanish Civil War says lessons learned from that period in history could provides valuable insights for modern day Europe, specifically how economics trump politics and ideology when it comes to policymaking.

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“There have been over ten thousand books written on the Spanish Civil War, but it was clear when I started this project that Franco wanted to forget afterward how much he had depended on Hitler and Mussolini,” says Pierpaolo Barbieri, author of the book Hitler’s Shadow Empire: The Nazis and the Spanish Civil War. “I argue that the Nazis paid for this and intervened in Spain in such a decisive manner not because of ideology but because of economics.”

“Things that look political have other motivations,” he said. Eventually, Hitler became an ideologically driven madman. But his early intervention in Spain showed a more pragmatic and economically calculated style of leadership, he said.

“At the end of the day it was Hitler’s choice and he went with the racial empire over the economic empire, but it wasn’t always so,” Barbieri said.

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Barbieri, executive director of Greenmantle, a macroeconomic and geopolitical consultancy, says it’s also economics in large part which has caused turmoil in contemporary Spain. “The youth of Spain has a right to be angry. But the path forward doesn't mean doing away with everything,” he says.

“I think Podemos isn't the answer," Barbieri said of Spain's new left-wing political party formed last year. "They are a bunch of new guys with a lot of old ideas inspired by the governments in Venezuela and Argentina.”

The way forward, he says, is renewal, not upheaval. Sound policies in the 1970s and 1980s that led Spain to growth and European integration. That should be the guide.

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“I believe a more plural and integrated Europe will emerge from this crisis. Now we see Spain recovering very fast; in March Spain created more jobs than the United States.”

The Argentine-born author says his next project will consist of looking at why Latin America has not become more integrated in spite of having “broadly the same levels of development, close cultural ties and histories.”

“We should be one economic unit, we can aim towards emulating the best part of the european integration project. Together we are stronger than divided,” he said.

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