【 Chapter 2 – Spanish Civil War – Battle of Jarama(1) 】
February 9, 1937
Rivas-Vaciamadrid, Southeast of Madrid, Central Spain
Day 4 from the start of the offensive. Colonel Escamez’s army, which belonged to our company, succeeded in taking control of major villages, including Rivas-Vaciamadrid, in the South, and Colonel Ricardo Radha’s army also occupied the highlands West of the river smoothly from the North.
The problem was the Center Army Group, which should have been the core of the offensive. According to the plan, he should have succeeded in finding out the Republicans, who had been careless and even crossed the river.
Of course, there is no such thing as a war that goes according to plan.
“The 11th Division? Enrique Líster? He was from Frunze, right? Damned Soviet protégé, Red1 bastard.”
“Anyway, the left and the right played their part. As long as you do well…”
Colonel Escamez and Colonel Radha, who played their role in their own way, were still in a comfortable position. But the Commander-in-Chief of the operation, General Enrique Valera, looked very unhappy.
Likewise, while the left and the right flanks played their part, the Center Army Group lost to the armored unit of the 11th Division led by the Republican Enrique Líster, rather than the river, allowing the enemies in the West to retreat safely.
“Red guys, I don’t know when they got so used to using the tanks.”
When Colonel Asensio, who led the Center’s infantry, reluctantly said a word, Baron Fernando, with a stylish mustache turned his arrow this way.
“Thanks for the support, but to be honest, the T-26 they use is far more powerful than the Panzer I! This defeat is purely due to the difference in tank performance!”
No, why are they giving this to us after they can’t fight? Feeling a cold sweat, I turned to the man with the rank of Lieutenant General.
“Panzer I is inferior to the T-26, the Soviet-made tank, so no wonder the Center Army Group are having difficulties advancing.”
Hearing my words, Army Lieutenant General Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma narrowed his forehead with a long horse-like face, and Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen of the Luftwaffe (Air Force), who was standing next to him, whistled.
I don’t know, but Wolfram von Richthofen, The Commander of the Condor Legion, was a person I knew well with modern knowledge.
Curtis LeMay, an American bombing fanatic and Stone Age lover who said he was out of his mind for indiscriminately bombing civilians and bombing Japan and Vietnam to the Stone Age, maybe one of the most famous World War II Air Force generals.
But this Wolfram von Richthofen was the Nazi version of LeMay, or even more so. It’s because he openly expressed his wonderful feeling that he felt so good to see a city burning with incendiary bombs.
Well, honestly, as a member of the Army, my nose was too small to care about Richthofen, a member of the Air Force. The people who attended this meeting are such big names.
The reason why I am here, a so-called nerd, in this place where everyone is honored, is because Lieutenant General Thoma’s adjutant, who was originally in charge of interpreting, was unluckily hit by shrapnel and carried away to the rear.
I, who spoke both German and Spanish, was dispatched from my unit in Madrid, Libya, where the operation meeting was held as soon as possible.
So I have to be an interpreter in the field where I passed on why the offensive collapsed, oh dear God, why are you doing this to me?
“The Panzer I that we provided is just a prototype. Consider that the support of the Condor Legion is mainly air and artillery support. In any case, tanks are infantry support weapons, and minor performance differences do not determine the success or failure of the operation.”
When Lieutenant General Thoma’s remarks were moderately refined and conveyed, the Nationalist Generals’ expressions wrinkled this time. I would like to know what kind of bullshit this is by the standards of modern people who know that armored forces, including tanks, were the core of World War II, but at least this is still correct.
It is not only possible to make a surprise battle with the Panzer I with two machine guns, let alone the main guns that are reminiscent of tanks, but the T-26, which they are afraid of, is only an early-type light tank.
The modern me is interested in Germany, especially World War II, so knowing a lot of this and might help me survive in this damn world.
The Soviet army was already imitating blitzkrieg thanks to Mikhail Tukhachevsky, who was way ahead of his time, and so was the Republican Armored Unit, which operates their tanks and doctrines.
The troops of Colonel Asensio and Baron Fernando, who led the Center Army Group, were horrified by the armored forces that came out of nowhere and fled, but…
Even the Soviet tank T-34, the main force in World War II, is easily defeated without infantry support. However, they were already operating T-26, a lightly-armored light tank, and rolling it like an armored group.
In that case, of course, it becomes prey for infantry flank attack or artillery. For example, the Pak36 anti-tank guns and the Flak18 anti-aircraft guns that our Condor Legion was fully operational.
The army unit of the Condor Legion was small, but the equipment was quite splendid thanks to Hitler, who had just begun rearmament, sending all kinds of weapons to test them in action.
However, it was not a place for the Lieutenant to intervene as a substitute for an interpreter, and there was an interpreter officer over there.
As it is a military operation, both sides were accompanied by interpreter officers, and as long as they were listening, I don’t know if the translation would be appropriately translated, but if I put my subjectivity in it, I won’t be able to deal with it.
Even if you leave it alone, it’s also a lesson learned naturally while rolling in the Spanish Civil War, so I had no intention of being ignored as a Second Lieutenant who was presumptuous. Not yet.
“Tsk, are the Italians still there?”
“The easy-going ones said it would take a month to prepare. It’s not good to get help for this offensive.”
Anyway, the ambitious offensive that was supposed to cut off Spain’s historical capital Madrid, and the Republican base, Valencia, has been blocked, and reinforcements will continue to arrive at the Republican base beyond the river while heavy rain is preventing the offensive.
As a so-called naff, I also have a gut feeling that this offensive is already doomed, but unfortunately, the Nationalist’s leadership seemed to have a different idea. The conclusion was as follows after a meeting that was not nutritious.
“Anyway, the rice is cooked. There will be some sacrifices, but as soon as the rain stops, we will resume the offensive as planned after the river. The part that is different from the plan will be solved by wave attack. Madrid must be freed from the Reds!”
“Death to the Reds!”
It was complicated. If there was a war in Korea, ordinary soldiers like me would have been killed while charging as a result of this stupid operation meeting.
The so-called position is not very different, but it was comforting to avoid vain consumption because he was the deputy of the dispatch unit, so he could avoid futile consumption.
There was still heavy rain outside. Of course, air support is not available in this weather, so there is not much for the Condor Legion to do.
After the meeting, Lieutenant General Thomas and Colonel Richthofen followed, and a Spanish officer with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel followed and pretended to know.
“Isn’t that frustrating? Be cautious when you need to be quick and bold, and be bold when you have to give up.”
After saying that, the Lieutenant Colonel stared at me. What are you saying to me? ….No, it’s not. When I translated it right away, Richthofen replied.
“Ah, Lieutenant Colonel Yagüe. Even if it wasn’t, it was a bit frustrating. It would have been nice if the Colonel had participated in the last offensive.”
If it is Lieutenant Colonel Yagüe, it is a greeting in Dietrich’s head.
Juan Yagüe is the only national Spanish officer, including Emilio Mola, who is almost the only Spanish Commander to be respected by the Condor Legion because of his ability to make bold offensive and defensive changes.
German officers were often unspeakable, so military incompetent political officers often ignored many Spanish troops, and their abilities would be certain if they were known to be competent among such Condor Legion.
They talked with Richthofen and exchanged trivial stories as if they had any friendship with Yagüe. It would be nice if you could understand my struggles with having to translate every little bit of the story.
“Then I’ll go first. Good job today, Lieutenant Colonel. Second Lieutenant. When the Colonel’s business is over, you may return to your original position.”
Lieutenant General Thoma waved his hand to stop him, not paying much attention, and walked away, accepting an umbrella from his adjutant.
The so-called Nazi salute was not yet a common salute for the entire Defense Force, and it was only a recommendation, so conservative Defense Force generals did not welcome it.
The pride of German army generals who endured the devastating First World War and endured disarmament due to the Treaty of Versailles was high enough to ignore a soldier-turned-leader.
You need to remember this.
I haven’t decided exactly what to do yet, but I think it’s crazy to fight as a soldier under the lunatic Führer Hitler and burn to death with Germany.
Of course, unlike the Army, the Luftwaffe, a group created by Göring, is naturally unified with Nazi salutes.
The army dispatched to the Condor Legion here is a large number of young soldiers who did not have the opportunity to establish a good military service, among them so-called ‘pro-Nazi’ personnel, which were dispatched to build their majors and careers, and they, like the air force, were all proud shouted Heil Hitler.
After Lieutenant General Thoma left, Richthofen talked to Yagüe, mixing a little bit of dim and awkward Spanish, and he was quite happy with him.
It was surprising that Richthofen could speak a little Spanish, but he learned little by little locally.
In the middle of a conversation, a man with an umbrella approached, closed his umbrella, and asked in Spanish with a clear American accent.
“Nice to meet you, Colonel Juan Yagüe, right? My name is John T. Whitaker, an American journalist. Could you spare me a moment?”
Richthofen crumpled his face and closed his mouth at once as if he understood the word Americana or journalist. From the standpoint of the regular army under the dictator, that is, the German National Defense Forces, it makes no sense for these civilians to enter the military operation area.
However, these people were everywhere in Spain because the leaders of the Nationalists had no intention of hiding their actions, and the Republicans also wanted to win diplomatic victories in public opinion battles through foreign journalists or reporters.
Even in this era, reporters did not care about the water fire to find a chance to make their name known, and the Spanish Civil War was so devastating that it was difficult to manage security because the operational and civilian areas were not properly distinguished.
“I have a question about the operation that took place in Badajoz last August. There are rumors that as many as 10% of the city’s population were killed on the orders of Lieutenant Colonel Yagüe. Excuse me, but is that true?”
To be honest, in Korea, the image was not good enough to remind me of a journalist, but the question was straightforward, perhaps because it was a greeting in the middle of such a hellish civil war.
Well, I don’t know if that’s really the mission of a democratic journalist or just because I need a provocative article.
Reflexively, I tried to translate it to Richthofen, but Richthofen noticed right away and raised his hand to stop it. Come to think of it, the fact that German soldiers were in Spain was confidential. I almost became x.
Lieutenant Colonel Yagüe… Surprisingly, he answered kindly with a nice smile.
“Oh, of course, we killed them.”
For a moment, neither Whitaker nor I could manage our expressions, but Lieutenant Colonel Yagüe continued talking.
“Oh, I don’t know what answer you expected, but did I have to abandon the front I had advanced at best and return to the base with 4,000 red prisoners? Or should I just leave them as they are and move forward and be surrounded by Badajoz, which has become Red city again behind my back?”
Whitaker couldn’t hide his stiff face, but he showed professionalism by taking down Lieutenant Colonel Yagüe’s words, as he still spoke with a friendly smile.
“It’s a war, sir. The Reds killed and intimidated innocent priests and nuns, and in Toledo they captured the proud son of Colonel Moscardó and held him hostage, threatening to betray his country. They are just paying the price.”
He added with a smile, like a nice neighborhood.
“And I am very proud to be a patriot at the forefront of that.”
Whitaker wrote down what the Lieutenant Colonel said with a stiff face and thanked him for the interview. He briefly glanced at us as well, but he left right away, probably realizing that we wouldn’t agree to an interview just by looking at our attitude.
Shortly after Whitaker left, a messenger came and said the head of the team was looking for Yagüe, and Richthofen, who kept bothering me, freed me, saying, “Good job.”
I was walking along the path of Spain, which turned into muddy mud, not the streets of Seoul that drain well between the tiles that were well maintained even in the rain with an umbrella.
To be honest, I don’t think it’s very wrong when I hear the words of Lieutenant Colonel Yagüe. Sacrifice may be necessary if it is a civil war has already occurred and the war has not been avoided.
But you slaughtered the people who stayed still and you bragged about it so proudly?
It’s a shame because more crazies like Nazi Germany or the Japanese Empire came out, and democracy delivery experts were already exhausted from dealing with them, otherwise, Spain would have been erased from the map like Nazi Germany.
These guys were all kinds of political prisoners in their country during and after the civil war, and they did it proudly without hiding the massacre.
I realized that it was a barbaric era wearing a modern mask. Ha! I want to go back to Korea!
On the way, when his eyes met the girl who was looking outside through the curtains at home, the girl was surprised and closed the curtains.
When this heavy rain stops, the village’s “Reds” will be cleared up as Yagüe did in the Badajoz before the offensive began.
Now I’m slowly accepting that I’m a German on the verge of a terrible World War II.
When I wake up, ta-da! We’re back in Korea! I don’t think there’s going to be a miracle.
Then I had to think about how to get out of this crappy situation where I was on a train to hell that I didn’t want to be.
And the conclusion that comes so naturally is that nothing can be done under this crazy Nazi regime.
【 Spanish Civil War – Battle of Jarama (1) 】- End
1Communists were often referred to as “Reds” for their allegiance to the red Soviet flag.