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  • #16
    Hello Olivesntein!!
    Sorry, I have no info about the activites of Enrique Lister in the Soviet Union, still have to search for that...I know things he did during the Civil War, but not much after it. I simply know he fought in the WWII, after the war he stayed in Soviet Union and some years later he departed as he was expulsed from the Communist party as he had some disagreements with the nomenclature.
    But even more interesting is what you way about that Ghost division. I know some members of Blue Division had freedom to stay with the germans after the come back to Spain, and some did, but maybe they adopted some kind of german name for its unit, as Franco, when saw that germans could loose the war, started to aproach the allies and I suppose that having specific unit of spanish with a easy reconigzable name with the germans couldn´t help to that diplomatic movement.

    Hope to know the name of the captain, it would help to start some investigation to know more about, as is really interesting!!

    Cheers!


    Originally posted by olivenstein View Post
    This is very, very interesting, Salva! Do you have any details about what General Lister did on the Eastern Front--I heard that he helped defend Leningrad.

    Also about the Blue Division, or later the Ghost Division, did some fight in the Battle of Berlin along with Scandinavian and French Waffen SS?

    I also heard a former Republican Catholic Basque captain was in the Ghost Division but ended up being anti-Franco again and pro-Basque separatist (don't have his name unfortunately).

    Comment


    • #17
      Yes, I found the name of the Basque Captain: MARTIN ARRIZUBIETA in the long article below on the Ghost Division by W.H. Bowen.

      About Enrique Lister, Peter Kemp in his book "The Thorns of Memory" (who fought in a Carlist cavalry unit and then in the Spain Foreign Legion up until he was badly injured by a Republican mortar in Catalonia early '39) got to met the old Republican General when the former moved back to Spain. Lister received the English Nationalist warmly, saying that he respected "anyone who fought on either side". Kemp also regards Lister as one of the Republic's best generals specializing in night attacks.

      Here's that article, Salva, enjoy!

      The Ghost Battalion: Spaniards in the Waffen-SS, 1944-1945
      by Wayne H. Bowen

      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.

      While there are over 200 books, articles, movies, and other works about the Blue Division, the historiography of Spaniards in the Waffen-SS is much more limited. Two short books, by Fernando Vadillo and Carlos Caballero Jurado, rely on interviews with veterans and selective use of documents, mostly unattributed, to paint a hagiographic portrait of these volunteers. The issue of Spanish volunteers in the SS is also discussed in a dissertation by Kenneth Estes, but his focus is on the broader issue of Western European volunteers rather than those from Spain. Works about the Waffen-SS by Mark Gingerich, Bernd Wegner, Robert Koehl, George Stein, and Felix Steiner pay little or no attention to the issue of Spanish volunteers, whose experience was very different from that of even Western European SS soldiers. Aside from a handful of Swedish, Swiss, and Finnish recruits, Spaniards were the only Europeans to join the SS and German army not from Axis occupied territory. Using Spanish archives, this paper will provide a more complete understanding of the experience of these soldiers.

      By May 1944, when all Spanish soldiers and aviators were withdrawn from the Eastern Front and repatriated to Spain, losses in the Blue Division and Legion were high: 4,500 dead, 8,000 wounded, 7,800 sick, 1,600 frostbitten, and 300 prisoners, deserters, or missing: over 22,000 casualties out of the 47,000 total who fought in the division. With the crushing manpower shortage in Germany and the Third Reich conscripting the very young and old, every possible source for combat units had to be tapped. Their open access to Spanish recruits closed, the Germans began to search out other ways to enroll and retain Spaniards in the armed forces of the Third Reich.

      Some Spaniards refused to be repatriated at all, though their numbers alone were too few to make a significant contribution to Germany's forces. In Spain, however, potential recruits already had begun to seek out opportunities to enlist in the service of the Nazis. As historian Kenneth Estes has written, Spanish volunteers included "soldiers of fortune, ardent antibolshevists, and those seeking employment and living conditions superior to those of Spain." After the devastation of the Civil War, hunger and unemployment were rampant, and on the dark night of 27 January 1944, Jose Valdeon Ruiz and two of his friends, too young to have served in the Spanish Civil War or Blue Division, sneaked across the Spanish border into France with the firm intention of joining the German army.

      Over the next eight months, until the Allies drove the Germans from the Pyrenees, hundreds of Spanish men and boys followed Valdeon Ruiz, crossing illegally from neutral Spain into Nazi-occupied France. The SS even established a special unit in Spain and occupied France, the Sonderstab F (Special Staff F), to recruit these fugitives and provide them with transportation to Germany, work contracts, and identity documents. The Spanish Foreign Ministry and German ambassador in Madrid opposed these activities, as Franco by this time had begun to withdraw aid from Hitler, but elements of the Falange (Franco's political party) and German agencies collaborated in this effort to recruit soldiers for the Nazis.In one week in January 1944, over 100 Spaniards presented themselves at the German embassy in Madrid, attempting to volunteer for military service. As they dribbled across the border, alone or in small groups, these Spanish recruits were taken by train to a holding camp near Versailles, until they reached 300 in number by May 1944.

      A third source of volunteers came from Spanish workers already in Germany. At the beginning of the war, Franco had sent 25,000 volunteer workers to Germany. As their factories were bombed and they were displaced by air raids, some of these workers, seeking to leave the country, enlisted in the German merchant marine in hopes of jumping ship in neutral territory. This was also dangerous, however, as Allied air and naval forces ensured that few vessels survived long at sea. Others volunteers, still committed to the Nazi cause, joined the Organisation Todt, a militarized labor force, one of several units of the Waffen-SS, or a Spanish Legion within the Wehrmacht.

      Their numbers were supplemented by repatriated veterans of the Blue Division who petitioned the Spanish government to be sent to the Third Reich as common laborers, hoping that their prior service would gain them some kind of preference in contracts. German diplomats and labor representatives were more than happy to sign contracts with these volunteers, but such arrangements were considered invalid by the Spanish government; along with withdrawing his troops, Franco had ended the volunteer worker program in late 1943, albeit with the promise of allowing more workers to go to Germany if needed. Without the official support of the Spanish government, few managed to make it to Germany.

      Those who did, along with dozens of other Spanish recruits from elsewhere in the Nazi empire, were then sent to the training base of Stablack-Sud Steinlager in Eastern Prussia. By D-Day, just over 400 had been assembled at this center. At Stablack, the Spaniards were divided into two battalions and deployed to the outskirts of Vienna for eight weeks of training, led by officers who had been liaisons between the Blue Division and the German military. From 8 June to 20 July, another 150 Spaniards joined the Batallon Fantasma (Ghost Battalion), as the unit was called by its soldiers. The name signified two things: first, the unit's shadowy existence in defiance of official agreements between the German and Spanish government; and second, that knowledge of the unit spread throughout the Spanish communities of Europe through rumor and word of mouth rather than through official declarations.

      According to the Spanish police attache in Rome, who sent back a detailed report on the unit, the Spanish volunteers insisted to the Germans that they did not want Spanish officers over them; this would reflect unfavorably on the Franco regime, they feared, because Franco had promised the Allies that no Spanish nationals would continue to fight for the Axis. As the unit developed, it had a mix of Spanish and German junior officers, but even those who had held commissions in the Blue Division entered the Ghost Battalion as mere enlisted soldiers, having to earn their rank through merit. The commander of the unit was a former German army artillery officer, SS Captain Wolfgang Graefe, who had been attached to the Blue Division.

      While these troops underwent weeks of training to prepare them for the front, other Spaniards were quickly committed to battle. Serving in the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the security service of the SS, these soldiers, some of whom had been recruited by the Germans from among Spanish Republican exiles, fought and spied against Spaniards in the French Resistance and against the Allies in Normandy. The Spanish embassy in Berlin estimated that in summer 1944 there were as many as 1,500 Spaniards working for German security services in France.

      Other collaborationist movements in Europe also provided volunteers for the German armed forces and SS units. For example, approximately 10,000 Frenchmen fought in units such as the Legion des Volontaires Francais (LVF, French Volunteer Legion) and Charlemagne Division of the Waffen-SS between 1941 and 1945. Most of these volunteers were recruited in 1943 and 1944 from members of the Milice Francaise and other collaborationist groups who left France with the Germans to avoid reprisals by the Resistance. Like the Spanish Blue Division, these units fought on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Army, and some, like the Spaniards of the Ghost Battalion, died defending Berlin in 1945. Also like the Spanish enlistees, other Western volunteers joined the Waffen-SS "for such non-idealistic reasons as a desire for adventure, status, glory, or material benefit," as historian George Stein has noted. Fewer, but still a significant percentage, were "adherents of political or nationalist organizations who hoped to improve the fortunes of their movement or to demonstrate their ideological commitment to National Socialism by serving in the SS." Some of the fanaticism among those who remained or joined the Waffen-SS no doubt rested on the fate of foreign volunteers should they fall into enemy hands: repatriation and, in the case of those who came from Allied nations, firing squads or harsh prison sentences.

      The Nazis, scrambling to find more soldiers, by D-Day had recruited 450 Spaniards to serve in the Waffen-SS. Spanish diplomats in Germany warned Madrid about this recruitment effort repeatedly during the summer of 1944, but despite Spanish protests, German officials in Madrid claimed ignorance of the matter or an inability to do anything about it. While most recruits were Spaniards already living in Nazi-occupied Europe, to these must be added the 150 Spaniards who crossed into France in June and July 1944.

      The Spanish soldiers who had joined the Waffen-SS and other German military units fought most extensively on the Eastern Front, but also in the Balkans, against the Resistance in France, and in the final defense of Berlin in 1945. It is difficult to estimate the numbers of Spanish veterans of the Blue Division who served in the Waffen-SS because German records of these enlistments are scarce. We can say something about the potential manpower pool, however; of the over 40,000 Spaniards who served in the Blue Division and Legion, slightly under 400, excluding casualties, known deserters, and those captured by the Soviet Union, did not return to Spain at the end of their tours of duty on the Eastern Front. Of these, 34 were officers (only one of whom was over the rank of captain), 139 were noncommissioned officers, and 210 were soldiers at the rank of corporal or below. Although exact numbers are unavailable, the best estimate puts the number of these Spaniards who fought in the military and security forces of the Third Reich after June 1944 at just under 1,000.

      One Spaniard who established a clear and indisputable record within the SS was Rufino Luis Garcia-Valdajos. Born in 1918, he enlisted in the Blue Division in late 1942, remaining as a volunteer until March 1944, when he remained in Germany rather than be repatriated to Spain. He gained a position with the SD in Paris and worked against the French Resistance until the Nazi retreat forced him to return to Germany in late 1944. There he joined Belgian collaborator Leon Degrelle's SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadierdivision-Wallonie (SS Wallonian Volunteer Grenadier Division) in November 1944. In February 1945, Garcia-Valdajos, now an SS first lieutenant, applied to the SS Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt (RuSHA, Central Office for Race and Resettlement) for permission to marry a German woman living in Berlin, Ursula Jutta-Maria Turcke. After determining that neither Garcia-Valdajos nor his bride had any Jewish ancestry, this permission was granted.

      While the case of Garcia-Valdajos is better documented than most because of his request to marry a German, he was not alone in his enlistment. Many of those who left home to enlist in the German army and Waffen-SS were very young, some still in their teens, who essentially ran away from home to sign up with the Germans, much to the consternation of the Franco regime. The Spanish government's attempts to lobby the German government for the return of these men and boys were unsuccessful. As Franco's ambassador in Berlin informed the Spanish Foreign Ministry, Berlin was unlikely to surrender precious laborers and soldiers to an increasingly unfriendly Madrid, especially as these were volunteers who in many cases did not want to return to Spain.


      The Allies protested strongly to the Spanish Foreign Ministry about these enlistments in German military and intelligence services. Of particular concern to the United States and the Free French representative in Madrid was the alleged service in the Gestapo of dozens of Spaniards in France and rumors that hundreds more were preparing to join them. The Spanish Foreign Ministry vehemently denied knowledge of any enlistment or service in the German military, indicating that perhaps these soldiers and agents might be Spanish expatriate communists who, for "the spirit of adventure and economic necessity," might have enlisted. In any case, the Spanish government asserted, their numbers could not compare with those of Spaniards enlisting in the ranks of the Allies. According to the Spanish foreign minister, the Spanish government had not and would not authorize the enlistment of Spaniards, Blue Division veterans or not, in German military, security, or police forces, nor allow them to aid German forces in France. The foreign minister did, however, admit knowledge of the many Spaniards who had joined the French Resistance or were fighting for the Allies in Northern Italy. Despite these enlistment on both sides, he declared that Spain would not deviate from its "strict neutrality."

      The Spanish Foreign Ministry, despite its statements to the Allies, had extensive knowledge about the illegal service of Spaniards in the Gestapo, Waffen-SS, and Wehrmacht. As early as the spring of 1944, the Spanish Foreign Ministry had confirmed reports from its European embassies that Spaniards were enlisting in German military and intelligence services. This information came, in its most direct form, from Spanish veterans of German service, who began to show up at Spanish legations, consulates, and embassies throughout Europe in early 1944. Often destitute, they told of service in the Balkans, France, and the Eastern Front.While many claimed to have served in the German army, most had worn the uniform of the Waffen-SS.

      The Foreign Ministry was also well aware that recruitment of Spaniards occurred in Spain as well as in Nazi-occupied Europe. The Deutsche Arbeitsfront-DAF (German Labor Front) office in Madrid, which formerly had contracted workers openly, was responsible for much of this recruitment, providing papers, funds, and directions to Spaniards wishing to enlist in the Nazi cause. The Spanish Foreign Ministry also suspected that elements of the Falange were aiding Nazi recruitment efforts. In August 1944 one of the foreign minister's deputies sent a letter to Falangist secretary-general Jose Luis Arrese, asking if the party knew anything about a group of 400 young falangistas allegedly preparing to leave Spain for France to join German occupation forces there. For the Spanish government to publicly admit knowledge of Spanish volunteers would have meant admitting it was unable to stop these clandestine activities, however. Franco may also have feared Allied retaliation.


      After the dissolution of the Blue Legion, Spaniards served in different units of the German armed forces. Most served in two companies (the 101st and 102d) of a unit in the Waffen-SS, the Spanische Freiwilligen Einheit (Spanish Volunteer Unit), which recruited from Spanish workers in Germany, veterans of the Blue Division, and a few adventurers who had crossed illegally from Spain into German-held France. Others served with Leon Degrelle's SS Division, incorporated into the organization as the 3d Spanish Company of the 1st Battalion. The Belgian unit found it easy to recruit Spaniards from those already serving in Germany, as most Iberians found the Prussian discipline of the Wehrmacht too strict and humorless for their "Latin temperaments."

      Throughout the rest of the shrinking Nazi empire, other small units of Spaniards were organized in late 1944 to fight against the Allies in northern Italy, near Potsdam, on the Franco-German border, and elsewhere. The unit in Italy, under the command of a Lieutenant Ortiz, fought against partisans in northern Italy and Yugoslavia. Unlike other Spanish units, it gained a mixed reputation, with accusations of looting, rape, and plunder. Other Spaniards claimed to have served with Otto Skorzeny's commando unit in the Battle of the Bulge.

      One of these units, the 101st Company of Spanish Volunteers, fought a desperate rearguard action near Vatra-Dornei, Romania, defending the Carpathian mountain passes against the Red Army. Led by a German officer, this unit contained some 200 men, mostly veterans of the Blue Division and the Spanish labor force in Germany. During the last half of August 1944, these Spaniards fought doggedly until the defection of Romania on 27 August. Turning their backs to the advancing Soviets, on 31 August what was left of the 101st began a slow retreat northwest. Fighting against attacks from both Soviet forces and Romanian guerrillas, deserted by the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS, the unit was caught between Soviet armies in Hungary and Romania. At the end of October, the few dozen survivors of the unit finally reached Austria. The 101st and its parallel unit, the 102d, were quartered together in Stockerau and Hollabrunn, north of Vienna. The 102d had fought Tito's Yugoslav Partisans in Slovenia and Croatia during the summer of 1944, where it was as mangled as the 101st. All of these units also suffered from desertions, as individuals and small groups fled the front lines to seek what they hoped would be safety in the hands of the Allies or in the interior of Germany.

      Miguel Ezquerra, a veteran of the Blue Division and then a captain in the Waffen-SS, led another small unit into the Battle of the Bulge. He and his men previously had served German counterintelligence in France, fighting against Spanish exiles in the Resistance. Later called the Einheit Ezquerra (Ezquerra Unit), this formation was closely linked to General Wilhelm Faupel, former German Ambassador to Spain, and his Ibero-American Institute, a research center in Berlin that promoted closer Hispano-German and Nazi-Falangist ties. In January 1945, Ezquerra was commissioned to enlist all the Spaniards he could find into one unit, which he would command as a Waffen-SS major. These enlistments greatly troubled the Spanish government, which viewed with alarm news of Spaniards serving in the SS and other Nazi organizations. Apart from the dangers confronting these men, the Franco regime was concerned that they were still wearing the emblem of the Blue Division, a shield with the colors of the Spanish flag, and the word word "Espana" on their uniforms, an obvious and visible compromise of Spanish neutrality. Franco ordered his diplomats remaining in Germany to dissuade Spanish workers from joining the Waffen-SS or German armed forces, but despite the dramatic changes in the European situation, as late as October 1944 some volunteers were still petitioning to be sent to work in Germany.

      Even the Ibero-American Institute, long a stalwart ally, had turned against the Spanish party. Still under the direction of General Faupel, in early 1944 the Institute had taken over the publication of Enlace (Liaison), a newspaper for Spanish workers in Germany published by the Spanish embassy in Berlin from mid-1941 to late 1943. Faupel had gained control over the newspaper by paying its debts to the German government. Edited under Faupel's direction by Martin Arrizubieta, a defrocked Spanish Basque priest and former Republican captain in the Spanish Civil War, the newspaper took on a decidedly anti-Francoist bent in the fall of 1944. Promoting a strange mixture of Nazism and Basque separatism, the paper, continuing under its old title, produced a great deal of confusion among the remaining members of the Spanish colony in Germany. Claiming to be both Falangist and National Socialist, the paper insisted that "the salvation of humanity ... is ... in us, the defenders of the New Order." Identifying with Nazism, Arrizubieta promoted anti-Francoist sentiments among Spanish workers, declaring that "if Germany wins the war, it should not respect the Spanish frontier."

      Faupel, still bitter at Franco for asking Hitler to replace him as ambassador to Spain in 1937, fought to assert control over the dwindling Spanish community of 1944-45. Together with his wife, Edith, the old general won over the most ardent Falangists left in Berlin. The Faupels hoped to use these collaborators someday to overthrow the Franco regime. Despite the protests of the Spanish embassy, the German government refused to silence Faupel and Enlace.

      The Red Army launched its final offensive against Berlin on 16 April, sending into battle hundreds of thousands of men, tens of thousands of tanks and artillery pieces, and an air force that owned the German skies. The city was a fortress, surrounded by five rings of fortifications guaranteed to make the Soviet assault a costly one. Rejecting the pleas of his military and political advisers to fly out of the Berlin pocket, Hitler decided to remain and personally lead the defense of the city, entrusting Joseph Goebbels to embolden the last defenders of Nazism. The Battle of Berlin was an international struggle, pitting Stalin's multiethnic Soviet Army against the outnumbered and outgunned remnants of Hitler's New Order. While the vast majority of Berlin's defenders were Germans in the regular army of the Wehrmacht, Frenchmen, Norwegians, Danes, Italians, Dutch, Romanians, Belgians, Hungarians, and other nationalities, mostly in the Waffen-SS, also defended the dying capital of the Third Reich. In the "apocalyptic atmosphere" of this brutal battle, Spanish accents could be heard from the small band of Iberians remaining in Germany.

      Those non-Germans who kept fighting had abandoned their homes and families to fight for the disappearing dream of the New Order. By 1945, this continental vision was confined to a shrunken remnant of Central Europe, stretching from the Alps to the Norwegian Arctic Circle. In the final months only the most deluded could still have expected victory, the rest hoping for a last minute collapse of the Allied coalition. Fantasy was all that remained, with the surviving Spanish soldiers perhaps dreaming of a last desperate battle, where by force of will Germany and its remaining supporters would expel the invaders from the home of the New Order. What else could they do? They had made their choice: 1945 was not a time for second thoughts. For the most part, however, desperation had replaced hope. Surrender meant imprisonment or death at the hands of the Allies. Desertion was still a crime against Germany, punishable by death. In uniform, these exiles could at least hope to die among comrades.

      From January to April, the Einheit Ezquerra fought on what remained of the Eastern Front, suffering tremendous casualties without much result. After additional recruiting and transfers from other units, by mid-April Ezquerra cobbled together just over 100 Spaniards for the final defense of Berlin. This recruitment was stymied by the actions of journalist and press attache Rodriguez del Castillo, who used his contacts in the DAF, Nazi party, and Armaments Ministry to secure exit permission, work releases, and safe-conduct passes for several hundred Spanish workers.

      Most Spaniards serving in various units of the SS and German armed forces remained at their posts, however. Some, like Miguel Ezquerra, who became a schoolteacher after the war, survived; many did not. Like the millions of Germans and others who laid down their lives to preserve the Third Reich, they did so in the hopes of building a better Europe than the one they had inherited. Whether Falangists or convinced Nazis, the Spaniards of the Ghost Battalion defied their own government to fight for a destructive regime even as it collapsed around them in 1944-45.

      Franco, who had boldly declared in 1942 that one million Spaniards would defend Berlin if need be, retreated under Allied pressure from these declarations as soon as the course of the war changed. The hundreds of Spaniards who wore the uniform of the Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht after D-Day made no such retreat. Franco survived the war with his power base intact: they and their ideology did not.

      The presence of the Spanish volunteers in the final phase of the Third Reich represented a failure for Spanish foreign policy, which was characterized after 1943 by an effort to end collaboration with Nazi Germany. Ironically, the greatest impact of the Ghost Battalion was to undermine the New Order in Spain. After the war, the Franco regime was branded a collaborationist state, and its subsequent exclusion from the United Nations, the Marshall Plan, and the Western alliance structure until 1953 largely resulted from its wartime support to the Nazis, support which it found itself unable to end as cleanly or as quickly as Franco would have preferred.


      Originally posted by Salva View Post
      Hello Olivesntein!!
      Sorry, I have no info about the activites of Enrique Lister in the Soviet Union, still have to search for that...I know things he did during the Civil War, but not much after it. I simply know he fought in the WWII, after the war he stayed in Soviet Union and some years later he departed as he was expulsed from the Communist party as he had some disagreements with the nomenclature.
      But even more interesting is what you way about that Ghost division. I know some members of Blue Division had freedom to stay with the germans after the come back to Spain, and some did, but maybe they adopted some kind of german name for its unit, as Franco, when saw that germans could loose the war, started to aproach the allies and I suppose that having specific unit of spanish with a easy reconigzable name with the germans couldn´t help to that diplomatic movement.

      Hope to know the name of the captain, it would help to start some investigation to know more about, as is really interesting!!

      Cheers!

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by olivenstein View Post
        Also about the Blue Division, or later the Ghost Division, did some fight in the Battle of Berlin along with Scandinavian and French Waffen SS?
        Here is one account of the Blue Division on the Eastern Front, during the first winter of the war in the east.

        At 0800 hours Sergeant Feuer caught sight of men with German steel helmets, wrapped op to the tips of their noses. He called out to them, stumbled over to them, and caught hold of the nearest one: "Kamerad, Kamerad!"
        They embraced. But what on earth was the man saying? Feuer only understood the words "Santa Maria" and "Camarada." But he guessed that "Bienvenido" meant "Welcome." The German combat group had encountered a Spanish unit. Spaniards, volunteers of the 269th Infantry Regiment of the Blue Division, employed on the Eastern Front, north of Lake Ilmen, as the 250th Infantry Division.
        On 10th January the Spanish ski company under Captain Ordas had left the northern shore of Lake Ilmen with 205 men in order to reinforce their German comrades in Vzvad. But the ice barriers on the lake had made the 20 miles as the crow flies into 40 miles as the men had to march. The Spaniards' radio equipment broke down and their compasses froze up.
        When Captain Ordas reached the southern shore of Lake Ilmen a long way west of Vzvad half his men were suffering from severe frostbite. On their further move they were attacked by Siberian assault detachments. The Spaniards fought excellently and even took some prisoners. They recaptured Chernets and, together with a platoon from a police company, repulsed furious Soviet counter-attacks.
        On 21st January only thirty-four men were still alive of the 205 men of the Spanish ski company. Hence the demonstrative way in which they welcomed the German garrison of Vzvad, four miles east of Ushin. Two days later they mounted a counter-attack against the lost strongpoints of Malyy Ushin and Bolshoy Ushin side by side with German infantrymen, in the sector of the 81st Infantry Division, which had only just arrived from France. Twelve Spanish soldiers survived - twelve out of 205.
        Carrell, Paul. Hitler Moves East 1941-1943. Bantam Publishers, Toronto, 1966. pp. 372-373.

        Comment


        • #19
          Very interestig about that priest named Martin Arrizubieta, but in the end is not so strange. Many Basque nationalist were (and are) strongly anticomunists, and during the Spanish civil war they fought the Franco´s Army not because to be loyal to the Republic cause, but to fight against the centralism and spanish nationalism that Franco represented, a threat to the Basque nationalism.

          One point I want to contribute. Long ago I saw a documentary in spanish TV (I don´t remember if was the public TV or some local one) about Blue Division veterans, and was very interesting as also were interviewed some russians talking about its relation during the time the spanish were in the area. That russian testimonies told that they were in a way happy the spanish were there as at least they believed in god and treated the native as normal people, no with the racist and supremacist views of a lot of germans.

          Also a curious testimony I have seen in another TV documentary, was the one of a spanish comunist that joined the Blue Division, only as a way to go to Soviet Union. He deserted the in the first chance he had, and told its reasons to Soviet Union officers, but they didn´t believed his version, that he was a comunist that wanted to join them. He also told that the treatment at the prisoner camp was very rude. I ignore how survived as the short interview ended there.


          About Enrique Lister. Its contribution in the Spanish Civil war is quite well known by its energic way of command the units under his responsibility. But I also have read in some books, that in several critic moments during different campaigns, his attitude was in some way doubtful; one example is told in the book "La Batalla Del Ebro" (edited by Editorial Crítica, 2003) written by Jorge M. Reverte. I´m not capable to find the exact page as I read that book years ago, but I remember that a certain and crucial advance for the operations that could have been done by the units comanded by Lister never were done by unknown reasons. The author even talk about that event as one of the most misterious things in the Ebro capaign.
          Sorry for not giving more details, I should have to read again that book to find the exact pages.

          Hope in the future I can contribute with more detailed info.

          Comment


          • #20
            Hey man, you've already contributed a lot so far! Enjoy your weekend Salva and thanks once again.

            Laurent


            Originally posted by Salva View Post
            Very interestig about that priest named Martin Arrizubieta, but in the end is not so strange. Many Basque nationalist were (and are) strongly anticomunists, and during the Spanish civil war they fought the Franco´s Army not because to be loyal to the Republic cause, but to fight against the centralism and spanish nationalism that Franco represented, a threat to the Basque nationalism.

            One point I want to contribute. Long ago I saw a documentary in spanish TV (I don´t remember if was the public TV or some local one) about Blue Division veterans, and was very interesting as also were interviewed some russians talking about its relation during the time the spanish were in the area. That russian testimonies told that they were in a way happy the spanish were there as at least they believed in god and treated the native as normal people, no with the racist and supremacist views of a lot of germans.

            Also a curious testimony I have seen in another TV documentary, was the one of a spanish comunist that joined the Blue Division, only as a way to go to Soviet Union. He deserted the in the first chance he had, and told its reasons to Soviet Union officers, but they didn´t believed his version, that he was a comunist that wanted to join them. He also told that the treatment at the prisoner camp was very rude. I ignore how survived as the short interview ended there.


            About Enrique Lister. Its contribution in the Spanish Civil war is quite well known by its energic way of command the units under his responsibility. But I also have read in some books, that in several critic moments during different campaigns, his attitude was in some way doubtful; one example is told in the book "La Batalla Del Ebro" (edited by Editorial Crítica, 2003) written by Jorge M. Reverte. I´m not capable to find the exact page as I read that book years ago, but I remember that a certain and crucial advance for the operations that could have been done by the units comanded by Lister never were done by unknown reasons. The author even talk about that event as one of the most misterious things in the Ebro capaign.
            Sorry for not giving more details, I should have to read again that book to find the exact pages.

            Hope in the future I can contribute with more detailed info.

            Comment


            • #21
              Hitler Moves East...? Skoblin, did you not mention that this was the one book that got you so interested in this whole thing? You highly recommend it?


              Originally posted by skoblin View Post
              Here is one account of the Blue Division on the Eastern Front, during the first winter of the war in the east.



              Carrell, Paul. Hitler Moves East 1941-1943. Bantam Publishers, Toronto, 1966. pp. 372-373.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by olivenstein View Post
                Hitler Moves East...? Skoblin, did you not mention that this was the one book that got you so interested in this whole thing? You highly recommend it?
                Mais oui, mon ami. And I do recommend it. Although with provisos. Paul Carrell is an extremely vivid, engaging and compelling writer, but the book itself reflects his background as a former editor of the German propaganda magazine Signal. If you remain cognizant of the fact that it is heavily slanted towards the German view of the conflict - in fact, it is the epitome of the German view - then I do indeed suggest you pick it up. I have probably read it around a dozen times.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by Salva View Post
                  This you talk about changing names of streets is some common in my region, Catalonia, as here the dictatorship repression was very very strong. Some years after the death of Franco, streets with names refered to that regime were changed, but I don´t know any case, at least here in my town, as many of that refer to the civil war, not to Blue Division specificaly. A lot of names of politicians of Franco as Primo de Rivera street, or Carrero Blanco Avenue changed names (well this kind of streets also had other names before the civil war in fact) For example, in my town, there is a avenue called back then Carrero Blanco, and later renamed 11th September (note that the date is refered to the national day of Catalonia, not the bombing of the twin towers!!! a very curious coincidence!!).I know in some places of Spain, were the addiction to the Franco´s regime was more strong, there are still streets, squares and avenues with names refered to the dictator, such as Victoria square, Generalisimo (this was how Franco was named) square, 18th´s July avenue (the date Franco started the war) etc, etec. Recently there was some polemics about removing some Franco statues and monuments in Madrid and Zaragoza, as little by little that kind of symbology is retired. Is curious, as in Spain is happening the contrary than for example in Germany, where the comunistic era symbols, names of the streets etc keept intact, as the germans thought that was better keep it to remember their history. Although some symbols are hard to remove as the El Valle De Los Caídos, megaconstruction made during early years of the dictatorship, where Franco is buried. Also in militay quarters there are a lot of that symbols, as I saw during my military service years ago.
                  Thanks for the detailed reply. As for the monuments, it's all very complicated and deserves a special thread.
                  www.histours.ru

                  Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Here's a Spanish documentary on Republican children evacuated to Russia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arKeK...e=channel_page

                    Originally posted by skoblin View Post
                    Mais oui, mon ami. And I do recommend it. Although with provisos. Paul Carrell is an extremely vivid, engaging and compelling writer, but the book itself reflects his background as a former editor of the German propaganda magazine Signal. If you remain cognizant of the fact that it is heavily slanted towards the German view of the conflict - in fact, it is the epitome of the German view - then I do indeed suggest you pick it up. I have probably read it around a dozen times.
                    Originally posted by Salva View Post
                    Very interestig about that priest named Martin Arrizubieta, but in the end is not so strange. Many Basque nationalist were (and are) strongly anticomunists, and during the Spanish civil war they fought the Franco´s Army not because to be loyal to the Republic cause, but to fight against the centralism and spanish nationalism that Franco represented, a threat to the Basque nationalism.

                    One point I want to contribute. Long ago I saw a documentary in spanish TV (I don´t remember if was the public TV or some local one) about Blue Division veterans, and was very interesting as also were interviewed some russians talking about its relation during the time the spanish were in the area. That russian testimonies told that they were in a way happy the spanish were there as at least they believed in god and treated the native as normal people, no with the racist and supremacist views of a lot of germans.

                    Also a curious testimony I have seen in another TV documentary, was the one of a spanish comunist that joined the Blue Division, only as a way to go to Soviet Union. He deserted the in the first chance he had, and told its reasons to Soviet Union officers, but they didn´t believed his version, that he was a comunist that wanted to join them. He also told that the treatment at the prisoner camp was very rude. I ignore how survived as the short interview ended there.


                    About Enrique Lister. Its contribution in the Spanish Civil war is quite well known by its energic way of command the units under his responsibility. But I also have read in some books, that in several critic moments during different campaigns, his attitude was in some way doubtful; one example is told in the book "La Batalla Del Ebro" (edited by Editorial Crítica, 2003) written by Jorge M. Reverte. I´m not capable to find the exact page as I read that book years ago, but I remember that a certain and crucial advance for the operations that could have been done by the units comanded by Lister never were done by unknown reasons. The author even talk about that event as one of the most misterious things in the Ebro capaign.
                    Sorry for not giving more details, I should have to read again that book to find the exact pages.

                    Hope in the future I can contribute with more detailed info.
                    Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                    Thanks for the detailed reply. As for the monuments, it's all very complicated and deserves a special thread.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      What book do you recommend on the Russian point of view (in English or French)?

                      And Skoblin--one day you are going to write the granddaddies of Eastern Front history books/site chokfull of pics and maps (possibly covering both WWI and WWII and thereafter even Korea?!)

                      Here's one for you and everyone else reading this on Stalin and the Spanish Civil War: http://www.gutenberg-e.org/kod01/frames/fkodimg.html


                      Originally posted by skoblin View Post
                      Mais oui, mon ami. And I do recommend it. Although with provisos. Paul Carrell is an extremely vivid, engaging and compelling writer, but the book itself reflects his background as a former editor of the German propaganda magazine Signal. If you remain cognizant of the fact that it is heavily slanted towards the German view of the conflict - in fact, it is the epitome of the German view - then I do indeed suggest you pick it up. I have probably read it around a dozen times.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        There is a documentary in the catalonian TV about El Oro de Moscú (in english, Moscow´s gold), is about the gold bars that the republican goverment sent to Soviet Union to pay for the weapons they asked for. A strange story is about a lost truck full of gold bars during the retreat that the republican forces were doing in Catalonia, going to the french border. It seems that that truck was lost or robbed and nobody knows what happened to it, surely is one of that strange myths that each war create.
                        But the best about of Moscow´s gold is about the smoothness that the Soviet goverment did to increase the price of all weapons, and how the soviet dirigents filled their pockets with that spanish gold reserves, very sad in my view.
                        About this aspect of the weapon selling to the republicans, there is a book that talk about this, there you can learn how speculators and dealers sold very old weapons to very high prices, and the difficulties of the republicans to buy weapons in good state. This is the book, "Arms for Spain: The Untold Story of the Spanish Civil War" written by Gerald Howson, edited by John Murray, London, 1998. Of course I have the spanish version translated.
                        Very recommended!!!


                        Originally posted by olivenstein View Post
                        Here's a Spanish documentary on Republican children evacuated to Russia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arKeK...e=channel_page

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Russians, Moors, and Portuguese

                          Salva, did any Russian tank crews/pilots/support staff desert to the Nationalist side where there were many White Russians?

                          And on the opposite side of the line, where there any Morroccans who deserted or were captured who joined the Republicans?

                          What about the Portuguese? Any deserters as well to go fight for the Republican side--or did the Portuguese all join the Spanish Foreign Legion "el Tercio". Interesting that Portugal fought in Flanders in WWI while Spain stayed neutral--possibly some veterans of WWI also fought in WWI

                          No one discusses the Portuguese and rarely el Moros...are there any books about them?


                          Originally posted by Salva View Post
                          There is a documentary in the catalonian TV about El Oro de Moscú (in english, Moscow´s gold), is about the gold bars that the republican goverment sent to Soviet Union to pay for the weapons they asked for. A strange story is about a lost truck full of gold bars during the retreat that the republican forces were doing in Catalonia, going to the french border. It seems that that truck was lost or robbed and nobody knows what happened to it, surely is one of that strange myths that each war create.
                          But the best about of Moscow´s gold is about the smoothness that the Soviet goverment did to increase the price of all weapons, and how the soviet dirigents filled their pockets with that spanish gold reserves, very sad in my view.
                          About this aspect of the weapon selling to the republicans, there is a book that talk about this, there you can learn how speculators and dealers sold very old weapons to very high prices, and the difficulties of the republicans to buy weapons in good state. This is the book, "Arms for Spain: The Untold Story of the Spanish Civil War" written by Gerald Howson, edited by John Murray, London, 1998. Of course I have the spanish version translated.
                          Very recommended!!!

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Hey Olivenstein! It was long time since I don´t visit this forum.
                            As for your question, I doubt any russian fighting with the republicans deserted, and I never read anything about that. Maybe the nationalists did some prisoner, but deserters I have many doubts as all russians were volunteers or very reliable communists.

                            About Morroccans with republicans, I know there were an amount of volunteers, not much, and I know all Morroccans figthing with the nationalists that felt prisoners inmediately were executed, as Morroccans had a very bad reputation withing the republican army, as a lot of them (not all) were into rapings, pillage, etc...

                            I´m sure a lot of porgutese fighted with the nationalist, and I´m sure some did it with republicans, but about this I still have to read some book or article. I know that nationalists accepted volunteers from countries such as Finland and Ireland, and I guess that some more from others I don´t know. But they were in little amount, nothing comparable to germans or italians.

                            I know there are some books about Morroccans volunteers, but I should have to see the magazine where I reat the review of it. That kind of books are hard to find even here in Spain, as are works very limited and not in all libraries are available.
                            A very positive thing lately in Spain is that are being released a good amount of books about the civil war.

                            Cheers!!

                            Originally posted by olivenstein View Post
                            Salva, did any Russian tank crews/pilots/support staff desert to the Nationalist side where there were many White Russians?

                            And on the opposite side of the line, where there any Morroccans who deserted or were captured who joined the Republicans?

                            What about the Portuguese? Any deserters as well to go fight for the Republican side--or did the Portuguese all join the Spanish Foreign Legion "el Tercio". Interesting that Portugal fought in Flanders in WWI while Spain stayed neutral--possibly some veterans of WWI also fought in WWI

                            No one discusses the Portuguese and rarely el Moros...are there any books about them?

                            Comment

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