Four years after the Madrid City Council of Manuela Carmena, approved the changing of some 52 street names which had a connection to the Franco dictatorship, the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) has ruled in favour of maintaining two of its most infamous – Calle deCaidos de la Division Azul (Fallen of the Blue Division) in the Chamartín district and that dedicated to General Millán Astray in La Latina.
The ruling of the court came in conclusion to a case brought by José Luis Marín, President of the Families of the Blue Division Fallen in Russia Association who described the decision as “a victory for reason and history”.
In an announcement yesterday 14th May, a spokesperson for the Partido Popular led City Council, indicated that they would not be appealing the decision, meaning that it is now likely that the remaining 50 street names on the list will also not now be changed.
The Association argued that the Historic Memory Law applies to the Spanish Civil War ( 1936 -39) and therefore not applicable to the Blue Division which was formed in 1941 and whose volunteers fought for Spain to fight the Soviet Union.
The court also noted that General Millán did not participate in the Nationalist uprising against the Second Republic in July 1936, which triggered the three year long civil war – nor did he participate in the Francoist repression or reprisals against Republicans after the war.
He did however, have a close relationship with General Franco and had served with him in North Africa where he is credited with forming the Spanish Foreign Legion which proved a formidable force fighting for the Nationalists during the Civil War.
For the left, he has always been a hate-figure for his confrontation with Miguel de Unamuno, the writer and philosopher, in which he is said to have led the Legion cry of “Viva la Muerte!” and the Falangist chant of “¡España – Una! ¡España – Grande! ¡España –Libre!”
The Blue Division was initially formed of Falangist volunteers and made up a full infantry division of the German Army fighting on the Russian front in 1941.
The Germans highly rated the Spanish division which fought against the Red Army, most notably in the siege of Leningrad from 1941 to 1943.
By 1943 the shortage of new volunteers to replace the heavy casualties led Franco to send conscripts before disbanding the division under pressure from the advancing Allies in 1943.
Although the division was disbanded a new hardcore volunteer Blue Legion was formed and continued fighting with the retreating German Army until the fall of Berlin in 1945 – indeed there are some accounts that the Spaniards made up a large part of the final defence of Hitler´s Bunker.
Nearly 5,000 Spaniards died on the Eastern front.
In February this year, a Neo Nazi homage homage to the dead of the Blue Division, which was held at the Division´s monument in the Almudena Cemetery led to widespread condemnation for the anti-semitic language used by speakers
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