- The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

    Freiwillige: Foreign Volunteers - Spanish Legion

The Insignia of the Spanish Blue Division

Spanish Legion

During World War II nearly 45,000 Spanish volunteers served with the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) on the Eastern Front.  These men were formed into a volunteer fighting force largely due to Germany’s alliance with Spain, as well as in recognition for Hitler’s willingness to provide General Franco with military aid during the Spanish Civil War.  Many Spanish citizens saw Germany’s conflict with Russia as a war against Communism.  This produced a large number of volunteers between 1941 and 1943. 

The first 18,000 Spanish volunteers were organized in Madrid and transported to Grafenwohr, Bavaria where they received their initial training.  These men were later integrated into the German Army and designated the 250th Infantry Division.  The unit was formed into two regiments which were deployed to Russia on 20 August, 1941.  Volunteers wore standard German military uniforms with the exception of an arm shield bearing the words “España” centered over the red and gold colors of Spain.

The Spanish “Blue Division” as it was called, was initially destined to serve with Army Group Center near Smolensk, but was instead transferred to Army Group North to support the assault on Leningrad.  The Spanish Blue Division fought through the winter of 1941/42 with heavy losses.  As a result of these losses and a near collapse of the entire Division, the Spanish government authorized a rotational system where both volunteers and conscripts were sent to the Eastern Front.  In the Spring of 1943 General Franco began negotiations with Hitler to withdraw his fighting men from the conflict.  This came as a result of increased Allied pressure on the Spanish government as well as Franco’s realization that the war in Russia would likely end with Germany’s loss. 

In October of 1943 the first major withdraw of Spanish volunteers began.  However, nearly 3,000 men chose to remain on the Eastern Front where they were they were later assigned to the 121st Infantry Division.  In an effort to remove Spain from what would certainly be a failed campaign, this group was also recalled by Franco in March 1944.  Despite their government’s pressure to return, several hundred volunteers refused to abandon the conflict against the Communists.  These men were later assigned to several different German Army units which included the 357th Infantry Division and the 3rd Mountain Division.  A small number were also assigned to specialized units within the Armed-SS (Waffen-SS) and the elite Brandenburg Division. 

In September 1944, one company of Spanish “Brandenburgers” was sent to Austria where it was integrated into the Waffen-SS and designated the “Spanische-Freiwilligen-Kompanie der SS 101.”  This unit was assigned to the 28th Waffen-SS Division “Wallonien.”  The same unit was later transferred to the 11th Waffen-SS Division “Nordland” were it was destroyed in the final battles for Berlin.


Each section of is divided into separate Information Tracks that outline important details, facts, and historical notes pertaining to steel helmets used by the German Armed Forces during World War II.  

Information Tracks are organized by subject matter and their content is directly related to the service arm or organization to which each topic is related.  Topic areas that bridge one subject matter to another are cross linked within each Information Track.

This Information Track provides historical facts pertaining to helmets of the Spanish Legion from 1941-1945.  Individual links related to this subject are outlined below.

   Primary Topics

Spanish Volunteer Main

Helmet Types

Helmet Insignia

Period Photographs

    Foreign Volunteer Topics

Foreign Volunteers Main


Denmark (Dutch)


Finland (Finish)



Netherlands (Flemish)



Spain  - The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

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