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"The Ghost Battalion: Spaniards in the Waffen-SS..." Topic

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World War Two on the Land

823 hits since 22 Jun 2016
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 In the TMP Dawghouse22 Jun 2016 11:30 a.m. PST

…, 1944-1945.

"In April 1939, after three years of fighting, Generalismo Francisco Franco and his right-wing forces finally defeated Spain's Popular Front army to win the Spanish civil war. Franco had received much support from Adolf Hitler in his revolt against the democratically elected leftist government, which in turn left him indebted to Germany at the war's end. Though Spain officially remained neutral throughout World War II, in 1941, Franco on his own initiative provided a unit of soldiers, known as the Blue Division for the shirts worn by its Falangist enlistees, and an air squadron to help the Nazis in their war against Soviet communism and repay his debt to Hitler. The United States, Great Britain, and the Free French government vehemently protested this violation of neutrality, and as the tide of the war began to turn against Hitler, Franco bowed to Allied political pressure and agreed to end all aid to Germany.

Spain's official military contribution to Nazi Germany ended in spring 1944, when the last soldiers of the Legion Espanola de Voluntarios (Spanish Legion of Volunteers), also known as the Legion Azul, or Blue Legion, were withdrawn from the Eastern Front and repatriated to Spain. The Blue Division had already been withdrawn the previous November under Allied pressure, to be replaced by the smaller 1,000-1,200-man Legion Azul. The official withdrawal did not end Spanish involvement in World War II, however; even as the soldiers of the Blue Division and Legion were crossing from France into Spain, some of their compatriots were headed in the opposite direction.

From late 1943 to the end of the war, several hundred Spaniards enlisted in the Waffen-SS (militarized units of the SS) and the German army, leaving their homes and families to serve Nazi Germany. While most sought adventure or material gain, these Spaniards also represented the persistence of support among certain elements of the Spanish population for the New Order, a "Third Way" that would avoid the errors of communism and liberal democracy. Convinced that they had fought for such a New Order for Franco in Spain and on the Eastern Front, they sacrificed everything for the vision of Hitler. Their numbers were small, however, and their presence had far less impact than they anticipated, certainly not in the way they expected. Rather than being the vanguard of a new Europe, most died in the rubble of a crumbling empire, and their activities remained a black mark against the Spanish government as Franco's regime was branded a collaborationist state and left politically isolated until the mid-1950s…"
Full article here

Part II here…


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