WHAT IS THE BLUE DIVISION ?
An unit of about 18.000 volunteers (a large majority of Spanishes but
also some Portugueses). Created by Franco‘s foreign minister Ramon Serrano Suner who wanted to thank Hitler's Germany for his help in the Spanish Civil War. Began in the 24th of June, in 1941 (date of Hitler's approvation)and finished in the 17th of November, in 1943 (date of the official dissolution of the Blue Division). ORIGIN OF THE NAME: when they arrived at the military camp in Grafenwöhr, Spanish militaries wanted to keep their blue shirt instead of swearing the Werhmacht's official uniforms. Also named Spanish Division of Volunteers or the 250th Division. It was affected to Army Group North (Heeresgruppe Nord in German).
FIRST PART: RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SPAIN
AND GERMANY (FRANCO AND HITLER) THROUGH THE BLUE DIVISION. SECOND PART: THE EVOLUTION OF THE BLUE DIVISION AND THE FIGHTINGS ON THE EASTERN FRONT
FIRST PART: RELATIONSHIPS
BETWEEN SPAIN AND GERMANY (FRANCO AND HITLER) THROUGH THE BLUE DIVISION.
MAIN QUESTION: WAS FRANCO A GERMANY'S VASSAL ?
Trough this question..
.. incertain. we will focus on the
relationships between Franco's Spain and Hitler's Germany. In fact. And we can notice that their relationships were a bit complicated. we can oppose many arguments who were contradictories. ambiguous.
FRANCO WAS LIKE A VASSAL !
. Sent Spanish Volunteers in the Werhmacht => In
this way was born the Blue Division.FIRST REASON
Franco has a debt to Hitler: he helped him during the Spanish Civil War.
How to return the favor?
Answer given by Ramon Serrano Suner.
Taking advantage of invasion of USSR by Hitler.
. Communism and Bolchevism (Franco's main ennemies). for Franco point of view.
An opportunity to rejoin the winners side. Franco has an interest to help Hitler to conquest USSR.
Franco authorized a sending of professional soldiers and ex-soldiers => A real wish to beat Communism.
Adolf Hitler. en su lucha contra el bolchevismo y que combatiréis como valientes soldados dispuestos a dar vuestra vida en cada momento por cumplir este juramento?". in his fighting against bolchevism ? Will you fight like brave soldiers. ready to give your life at every moment in order to perform your oath ?".THIRD REASON honor de españoles "¿Juráis ante Dios y por vuestro
absoluta obediencia al jefe supremo del ejército alemán. "Will you swear in front of God and for your Spanish honnor absolute obedience to the supreme chief of the German Army. Adolf Hitler.
But.MINI CONCLUSION AND TRANSITION
So much clues that let us think
that Franco was totally submised to Hitler. we will see the other side of Franco's relationship with Hitler. on the other hand.
..B.WE HAVE TO RELATIVISE..
That was the only reason.
Didn’t sent the Blue Division by
allegance but because he has a debt and because he wanted to beat Communism.
Franco and Spain were neutrals.
not professional soldiers ! So. Franco was not (officially) responsible of the
invasion of USSR by the Blue Division ! Volunteers are sent in the Eastern Front.SECOND REASON
F. Spain (as a state) had not officially invaded USSR !
=> SYMBOLIC ! The oath itself had been changed for priests engaged in the Blue Division.
. because of their pontifical condamnation of Nazism.THIRD REASON
Spanish militaries wanted to keep their blue shirt
instead of swearing the Werhmacht's official uniforms.
.youtube.CONCRETE ILLUSTRATION : HITLER’S REACTION AFTER THE BLUE DIVISION’S RETURNING TO SPAIN
MINI CONCLUSION AND TRANSITION
So. having some territories and colonies) but could not accept Nazism ideology. who have done many things only to his interests. Franco's relationship with Hitler was not
very easy to define. selfish. we can wonder us: Who was the piece of whose in the European Chess ?
. Franco was not antisemit. Finally. In our opinion. not really racist. but not at the same level than Hitler. that's clear. the main thesis was that: Franco has quite good relationships with Hitler for interests (fighting Communism. Franco was from ultraright. He was only a dictator. It was a bit ambiguous.
SECOND PART: THE EVOLUTION OF THE BLUE DIVISION AND THE FIGHTINGS ON THE EASTERN FRONT
NECESSARY CONDITIONS TO BE A VOLUNTEER
Having between 20 and 28 years.
. The official division must come from the army and the 2/3 of suboficials of the army as well The 85% of air army pilots and observers (around 2100) have been inscribed as volunteers. and go through an exhaustive medical exhamination The 75% must demostrate they were ex combatant. The other 25% were captive or served enaugh in the national cause during the civil war.
Configuration of Blue Division in 1941 (aproximately 18. 1 health care
The comandant of Blue Division was going to be Muñoz Grandes.000 members)
3 infantry regiment ( 3 battalions/regiment) 1 fix deposit regiment (3 batalions) 1 artillery regiment (1 group 150 mm and 3 groups of 105 mm) 1 sapper batalion 4 logistic groups: 1 transmission. 1 transport. They went to eastern front in July 1941
. 1 quatermaster corps.
lack of horses and winter clothes Blue Division became a part of the XXXVIII German Corp of General Von Chappuis Powerful atack of the Red Army that made useless the advance of Blue Division The capitan was Agustin Muñoz Grandes. They had war honours in this action
.The Blue Division into combat: Fight offensive in the east of the Volkhov
the battle front is 40 kilometers in swampy land
Novgorod was provincial capital and important communication centre Logistic problems. food problems.
Static resistance on the west bank of the river Volkhov
The proposal of Muñoz Grandes was a winter defensive front The blue division was removed of the west part of the River Volkhov The front is stabilized December 1941 the first 3 weeks the Soviets counterattack to access the west side of the Volkhov river. Lieutenant Garcia Rebull Strikes again fiercely recovering the lost positions Year 1941 ends with 1400 Blue Division and 250 000 of the German army deaths
. achieving its goal in two villages:Teremets and Gorka.
Planning to take Smolensk. They had war honours in this action
In the Volkhov the soviets take Teremets (west side)
Hitler recognized that German soldiers are glad to have the Spanish. 1942 bodes ill omens. attacking Volkhov defenses to go to Leningrad
The Blue Division was to help German soldiers besieged in 546 Vsvad (Mouth of Lovat) by the Company of Skiers
Successful operation of Blue Division. The Red Army unleashed the Great Winter Offensive.
Moscow and Leningrad has resisted. attempting to establish communications with Leningrad.
Volkhov offensive was a failure.
Volkhov front line map
For the summer.
The I Corps.
. In the bag there were 130. try to take Leningrad
The German army groups involved were the XXXVIII
The 126 Division and Blue Division reinforced with 58 would attack from the south. The Russian armies possessed 52 º and 59 º.Operation Predator and it´s impact on Blue Division
Its aim is to encircle and destroy the Soviet bag located in the west side of the River Volkhov.000Russians. consisting of the 215 Division and the SS Polizei Division would close the clamp from the north. and the 2nd Shock Army.
The Soviets give the order to escape the siege.
.000 men. casualties amounted to nearly 1. General Friedrich Altrichter indicates that the Division 58 prevented a general breakdown of the front helping the spanish units. It seemed the same was going to happen with the rest of the operation Polizei Division succeed to reach its objectives. He moved south to link with the 58 Division. od 30 thousand 14 thousand do not succeed.
The win in the end was ephemeral. this penetration was doomed to failure. The Roman Battalion moved north along the river bank.300. Operation Predator began on 15 March. completing the encirclement of the Russian forces. very late.
Predator Operation map
Now the blue division will protect the southwest in the assault on Leningrad.
Von Manstein was ordered to lead the operations of corps L and XXVI Army The front covered 30 km from Puschkin to Kraksny Bor.
.000 soldiers atack supported by tanks and artillery. aproximately 6000 divisionaries resisted a 45.Last Front: 1943 Leningrad and Krasny Bor
After 10 long months in the Volkhov. The plan “Northern Lights” to take over Leningrad was canceled because of Stalingrad disaster Blue Division could resist a tough atack of the Red Army.
Krasny Bor map
General Infantes was condecotared with the iron cross. Two days later.
Idealistic and romantic soldiers couldn´t imagine in Madrid UK and US were preassuring the spanish government to finish Blue Division. General Lindemann acepted Blue Division Replacement.Repatriation
In June 1943 Stalin´s organs and katiushas were boming spanish possitions all the time. He recieved a notification that indicates the blue division must come back and leave the front line of battle.
The Blue Division was replaced by the 123 German Division 7th october 1943.
. The front was blocked.
like the iron cross.
The effort and braveness of Blue Division has been recognized by Germany. the most part of the troops were against this decision. dirty. The preassure of England and United States has provoked the withdrawal of the spanish blue division. with run down boots. the german embassy in Madrid received a lot of requests of soldiers who didn´t acept the order. "If at the front you meet an unshaven soldier. Even if volunteers who were going to parcitipate in axis army were threatened. he is a Spaniard" General of the Artillery Jürgens Commander of the XXXVIII Korps.
When the division was forced to return to Spain in 1943. stay to attention. and unbuttoned tunic. he is a hero. Some of their members got the biggest german condecorations.
47 thousand soldiers were part of Blue Division. The main objectives of Falange are fighting comunism and creating a fascist unit. Besides 18 thousand soldiers were treated in spanish hospitals. hurted. made them prisioners. during the assedy of Berlin. The final of the war was very hard. the axis was going to lose the war and volunteers were asking theirselves if all the effort was not worthless. they were not the same anymore.
. 300 prisioners were sent to Siberia. Hedilla was fired and Franco took all the power. not coming back to Spain until 1954 (when Stalin died). The last batallion to participate in the war was leaded by Miguel Ezguera Sanchez. After the civil war and the fussion with carlism. 4500 volunteers were buried in russian land. 22 thousand were killed. almost 50% of the Division was damaged. The best part of youth idealistic spanish fascist men didn´t come back to Spain.
He was adored by the soldiers and oficials of the front line of combat
. Divisionaries were strong atacking and tough in the deffensive line. not like germans who considered them inferiors.
German and spanish tactic of war was completly different. both political and militar. creating a deep defense and interconnections. the seconds prefer to build strong isolated points. Spain have to demostrate that our soldiers could and would be able to combat with the germans. Blue Division has two purposes. the german counterpart were doing the contrary. they were the first. Officials lead the actions. Like combat force divisionaries were able to do everything. In the beginings it was leaded by Muñoz Grandes. Protecting was almost considered cowardice. They were considered a brave enemy. independent of the cost. being able to adapt to the hardest situation possible. Spanish militar tactic was more based in improvisation Local people of conquested territories protected spanish soldiers of partisans and Rd Army. he didnt acept cowardice. Soldiers who tried to scape or refuse to fight were executed. Spanish soldiers had a lot of respect for russian soldiers. If the firsts prefer to buil defensive positions in a static form.
they wanted that Spain would join the war in the Axis side.
. veterans of war were asking theirselves if all the effort in Russia was worth. Later Esteban Infantes replaced Muñoz Grandes. services and logistic was improved but he was more distant of the front line. Like Asensio and Yague. When Blue Division came back home. Franco didn´t trust anyone but himself. He was remembering the pact Molotov Ribentropp. he would never put the spanish destiny in different hands. Blue Division didn´t combat as a whole. Muñoz Grandes and Falange Party searched a new place for Spain in the New World Order that would be commanded by the Axis. the steal of Poland and the effort of Finland.
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encrucijada de la II Guerra Mundial / Emilio SáenzFrancés San Baldomero. Kleinfeld y Lewis A.
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