How important was the participation* of Spanish soldiers to the outcome of World War Two?



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University Preparation Course Extended Essay 3


How important was the participation* of Spanish soldiers to the outcome** of World War Two? *participation=involvement **outcome=result.




  • This is information to form an opinion about the research question and write your thesis statement.

(Source: Second World War History.  “World War 2 Casualty Statistics”.  Second World War History.  Second World War History, 2013.web. 2 Mar 2013 )

(Source: Second World War History.  “World War 2 Casualty Statistics”.  Second World War History.  Second World War History, 2013.web. 2 Mar 2013 )

(Source: Second World War History.  “World War 2 Casualty Statistics”.  Second World War History.  Second World War History, 2013.web. 2 Mar 2013 )




Spanish Soldiers Fighting for Germany in World War II

While Spain did not enter the war, there were many Spaniards who wanted to volunteer to fight for Germany. Many thousands wanted to join the unit called the Blue Division. The first wave of volunteers numbered more than 45,000, and eventually, approximately 18,000 men were chosen. The division left Spain in July 1941 on trains to southern Germany. This was the most active assistance from Spanish volunteers for Germany.


After training in Bavaria, southern Germany, the Spanish volunteers went to the Soviet Union, marching more than one thousand kilometers on foot to its final positions. The unit crossed into Soviet territory on September 7, reaching its final position in mid-October 1941. Upon reaching the German lines, the unit went to the northern Russian city of Novgorod. It was mostly a quiet area, but the Spanish did endure several major Soviet attacks - including the battle of Krasni Bor in 1943 - and became famous as a tough, reliable force.
However, the difficult winters, strong Russian army, and unexpected inability of the

German forces to defeat Russia’s Red Army transformed what the volunteers expected to be an easy victory into a very difficult struggle. Moreover, continual news about deaths made it much harder to find volunteers to replace those lost. Finally, it was the German defeat at Stalingrad that caused Spain to become neutral and stop its support for Germany. During its time in the war, the unit of Spanish volunteers suffered major losses. Out of 45,000 volunteers, 8,000 were wounded, nearly 8,000 became sick, 16,000 suffered frostbite from the cold and 4,500 were killed, buried in Russian soil. The Russians also imprisoned more than 3,000 Spaniards. Of this number, only 1,000 returned to Spain, after as many as twelve years of captivity. Overall, considering the size of the conflict and the massive number of Russian and German soldiers involved, the contribution of the Spanish volunteers was small.

Wayne, Bowen H.“Spain During World War II”, Columbia and London, Univ of Missouri Press, 2006


Spanish volunteers fighting for the allies (France, Britain and the US)


Many Spanish men living in France joined the French Foreign Legion at the start of the war. This section of the French army was specifically for foreigners and at this time the Spanish were a large proportion of the force. In addition, approximately 60,000 joined the French Resistance, a secret army fighting German occupation. Also 2,000 were in General Leclerc's Second French Division; with many from the former Durruti Column. The 9th Armoured Company, was formed almost entirely by Spanish veterans and was the first Allied military unit to enter Paris upon its liberation in August, 1944. Therefore although the Spanish soldiers did not have a major impact on the outcome of the war, they were able to contribute.

On the Eastern Front – in the Soviet Union (now Russia) – some Spanish citizens joined the Soviet ‘Red Army’ to fight against the German forces. According to the historian Anthony Beevor (The Second World War), 1,400 Spanish soldiers served in the Red Army. This was, however, a very small number compared to the millions of Russians who fought.



Wilmot, Chester. The Struggle for Europe. Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions.1997.



Soldiers in World War Two

Total number of soldiers that fought in WW2 from each country



  • Allies: US, Britain and France

  • Axis: Germany, Italy and Japan

USSR - 12.5 million
USA - 12.364 million
Germany - 10 million
Japan - 6.095 million
France - 5 million
China - 5 million
UK - 4.683 million
Italy - 4.5 million
India - 2.15 million
Poland - 1 million
Canada - 780,000
Australia - 680,000 Spain- 105,000 (60,000 Axis, 45,000 Allied)


World War Two database, 2013






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