Comenius

Comenius
Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

THE BLUE DIVISION

The 250.Einheit spanischer Freiwilliger of the Wehrmacht. That was the name given to the Blue Division when it finished its instruction in the military camp of Grafenwöhr, in Bavaria. It was formed of a group of voluntaries (nearly 18000 men), veterans from the Spanish Civil War, that were sent by Franco to Germany, in exchange for the help that Hitler gave to the Phalanx during the war. It became well known because of its performance in the Eastern Front.


During the Civil War, Adolf Hitler sent to Spain military reinforcements that would be known later on as the Condor Legion. After the war, and looking to thank the Führer for his help, Franco started recruiting veterans from the war. After gathering around eighteen thousand men, the newly created division, the 13 of July of 1941, was sent to Bavaria, to receive instruction in the siege warfare. The 20 of August they took an oath to Hitler, making special emphasis in the war against communism. After travelling by train and by feet through all Eastern Europe, they arrived to Russia. There, they joined the XXXVIII Brigade of the German Army, and deployed in the Siege of Leningrad. It was there were they first fought against the Russian army, and suffered a lot of casualties, due to the strong resistance of the Russians, and the severe cold of the area. It was only one year later that Spain sent reinforcements to the division, but most of them were recruits, not very accustomed to the war. The Blue Division saw its sunset when the Stalingrad Siege was broken. The Spanish casualties were substituted with German soldiers. Finally, the Allies pressured Franco to withdraw the troops, which was done the 10 of October of 1943. However, some soldiers, nearly 3000 men, denied to withdraw, and were distributed through the different fronts, like Latvia, Yugoslavia and France. Some legions were present during the Berlin Battle.

But, why were they called “Blue Division”? When they arrived to Germany and were given the uniform of the German army, the Wehrmacht, they refused to change their blue shirt instead of the regulatory one. Because of this, they were called Blue Division. It was formed of fascists, most of them just veterans of the Civil War, but among them we could found some important political figures, such as José Miguel Guitarte, National Counselor and National Leader of the SEU. The leader of the Blue Division was the general Agustín Muñóz Grandes, who was later substituted by the general Emilio Esteban Infantes.


More than sixteen thousand men were considered casualties in the war, among them dead, mutilated and injured soldiers. The Blue Division received more than two thousand medals, among them 138 First Class Iron Crosses and 2 Gentlemen Crosses, considered one of the greatest awards in the Nazi German. Nowadays, several tributes were made in honor to the fallen combatants of the division. The last of them was in 2013, when a diploma was given to the Brotherhood of Veterans of the Blue Division. This tribute has been seriously criticized by the international media. 

GUILLERMO LÓPEZ MONGE

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