Condor Legion

Condor Legion

Overview
The Condor Legion was a unit composed of volunteers from the German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 Air Force (Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

) and from the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) which served with the Nationalists
National Faction (Spanish Civil War)
The National faction also known as Nationalists or Nationals , was a major faction in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. It was composed of a variety of political groups opposed to the Second Spanish Republic, including the Falange, the CEDA, and two rival monarchist claimants: the Alfonsists...

 during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 of July 1936 to March 1939. The Condor Legion developed methods of terror bombing which were used widely in the Second World War shortly afterwards. The bombing of Guernica
Bombing of Guernica
The bombing of Guernica was an aerial attack on the Basque town of Guernica, Spain, causing widespread destruction and civilian deaths, during the Spanish Civil War...

 was the most infamous operation carried out by the Condor Legion during this period.
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Encyclopedia
The Condor Legion was a unit composed of volunteers from the German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 Air Force (Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

) and from the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) which served with the Nationalists
National Faction (Spanish Civil War)
The National faction also known as Nationalists or Nationals , was a major faction in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. It was composed of a variety of political groups opposed to the Second Spanish Republic, including the Falange, the CEDA, and two rival monarchist claimants: the Alfonsists...

 during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 of July 1936 to March 1939. The Condor Legion developed methods of terror bombing which were used widely in the Second World War shortly afterwards. The bombing of Guernica
Bombing of Guernica
The bombing of Guernica was an aerial attack on the Basque town of Guernica, Spain, causing widespread destruction and civilian deaths, during the Spanish Civil War...

 was the most infamous operation carried out by the Condor Legion during this period. Hugo Sperrle
Hugo Sperrle
Hugo Sperrle was a German field marshal of the Luftwaffe during World War II. His forces were deployed solely on the Western Front and the Mediterranean throughout the war...

 commanded the aircraft units of the Condor Legion and Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
Wilhelm Josef Ritter von Thoma was a German officer who served in World War I, in the Spanish Civil War, and as a General der Panzertruppe in World War II.-Early life:...

 commanded the ground units.

History of military aid to Spain






Following the military coup in Spain at the start of the Spanish Civil War, the Spanish Second Republic turned to the Soviet Union and France for support, and the nationalists requested the support of Hitler's Germany and fascist Italy. The first request for German aircraft was made on 22 July, with an order for 10 transport aircraft. Hitler decided to support the nationalists on 25 or 26 July, but was wary of provoking a Europe-wide war. The Reich Air Travel Ministry concluded that nationalist forces would need at least 20 Ju 52s, flown by Luft Hansa
Deutsche Luft Hansa
Deutsche Luft Hansa A.G. was a German airline, serving as flag carrier of the country during the later years of the Weimar Republic and throughout the Third Reich.-1920s:Deutsche Luft Hansa was founded on 6 January 1926 in Berlin...

 pilots, to carry the Army of Africa from Spanish Morocco to Spain. This mission became known as Operation Magic Fire . The joint Spanish-German "Spanish-Moroccan Transport Company" and an entirely German company, the Raw Materials and Good Purchasing Company were established. This involvement was kept covert, hidden from both foreign and economic ministries, and funded with three million Reichmarks.

The organisation and recruitment of German volunteers was also kept secret. The first contingent of 86 men left on 1 August, unaware of where they were going. They were accompanied with six biplane fighters, anti-aircraft guns and about 100 tons of other supplies. They were placed at Tablada airfield near Seville, and accompanied by German Air transport began the airlift of Franco's troops to Spain. Germany's involvement grew in September to encompass the Wehrmacht's other branches; Operation Magic Fire was renamed Operation Guido in November. A wide belief was that the soldiers would train Spanish nationalists, and not engage. The head of the Kriegsmarine provided submarines from 24 October. The German navy also provided various surface ships and coordinated movement of German supplies to Spain. German U-Boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s were dispatched to Spanish waters under the codename Ursula.

In the two weeks following 27 July, German transport moved nearly 2,500 troops of the Army of Africa to Spain. By 11 October, the mission's official end, 13,500 troops, 127 machine guns and 36 field gun
Field gun
A field gun is an artillery piece. Originally the term referred to smaller guns that could accompany a field army on the march and when in combat could be moved about the battlefield in response to changing circumstances, as to opposed guns installed in a fort, or to siege cannon or mortars which...

s had been carried into Spain from Morocco. Over this period there was a movement from training and supply missions of overt combat. The operation leader, Alexander von Scheele, was replaced by Walter Warlimont
Walter Warlimont
Walter Warlimont was a German officer known for his role in the OKW inner circle .-World War I:...

. In September, 86 tons of bombs, 40 Panzer PzKpfw I tanks and 122 personnel had been landed in Spain; they were accompanied with 108 aircraft in the July–October period, split between aircraft for the Nationalist faction itself and planes for German volunteers in Spain.

German air crews supported the Nationalist advance on Madrid, and the successful relief of the Siege of the Alcázar
Siege of the Alcázar
The Siege of the Alcázar was a highly symbolic Nationalist victory in Toledo in the opening stages of the Spanish Civil War. The Alcázar of Toledo was held by a variety of military forces in favor of the Nationalist uprising. Militias of the parties in the Popular Front began their siege on July 21...

. Ultimately, this phase of the Siege of Madrid would be unsuccessful. Soviet air support for the Republican was growing, particularly through the supply of Polikarpov
Polikarpov
Polikarpov Design Bureau was a Soviet OKB for aircraft, led by Nikolai Nikolaevich Polikarpov. After his death on 30 July 1944 at the age of 52, his OKB was absorbed into Lavochkin, but with some of its engineers going to Mikoyan-Gurevich and its production facilities going to Sukhoi...

 aircraft. Warlimont appealed to Nazi Germany to step up support. Following German recognition of Franco's government on 30 September, German efforts in Spain were reorganised and expanded. The existing command structure was replaced with the Winterübung Rügen, and the military units already in Spain were formed into a new legion, which was briefly called the Iron Rations and the Iron Legion before Göring renamed it the Condor Legion . The first German chargé
Chargé
Chargé is a commune in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France.-See also:*Communes of the Indre-et-Loire department...

 to Franco's government, General Wilhelm von FaupelSee also: :de:Wilhelm Faupel , arrived in November, but was told not to interfere in military matters.

Motivation


In the years following the Spanish Civil War, Hitler gave several possible motives for German involvement. Among these were the distraction it provided from German re-militarisation; the prevention of the spread of communism to Western Europe; the creation of a state friendly to Germany to disrupt Britain and France; and the possibilities for economic expansion. Although the offensive on Madrid was abandoned in March 1937, a series of attacks on weaker Republican-controlled areas was supported by Germany; despite prolonging the Civil War, it would help to distract the other western powers from Hitler's ambitions in central Europe. The offensive on Vizcaya
Biscay
Biscay is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Biscay. Its capital city is Bilbao...

, a mining and industrial centre, would help fuel German industry. On 27 June 1937, Hitler (in a speech at Wurzburg
Würzburg
Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia which lies in the northern tip of Bavaria, Germany. Located at the Main River, it is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk Lower Franconia. The regional dialect is Franconian....

) declared he supported Franco to gain control of Spanish ore.

Discussions over German objectives for intervention occurred in January 1937. Germany was keen to avoid prompting a Europe-wide war, which at the time they felt committing further resources to Spain would do. Contradictory views were held by German officials: Ernst von Weizsäcker
Ernst von Weizsäcker
Ernst Freiherr von Weizsäcker was a German diplomat and politician. He served as State Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1938 to 1943, and as German Ambassador to the Holy See from 1943 to 1945...

 suggested it was merely a matter of graceful withdrawal; Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 stated that Germany would never recognise a "red Spain". A joint Italian–German decision, that the last shipments would be made by the start of February, was agreed.

It has been speculated that Hitler used the Spanish Civil War issue to distract Mussolini from Hitler's own designs on and plans for union (Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

) with Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

. The authoritarian Catholic, anti-Nazi Vaterländische Front government of autonomous Austria had been in alliance with Mussolini, and in 1934 the assassination of Austria's authoritarian president Engelbert Dollfuss
Engelbert Dollfuss
Engelbert Dollfuss was an Austrian Christian Social and Patriotic Front statesman. Serving previously as Minister for Forest and Agriculture, he ascended to Federal Chancellor in 1932 in the midst of a crisis for the conservative government...

 had already successfully invoked Italian military assistance in case of a German invasion.

A communique in December 1936, from German ambassador in Rome Ulrich von Hassell
Ulrich von Hassell
Ulrich von Hassell was a German diplomat during World War II. A member of the German Resistance against German dictator Adolf Hitler, Hassell was executed in the aftermath of the failed July 20 plot.- Family :...

 illustrates another point:
The role played by the Spanish conflict as regards Italy's relations with France and England could be similar to that of the Abyssinian conflict, bringing out clearly the actual, opposing interests of the powers and thus preventing Italy from being drawn into the net of the Western powers and used for their machinations. [...] All the more clearly will Italy recognize the advisability of confronting the Western powers shoulder to shoulder with Germany.

Operational record


The Condor Legion, upon establishment, consisted of the Kampfgruppe 88, with three squadrons of Ju 52 bombers and the Jagdgruppe 88
Jagdgruppe 88
Jagdgruppe 88 was a German Condor Legion fighter group serving in the Spanish Civil War. J/88 consisted of a headquarters and four squadrons , although the 4th Staffel was short lived...

 with three squadrons of Heinkel He 51
Heinkel He 51
-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Donald, David, ed. Warplanes of the Luftwaffe. London: Aerospace, 1994. ISBN 1-874023-56-5.* Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. "The Cadre Creator...Heinkel's Last Fighting Biplane". Air Enthusiast No. 36, May-August 1988. pp. 11–24. ISSN 0143-5450.*...

 fighters, the reconnaissance Aufklärungsgruppe 88 (supplemented by the Aufklärungsgruppe See 88), an anti-aircraft group, the Flakbteilung 88, and a signals group, the Nachrichtenabteilung 88. Overall command was given to Hugo Sperrle
Hugo Sperrle
Hugo Sperrle was a German field marshal of the Luftwaffe during World War II. His forces were deployed solely on the Western Front and the Mediterranean throughout the war...

, with Alexander Holle
Alexander Holle
Alexander Holle was a highly decorated Generalleutnant in the Luftwaffe during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership...

 as chief of staff. Scheele was transferred to become a military attaché in Salamanca. Two armoured units under the command of Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
Wilhelm Josef Ritter von Thoma was a German officer who served in World War I, in the Spanish Civil War, and as a General der Panzertruppe in World War II.-Early life:...

, with four tanks each, were also operational.

The Nationalists were supported by German and Italian units and materials at the Battle of Madrid. However, the military situation in Madrid remained poor for the nationalists, and both German and Italian aircraft (under Franco's direction) began bombing raids on the city as a whole. The Germans were keen to observe the effects of civilian bombings and deliberate burning of the city. Offensives involving German aircraft, as well as the bombings, were unsuccessful. Increasing Republican air superiority became apparent, particularly the strength of the Soviet Polikarpov I-15
Polikarpov I-15
The Polikarpov I-15 was a Soviet biplane fighter aircraft of the 1930s. Nicknamed Chaika because of its gulled upper wings, it was operated in large numbers by the Soviet Air Force, and together with the Polikarpov I-16 monoplane, was one of the standard fighters of the Spanish Republicans during...

 and I-16
Polikarpov I-16
The Polikarpov I-16 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of revolutionary design; it was the world's first cantilever-winged monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear. The I-16 was introduced in the mid-1930s and formed the backbone of the Soviet Air Force at the beginning of World War II...

 aircraft. Historian Hugh Thomas describes their armaments as "primitive". Faupel, in November–December, urged the creation of a single German unit of 15,000–30,000, believing it would be enough to turn the tide of the war to the Nationalists. Hans-Heinrich Dieckhoff
Hans-Heinrich Dieckhoff
Hans-Heinrich Dieckhoff was a German diplomat best known for his service to the Nazi regime.Dieckhoff was born in Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine. From 1937 to November 1938 he served as German ambassador to the United States, until recalled in response to the American recall of its ambassador in...

 argued this would insufficient, and that larger measures could provoke the wrath of the Spanish. Between late 1936 and early 1937, new aircraft were sent to the Condor Legion, including Henschel Hs 123
Henschel Hs 123
The Henschel Hs 123 was a single-seat biplane dive bomber and close-support attack aircraft flown by the German Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War and the early to mid-point of World War II...

 dive bombers, and prototypes of the Heinkel He 112
Heinkel He 112
The Heinkel He 112 was a fighter aircraft designed by Walter and Siegfried Günter. It was one of four aircraft designed to compete for the Luftwaffes 1933 fighter contract, which was eventually won by the Messerschmitt Bf 109...

 and Messerschmitt Bf 109
Messerschmitt Bf 109
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, often called Me 109, was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid 1930s...

, with the last proving the most successful. The Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

 was added to the bomber fleet,See also: Heinkel He 111 operational history#Spanish Civil War along with the Dornier Do 17
Dornier Do 17
The Dornier Do 17, sometimes referred to as the Fliegender Bleistift , was a World War II German light bomber produced by Claudius Dornier's company, Dornier Flugzeugwerke...

 (E and F types). Older aircraft were passed onto the Nationalists. By the end of 1936, 7,000 Germans were in Spain.By comparison, there were now 14,000 Italians supporting Franco's forces. (Thomas (1961). p. 337.).

German forces also operated in the Battle of Jarama
Battle of Jarama
The Battle of Jarama was an attempt by General Franco's Nationalists to dislodge the Republican lines along the river Jarama, just east of Madrid, during the Spanish Civil War...

, which began with a Nationalist offensive on 6 February 1937. It included German-supplied ground forces, including two batteries of machine guns, a tank division, and the Condor Legion's anti-aircraft guns. Bombing by both Republican and Nationalist aircraft, including Ju 52s from the Legion, helped ensure a stalemate. It showed up the inadequacy of the Legion's aircraft, faced with superior Soviet-made fighters. Von Thorma requested Irish nationalist
Irish Brigade (Spanish Civil War)
The Irish Brigade , fought on the Nationalist side of Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. The unit was formed wholly of Roman Catholics by the politician Eoin O'Duffy, who had previously organised the banned quasi-fascist Blueshirts and openly fascist Greenshirts in Ireland...

 support for a tank advance at one point, never to be replicated. Use of He 51 and Ju 52s, and the Legion's anti-aircraft guns used in ground roles, only partly mitigated what was a significant defeat for the Nationalists at the Battle of Guadalajara
Battle of Guadalajara
The Battle of Guadalajara saw the Republican People's Army defeat Italian and Nationalist forces attempting to encircle Madrid during the Spanish Civil War...

 during March. A joint Italian-German general had been set up in January 1937 to advise Franco on war planning. The defeat of a significant Italian force and the growing Soviet superiority in tanks and aircraft led the Germans to support a plan to abandon the offensive on Madrid and instead concentrate a series of attacks on weaker Republican-controlled areas. Whilst many countries believed motorised troops to have been proven less effective than first thought, it was the inadequacy of the Italians as a fighting force that dominated German thought.

The Vizcaya Campaign


The isolated area of Vizcaya
Biscay
Biscay is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Biscay. Its capital city is Bilbao...

, a predominantly Basque part of northern Spain, was the most immediate target, in what was called the War in the North
War in the North
The War in the North, in the Spanish Civil War was the campaign in which the Nationalist forces defeated and occupied the parts of northern Spain that remained loyal to the Republican government. The campaign included several separate battles. The Battle of Bilbao resulted in the loss of the part...

. It was largely a Nationalist and Italian offensive, but was supported by a consistently re-equipping Condor Legion. The terrain was favourable, with the planes coming over a range of mountains to the south, masking their entrance. Sperrle remained in Salamanca; Wolfram von Richthofen
Wolfram von Richthofen
Dr.-Ing. Wolfram Freiherr von RichthofenIn German a Doctorate in engineering is abbreviated as Dr.-Ing. . was a German Generalfeldmarschall of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War...

 replaced Holle in January as deputy and in actual command. Since the Basque air force was very limited, even fighters were used in ground-attack roles. The Legion's air force initially attacked the towns of Ochandiano and Durango
Durango
Durango officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Durango is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. The state is located in Northwest Mexico. With a population of 1,632,934, it has Mexico's second-lowest population density, after Baja...

. Durango had no anti-aircraft defence, and only minor other defences. According to the Basques, 250 civilians died on the 31 March, including the priest, nuns and congregation of a church ceremony. The Germans, with their air raids, were hated. The Basque ground forces were in full retreat towards Bilbao, through the town of Guernica, which was attacked on 26 April in one of the most controversial attacks of the Spanish Civil War.

Guernica



In Operation Rügen, waves of Ju 52 and He 51 planes bombed and strafed targets in Guernica
Guernica
Guernica may refer to:* Guernica , Spanish Basque town, historical capital of Biscay* Bombing of Guernica, an attack on April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War* Guernica , a 1937 painting by Pablo Picasso...

. The number of casualties is a matter of controversy, with perhaps 200–300 people killed; the number reported dead by the Basques was 1,654 dead and 889 wounded. Several explanations were put forward by the Nationalists, including blaming the attack on the Republicans, that the attack on the town had been a prolonged offensive, or that the Rentaria bridge, outside Guernica, was the true target. However, the nature of the operation itself, including the formation and armaments used, makes this seem unlikely. Guernica was a clear target of the Condor Legion, rather than the Nationalists as a whole. The offensive on Bilbao, when it eventually came on 11 July, was supported by ground units of the Condor Legion, and extensive air operations. It proved the worth of the Condor Legion to the Nationalist cause.
The first English language media reports of the destruction in Guernica appeared two days later. George Steer
George Steer
George Lowther Steer was a South African-born British journalist, author and war correspondent who reported on wars preceding World War II, especially the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and the Spanish Civil War...

, a reporter for The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

, who was covering the Spanish Civil War from inside the country, authored the first full account of events. Steer's reporting set the tone for much of the subsequent reportage. Steer pointed out the clear German complicity in the action. The evidence of three small bomb cases stamped with the German Imperial Eagle
Adler
The term Adler, the German word for the bird of prey "eagle", is both the last name of many people and an emblematic bird featured on many blazons since the feudal age, including the present German Bundeswappen and at times on the flags of Austria and Germany...

 made clear that the official German position of neutrality in the Civil War and the signing of a Non-Intervention Pact was a sham
Deception
Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, bad faith, and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth . Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand. It can employ distraction, camouflage or concealment...

. Steer's report was syndicated to the New York Times and then worldwide, generating widespread shock, outrage, and fear.

Further campaigns


The Condor Legion also took part in the Battle of Brunete
Battle of Brunete
The Battle of Brunete , fought 15 miles west of Madrid, was a Republican attempt to alleviate the pressure exerted by the Nationalists on the capital and on the north during the Spanish Civil War...

, designed as a Republican offensive to take the pressure off northern Spain, where fighting was ongoing. The Legion was sent from the north to reinforce the broken line. There were repeated raids on Republican armoured vehicles and later defensive positions by both bombers and fighters based at Salamanca. Republican aircraft were ineffective, despite Nationalist fears, compared with German aircraft; the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was shown to be superior to the I-15 and I-16 models used by Republican forces. The Legion lost 8 aircraft, but claimed 18 victories. German tactics were also improved with the experience of Brunete, particularly the en masse use of tanks by the Nationalists.

The Nationalists returned to focus on the capture of northern Spain. German test aircraft, with latest models, faced an outdated Basque air force, although it did have some Russian planes. Heavy aerial bombardment from 200 Nationalist, German and Italian planes was used far behind Basque lines in August 1937, leading to the fall of Santander
Santander, Cantabria
The port city of Santander is the capital of the autonomous community and historical region of Cantabria situated on the north coast of Spain. Located east of Gijón and west of Bilbao, the city has a population of 183,446 .-History:...

 after the Battle of Santander
Battle of Santander
The Battle of Santander was fought over the summer of 1937 in the War in the North campaign in the Spanish Civil War. Santander's fall on September 1 assured the Nationalist conquest of the province of Santander and marked the last stand of the Republic's "Army of the North," which was destroyed...

 on 1 September. The formal battle in Asturias ended with the fall of Gijón on 21 October. A large amount of ammunitions had been used by the Legion, including a million machine gun rounds and 2,500 tonnes of bombs. Germany immediately began to ship industrial production back to Germany. Sperrle argued repeatedly with Faupel, and against HISMA's monopoly. Faupel was replaced by Franco, through Sperrle. Sperrle also returned to Germany and was replaced by Helmuth Volkmann; following disagreements with Volkmann, Von Richthofen would be replaced with Hermann Plocher
Hermann Plocher
Hermann Plocher was a Luftwaffe commander during World War II and Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves recipient...

 in early 1938.

Whilst the next major campaign – Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 or Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 – was discussed, the Condor Legion was moved to Soria
Soria
Soria is a city in north-central Spain, the capital of the province of Soria in the autonomous community of Castile and León. , the municipality has a population of c. 39,500 inhabitants, nearly 40% of the population of the province...

 and began a week of strikes against Republican airfields, halted by the Republican advance on Teruel
Teruel
Teruel is a town in Aragon, eastern Spain, and the capital of Teruel Province. It has a population of 34,240 in 2006 making it one of the least populated provincial capitals in the country...

 and the ensuing Battle of Teruel
Battle of Teruel
The Battle of Teruel was fought in and around the city of Teruel during the Spanish Civil War in December 1937 – February 1938. The combatants fought the battle during the worst Spanish winter in twenty years. It was one of the bloodier actions of the war. The city changed hands several times,...

. Both the Legion's land and air forces were used, and the Legion moved to Bronchales
Bronchales
Bronchales is a municipality located in the province of Teruel, Aragon, Spain. According to the 2004 census , the municipality has a population of 463 inhabitants....

. Poor weather resulted in few flights, and the town fell to Republican forces on 6 January. Up to 100 sorties a day were launched during the Nationalist's counter-offensive through the Alfambra
Alfambra
Alfambra is a municipality located in the province of Teruel, Aragon, Spain. , the municipality has a population of 676 inhabitants....

 valley. The Junkers Ju 87
Junkers Ju 87
The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka was a two-man German ground-attack aircraft...

A was used for the first time on the advance on Teruel, which was retaken on 22 February. The continued Nationalist offensive on Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

 in April–June 1937, including the Battle of Belchite
Battle of Belchite (1937)
Battle of Belchite was a group of military operations that took place in the Spanish Civil War between 24 August and 7 September 1937 nearby the town of Belchite, in Aragon.-Prelude:...

, involved bombing raids and the use of the Legion's ground forces. The Legion was switched to focus in the north, towards the Segre river
Segre River
The Segre is a river tributary to the Ebro with a basin comprising territories across three states: France, Andorra and Spain....

, before moving south again following Nationalist successes. The Legion moved its main headquarters to Benicarlo
Benicarló
Benicarló is a city and municipality in the north of the province of Castelló, part of the Valencian Community, in the Mediterranean Coast between the cities of Vinaròs and Peníscola, not too far south from the Ebre River....

; single-engined planes operated from airfields nearby, and twin-engined planes from Zaragoza
Zaragoza
Zaragoza , also called Saragossa in English, is the capital city of the Zaragoza Province and of the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain...

. Hitler's words to his colleagues belied a change in attitude about the war in Germany – that a quick victory in the war was not desirable, a mere continuation of the war would be preferable. German policy would be to prevent a Republican defeat. However, casualties were beginning to mount for the Legion and, combined with a resurgence in Republican air activity, the Nationalist advance stalled. This was, perhaps, because of the reluctance of commanders in Germany to supply reinforcements, with the Czechoslovakia crisis
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

 mounting. Arguments over the bill to the Germans – now rising at 10 million Reichmarks a month – continued, unresolved. The Legion's materiel had been exhausted.

On 24–25 July, Republican forces launched the last major offensive of the war, the Battle of the Ebro
Battle of the Ebro
The Battle of the Ebro was the longest and bloodiest battle of the Spanish Civil War...

. Reconnaissance units of the Condor Legion had noticed a troop build-up, and warned Nationalists forces. The warning went unheeded. Although the Republic gained ground, Republican forces failed to gain control of Ganesa
Ganesa
Ganesa can be:* Ganesa, alternate spelling of Ganesha, the Hindu god.* Ganesa , a genus of marine snails in the family Turbinidae....

, with 422 sorties by the Legion (with around 70 aircraft operational) having considerable effect. The rest of the battle saw a series of attacks using artillery or air strikes, followed by a Nationalist ground advance. However, tensions in Czechoslovakia and a shortage of pilots in Germany led to the return of 250 pilots from the Legion, around half of them being bomber crews. Although trained Spaniards made up some of the shortfall, Volkmann complained to central command in Berlin, which would lead to his recall in September. During the battle, which saw 113 days of fighting, only 10 aircraft were lost (some by accident) and 14 were badly damaged; the Legion claimed around 100 Republican aircraft, a third of those lost. Only 5 aircrew had been killed, and 6 captured. Aid from Germany temporarily halted in mid-September. Germany and Nationalist Spain settled the issue of German interests in Spanish mines.

The Legion took a short break from active duty to receive new aircraft, including Bf 109Es, He 111Es and Js, and Hs 126As, bringing its strength to 96 aircraft, around a fifth of the Nationalist's force as a whole. Von Richthofen returned to Spain in overall command, with Hans Seidemann
Hans Seidemann
Hans Seidemann was a World War II Luftwaffe general. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

 as chief of staff. This reinforcement may have been the single most important intervention by a foreign side in the war, enabling a counterattack after the Battle of the Ebro. It mainly took part in operations against the remaining Republican air force during January–February 1939, with considerable success. After it took part in parades in Barcelona and elsewhere, and minor duties over Madrid, it was rapidly dissolved. The men returned on 26 May; the best aircraft were returned to Germany and the rest of the equipment bought by the new Spanish regime.

The Condor Legion claimed to have destroyed 320 Republican planes using aircraft (either shot down or bombed on the ground), and shot down another 52 using anti-aircraft guns. They also claimed to have destroyed 60 ships. They lost 72 aircraft due to hostile action, and another 160 to accidents.

Maritime operations


The Maritime Reconnaissance Staffel 88 was the Condor Legion's maritime unit under the command of Karl Heinz Wolff. Operating independently of the land-based division, it acted against enemy shipping, ports, coastal communications and occasionally inland targets such as bridges. It used floatplane
Floatplane
A floatplane is a type of seaplane, with slender pontoons mounted under the fuselage; only the floats of a floatplane normally come into contact with water, with the fuselage remaining above water...

s, starting with the Heinkel He 60, which began operating at Cadiz in October 1936. Missions started as reconnaissance but, following the move from Cadiz to Mellila
Mellilä
Mellilä is a former municipality of Finland. It was merged to the town of Loimaa on 1 January 2009.It is located in the province of Western Finland and is part of the Finland Proper region. The municipality had a population of 1,254 and covered an area of 110.62 km² of which 0.10 km² is...

 in Spanish Morocco in December 1936, the focus shifted to attacks on shipping. It was again moved in February 1937 to Málaga
Málaga
Málaga is a city and a municipality in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,507 in 2010, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in Spain. This is the southernmost large city in Europe...

, newly captured, and then to Majorca when Málaga proved unsuitable. Beginning in June, operations were expanded to allow attacks on all Republican ports, so long as no British ships were present. 10 ships were attacked in the second half of 1937; however, the Norwegian torpedoes being used proved ineffective, and strafing or bombing targets was used instead.

The arrival of Martin Harlinghausen
Martin Harlinghausen
Martin Harlinghausen was a Luftwaffe Commander during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

 (known as "Iron Gustav") saw operations expand, and operations targeted Alicante
Alicante
Alicante or Alacant is a city in Spain, the capital of the province of Alicante and of the comarca of Alacantí, in the south of the Valencian Community. It is also a historic Mediterranean port. The population of the city of Alicante proper was 334,418, estimated , ranking as the second-largest...

, Almeria
Almería
Almería is a city in Andalusia, Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the capital of the province of the same name.-Toponym:Tradition says that the name Almería stems from the Arabic المرية Al-Mariyya: "The Mirror", comparing it to "The Mirror of the Sea"...

, Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 and Cartegena. As naval activity declined, inland targets became more numerous, and night missions began. Activities in support of ground forces became the main focus of the unit until the end of hostilities. Both Wolff and Harlinghausen received the Spanish Cross in Gold with Swords and Diamonds. In total, eleven men were killed in action, and five others died due to accident or illness.

Other operations



Overtly, the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 was part of force enforcing the Non-Intervention Agreement from interfering in the Civil War. However, this agreement was clearly broken by Germany. As a result, the German pocket battleship Deutschland stood guard over Ceuta
Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 to prevent interference from Republican ships while Franco transported troops to the Spanish mainland. By mid-October, the German North Sea Group around Spain consisted of the pocket battleships Deutschland and Admiral Scheer
German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer
Admiral Scheer was a Deutschland-class heavy cruiser which served with the Kriegsmarine of Nazi Germany during World War II. The vessel was named after Admiral Reinhard Scheer, German commander in the Battle of Jutland. She was laid down at the Reichsmarinewerft shipyard in Wilhelmshaven in June...

, the light cruiser
Light cruiser
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck...

 
Köln
German cruiser Köln
Köln was a German light cruiser prior to and during World War II, one of three K-Class cruisers named after cities starting with the letter K. This ship was named after the city of Köln . The others in her class were the Königsberg and the Karlsruhe...

and four torpedo boat
Torpedo boat
A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval vessel designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and...

s. After the Germans claimed that
Leipzig had been attacked by an unidentified submarine, it did formally withdraw from international patrols.

Operation Ursula (named after the daughter of Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz was a German naval commander during World War II. He started his career in the German Navy during World War I. In 1918, while he was in command of , the submarine was sunk by British forces and Dönitz was taken prisoner...

) saw a group of German U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s active around Spain. It began on 20 November 1936, with the movement of the
U-33 and U-34 from Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

. Any identification marks were obscured, and the whole mission was kept secret. Difficulties in identifying legitimate targets and concerns about discovery limited their operations. During their return to Wilhelmshaven in December, the Republican submarine
C-3 was sunk; the Germans claimed this was due to a torpedo fired from U-34, although the Republican's enquiry claimed its loss was due to an internal explosion. Their return marked the official end of Operation Ursula. However, it does seem that further submarines were sent in mid-1937, but details of the operation are not known; six are believed to have been involved.

Abwehr


The German Intelligence service, the Abwehr
Abwehr
The Abwehr was a German military intelligence organisation from 1921 to 1944. The term Abwehr was used as a concession to Allied demands that Germany's post-World War I intelligence activities be for "defensive" purposes only...

, working independently of the Legion Condor was secretly involved in Operation Bodden. This was to later play a part in the detection of the Operation Torch
Operation Torch
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942....

 invasion fleet.'Bodden' is a reference to the strait separating the Baltic island of Rügen
Rügen
Rügen is Germany's largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Vorpommern-Rügen district of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.- Geography :Rügen is located off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea...

 from the German mainland and the Abwehr operation represented a network of coastal listening stations overseeing a seabed detection system across the Gibraltar straits. Bodden's aim was to gather SIGINT
SIGINT
Signals intelligence is intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether between people , whether involving electronic signals not directly used in communication , or combinations of the two...

 via the underwater detection system and via fourteen infra-red ship surveillance stations (nine in Spain, five in Morocco) which later relayed shipping information to U boats in the Mediterranean and threatening convoys.

Training


It is known that the leaders of the Army were hesitant about becoming involved in the conflict, and resisted a call made by the Italian government for a dual transfer of ground troops to fight in Spain. The involvement of the Luftwaffe, however, was not entirely restricted and a commonly held viewpoint is that the involvement of the Luftwaffe in the Civil War constituted a proving ground for troops employed later during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. This view is supported by the testimony of Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, later Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall literally in ; was the highest rank in the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II after the position of Supreme Commander held by Adolf Hitler....

 of the Luftwaffe, when on trial at the International Military Tribunal in Nürnberg
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

. When asked about the decision to use the Luftwaffe, Göring states:
When the Civil War broke out in Spain, Franco sent a call for help to Germany and asked for support, particularly in the air. One should not forget that Franco with his troops was stationed in Africa and that he could not get the troops across, as the fleet was in the hands of the Communists, or, as they called themselves at the time, the competent Revolutionary Government in Spain. The decisive factor was, first of all, to get his troops over to Spain. The Fuehrer thought the matter over. I urged him to give support [to Franco] under all circumstances, firstly, in order to prevent the further spread of communism in that theater and, secondly, to test my young Luftwaffe at this opportunity in this or that technical respect.Frequently misquoted along the lines of: "The Spanish Civil War gave me an opportunity to put my young air force to the test, and a means for my men to gain experience." or other permutations.


This was also a view put forth in western media following the disengagement of German forces from Spain.

Dozens of Messerschmitt Bf 109
Messerschmitt Bf 109
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, often called Me 109, was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid 1930s...

 fighters and Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

 medium bombers, and from December 1937, at least three Junkers Ju 87
Junkers Ju 87
The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka was a two-man German ground-attack aircraft...

 Stuka dive-bombers, first saw active service in the Condor Legion against Soviet-supplied aircraft. The Stuka's first mission flown in Spain was February 1938. Each of these aircraft played a major role during the early years of the Second World War. The Germans also quickly realized that the days of the biplane
Biplane
A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two superimposed main wings. The Wright brothers' Wright Flyer used a biplane design, as did most aircraft in the early years of aviation. While a biplane wing structure has a structural advantage, it produces more drag than a similar monoplane wing...

 fighter were finished. The Heinkel He 51
Heinkel He 51
-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Donald, David, ed. Warplanes of the Luftwaffe. London: Aerospace, 1994. ISBN 1-874023-56-5.* Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. "The Cadre Creator...Heinkel's Last Fighting Biplane". Air Enthusiast No. 36, May-August 1988. pp. 11–24. ISSN 0143-5450.*...

 fighter, after suffering many losses during the first 12 months of the conflict, was switched to a ground attack role and later saw service as a trainer.

Other units


The Condor Legion also included non-aircraft units. Panzer crews operating Panzerkampfwagen I
Panzer I
The Panzer I was a light tank produced in Germany in the 1930s. The name is short for the German ' , abbreviated . The tank's official German ordnance inventory designation was SdKfz 101 .Design of the Panzer I began in 1932 and mass production in 1934...

 light tanks were commanded by Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
Wilhelm Josef Ritter von Thoma was a German officer who served in World War I, in the Spanish Civil War, and as a General der Panzertruppe in World War II.-Early life:...

. The Germans also tested their 88 mm heavy anti-aircraft artillery
88 mm gun
The 88 mm gun was a German anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun from World War II. It was widely used by Germany throughout the war, and was one of the most recognizable German weapons of the war...

 which they used to destroy Republican tanks and fortifications using direct fire
Indirect fire
Indirect fire means aiming and firing a projectile in a high trajectory without relying on a direct line of sight between the gun and its target, as in the case of direct fire...

, as well as enemy aircraft in their designed role.

German involvement in Spain also saw the development of the first air ambulance
Air ambulance
An air ambulance is an aircraft used for emergency medical assistance in situations where either a traditional ambulance cannot reach the scene easily or quickly enough, or the patient needs to be transported over a distance or terrain that makes air transportation the most practical transport....

 service for evacuation of wounded combatants.Details on the 1936-39 operation can be found in The history of Anesthesia Contributions of the Legion Condor to the Wehrmacht's surgical care during World War II. (R.J. Defalque, A.J. Wright).

Technical advances



One important factor in World War II which is thought to have directly resulted from the conflict is the technical development of the Messerschmitt Bf 109
Messerschmitt Bf 109
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, often called Me 109, was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid 1930s...

. The V3 – V6 types entered service in Spain directly from operational trials around January 1937. In the spring of 1938 these were joined by type C aircraft with type Es being first fielded in December 1938.

As a result of combat in Spain improvements were also made to the 88 mm gun
88 mm gun
The 88 mm gun was a German anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun from World War II. It was widely used by Germany throughout the war, and was one of the most recognizable German weapons of the war...

.

Tactics


Alongside the potential for gains in combat experience it is also thought that various strategic initiatives were first trialed as part of Luftwaffe involvement in the conflict. Theories on strategic bombing
Strategic bombing
Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating an enemy nation-state by destroying its economic ability and public will to wage war rather than destroying its land or naval forces...

 were first developed by the Luftwaffe with the first exhibition of "carpet bombing
Carpet bombing
Carpet bombing is a large aerial bombing done in a progressive manner to inflict damage in every part of a selected area of land. The phrase invokes the image of explosions completely covering an area, in the same way that a carpet covers a floor. Carpet bombing is usually achieved by dropping many...

" in the September 1937 Asturias campaign
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. As the fighting progressed into March 1938 Italian pilots under Fieldmarshal Hugo Sperrle
Hugo Sperrle
Hugo Sperrle was a German field marshal of the Luftwaffe during World War II. His forces were deployed solely on the Western Front and the Mediterranean throughout the war...

 were involved in thirteen raids against Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 involving fire and gas bombs. These particular raids resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians. It is worth noting that a subsequent commander of the Legion in Spain, Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen was to become heavily involved in the operation of the Luftwaffe as part of Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

.

Tactics of combined or joint operations
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 were a particular focus. Close air support for Nationalist troops, attack bombing of Republican troop concentrations, and strafing became features of the war. The Legion worked closely in missions which maximized the fighting ability of the Nationalist air force and troops, the Italian CTV, and pilots from the Aviazione Legionaria
Aviazione Legionaria
The Legionary Air Force was an expeditionary corps from the Italian Royal Air Force. It was set up in 1936 and sent to provide logistical and tactical support to Francisco Franco's Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War, alongside its German equivalent, the Condor Legion, and the Italian ground...

 (Legionary Air Force). German Air ace Adolf Galland
Adolf Galland
Adolf "Dolfo" Joseph Ferdinand Galland was a German Luftwaffe General and flying ace who served throughout World War II in Europe. He flew 705 combat missions, and fought on the Western and the Defence of the Reich fronts...

 was to claim after World War II that although there was a focus on taking lessons from the conflict in Spain, he believed the wrong conclusions were drawn by the German High Command with particular respect to the Luftwaffe:
Whatever may have been the importance of the tests of German arms in the Spanish Civil War from tactical, technical and operational points of view, they did not provide the experience that was needed nor lead to the formulation of sound strategic concepts.


Reaction to German involvement


Various sympathetic writers participated in condemning the scarcely concealed interference by Germany and Italy. An example was Heinrich Mann
Heinrich Mann
Luiz Heinrich Mann was a German novelist who wrote works with strong social themes. His attacks on the authoritarian and increasingly militaristic nature of pre-World War II German society led to his exile in 1933.-Life and work:Born in Lübeck as the oldest child of Thomas Johann Heinrich Mann...

, who appealed from exile in France with the slogan "German soldiers! A rogue sends you to Spain!" in response to the Legion's involvement.

Other states tacitly approved the fight of the German Legion against the Soviet-supplied Spanish Republican side.

Treatment in Nazi Germany


As part of his longterm "Blumenkrieg" strategy Hitler drew parallels between the conflict in Spain and the peaceful methods he used to gain control in Germany.Evidenced in a January 1937 speech (prior to the outcry over Operation Rügen). Hitler speech to Reichstag 30 January 1937 available via the German Propaganda Archive. The regime also made use of the conflict as an opportunity for political education and aggrandizement.For example, political education of Hitler Youth
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

 by way of the conflict is apparent in the Worldview Education for Winter 1938/39 available at the German Propaganda Archive.
Highlighting of the military aspects and success story for German arms is also evident with the publication of various pulp
Pulp (novel)
Pulp is the last completed novel by Los Angeles poet and writer Charles Bukowski. It was published in 1994, shortly before Bukowski's death. He began writing it in 1991 and encountered several problems during its creation...

 semi-autobiographical works in 1939, most notably:
  • Wir funken für Franco (literally We transmit for Franco) by Hellmut Führing,
  • Als Jagdflieger in Spanien (As a fighter pilot in Spain) by Hannes Trautloft
    Hannes Trautloft
    Johannes "Hannes" Trautloft was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1932 until the end of the war and again from 1957-1970. He flew 560 combat sorties and was credited with 58 victories. He was regarded as a very competent leader, and much respected from those...

    ,
  • Das Buch der Spanienflieger (The Spanish Pilot's Book) by Hauptmann
    Hauptmann
    Hauptmann is a German word usually translated as captain when it is used as an officer's rank in the German, Austrian and Swiss armies. While "haupt" in contemporary German means "main", it also has the dated meaning of "head", i.e...

     Wulf Bley.

Each book had a high circulation; in the case of Bley the circulation was estimated at over 1 million books sold. Although accurate in part these works are now accepted by scholars on the period and conflict as laced with propaganda which emphasizes daring escapades and fails to address the realities of military combat in general.

Since reunification



Recrimination for the activities of the Condor Legion and shame at the involvement of German citizens in the bombing of Guernica
Guernica
Guernica may refer to:* Guernica , Spanish Basque town, historical capital of Biscay* Bombing of Guernica, an attack on April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War* Guernica , a 1937 painting by Pablo Picasso...

 surfaced following German reunification in the 1990s. In 1997, the 60th anniversary of Operation Rügen, then German President Roman Herzog
Roman Herzog
Roman Herzog is a German politician as a member of the Christian Democratic Union, and served as President of Germany from 1994 to 1999...

 wrote to survivors of the raid apologizing on behalf of the German people and state. Herzog said he wished to extend "a hand of friendship and reconciliation" on behalf of all German citizens. This sentiment was later ratified by members of the German Parliament who went on to legislate in 1998 for the removal of all former Legion members' names from associated German military bases. This process was then carried out but the issue surfaced again in 2005 following media revelations about the role of pilot Werner Mölders
Werner Mölders
Werner Mölders was a World War II German Luftwaffe pilot and the leading German fighter ace in the Spanish Civil War. Mölders became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 100 aerial victories—that is, 100 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft, and was...

 who had volunteered to serve in Spain. Although not involved in the bombing of Guernica it was decided by then German Defense Minister Peter Struck
Peter Struck
Peter Struck was the German Minister of Defence under chancellor Gerhard Schröder from 22 October 2002 until 2005. A lawyer, Struck is a member of the Social Democratic Party.-Education:* 1962: Abitur...

 that in keeping with the law Mölders' name should be removed from the barracks at Visselhoevede and from association with Luftwaffe wing 74 (Jagdgeschwader 74
Jagdgeschwader 74
Jagdgeschwader 74 is an aviation unit of the German Luftwaffe, based on Neuburg air base in Bavaria since 1961.JG 74 provides air defence duties for southern Germany. The wing operates two squadrons, the Falken squadron and the Viva Zapata squadron.-History:JG 74 was activated as the last West...

) based in Neuburg an der Donau
Neuburg an der Donau
Neuburg an der Donau, literally Neuburg on the Danube River, is a town which is the capital of the Neuburg-Schrobenhausen district in the state of Bavaria in Germany.-Divisions:The municipality has 16 divisions:-History:...

. Up until 2005 it had not been established that Mölders flew as a Condor Legion volunteer before his death in 1941.

Awards


The Spanienkreuz
Spanish Cross
The Spanish Cross was an award of Germany given to Germans who participated in the Spanish Civil War, fighting for Franco.- History :With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Germany sent the Condor Legion to give military aid to Francisco Franco's nationalist forces.On April 14, 1939, Germany...

 (Spanish Cross) campaign medal was awarded by the German authorities in seven classes from April 14, 1939.This campaign medal is not to be confused with the Spanish War Cross which began being awarded in 1942 for acts of gallantry on the Eastern Front. The Spanish War Cross was awarded to Spanish volunteers of the Blue Division
Blue Division
The Blue Division officially designated as División Española de Voluntarios by the Spanish Army and 250. Infanterie-Division in the German Army, was a unit of Spanish volunteers that served in the German Army on the Eastern Front of the Second World War.-Origins:Although Spanish leader Field...

.
Due to the clandestine nature of German activities in Spain, no awards were instituted up to April 1939 and the end of German involvement in the conflict. The Spanish Cross complemented cuff titles issued to those who served. Legionnaires could also expect a Campaign Medal struck by the Spanish authorities to thank German volunteers for their service. See the two websites listed below for examples of each medal and others issued to Legion veterans.

Other notable incidents on the return of the Legion included an assembly for a personal address by Hitler on 6 June 1939, and a parade as part of the celebrations organized for Hitler's 50th birthday 20 April 1939.Color images of this address were taken by Hugo Jäger and are available via Getty images. The formal return to Germany and parade by of the Legion was captured by Ufa
Ufa
-Demographics:Nationally, dominated by Russian , Bashkirs and Tatars . In addition, numerous are Ukrainians , Chuvash , Mari , Belarusians , Mordovians , Armenian , Germans , Jews , Azeris .-Government and administration:Local...

 studios.
Also by way of commemoration the activities of the Legion were memorialized in a special edition of Der Adler, the Luftwaffe's magazine for service members which at the time was also circulated in both Spain and the United States.

Notable participants


(in alphabetical order)
  • Hermann Aldinger
  • Oskar Dirlewanger
    Oskar Dirlewanger
    Oskar Paul Dirlewanger was a World War II officer of the SS who commanded the SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger, a penal battalion composed of German criminals...

  • Rudolf Demme
    Rudolf Demme
    Rudolf August Demme was a German General during World War II.-Biography:Demme was born in Mühlhausen in Thuringia. He entered Army Service on September 15, 1914 as a volunteer in the 1st Recruitment-Depot of the 11th Pioneer Replacement Battalion. During the first years of World War I he served...

     (Head Trainer)
  • Adolf Galland
    Adolf Galland
    Adolf "Dolfo" Joseph Ferdinand Galland was a German Luftwaffe General and flying ace who served throughout World War II in Europe. He flew 705 combat missions, and fought on the Western and the Defence of the Reich fronts...

  • Hajo Herrmann
    Hajo Herrmann
    Hans-Joachim 'Hajo' Herrmann was a Luftwaffe bomber pilot and later after the end of World War II, focusing his activities as a lawyer on civil and criminal law. In World War II, he was a high ranking and influential member of the Luftwaffe. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the...

  • Werner Mölders
    Werner Mölders
    Werner Mölders was a World War II German Luftwaffe pilot and the leading German fighter ace in the Spanish Civil War. Mölders became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 100 aerial victories—that is, 100 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft, and was...

  • Hugo Sperrle
    Hugo Sperrle
    Hugo Sperrle was a German field marshal of the Luftwaffe during World War II. His forces were deployed solely on the Western Front and the Mediterranean throughout the war...

     (Commander)
  • Karl Schweikard See Also: Sonderstab W
  • Hannes Trautloft
    Hannes Trautloft
    Johannes "Hannes" Trautloft was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1932 until the end of the war and again from 1957-1970. He flew 560 combat sorties and was credited with 58 victories. He was regarded as a very competent leader, and much respected from those...

  • Heinrich Trettner
    Heinrich Trettner
    Heinrich "Heinz" Trettner was a German general serving during World War II and from 1964 to 1966 Inspector General of the Bundeswehr. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

  • Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen (Commander)
  • Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
    Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
    Wilhelm Josef Ritter von Thoma was a German officer who served in World War I, in the Spanish Civil War, and as a General der Panzertruppe in World War II.-Early life:...

     (Drohne)
  • Hellmuth Volkmann (Commander)
  • Chiang Wei-kuo
    Chiang Wei-kuo
    Chiang Wei-kuo was an adopted son of President Chiang Kai-shek, adoptive brother of President Chiang Ching-kuo, and an important figure in the Kuomintang . His courtesy names were Jianhao and Niantang .- Early life :...

     (As an Observer)

See also

  • Regia Aeronautica
    Regia Aeronautica
    The Italian Royal Air Force was the name of the air force of the Kingdom of Italy. It was established as a service independent of the Royal Italian Army from 1923 until 1946...

     & Aviazione Legionaria
    Aviazione Legionaria
    The Legionary Air Force was an expeditionary corps from the Italian Royal Air Force. It was set up in 1936 and sent to provide logistical and tactical support to Francisco Franco's Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War, alongside its German equivalent, the Condor Legion, and the Italian ground...

  • Fuerza Aérea Nacional (Arma de Aviación) - Nationalist Air forces
  • Aviación del Tercio - Spanish Foreign Legion
  • Fuerza Aérea de la República Española (FARE) - Second Republic Air Force, supported mainly by the Soviet Union
  • German re-armament
    German re-armament
    The German re-armament was a massive effort led by the NSDAP in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.During its struggle for power the National Socialist party promised to recover Germany's lost national pride...

  • Kampfgeschwader 53
    Kampfgeschwader 53
    Kampfgeschwader 53 "Legion Condor" was a Luftwaffe bomber wing during World War II .Its units participated on all of the fronts in the European Theatre until it was disbanded in May 1945...

    , the World War II Luftwaffe bomber wing named for the expeditionary force
  • Aerial bombing of cities
    Aerial bombing of cities
    A species of strategic bombing, the aerial bombing of cities began in 1915 during World War I, grew to a vast scale in World War II, and continues to the present day. The development of aerial bombardment marked an increased capacity of armed forces to deliver explosive weapons in populated areas...

  • Flying ace
    Flying ace
    A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The actual number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an "ace" has varied, but is usually considered to be five or more...

  • Henschel Hs 129
    Henschel Hs 129
    The Henschel Hs 129 was a World War II ground-attack aircraft fielded by the German Luftwaffe. Its nickname, the Panzerknacker , is a deliberate pun—in German, it also means "safe cracker"...


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& Eagles of the Third Reich - Men of the Luftwaffe