Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Discussions on all aspects of the Spanish Civil War including the Condor Legion, the Germans fighting for Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
margaretrestieaux
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Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by margaretrestieaux » 24 Apr 2020 19:11

I have recently been reading 'Mine Were of Trouble', the memoir of an Englishman who volunteered to fight for the nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. He mentions coming across a Lieutenant von Gaza, who was apparently a German officer sent to Spain as a kind of punishment:
''He was indeed a Regular Army officer ... but having committed some serious offence which had brought upon him the displeasure of the German military authorities, he was given the choice of a court-martial or service in Spain -- but with the proviso that he must not serve with his own countrymen.''

I would be very interested to know if any of you think this is true, as I had certainly not heard of a punishment like this before -- he was not a part of Legion Condor as far as I understand, but was serving in the Requetés and later in the Spanish Foreign Legion. If this does seem plausible, what kind of crime could he have committed to land him in this situation?

Any insight on this or similar cases would be very helpful!

Margaret

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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by GregSingh » 30 Apr 2020 11:24

:welcome:

Perhaps you could also ask about this person in Axis Biographical Research section of the Forum.
If he indeed was a lieutenant, that might be not too difficult to find his bio.
I suspect his surname was actually von Gazen genannt von Gaza. Pity we don't have his first name...
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Sheldrake » 30 Apr 2020 12:26

margaretrestieaux wrote:
24 Apr 2020 19:11
I have recently been reading 'Mine Were of Trouble', the memoir of an Englishman who volunteered to fight for the nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. He mentions coming across a Lieutenant von Gaza, who was apparently a German officer sent to Spain as a kind of punishment:
''He was indeed a Regular Army officer ... but having committed some serious offence which had brought upon him the displeasure of the German military authorities, he was given the choice of a court-martial or service in Spain -- but with the proviso that he must not serve with his own countrymen.''

I would be very interested to know if any of you think this is true, as I had certainly not heard of a punishment like this before -- he was not a part of Legion Condor as far as I understand, but was serving in the Requetés and later in the Spanish Foreign Legion. If this does seem plausible, what kind of crime could he have committed to land him in this situation?

Any insight on this or similar cases would be very helpful!

Margaret
The author only has "von Gaza's" word. Maybe he was describing his choice of staying to face a court martial or deserting and joining the Spanish Army.

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Ironmachine
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Ironmachine » 30 Apr 2020 17:24

Service in Spanish Army units is indeed a very strange punishment to be meted out by German authorities. It seems to lack any real purpose. Sheldrake's idea may be right.
On the other hand, IIRC Kempf's book, von Gaza did tell Kempf that he was an officer in the German Army, but said nothing about being sent to serve in Spanish units as punishment. That part of the tale was not told to Kempf by von Gaza himself, but was a "second hand account" provided by a former Spanish commander of von Gaza.

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Steve
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Steve » 04 Jun 2020 00:30

Luftwaffe pilot Hajo Hermann tells in his book Eagles Wings how he was sent to Spain.

“I was to report to the Kommandeur ; who was, he said probably going to bawl me out …………. The Kommandeur began by saying that I had recently incurred his displeasure by doing a racing takeoff in a Stieglitz (trainer) at Nordhausen. I didn’t reply, even though I knew better. …………. He wrinkled his forehead in a frown and then opened a file. ……….. Sign that! I read the paper and signed……. What I was about to hear ………… were to be kept secret …………. He said, General Franco has approached the Government of the Reich and has asked for assistance ……….After a short but clear summary of the situation in Spain the Kommandeur asked do you want to go, or don’t you? It sounded very much a threat of punishment for the flying offence I had just committed”.

After agreeing to go he was discharged from the Luftwaffe. Hermann comes across as a man who thought he knew better than most of his commanding officers. The Kommandeur was probably thinking who to choose to go to Spain and maybe took the chance of getting rid of a rather undisciplined character. He did not fly with the Condor Legion.

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Ironmachine
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Ironmachine » 04 Jun 2020 07:04

He did not fly with the Condor Legion.
Who? The Kommandeur?

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Steve
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Steve » 04 Jun 2020 18:46

No, Herrmann went to Spain and he did not fly with the Condor Legion.

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von thoma
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by von thoma » 04 Jun 2020 23:17

No, Herrmann went to Spain and he did not fly with the Condor Legion.
????
Hajo Herrmann flew in Condor Legion ( Kampfgruppe 88 ), and won Spanish Cross in Bronze with Swords
" The right to believe is the right of those who don't know "

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Ironmachine
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Ironmachine » 05 Jun 2020 07:08

Steve wrote:No, Herrmann went to Spain and he did not fly with the Condor Legion.
Yes, Hermann flew Ju-52s through 1936-1937 with the Condor Legion. That's why I asked you if you were talking about the Kommandeur, because the fact that Herrmann did fly as a bomber pilot with the Condor Legion is pretty well known.

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Steve
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Steve » 05 Jun 2020 20:24

Gentlemen, it would appear that I was not clear but I partly blame that on Herrmann who is not clear. Herrmann sailed from Germany on August 1 and Wikipedia says this was the first contingent of the Condor Legion. Herrmann makes no mention of the Condor Legion during preparations to leave Germany and writes for several pages of his experiences transporting troops from Morocco to Spain with never a mention of the Condor Legion.

His first mention of the Condor Legion is when he was in trouble over remarks he made about Spanish time keeping and to quote “So he made it his job to plead my case with the staff of the big up-and-coming German contingent, the Legion Condor”. Later he writes “The Legion Condor was, by this time, ready for operations. As an old hand in the Spanish campaign, I was put into the first Staffel”. It would seem that he first flew in the Legion Condor some time after its arrival in Spain.

Herrmann almost certainly arrived in Spain towards the end of August 1936 as he says he left Germany in August. There was no Legion Condor in August 1936 because according to Wikipedia it was so named later ergo he could not have been a pilot in the Legion Condor when he left Germany for Spain.

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Ironmachine
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Ironmachine » 06 Jun 2020 07:58

Steve wrote:Gentlemen, it would appear that I was not clear
That I agree with. :wink:
Your original claim was:
Steve wrote:Herrmann went to Spain and he did not fly with the Condor Legion.
That is literally not true. He went to Spain and he flew with the Condor Legion.
If your claim now is that when he arrived in Spain he did not fly with the Condor Legion at first because there was no Condor Legion then as it was "created" later, then you are technically right, but that was not what you posted originally.
Regards.
Steve wrote: Herrmann sailed from Germany on August 1 and Wikipedia says this was the first contingent of the Condor Legion
[...]
There was no Legion Condor in August 1936 because according to Wikipedia it was so named later
Wow, Wikipedia saying something and its opposite, that's why we love it. :lol:

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Steve
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Steve » 06 Jun 2020 21:04

An interesting play on words but I don’t think it works. If the contingent that Herrmann was sent to Spain with in August 1936 was part of the Condor Legion it is apparent from Herrmann’s writings that he was not aware of it.

According to this web site 2nd paragraph down it was suggested in October 1936 that the Condor Legion be formed.
https://spartacus-educational.com/SPcondor.htm

According to this web site 23rd paragraph down the Condor Legion was formed on November 7 1936.
https://www.historynet.com/spanish-civi ... -power.htm

That Herrmann went to Spain in August 1936 but did not fly with the Condor Legion is absolutely correct because it was neither in Spain nor formed in Germany. To say “He went to Spain and he flew with the Condor Legion” is incorrect because there was no Condor Legion in Spain when Herrmann “went to Spain”. However, the circumstances changed a unit called the Condor Legion arrived in Spain in 1937 and then Herrmann in Spain flew with the Condor Legion.

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Ironmachine
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Ironmachine » 07 Jun 2020 08:44

Steve wrote:An interesting play on words but I don’t think it works. If the contingent that Herrmann was sent to Spain with in August 1936 was part of the Condor Legion it is apparent from Herrmann’s writings that he was not aware of it.
It's not a play on words because I never said that the contingent Herrmann was sent to Spain with in August in 1936 was part of the Condor Legion. AFAIK, it wasn't.
Steve wrote:According to this web site 2nd paragraph down it was suggested in October 1936 that the Condor Legion be formed.
https://spartacus-educational.com/SPcondor.htm
I'm pretty sure that he suggested that a German unit be formed. I'm also pretty sure that he did not suggest to call it the Condor Legion.
Steve wrote:According to this web site 23rd paragraph down the Condor Legion was formed on November 7 1936.
https://www.historynet.com/spanish-civi ... -power.htm
I'm not sure the autor is really meaning that the name was given on that date. AFAIK, no one is really sure about the date the "Condor Legion" name was officially given to the unit. Also, there are a number of mistakes in that text, enough to take anything in it with a grain of salt until further corroboration.
Steve wrote:That Herrmann went to Spain in August 1936 but did not fly with the Condor Legion is absolutely correct because it was neither in Spain nor formed in Germany.
Now, talking about interesting plays on words... I would not say the sentence is absolutely correct, because without an adverb of time the meaning is left to the reader. For most of those who knew nothing previously about the subject, I'm quite sure that they took the sentence as meaning that he never flew with the Condor Legion. Even two posters here that know the truth (von thoma and myself) thought that you were trying to say that he never was a member of the Condor Legion (though admittedly were are not native English speakers). I would not say it is absolutely correct correct because Herrmann went to Spain in August 1936 and he flew with the Condor Legion (though not in 1936).
Steve wrote: To say “He went to Spain and he flew with the Condor Legion” is incorrect because there was no Condor Legion in Spain when Herrmann “went to Spain”.
You wrote in a previous post: "Herrmann went to Spain and he did not fly with the Condor Legion." Well, I don't think the "and" conjunction has the connotation that you think it has (and then, I wonder why you used "and" and not "but"). Basically, as I understand it, we have two true sentences, one is true: "Herrmann went to Spain", and one is false: "he did not fly with the Condor Legion", and you think that by putting an "and" between them the second one becomes true because it is then somewhat related to the first one. I don't think it works that way.
But anyway, the first time you mentioned that Herrmann did not fly with the Legion Condor, the sentence was alone, not subordinated to any other sentence:
Steve wrote:After agreeing to go he was discharged from the Luftwaffe. Hermann comes across as a man who thought he knew better than most of his commanding officers. The Kommandeur was probably thinking who to choose to go to Spain and maybe took the chance of getting rid of a rather undisciplined character. He did not fly with the Condor Legion.
I can't see any way in which that sentence, in that context, can be considered true.
Steve wrote:However, the circumstances changed a unit called the Condor Legion arrived in Spain in 1937 and then Herrmann in Spain flew with the Condor Legion.
Well, that the important matter here and we agree on it, so I think we can just let it be.

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Steve
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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Steve » 07 Jun 2020 20:37

Thank God I don't have to explain why I used and not but.

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Re: Were German soldiers ever sent to Spain as punishment?

Post by Ironmachine » 08 Jun 2020 07:37

No, you don't have to explain why you used and, not but.

And you don't have to explain if you consider those two sentences:
"Herrmann went to Spain and he did not fly with the Condor Legion"
"Herrmann went to Spain and he did not fly with the Republicans"
equally false.

And you don't have to explain if you think that a sentence like "Erich Hartmann was sent to the Eastern Front and he flew with 7./JG 52 and 9./JG 52" is false or not.

And you don't have to explain for how long the effect stays. Is "Herrmann went to Spain and he flew with the Condor Legion" only true if Herrmann began to fly with the Legion on the same day he arrived in Spain? Or if he flew with them a week later? or a month later? or six months later? or...?

You don't have to explain any of that because:
1) Hermann went to Spain.
2) Hermann flew with the Condor Legion.
And that's what's important here.

Regards.

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