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The Spanish Blue Division on the Eastern Front

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by airborne medic, Aug 7, 2008.

  1. airborne medic

    airborne medic Member

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    What did the Rusisans and the Germans think of the Spanish Blue Diviison's fightnig capability compared to the other axis allies - Italian, Roumanian and Hungarian????
     
  2. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Don't have the sources listed but I have read that they fought with zeal and had more successes that Rumania, Hungary and Italy. But then again, they had German made armaments. The chief complaint from both parties was that of discipline. Germans commented on the lack of and the Spanish were fed up with too much. I will see if I can dig up some factual data.

    I have not read anything on the Russian's views on the Spanish
     
  3. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

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    I believe they were sent home in '43 or '42...

    ...there was also a bunch of French who fought with the Germans in the Ukraine, I'll have to check my sourcebooks.

    Interesting question though; certainly one of the forgotten units of WWII.
     
  4. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    The major military contribution of the Blue Division was entirely disproportionate to its modest strength and few material possibilities (arms and ammunition). The conviction and military fanaticism by which the Spanish volunteers assisted the Germans at the Eastern Front, was not left unawarded. Soldiers and officers of the Blue Division were awarded 2 Knight Crosses (one with Oak Leaves), 2 Golden Crosses, 138 Iron Crosses First Class, 2,359 Iron Crosses Second Class and 2,216 War Merit Crosses with Swords.

    Blue Division - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    also:
    http://www.angelfire.com/nj/ww2/spanishvolunteers.html
    http://balagan.org.uk/war/iberia/1939/blue_div_chronology.htm
     
  5. airborne medic

    airborne medic Member

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    Thanks guys....question came about a result of reading the Beevor book on the Spanish Civil War.....
     
  6. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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  7. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    this was covered in an earlier thread, check your search engine please.

    as for the LW, the Spainards fought along side the Germans in JG 51 and did very very well against Soviet A/C flying the Fw 190A.
     
  8. BlueDivision250

    BlueDivision250 Member

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    The spanish Blue Division was formed in 1941 just after Germany invaded Russia, in fact, a few days after Operation Barbarossa was launched, many spaniards wanted to get Spain into the war against Russia only because of what they did in the Spanish Civil War (they sold tons of tanks, planes, light weaponry, ect.. to the Second Republic after it became communist in late 1936, but that's another story). When they went to the Grafewohr training camp in Germany they were made to swore an oath to Hitler, however, it was modified so they could only fight against the russians since they had already told the germans that they would not fight against any other nation. Franco wanted to send only one division, in order to pay back Hitler's help in the civil war a few years later, but so many people wanted to join that it was enough to form another 40 divisions more.

    The lack of indiscipline of the spanish troops was soon forgotten afer the bravery shown by generally small combat groups such as companies or platoons in some battles like the assault on soviet positions in the Wholchov river , the siege of leningrad, the rescue of a german company in Possad or the brutal defense of their positions in the Battle of Krasny Bor. After the germans had seen them fighting, many of them said that they felt much more secure with the spaniards alongside them. Some who saw them fighting at Krasny Bor reported that there was only one captain, two leutenants, a Sergeant and three corporals left out of a company of 120 men defending their positions and waiting to whitdraw with the germans (all of them recieved an iron cross).

    Artillery General Jürgens said this to his men about the spaniards:
    "If at the frontline you find a dirty, bad shaved soldier with his books broken and his shirt ripped stand at attention before him, for he is a hero, he is a spaniard..."

    This says it all, the germans thougth the spaniards were indisciplined soldiers, yet tough, hard and experienced fighters (most of them had served in Franco's army in the Civil War).

    About the weaponry it was indeed german, however many officers and NCO's preferred to carry their own spanish pistol: the Astra 200, which had proven to be reliable in the Civil War.

    Here I leave you a link about one of hitlers speeches talking about the european volunteers going to Russia, were the spaniards are included (1:52).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAGn5b2g0jc

    If you want to know anything else about the blue division, please ask.
     
  9. PizzaDevil

    PizzaDevil Member

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    Thanks for the Video Bluedivison!
     
  10. Spaniard

    Spaniard New Member

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  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    A couple of autographs I have:
     
  12. Spaniard

    Spaniard New Member

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    ^^^^^^^^ Interesting that you have these Pictures Autographed. Thanks for shearing
     
  13. efestos

    efestos Member

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  14. BlueDivision250

    BlueDivision250 Member

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    Interesting, I didn't know that Bravo flew as Stalin's escort. I supose that the Soviet Union was full of spaniards that fled from Spain after the civil war. I only have heard of the republican children who ended in Russia, most of them in Leningrad, curiously, the same city the Blue Division sieged with the germans. Thanks for sharing!
     
  15. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Hi;
    Here is a link-with some great photos-as to what the Axis History Forum has on El Division Azul;
    Axis History Forum • View topic - Spanish volunteers 1941-1945, Photos Blue Division -"Di
    I am about halfway through the Kleinfeld/Tambs book ( http://www.bluejacketbooks.com/?pag...61&CLSN_2078=1268511406207844fda4e952754daaee ) and it is seeming to me that the Heer misused the Blues by sending them to the trenches; given the Spanish cabalero fighting traditions, they would have made much better mobile forces.
    JeffinMNUSA
     

    Attached Files:

  16. BlueDivision250

    BlueDivision250 Member

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    Thanks for sharing JeffinMNUSA and yes, I think as well that the Blues were misused, but that's a personal opinion. My guess is that the germans underestimated them at first thinking that their lack of discipline would be an obstacle for the operations coordination, besides they only had animal transport (except for some luxury cars to transport their "pak"s) they wouldn't be able to catch up with the quick german army.
    I don't know if I explained it correctly, forgive me if i haven't
     
  17. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Blue;
    I understand what you are saying. The Germans were wrong in not investing the time and money into incorporating the Blue Division into part of their mobile forces. Consider; most of the Franco forces had some experience with motorized warfare during the Spanish Civil War. Some 70% of the Azuls came with an abundance of combat experience from the SCW and were that most precious of military resources-hardened veterans. AND the Spaniards had a real anger at the Soviets who had ravaged their native land. The Spanish traditions of bravado, aggression and individual initiative would have been positive assets during the fast moving game of armoured thrusts and counterthrusts beyond the frontlines.
    To have used such a fine Mediterranean force as frontline cannon fodder in the Arctic was an unwise use of resources-and was probably the result of German chauvenism as much as the mutual distrust between Hitler and Franco. The Blue Division proved itself to be an excellent fighting force in Northern Russia even in this wastefull role-and left no uncertainty in Der Fuhrer's mind as to what kind of men his forces would be facing if they moved West of the Pyrenees.
    my opinion;
    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. There were also Spanish Republican exiles fighting for the USSR. http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=82295 And a huge Spanish Republican presence in the French Resistance; http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/xgxf6h
    PSS. What got me interested in the subject were a couple of Jewish Partisan accounts of SCW veterans fighting in special forces type missions for the Red Partisans; http://www.ww2f.com/prelude-war-poland-1939/40423-some-great-spanish-civil-war-links.html Totally professional warriors by all accounts and it does seem that the Russians recognized talent when they saw it.
    PSSS. The Germans accounted the Spanish warriors as "second only to the Finns" but...the Spaniards might have actually been equal to or better than the Finns as the Finnish warriors were not operating under the kinds of disadvantages that the Spanish Blues were; not the least of which was the utter bankruptcy of their homeland; http://warandgame.blogspot.com/2009/05/spanish-military-during-world-war-ii.html
    Again PS; and if not a mobile DIV then the Blues could have also made a fine Mountain DIV. A link to a Spanish Blue thread; http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?177986-Spanish-Blue-Division-WWII-Volunteers Interesting that some vets were still wearing their Heer decorations in the 60s.
     
  18. BlueDivision250

    BlueDivision250 Member

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    Jeffin;
    I agree completely, these men were already used to quick advances and urban and open field combat, they were, as you say, hardened veterans, tought fighters (those who served with Millan Astray's Legion had the Bushido, the samurai code, as a code of honor) and above all: loyal to their cause, they believed that the communists were responsible for giving tanks, planes and other supplies to the Republic and taking away our money (they were paid by the Republic with the gold of the Banco de España, the 2º biggest amount of gold in the world). The rage and the wish of revenge they had has been typical spanish behaviour throughout history (they had all been educated on a historical background: "remember what these men did in in the battlefield this day, month or whatever, because we will do the same"). Besides the communist atheism gave them another reason, a religious one. They would have been an icredible motorised force, but they would have given their 100% wherever they put them. They had proved it in Spain and had even been trained by the german Condor Legion, under command of General Von Thoma, so they were used to the german Blitzkrieg,yet the prototype tactic but they knew the basics.

    However it is normal the germans had a bit of distrust at having them withing their main motorised forces since the german army was german.:confused: I mean that they wanted victory to be achieved by german soldiers, to promote the bravery and sacrifice of the german people, not the spanish. Besides, the Nazi idea of "new man" didn't include the spaniards: "A small black-haired man being the next step to evolution? Not likely" I think Adolf should have seen himself in a mirror before writting "Mein Kampf".

    PS: Thanks for the links, every bit of WW2 spanish-related information is welcomed :)
    PSS: About the Finns, they problably thought that as they were nordmen too and the casualties they inflicted to the russians in the Winter War.
    PSSS: Yes it's interesting the veterans still show them on public, the political situation here is a bit disrupting, but they are glad and proud to have fought in what they believed in. Just like every WW2 veteran.

    BlueDivision250
     
  19. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    However it is normal the germans had a bit of distrust at having them withing their main motorised forces since the german army was german.:confused: I mean that they wanted victory to be achieved by german soldiers, to promote the bravery and sacrifice of the german people, not the spanish. Besides, the Nazi idea of "new man" didn't include the spaniards: "A small black-haired man being the next step to evolution? Not likely" I think Adolf should have seen himself in a mirror before writting "Mein Kampf".

    Do you suppose there was just a bit of historical jealousy involved in Hitler's decision to exclude the Spanish Blues from the glory jobs? After all, even at the height of their power the Germans never had anything to compare to the Spanish Empire- and perhaps they were suffering a bit of an inferiority complex from the fact? If Hitler would have been any kind of Historian he would have noted that nobody from the Babylonians onwards ever held an Empire together by force alone.
    Also noted in the Kleinfeld/Tambs book-the Blues did not extend their hatred of Bolshevism to the Russian people-and indeed were often quite popular in the towns of Northern Russia; a direct result of the historical Spanish view of enemy peoples as future members of the Empire, I would suppose ( http://www.pbs.org/kpbs/theborder/history/timeline/1.html ). In a sad footnote; during the battle Krasni Bor when the Blues were driven out of the town they heard gunfire that was said to be the NKVD shooting "collaborators". There were cases of Blues smuggling their Russian wives and girlfriends back to Spain in defiance of Third Reich policies but how many such smugglings there were is unknown.

    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. The Finns live in the North yes, but they are Asiatics. So I guess Herr Hitler could bend his racial theories if it suited his purposes.
     
  20. Long Bars

    Long Bars Member

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    This is very interesting, I never knew about this unit. Guess you learn something new everyday.
     

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