【 Chapter 3 – Spanish Civil War – Battle of Jarama (2) 】
On February 11th, under the command of Colonel Escamez, we crossed the river and succeeded in capturing Pingarrón heights, our original goal.
However, as feared, while the rain was falling, the Republican army was heavily reinforced, and the enemy, fortified in the hills east of Jarama, resisted stubbornly.
Despite countless sacrifices, the international brigade from Britain fought back until the battalion Commander was killed, but eventually gave up the hill and fled.
A famous poet is also said to have died, but they must have waged a desperate struggle to defend democracy and justice. The Nationalists looked at their bodies and laughed at them for being stupid Reds instigated by the Bolsheviks.
In the face of desperate resistance from the Republicans, the operation of the leaders of the national faction, which is a wave offensive if it is different from the plan, was making a huge sacrifice.
It is said that the casualties are estimated to be at least 4,000 even if the exact count is not reached. 4,000 people? There are 101 members of our company, including the commander. The company I served in Korea was about that.
Looking at the records saying that tens of millions of people died in World War II, I felt that it was a terrible war, and that more than 40 times the sacrifice of our unit’s total members occurred on this battlefield where I am standing.
Not to mention, at Pingarrón heights, where I am now, even with a telescope, I could see very well the Nationalist soldiers who charged aimlessly and were pulverized by artillery fire and machine guns.
After days of such dog deaths, the battered Nationalist offensive gradually weakened, and we faced the Republican counterattack.
February 14, 1937
Highlands of Pingarrón on the Jarama River Southeast of Madrid, Central Spain
February 14th. If I were in Korea, it would have been a day that I would have been frustrated by the couple’s saltation, saying it was Valentine’s Day.
Of course, there was no such thing in this era.
“Contact!! Enemy in sight!!”
“Adjust the gun angle! Hurry up!”
An early version of the 8.8 cm anti-aircraft gun, the Flak 18 anti-aircraft gun, screeched at the foot of a soldier turning the regulator to die, and soon fired, but the shell missed the enemy’s aircraft and exploded.
“Ack, sir! Get down!”
As soon as the soldiers abandoned their anti-aircraft guns and ran into the trenches, machine guns scratched overhead.
“What the hell is the Luftwaffe doing!”
“We have lost our air superiority! The enemy’s new aircraft are clearly superior to our fighter jets!”
While the good-natured Captain Kaufmann was swearing, I had no choice but to report straight away. This side is using an outdated biplane, but they put in a new Soviet monoplane, the I-16!
To say that the Axis powers have been deprived of air supremacy is nothing but an insult from the point of view of experiencing the horrors of the bloody World War II in advance.
“It’s the enemy’s new tank!”
Meanwhile, the enemy’s new tank, BT-5, was seen approaching at high speed. BT-5 tanks have been charging at such a high speed that they cannot even be compared to the Panzer I tank, which was behind the T-26.
It was a light tank with great speed and was just that, but it was terrifying enough for the infantrymen who saw it for the first time in front of them, and the National Army quickly collapsed.
“Damn it, stay calm! If you don’t move without infantry support anyway, it’ll be over if you grind anti-tank guns or anti-aircraft guns!”
Clement, the 1st Platoon Commander, ran around and shouted, and his Deputy Sergeant Koher was in a mess of slapping distraught soldiers here and there.
What are you talking about? There’s no need to engage directly! If the front lines are breached in an instant, this is the front! You scoundrels Spaniards!
“Argh! My arm! Aaaa! Oh, my God!”
Another Flak18 anti-aircraft gun penetrated and silenced the enemy light tank at once while the soldier, who was unluckily hit directly by a tank gun and rolled from the Pak36 anti-tank gun, struggled for his arm.
The famous Defense Force’s 8.8 cm anti-aircraft guns were certainly proving to be as powerful against ground attacks as their reputation. I would have admired it if it wasn’t our unit that proved it!
The Republicans, who launched a counterattack with momentum, soon stopped sending tanks and launched an offensive with infantry, perhaps noticing that the tanks were qualitatively different from the Nationalist Army as the tanks exploded one after another under the concentrated fire of anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns.
Seeing that you’re responding so quickly, is this the 11th division of Enrique Líster? Right or wrong, we had no choice but to defend.
It’s not quite as good as Hitler’s Chainsaw MG 42, but the MG 34 with a dedicated tripod razed the enemy infantry with the ruthless rate of fire that put the classification of a light machine gun to shame.
Seeing the fabric torn to shreds in real-time is not good for your mental health.
It is natural that a test corps with much excessive equipment is active in one company, but Captain Kaufmann, who calmly examines the situation with a telescope, was admirable. Only-
For God’s sake, there was an unpleasant noise.
At that moment, without thinking back and forth, I pushed the Captain and threw myself into the trench.
As soon as I fell into the trench, the sand hit me mercilessly on the head and back with the explosion of the impact. Oh, fuck. It hurts so much.
I had to cough in the sand dust and spit out the dirt in my mouth, but fortunately, it didn’t seem to fall off anywhere, and the Captain who pushed me out first raised me up.
“Thank you, Lieutenant.”
“Cough, no. Captain.”
I don’t think this is right. It was already a very good front line. That’s not even what the damned Hitler intended!
I wanted to retreat right away, but unfortunately, the messenger sent by Major Beckers, the battalion Commander, gave orders to test weapons and establish a major.
It must be a way to show some condescension to the Nationalists who have been smashed brilliantly.
Like dogs, whether I was angry or not, the war situation was rushing.
The Republicans, who were unilaterally robbed and gave up the west side of the Jarama River, came from here and there as if they were going to avenge themselves.
Colonel Radha’s troops, who are supposed to be in charge of the North, are being attacked by enemy troops from Central Madrid.
The Republican armored troops, who lost more than a dozen light tanks they had received from the Soviet Union while trying to recapture the highlands of Pingarrón, were stunned but soon defeated the superior forces of Colonel Asensio and Baron Fernando who were attacking the enemy camp.
The National Army did not lose the areas they occupied, but the offensive was over and they were rather busy defending against Republican counter-attacks.
Losses grew like snowdrifts. In just a few days after being appalled by the report of more than 4,000 casualties, the number of casualties soared to at least 6,000 and more than estimated days.
Even now, we’re in a defensive battle!
Casualties were also reported in the Condor Legion, which was different from the Nationalist units, and in the company that had 101 people at the beginning of the operation, 5 people were killed, and 12 people were wounded and sent to the rear.
The 3rd Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Julius Havenstein, seemed to suffer from depression after losing his Deputy, Sergeant Neuer, who had been aiding him since his dispatch.
I don’t know about the casualties of the Republican Party, but just looking at the bodies piled up in front of our defense line right now, there were not hundreds of them.
The sound of shells flying and roaring sounds like tinnitus in your ears when you are bored. It is not once or twice that even after lying down to sleep, I mistook my tinnitus for artillery fire and jumped up.
I’ve often heard that war makes people exhausted, but it was a dog-like experience to feel worn out.
The Republican counterattack continued for almost two weeks, piling up a mountain of corpses.
The Republican counterattack ended in a gradual loss of air force from the Condor Legion to the fire of Flak 18 anti-aircraft guns here and there, but was defeated by Luftwaffe’s He51 and the Nationalists’ CR.32 fighters, which Italy sortied. It ended up losing control of the air force behind the fighter jets.
The Nationalists failed to achieve their ambitious goal of cutting off Madrid and Valencia, and the Republicans overcame their initial inferiority and turned to the offensive to counterattack but failed to recapture any of the key points lost to the Nationalists.
No one knew how many casualties there were on either side. It was only a guess that the two sides combined at least 20,000.
There was nothing left of the blood that had stained the entire Jarama River red.
We were able to withdraw from the front after a lull in the front after both the Republicans and the Nationalists suffered unbearable losses.
Unlike the devastated Nationalists and the miserable atmosphere of those who lost their comrades, the rest of the Condor Legion had a bitterly amicable atmosphere.
Even in this civil war, they are having a small banquet and enjoying it.
No, maybe this is a common sensibility in this era.
“Hey, Dietrich, are you enjoying it?”
“Well, it’s just that. How about you, Clement?”
Clement grinned as he touched the Iron Cross, 2nd Class, slung across his chest, holding a beer mug in one hand.
The Condor Legion successfully intercepted the Republican counterattack using new German equipment and obtained valuable practical data.
Although it was concluded that the infantry support of the Panzer I tank was not something to be used in the war, it was a war motto in the end, and there was little expectation because the Panzer I tank was close to a prototype anyway.
Germany, which was defeated in World War I and banned from manufacturing tanks because of the Treaty of Versailles1, developed them under the ridiculous name of Tractor and then rushed them only after the Nazi Party took power, but if the quality is good, it’s even worse.
If the problem is that the unanswered object rolls on the frontlines in the early days of World War II, that’s a problem…..
In any case, it was concluded that other army weapons were quite useful, and the performance of the Condor Legion silenced the Nationalists, who complained that Britain and France had sent small units out of fear.
The home country awarded the Iron Cross – 2nd Class to all officers who fought on the front line, as they were quite encouraged.
Aside from everything else, the Pak36 anti-tank gun has been ridiculed as a friendly doorknocker since the beginning of World War II, thanks to its poor penetration, which is only eaten by old light tanks.
Should I write a report saying that anti-tank guns seem to have less penetration than anti-aircraft guns? Unlike me who was thinking like that, Clement was just excited.
“Keuu- Iron Cross medal! Aren’t our performances recognized? If we do well, wouldn’t we also become candidates for the General Staff?”
I had no choice but to laugh at Clement, who was excited to the fullest. Dude, it’s not that easy to be a General.
Well, it is true that in modern Nazi Germany, it is quite emotional to wear the Iron Cross, which was abolished because of the competition.
In any case, when World War II begins, the Nazis will abuse it like crazy and will be wearing it like dogs and cows later.
If you think about it that way, the one we received was made in the days of the German Empire in 1939, before the Nazis enacted it, so it might be rather rare?
In the direction Clement pointed, Spanish women dressed in fancy dresses were laughing.
Isn’t it like the yearning that Korean women felt when they saw the U.S. military right after the Korean War? Honestly, I wasn’t in the mood to enjoy it.
“Let’s go. Germany’s great warrior.”
“Why don’t you do it? Well, enjoy it then.”
After sending Clemens, I questioned the words, “What’s the matter?” and looked through my memory, Dietrich was a fairly light person.
After attending Heidelberg University, he received officer training for the reason that he seems to have failed his father, Hjalmar Schacht, and flew to Spain to make a contribution to the Führer…
Besides, this human being has a smooth face, and I have memories of playing well at the price of a face. Damn it, I was born single until I was discharged from the army, but this man played very well.
I’m suddenly getting annoyed…
Still, I was mobilized into battle as soon as I woke up as Dietrich, and now I was alone, so I was able to get some time to organize my thoughts.
I wanted to apply for discharge after this battle was over. Still, due to the nature of the Spanish contingent, it was unlikely that the application for discharge would be accepted. Even if accepted, it was obvious that I would be mobilized when World War II approached anyway.
It’s not a Nazi regime that’s generous enough to leave its military officers, who were dispatched to the Spanish Civil War and had practical experience, to gain experience in civilian life.
Being an officer dispatched to the Spanish Civil War is an elite course in its own way, but from my point of view, I knew that my father, Hjalmar Schacht, would soon be out of the eyes of the Nazis, it was likely that it was just a waste.
I thought about whether I’d rather exile to Spain and stay here.
If you look at the madness of Franco and the Nationalists, these guys are no different from the Nazis, and they clearly knew that Hitler’s pressure would affect Spain once Paris fell, so it was not safe here either.
I’m not a big shot to be favored by Franco like Petain in France, and if it goes well, I’ll be taken as an officer of the Toxo dispatch unit, and if I’m unlucky, I’ll be executed as a traitor who turned my back on the country and defected.
I didn’t want to be dragged into that hellish toxic war, even if it was the case with everything else. If I’m lucky enough to be stationed in France or on the African front, would I rather surrender quickly to the Allies?
I do like Germany. To be honest, it is one of the most volatile leading countries in European history, so I was interested and knew a lot.
However, I can’t hear the heart of fighting for my life, saying, “For the Great Deutschland and my father’s country!” My yearning for a foreign country is a yearning and reality is a reality, right?
Besides, I hated it even more if it was for the biggest lunatic, Hitler’s crazy government.
Since there were several conspiracies to oust Hitler during the interwar period (the period before the start of World War II) and during World War II, should we do something about Hitler and the Nazis who will put Germany and the world into a pit of fire?
I would rather do something if I was a little big man in Germany right now, but I can’t do anything because I’m only in the body of a 2nd Lieutenant and I’m away in Spain.
I think I have to get out of here and go to Germany to do something, but the question is, how do I get back to Germany?
Damn, in modern times, I would have searched on my smartphone or the Internet! It was a night when others were enjoying banquets, but I was only worried.
The disastrous war of the Battle of Jarama over the road between Madrid and Valencia frustrated both the Nationalists and the Republicans.
Even the leadership of the Nationalists, who were insensitive to casualties, had to contemplate whether to give up the attack on Madrid at this shocking loss.
The devastating damage beyond the symbolism of Spain’s historical capital gave the Nationalists a sense of crisis that they could give up the initiative in the war.
Even the top soldiers of the national faction in Africa were losing money in two attempts to surround Madrid.
But the Italian army, a supporter of the Nationalists, took the situation as an opportunity.
Italian Commander General Mario Lotta, who had severely damaged the Republican forces at the Battle of Jarama, formulated an ambitious plan to capture Guadalajara, Northeast of Madrid, while their eyes turned south to Madrid.
When the Battle of Jarama was in full swing, he said he wasn’t ready and tried to save himself.
Italian dictator Il Duce Mussolini was greatly encouraged by General Lotta’s suggestion and sent as many as 35,000 Italian troops to demonstrate the prowess of Italy’s ‘steel army’.
At this point, it was close to participating in the regular army, but Mussolini’s will was firm that he could not be defeated by Hitler’s volunteer soldiers.
There was no reason for the Nationalists to refuse the last chance to secure Madrid, and they readily accepted Italy’s invasion offer.
Even before the Battle of Jarama and before exhaustion, the leaders scraped off their key African contingent to create 15,000 troops, including the elite Condor Legion, who were naturally considered the best, and moved to Guadalajara to support the Italian forces.
The short break is over.
【 Spanish Civil War – Battle of Jarama (2) 】- End
1The Treaty of Versailles was a peace treaty that officially ended World War I between the Allies and the German Empire on June 28, 1919.
The terms of the treaty forced Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers.