2009, Osprey Publishing, 64 pages
In this politically correct day the only place you are going to find unbiased evaluations of WWII combat units will be in Osprey editions, which are simple studies of the unit and soldier type, with chronology and bare bones, balanced narrative, which does not attempt to implicate the individual soldier as a knowing conspirator in some vast plot, but as the sometimes eager and ever-suffering tool of his evil masters.
The war that produced “the greatest generation” in human history and was supposedly fomented and conducted by one supremely evil being for the sole purpose of killing all non-Aryans on earth, has become the beginning of modern history, our world’s foundation, as if there was no WWI, no previous wars of consequence. The few people who do not buy this sanguine fairy tale go reactionary and decide that since some of the standard narrative is obviously a lie that all of it is false...and the neo-pagan sun god was slain by the world’s puppet masters…
WWII history has become such a farcical PC-Revisionist football that I can’t even stomach the subject anymore. I only concern myself with accounts of fighting men and if those men were from the side that I was taught to hate, all the better, because it’s a dark corner I’d like to peek into. I am particularly interested in the Japanese and Chinese soldier’s experience, as most historians and few war gamers even treat them as human. A few years ago I was working on a "history’s worst military jobs" book with one war gamer until he told me we could only include modern Western armies, because pre-modern men and “coolie” soldiers lived at such a low comfort level [compared to us sissies] that they could not really suffer in times of war. This man thought that men who lived before heated water and air conditioning could not truly suffer! So I bagged that project, cutting it short with 10 ancient jobs.
So, in considering what it must have been like to be one of the mostly killed meat puppets that fought on the worst front of humanity’s signature war, the Russian Front, I have always been interested in the Spanish Volunteer Division that served against the Soviets. I learned early on in playing the Germans in Proud Monster that you never place them next to the Romanians, or the Russians will definitely steamroll that section of your line. And the division did not suck like the Romanians. It was okay—not exactly German mountain infantry, but pretty good, about as tough as the Hungarian division. So you try not to get it killed, eventually forming an almost sentimental attachment to this little blue-green chit in your line of gray divisions trying to hold back that mass of unschooled, ever-growing brown…
In the general history of this slight book, the author makes a thoughtful connection between the Spanish Civil War, the Catholic Church [who had almost 200 priests murdered in that war] and the neo-paganism of the Third Reich, which gave the Church the creeps, but not as much as the Soviet Union, which the church equated with the coming of the Anti-Christ [this is from reading on other sources, including an examination of the Fatima prophecies]. So, the Church actually gave the go ahead for fascist fanatics in Spain to travel to the Russian Front and get butchered in German uniforms, which they didn’t wear the way they were supposed to, which ruffled some Prussian feathers. But all in all, the Blue Division and many of its survivors who stayed behind to fight as SS volunteers, went into the frozen, muddy hell of the Russian Front to fight in a catholic crusade against communism as part of a nominally pagan army.
As usual the art work is top notch, the photos are revealing and the day-to-day operations of these unlikely soldiers is examined from their perspective, including training, the propaganda from Spain and Germany they were subjected to, their relationship with Russian civilians and German soldiers, available recreation [like reading bullfighting posters], relief battalions, trench warfare, medical services, the fate of POWs and even reunions.