H046581 "BLUE DIVISION" COMMEMORATIVE DECORATION FOR SPANISH VOLUNTEERS IN THE BATTLE AGAINST BOLSHEVISM, 1941. (Erinnerungs Medaille für die Spanischen Freiwillingen im Kampf Gegen den Bolschewismus)
BACKGROUND: With the collapse of France in June 1940 Hitler appealed to Spain’s Generalissimo Francisco Franco to ally with the Axis as a form of repayment for Germany’s military assistance in the Spanish Civil war. Franco refrained from any commitment until the Germans invaded Russia which had provided aid to the Spanish communist Republican party during the Spanish Civil war. As a result it was decided that a Spanish Legion of roughly 4,000 personnel were to be raised and sent to the Russian front. When the call went out for the Spanish volunteers over 40,000, mostly Civil war veterans, came forward and it was decided to form a full Spanish Infantry Division. Since Spain had made no official declaration of war the Spanish volunteers were integrated into the German army as the 250TH Infantry Division but were most commonly referred to as the Spanish Blue Division. In appreciation for the Spaniards service the Germans instituted the Bravery & Commemorative Medal of the Spanish Blue Division in January 1944 to recognize and reward the Spanish volunteers who served on the Russian front from August 1941 to October 1943. The criteria for bestowal of the award was very similar to the criteria for the Russian Front Medal with the main qualification being at least fourteen days of participation in combat on the Russian front. Of Note: Pressure from Great Britain for Spain to declare its neutrality, the decaying war situation and high Spanish casualties prompted Franco to request that the Germans release the Blue Division and return it to Spain, which they did in October 1943 although a token Spanish Legion did remain in service with the Germans. Although the Germans had instituted an award for members of the Spanish Blue Division for its service on the Russian front, on November 9TH 1943 the Spanish also designed and issued their own award to recognize this service which was entitled, Commemorative Medal for the Spanish Volunteers in the Battle against Bolshevism.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Very ornate, Spanish manufactured, die struck alloy construction award with a silver wash and black enamel work. The award is in the form of a Spanish eagle with up-swept, fanned wings with a black enameled Iron Cross with a small silver, swastika superimposed on its breast. The eagle is superimposed on a circular, laurel leaf wreath, with a Spanish crown to top center. The reverse features the silhouette of the eagle with the embossed towers of the Kremlin and script, "Rusia 1941" , (Russia 1941), all encompassed by a circular, chain link, border. The eagle shows nice cut-out details to wings. The top edge of the award has an integral, ribbon suspension loop and comes complete with is original ribbon. White based, horizontally ribbed, rayon ribbon with the Spanish national colors of red, yellow and red to the right edge and German national colors of black, white and red to the left edge. The top edge of the ribbon is folded over and stitched to the reverse which secures a gilt washed, open center, stamped alloy, rectangular bar with pin back device to reverse.
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