【 Chapter 8 – Spanish Civil War – Meeting and Farewell 】
Two months from the bombing of Guernica. While participating in the Basque Offensive, unexpected accidents occurred one after another.
It was the first time that Germany’s proud giant flying passenger ship, the Hindenburg, exploded in the United States.
I knew vaguely. I didn’t know exactly when it was, and I just couldn’t think of it because it wasn’t a very impactful event for Korean Yoon Sung-il.
The Hindenburg was the crystallization of German people’s love for airships that had been going on since World War I, and in fact, it was a symbol of Germany that Nazi Germany actively used for publicity for the Berlin Olympics held in 1936.
In Germany, it seemed to be noisy, saying that it was the Jewish conspiracy, and most of all, members of the Condor Legion seemed quite shocked by the accident in which the luxury airship that Germany boasted burned down, and many people died.
After World War II broke out, there was a series of catastrophes that I can’t even remember such an accident, but no one knows about it yet.
I missed a catastrophe that could have been prevented if I had remembered it.
Second, General Emilio Mola of the Nationalists, the Commander-in-chief across the Northern part of the country, who was leading the attack on the Basque region, died.
He was crossing the mountain range by transport plane, and the plane crashed after loading too many of his colorful uniforms.
Franco’s foundation became more solid, and although conspiracy theories were raised, the reason for the plane crash was so stupid that it went smoothly.
Both events were important, though I had never thought of them.
And these events alerted me, who was full of thoughts of meeting Willy Brandt and using my full-fledged future knowledge.
I know by no means little about this era and Germany, but that is not all about this era.
Unless you can search for data in real-time comfortably in modern times, there is naturally a limit to human memory.
So I have to be careful. What I have to do is nothing else, to dismantle an evil and tenacious group that is hard to find in the history of the world.
June 25, 1937
Port of Cadiz, Andalusia, Southern Spain
General Mola died, but the offensive throughout the North continued regardless and achieved success, and the Nationalists captured Bilbao, the capital of the Basque region.
The Basque resistance abandoned the city and retreated to Cantabria, just west of it, during which the Condor Legion bombardment resulted in numerous losses and civilian casualties.
And the achievements of the Guernica Aerial Bombing, the destruction of the city, at least Hitler satisfied. As the presence and performance of the Condor Legion became known to the world, the Nazis began to send additional support without hesitation.
Lieutenant Colonel Richthofen had now reached the level where he could have a brief conversation with the Spanish officers with a litlle stutter, and with the addition of interpreters dispatched to this reinforcement, there was no need for me to be attached to him as an interpreter officer.
The army of the Condor Legion, which suffered a heavy loss in the battle, was also reinforced, so now I’m returning to my original unit.
Except for the problem of being a Soitan bomber, this is the last mission with Richthofen, who was a decent boss.
“Lieutenant, it’s really the last time, don’t you want to join the Air Force? I’m not the kind of person who recommends things like this easily.”
“I know. But I’ll be grateful to you, Lieutenant Colonel.”
We were here to meet reinforcements from home in Germany. I had to fly to Southern Spain on a transport plane as soon as Bilbao fell, but that was okay.
The reinforcements include Bf109 fighters!
Although Richthofen looked at me with a strange eye when I was delighted with the news that the Bf109, a German fighter from World War II that appeared without exception, was coming, the appearance of a weapon that was finally familiar to those who knew World War II was quite emotional.
Now air supremacy, at least until the British isles aerial campaign, belongs to the Germans. It’s really hard to think of the time when I suffered because air supremacy was taken away by the damned early fighter of the Soviet Union.
When I was grinning to myself, Richthofen laughed as if he was dumbfounded.
“Is it that good, Lieutenant? This time the 88 (Acht-8.8cm anti-aircraft gun), which played a big part, also comes.”
“Yes, Colonel. An 88 that will be improved on the Bf109 will give you a breather.”
The most significant achievement obtained while living with Richthofen was the rapid improvement of the 8.8 cm FlaK, an all-purpose anti-aircraft gun used by the German army in World War II.
Since it is an anti-aircraft gun, it is not very mobile, and to solve the structural problem of anti-tank warfare, adding a gun shield and improving the gun rotation function and gun carriage, originally, it was requested in advance for parts that will only be improved after next year.
The anti-aircraft gun was half a Luftwaffe weapon thanks to Göring’s greed, but Lieutenant Colonel Richthofen emphasized that anti-aircraft guns were unnecessary to defend the air base and actually passed it without a problem thanks to the 88th Air Force’s excellent record in ground warfare.
I had to struggle with the report as if I were writing a paper for a small but important change, but thanks to that, I think I got some points at the Army Command. I should thank Lieutenant Colonel Richthofen.
“Here you are.”
Watching a group of men get off a transport ship from Germany, I straightened my posture.
It was a complicated feeling that I was surprised and happy to know that these people were coming here, but it’s quite a strange feeling to see the people I’ve only seen in black and white photos in the distant future come alive and come before my eyes.
One of them, Adolf Galland, who had the same name as Hitler, stood out for his mustache. Unlike Hitler, he had a rather soft impression.
Although he is a little younger than me and a rank lower than me, he will be Luftwaffe’s ace and a key figure during World War II, and he is a person with a conviction that is not common in the military.
And the person who walks in the front…
I shouted loudly this time while giving a Nazi salute with Richthofen.
Not with loyalty to Hitler, but with respect to a hero who will struggle in the worst conditions to protect his crumbling homeland.
A man in his 40s wearing a monocle greeted me moderately and smiled.
“It’s Colonel Walter Model from Berlin’s Staff Headquarters. I look forward to your kind cooperation.”
It took quite a while to unload the equipment sent from Germany for reinforcements.
Additional tanks, Bf109 fighter, He111, Do17, and Hs123 bombers, as well as prototypes of Flak 36, an improved version of 88 anti-aircraft guns equipped with artillery at the request of the Condor Legion and me.
As far as I know, the Stuka (Ju87 dive bomber), famous for its bugle sound when descending in the Spanish Civil War, would also be tested, but that hasn’t happened yet. Along with the Bf109, it is a symbol of the German Air Force in World War II.
And all the while, I had to break out in a cold sweat while spending time with one of my favorite and most respected World War II German generals.
“It’s hot. Is it Spanika because it’s as hot as Africa?”
The officers, including me, stared at each other for a long time at Colonel Model’s remarks and later began to laugh. I don’t know what you’re talking about, but let’s just laugh.
“Ha, haha, hahaha!”
“It’s worth thinking hard on the boat as you enjoy it so much.”
Seeing the colonel grinning, I screamed inwardly.
A brilliant commander who shined in World War II warriors, ‘Lion of Defense’, ‘Führer’s Firefighter’, ‘Miracle Rebuilder’, ‘Guardian of the Eastern Front’, with all sorts of nicknames, Germany’s last hope during World War II was this kind of person!
“Laughter is precious on the battlefield. Try to train your sense of humor, too.”
‘The Walter Model enjoyed exchanging fun jokes with soldiers’, I didn’t know that one line left on the record was like this until I met him.
In any case, Colonel Walter Model is said to have come to serve as Chief of Staff of Lieutenant General Thoma, in line with the size of the deployed Army.
I didn’t even know he was in the Spanish Civil War, how surprised I was when his name was on the reinforcements list.
The composition of our company also changed while I participated as an army adviser before the Basque attack. The company was on standby anyway, Clement had succeeded me as a Company Adjutant and was managing the company as an acting Company Commander.
Two new officers came to our company. Lieutenant Egon Ross will serve as the 1st Platoon Commander instead of Clement, and Lieutenant Karl Heintz Beckerman will serve as the 3rd Platoon Commander.
Lieutenant Julius Havenstein, who lost his adjutant and was suffering from depression, must have been completely discouraged after experiencing the horrors of the Battle of Guadalajara, and applied for discharge while I was away.
In the Condor Legion, he was ridiculed as a weak human being. It feels strange to think that I could have chosen that path.
“Yes. The unloading seems to be almost over, so let’s get going. It’s the Condor Legion, so condolences (Kondolenz) to the enemies!”
“Ha, haha, hahahaha….”
Dear Führer, No, Colonel. Anyway, this is a bit….
Lieutenant Colonel Richthofen led Lieutenant Adolf Galland’s 3rd Squadron, which had been reinforced, and, coolly enough, drove the reinforced Bf109 and other aircraft directly away.
It was a little bit sad, but if that was the case, it was a goodbye.
I moved to the road with assistants such as maintenance soldiers and Army reinforcements.
As soon as I was appointed as a Company Commander, I was dispatched to Luftwaffe, so I’ve never played the role of a Company Commander but….
Still, as a Company Commander, I felt some pressure to maintain good relations with the newly assigned Lieutenants Ross and Beckerman.
However, once we moved together, there was no need to feel that burden. Surprisingly there was none.
There was nothing surprising.
Throughout the trip, I had to accept the Colonel Model’s endless jokes, and as a result, a bond of sympathy naturally developed and we became close easily.
Perhaps this is not the reason that the 9th Army under Walter Model has a strong camaraderie with each other and is very well united…
….give me back the master of my heart.
Arriving in Salamanca, a major hub of national Spain, I took two lieutenants with me after breaking up with Colonel Model and other unit members and reported their return and transfer to Major Beckers, the battalion commander, for the first time in a long time.
Only then was I finally able to return to my old company, I missed them. We’ve been away for almost three months…
It was only after Lieutenant Ross and Lieutenant Becker were sent to their respective platoons that I could embrace and share my welcome with Clement, who is now my Lieutenant.
“It’s too late, but thank you, Clement. I lived thanks to you for bringing me.”
“Hey, it’s between us. Oops, I’m a Lieutenant now.”
“I know. It’s just the two of us.”
It’s a little embarrassing for two strong men to do this, but it was Clement who took care of me in the midst of an air strike while running away from Guadalajara, he was a valuable motivation and lifesaver whom I hadn’t seen in a long time.
“Did you enjoy chasing the Air Force?”
“Oh, well, it was just that. At least you got to know the high-ranking Lieutenant Colonel. What about this side?
“Well, I sucked honey, almost on standby. Too many deaths and injuries, though.”
“Yeah…. Well, there must have been nothing to do. Is that so? Your face is a bit puffy.”
“Oh, does it look like that? I had nothing to do, and I went out with some pretty girls! Haha!”
“Anyway, now that the reinforcements are here, the good times are gone.”
Yes, in the last battle, our company sustained heavy casualties, as a result, we’ve been waiting in the rear and occasionally helping the Spanish trains, but now it will be back on the front line.
Hitler, who was excited to see the world paying attention to Luftwaffe’s performance, expected the Army to show results.
The problem is that it’s more academic than performance, and it’s more astonishment than attention.
The two were chatting and being told about what had happened, but it was not until the end of our conversation that they heard a knock.
Usually, the Lieutenant… he’s next to me now so it shouldn’t be possible, but there was no such thing as a deputy or a non-commissioned officer coming in first and informing me that someone was here.
“This is Havenstein, Lieutenant.”
“Oh, come in.”
The former commander of the 3rd Company, Lieutenant Julius Havenstein, entered with a slightly daunted face and gave a Nazi salute.
When I, who didn’t want to shout ‘Heil Hitler’, accepted it with my hand, he seemed to have interpreted it differently and felt a little more intimidated.
Until recently, we lived together in the same so-called position, but now it feels strange that I am in the position of accepting salutes.
Now that I see this guy, he’s been waiting outside while we’re talking?
Havenstein hesitated for a moment, and seeing Clement look at him with a rather blatantly pitiful look, I knew roughly how he had been treated while I was away.
If I didn’t become a Company Commander and begged Major Becks to be discharged from the hospital, would Clement have seen me like this?
I do not know. But it’s unfortunate.
“You must have come because of the discharge report, right? Lieutenant.”
“Yes, that’s right. Lieutenant.”
The new 3rd Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Beckerman, has arrived just now, so he should have kept his post for the time being, and he came to return to his home country after handing it over to him.
It was hard for me to wait and see when I heard Clement muttering as if to listen.
When I deliberately called him by his title, Clement gave me a puzzled look.
“Would you mind stepping aside for a moment?”
Clement moved away without saying a word. Should I apologize later?
I got up and approached Havenstein.
“Lieutenant Julius Havenstein.”
The lieutenant was looking at me with a slight flinch with eyes wondering what was wrong with him, and I grabbed his shoulder and stretched it out.
“Straighten your shoulders. We’ve been together for quite some time. What are you so afraid of?”
“Ha, but I… oh no, I…”
It is an era where PTSD and post-traumatic stress disorder have not yet been officially named, and only the concept of shell shock exists.
It is common for a soldier to suffer PTSD on the battlefield, but a soldier who suffers from a really serious PTSD cannot stand on the front line.
It is more common sense in modern times, but there was no such thing yet in this era.
The soldiers who failed to withstand and collapse were also criticized, but officers who were braver than anyone else and should be exemplary soldiers were even more unacceptable.
Patton’s story of beating and cursing a subordinate suffering from PTSD for being a coward was infamous, but it’s not just his story.
But this isn’t just a symptom of cowards. There’s only a difference in degree.
Right now, even I am suffering from the sound of flying shells that linger in my ears from time to time.
“You are not a coward. I guarantee it. You stayed in Guadalajara until the end, didn’t you?”
Although he made the mistake of sending a Private as a messenger, he carried out the pre-delay mission according to my instructions anyway, even though he lost his Deputy in the previous battle and, with the Lieutenant was knocked out and remained in position until he was given permission to retreat.
No matter how painful and scary it was, I could not let a man go home in disgrace, denounced as a coward, who had not abandoned his comrades and fled to live alone.
“I’m sorry. I, no more…”
“It’s okay. If killing people and being normal is something to be proud of, then those who boast about it are weird. At least I know how hard you tried.”
I took out the small pouch I had always carried since the Battle of Guadalajara and handed it to the weeping Havenstein.
“A letter from Captain Kaufmann to his family and a serial number. You go and tell them. Because the man who fought bravely in the final battle in which he fell deserves it.”
“Then I’ll go now. I won’t say thank you for your hard work. If anyone says anything to you again, I will take it as an insult to me, so carry out your last orders and go home!”
It was more embarrassing than I thought to be a Company Commander.
Still, it seems that the last expression on which Lieutenant Havenstein, or Julius Havenstein, went out was not so bad.
However, if the Nazis break out World War II and the poison war breaks out, all those who have been discharged like that, as well as children and old people, will all be taken to the battlefield.
It’s still a beggarly era, but I’ve been willing to thank God for at least a little bit.
At least I received enough body and mind to not collapse like that, even if I was on the battlefield.
And there is an opportunity to prevent even those people from being driven back to war.
Overthrow the Nazis, the son of a bitch, and prevent the most terrible catastrophe in human history. I’m definitely here for that.
【 Spanish Civil War – Meeting and Farewell 】- End
Thank you for reading!