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IDNNG Chapter 6

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【 Chapter 6 – Spanish Civil War – Collateral Damage (1) 】


The Italians and the Nationalists suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of Guadalajara, in which they spent more than twice as much strength as the Republicans.

The advantage of the initial raid was unfortunately eaten up by sleet and fog, and after that, Enrique Líster was surprised by the Republican raid across the river, swung around and lost the cavalry unit.

Although I almost died in the process, I was promoted to Lieutenant and received the honor of the 1st Class Iron Cross, and the rank of Company Commander.

The original plan was to leave the military immediately and return to Germany, even with some dishonor, but since I became the head of our company, that plan had to be abandoned.

As Captain Kaufmann’s successor, I couldn’t run away, abandoning Clement and the other company members to save my life.

If you change your mind, anyway, this is also the land of opportunity. It’s the only place where you can build a career and get promoted during the interwar period when there was no place to build a career.

No matter what you do, it doesn’t hurt to be in a high rank.

No, as long as my father, Hjalmar Schacht, is certain to be replaced soon, I have to make my own position somehow.

It takes strength to do anything in this age of madness. I can’t do anything as a Company Commander who doesn’t know when I will die on the front line.


March 27, 1937
Northern Spain, Zaragoza

As Mussolini and the Italian army’s ambitious offensive ended in a crushing defeat, the Nationalist leaders turned to a strategy of abandoning Madrid and ousting Republicans in other regions step by step.

The targets were the Republican provinces of Northern Spain, Basque, Cantabria, and Asturias.

Although these three provinces were controlled by the Republicans, they were divided from the main forces of the Republicans in the eastern part of the Republicans, including Madrid and Valencia in the protruding center.

It was then decided that Luftwaffe would be dispatched to support the offensive under Lieutenant Colonel Richthofen.

If that were the case, it wouldn’t have much to do with me…

I was notified that Lieutenant Colonel Richthofen had hired me, who had just been discharged from the hospital as an interpreter and army adviser, and I headed to Luftwaffe Base in Zaragoza to meet him.

“Heil Hitler!”

“Heil Hitler. Congratulations on your promotion, Lieutenant.”

“Thank you!”

Lieutenant Colonel Richthofen, in his early 40s, accepted my salute and smiled lightly and offered me a seat, and I sat down right away.

“Let’s get straight to the point. You wonder why a Lieutenant from the army was called here?”

“….Yes, it is.”

That’s weird if you’re not curious. At my answer, Richthofen nodded his head, and he began to reply simply.

“First of all, it is a translation problem. Lieutenant General Sperrle will remain on the Central Front, so the old Luftwaffe interpreter will also remain here.”

Lieutenant General Hugo Sperrle was Commander Luftwaffe of the Condor Legion. If it’s like that, it makes sense, but why use me as an interpreter?

“Well, for now, that’s the superficial reason. It was my request to call the Lieutenant. It may be a bit sudden, but you will be loyal to the Führer and Germany, right?”

The question was so sudden that cold sweat ran down my back. What is it? It’s like mind reading. There’s no way. Why are you asking this? After thinking for a while, I answered simply.

“I am loyal to Germany. Lieutenant Colonel.”

Richthofen stared at me, who could not say that I was loyal to the Führer, and smiled.

“Ah, I believe you, Lieutenant. The greetings and contents we will meet from now on are top secrets, so I believe you will strictly abide by that.”

“Yes!”

The question of what the hell he wanted to do with such an answer was solved at once, thanks to the greeting I met with Richthofen after a while.

“Buenas Tardes, Señor1 Richthofen.” (Good afternoon, Mr. Richthofen)

“Beauty España! Señor Caudillo.” (Long live Spain! Mr. President)

“Oh, haha. This must be why our generals have a good opinion of Señor Richthofen.”

The man looked a little surprised at Richthofen, who exchanged greetings in Spanish but soon laughed satisfactorily.

Nationalist Spain’s El Caudillo2 Francisco Franco is here! I almost blanked out, but I quickly started interpreting. Franco had only one man who appeared to be escorted.

“I want to strengthen my friendship with Señor Richthofen, but I’m busy with my schedule, so please understand that I’m going to get to the point first. This is not the official request of the Estado Español (Estado Español – the official name of Nationalist Spain). As far as I’m concerned…. Hmm, I’d like you to do as much as a personal request.”

When I translated Franco’s words, Richthofen also nodded as if he knew.

“Of course, Señor Caudillo! The Führer of the German Empire and the Condor Legion are always supporting Señor Caudillo, and the secret will be strictly observed.”

Franco smiled somewhat like a snake at Richthofen’s answer, and then he told me the so-called classified order.

“On this Northern front, I want the Condor Legion to do as much ‘collateral damage’ as possible.”

What did he just say? When I forgot to translate and paused, Franco smiled at me and added.

“Oh, was it a difficult expression to translate? I don’t know German very well, so I’d like to have ‘necessarily’ ‘many’ ‘collateral damage’ if possible.”

When I was absent-minded for a moment, Richthofen patted me on the back as if soothing, and then I came to my senses and interpreted.

“We ask for as many civilians as possible in this operation.”

When Richthofen heard it, he paused for a moment, but soon asked back.

“It’s not difficult, but isn’t the North a place where there are forces that have been suppressed after rising in response to the Nationalists’ faction?”

No, it’s not difficult?

“Some do, but the North is the realm of the carlist…. anachronistic, monarchy, retroists3, and separatists. There is a situation that I joined hands with General Mola, who is trying to take my place, and there is also a charge that I cooperated with the Reds after being suppressed. So I need to let them know in advance that it is foolish to go against me who has a great friend like Germany.”

Franco smiled softly as he said that. A leader who laughs while asking to bomb his own civilians it’s driving me crazy. However, I can’t help but deliver it, and Richthofen, who received it, replied coolly.

“Oh, I see. All right. It will be difficult to openly because it is a false bomb, but let’s try to inflict enough damage to deliver a clear message to them.”

“Thank you, Señor Richthofen. The dedication of Germany and the Condor Legion will be remembered as eternal friendship in Spain.”

Franco laughed happily and said such a thing. But that man doesn’t join the Axis until the end of World War II.

Even at the moment of Germany’s defeat, he must have been preoccupied with executing countless citizens as political criminals and communists.

Captain Kaufmann, what did the other members of the company die for?


After Franco left, Richthofen and I boarded a transport plane to take us to a newly built airfield near the Basque region.

Even in the early days of World War II, the Allies and the Soviet Union were only sortied from prepared airbases, but the Germans were already testing the doctrine of maintaining air supremacy and providing close air support by constructing simple airfields near the frontlines that rapidly rotated between air groups. It’s by Richthofen.

“You seemed surprised, but you did a good job, Lieutenant. Don’t think too deeply. You’ve read Clausewitz’s Theory of War4, haven’t you?

After Franco left, Richthofen and I boarded a transport plane to take us to a newly built airfield near the Basque region.

Even in the early days of World War II, the Allies and the Soviet Union were only sortied from prepared airbases, but the Germans were already testing the doctrine of maintaining air supremacy and providing close air support by constructing simple airfields near the frontlines that rapidly rotated between air groups. It’s by Richthofen.

“You seemed surprised, but you did a good job, Lieutenant. Don’t think too deeply. You’ve read Clausewitz’s Theory of War, haven’t you? War is an extension of politics. We are soldiers, and if we obey orders, politics is for the higher-ups to take care of themselves. The Führer instructed Franco to actively cooperate, and we can follow.”

For a soldier, absolute obedience to orders and performing them sounds like a proper attitude at first glance. But with that very attitude, World War II will cause the most terrible sacrifice in world history. Right in the hands of our German army.

“But the indiscriminate bombing of civilians with no intention of resistance is a war crime, Colonel.”

Richthofen paused for a moment at my words and soon burst into laughter.

“Haha, hahaha – Lieutenant. War crimes are ultimately decided by the winners at their own convenience. The most important thing for our soldiers is to be loyal to their country and follow its orders. And now the Führer, who leads our great Germany, is not interested in so-called ‘war crimes’.”

I guess so. Of course, Hitler was not interested in that. But would you say that, Richthofen, even if you lose after fighting an infinite war of attrition, committing unnecessary war crimes and turning all the residents of the occupied territories into enemies that could have been allies?

Seeing my expression as I closed my mouth, Richthofen smiled and opened his mouth.

“You wondered why I brought you here.”

“Yes, Colonel.”

“I heard you were selected as a candidate for the War College.”

“Ah!”

Just like in Korea, only officers from Military Schools could hope to attain the rank of general, In Germany, however, only those who had completed their education at the War College and earned the qualifications to serve on the General Staff could become generals.

However, unlike Korean military academies, where students enter, graduate from, and serve as officers, at German War College, they serve in the military, build up some experience, and educate qualified personnel.

Some people, like the famous Erwin Rommel, went to the Führer without going through the General Staff process, but it is a very special case, and in fact, Rommel was not on good terms with other generals from the General Staff throughout the war. Therefore, it is said that the person who completed the General Staff course is a future general.

“Well, don’t be too happy already. Because the competition among candidates is fierce.”

“Yes, I know.”

Even after being selected as a candidate for admission to the War College, only one out of 10 people was actually admitted, so I wasn’t unaware of it.

But more importantly, the War College is in Berlin.

The end of the Spanish Civil War is just before World War II. If you go back to Germany, you will not have enough time to do something, but if you go back to Berlin first to enter the War College, the story will be different.

It doesn’t matter whether you become a General’s Staff or not, you can get a chance to do something before World War II breaks out!

“But you have a remarkable track record, so if you continue to play well, chances are high. Your unit is on standby due to heavy damage from the last battle, so take a look at the Luftwaffe’s operations and post an appropriate report. Who knows? Will the higher up like it or not?”

“Yes, Colonel. I’ll keep that in mind.”

This is too important for me, but on the other hand, it was a little unexpected favor.

Hermann Göring, the commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, is working on a four-year plan, a state-controlled economic policy. This is a clear plan to confront my father, Hjalmar Schacht, the representative of businessmen pursuing free market economic policies.

In fact, Hjalmar Schacht will soon be replaced by Göring, who has a strong position in the Nazi party. So by Luftwaffe standards, I’m the son of a political opponent. But why would you have to?

“Why, is it unexpected?”

“With all due respect, Colonel.”

Richthofen tapped me on the shoulder and replied.

“No matter what the circumstances of the high-ranking people are, isn’t politics their job? While coming all the way to this distant place and struggling together, it is also the job of seniors to support promising prospects.”

“Is that so.”

At my ambiguous answer, Richthofen smirked and added,

“Oh, well, that’s true. Major Beckers recommended it, and since I’ve met him once, I’ve accepted it. And this is just my personal opinion anyway. Can I trust that personal opinions remain only in your head, Lieutenant?”

“Yes, of course, Colonel!”

“Luftwaffe is a new army. Our values are now at the stage where we have to prove ourself, and there are many in the Army who want to regard us as a group under their wing. Commander Göring is indignant about this and wants to preserve independence from the army, but I don’t think that’s a problem that can be solved through confrontation.”

To be sure, Göring’s obsession with the Air Force during World War II was seriously morbid and was the main culprit of the German military’s significant reduction in power, but at first glance, the army strongly pushed for the so-called ‘six-way fire’ of the air force to the extent that such an attitude was considered to have a reason.

“I think the most important factor in modern warfare will be the cooperation between the Army and the Air Force. But that doesn’t mean it’s all about the Air Force. Nevertheless, there are still many conservative people in the Defense Forces, especially the Army, and they only hope that the role of the Air Force will be faithful to the assistance of the Army.”

In the end, Germany failed to make good use of its capabilities as Göring, 

In the end, as Göring, who only wanted to take care of the Air Force, the Army who was proud of themself and ignored other forces, and the Navy who were alienated from it, even the Schutzstaffel intervened in the Defense Forces’ discord, and Germany became more unable to use its capabilities properly. The supreme leader who was supposed to coordinate only added to the confusion.

So, the role that Richthofen expects of me is….

“On this northern front, I will fully demonstrate the possibility and value of the Luftwaffe. If possible, I would like you to report it to the upper ranks in a positive way and improve the perception of the officers who will be responsible for the future of Germany, which will be your motivation if you enter the War College.”

Even if he said that, I think the Lieutenant Colonel was well aware that one lieutenant-level officer could not play a big role right away. Probably trying to make a case like this consistently, not just me.

“Haha, don’t be too burdened. Anyway, since I’m not your direct superior, I’d like you to take a little into account the grievances here. And I’d like you to teach me Spanish while we’re together. I’m frustrated because I can’t communicate.”

Did you say that Richthofen was almost the only officer among the officers dispatched to the Condor Legion who tried to learn Spanish?

The Spanish officers were not very pleased with the German officers dispatched to the Condor Legion because they were arrogant, but Liechthofen, who was friendly, tried to discuss with Spanish officers and learn Spanish, was popular in his own way.

“I understand, Colonel. I’ll do my best.”

Although he was a person who could say that he felt very happy watching the city or civilians burn, he was a person who was seriously thinking about the future of the Luftwaffe and the Wehrmacht and working hard.

Well, so when Richthofen retired due to health problems, Luftwaffe’s officers must have missed him. It would have been better if he was here, not Göring, who was drugged and ruined by Luftwaffe.

Most Germans caught up in World War II probably did. They believed in the government and did their best in their respective positions, but because it was a lunatic criminal regime, they became war criminals and remained losers of the era.

Except for some who actively participated, they would have to acquiesce or sympathize with war crimes in order to protect themselves or bear all the charges of astronomical events such as tens of millions of deaths while being swayed by the lies of the Nazi regime.

The real culprits, such as Hitler and Goebbels, would escape by committing suicide.

People like Richthofen are obviously problematic figures who can commit war crimes without hesitation, but depending on the government that handles them, they can be just a bit of a radical patriot… Yes, for example, Curtis LeMay in the United States.

Is it possible with a sane mind to see Europe and Germany with countless deaths and ruins, leaving only me to live after knowing all of this?

But if I can get to Berlin before World War II breaks out, I might be able to prevent that from happening.


【 Spanish Civil War – Collateral Damage (1) 】- End


1Señor – a Spanish term of address equivalent to sir or Mr., used alone or capitalized and prefixed to the name of a married or an older man.
2El Caudillo was used to describe the head of irregular forces who ruled a politically distinct territory. These forces were organized through an informal system of sustained obedience based on a paternalistic relationship between the subordinates and the leader, who attained his position due to his forceful personality and charisma.
3Retroist – person who decides to shell off current technology, and live in the past.
4Clausewitz’s theory of war strategy is divided into three primary objectives: overcome the enemy’s armed power, take possession of material and other sources of strength, and win public support.

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