In January "Silence in the Snow" was released, a film that delves into the war theme of the WWII, and that mentions the Blue Division. But what was this division?
The film this time does not deal with such recurring episodes as the invasion of France, the battle of England or the attack on Pearl Harbor as the film industry is accustomed to us, it deals with the not so well known story of a group of Spanish volunteers who embarked for Russia, joining the German army in their fight against the Soviets.
Today, from Network HistoryWe want to bring you closer to the adventure of that division, which would go down in the annals under the name of "Blue Division”, From the most objective point of view possible.
Spain never officially aligned itself with the German bloc in the WWII, how to do it if you just got out of a bloody internal war how was the battle of the Ebro in which brother against brother and parents against children had been fought, leaving the peninsula in the worst of miseries.
But nevertheless, Frank had required German arms support to win the contest, contracting a large debt to Hitler, debt to be paid.
The Blue Division: Franco pays off his debt to Hitler
Spain needed to maintain neutral state facing the outside world, since being directly involved in the Second Great War, in the situation in which he found himself, would have meant his ruin.
So, Frank communicated to the German government a plan to deliver a division of 18,000 Spanish volunteers who would support the German army in its march to Russia.
Much has been debated about the motivations of those men who embarked on such a mission, but these were the most diverse.
Some, indeed, they saw communism as a great threat not only for Europe but for Spain itself, which had just come out of a internal war and they saw in the return of this ideology another new war on the smoking Spanish ruins.
Others, more pragmatic, they considered the payments that they would receive from both the Spanish and German states, at a time of misery and serious economic difficulties for the peninsula.
But there were also some, and this is a little known fact, who were “offered"The opportunity to forgive their years in prison and even their lives for enlisting in the division.
The July 13, 1941 The first contingent of Spaniards left Madrid for Germany.
With only four weeks of instruction in Grafenwöhr (Bavaria) the group would form the 250 infantry division of the German army, initially made up of three infantry regiments and one artillery regiments, also counting on divisions of anti-tank, exploration and sappers (highly effective apparently).
The battles of the Blue Division
The Blue Division It was used in several battles, but perhaps the most relevant was that of the siege of Leningrad.
At this point we must comment that, although sad, the truth is that the Spanish force was not seen by the whole of the German army as equals, but rather as a group of scruffy men who most of the time were used as cannon fodder, the fierce vanguard that fell with the first volleys.
It is true that there are sources and quotes from German commanders that “they praise" the Spanish heroism and courageBut the general vision was that of a group of tough expendable militiamen.
Russian opinion on Spanish soldiers
And yet, the chronicles left by the Russian civilians convey a marked differentiating character between the Spanish and German combatants, since apparently the Blue Division cared for the Russian population of the occupied areas and there is even some loose data on a soldier accused of insubordination for confronting German troops with reprehensible behavior against the Russian population.
Is that the Blue Division fought against the Soviet army, not against the Russian population, something that is rarely taken into account. In fact, the Soviet army razed their own territories to supply the troops, so they were not necessarily wanted by the civilian population either.
In any case, the Blue Division suffered enormously in Russian territory, with countless casualties caused by the fighting and extreme weather conditions.
The large number of casualties, which were inflated with the second batch of fresh troops in 1942, together with the pressure that the allied bloc promoted against Frank, resulted in the order for the repatriation of troops in 1943, although not all the survivors returned to their land.
Some would move to fight the french resistance, others stayed in the German units and there were also those who settled in Russian lands, contracting marriage with the civil population and whose children and grandchildren would return years later to know the country of origin of their ancestors
Images: Public domain