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Spanish member of 1.Bataillon/Infanterie-Regiment 263/250.Infanterie-Division. Men from this division were called "Blue Division" (División Azul) because of the blue Falangist shirt they wearing in the siege of Leningrad. The fahnenträger (flag holder) is wearing gasplane (gas mask bag), MP40 ammo pouch, and stahlhelm with Wehrmacht/Spanish flag decals. Also he is holding the banner of his batallion. Note the Spanish award on their uniform! The red one is the "Cruz al Mérito Militar con Distintivo Rojo"; the yellow one is the "Medalla de Mutilado de Guerra por la Patria". The formation of what would become 250. Infanterie-Division (División Azul) was first suggested by Serrano Súñer, foreign minister and the most trusted advisor of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, following the German invasion of the USSR 1941 as an alternative to a declaration of war. Recruitment of volunteers began 28 June and a large number of members of the fascist Falange (the full name of the party was Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las J.O.N.S (FET)) volunteered, including six members of the FET National Council and several provisional governors. The Spanish Army however insisted on keeping control of the unit rather than have it run by the FET and in the end all the officers came from the regular army as well as about 70% of the volunteers, most of them veterans of the Spanish Civil War. The commander of the unit would be Agustín Muñoz Grandes, former secretary general of the FET and one of the few Falangist generals. The unit was technically subordinate to the Spanish Ministry of the Army but served under German command. The first volunteers left for Germany 17 July for further training and remained in Grafenwöhr for training until being sent to the Eastern Front Aug 1941. They saw their first action 12 Oct 1941 at Lake Ilmen and remained on the front near Leningrad until it was disbanded Oct 1943, most famous and costly battle being Krasny Bor during Operation Polar Star.