Several times the participants showed the “Roman salute”, which had been used by the fascist dictators Hitler, Mussolini and Franco. An antisemitic speech spoke of a “globalist” evil that was behind communism and was still waging a struggle against Spain.
The occasion of the commemoration was the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Krasny Bor, in which some 5,000 Spanish soldiers were defeated by 35,000 Soviets in February 1943.
Already on the eve of the commemoration demonstration, about 150 people had laid down wreaths at a memorial to the fallen of the division at the Cementerio de la Almudena. In the late evening hours, there was also a commemoration by the fascist Falange youth for the far-right Matías Montero, who was killed in 1934 and is revered as the first “martyr” by the Falangist movement.
The “Blue Division” was a volunteer unit that the fascist dictator Franco used to support the German war of extermination against the Soviet Union, without sending official Spanish forces to the war. In total, around 45,000 Spanish fought in the unit between 1941 and 1943. As Franco increasingly considered the war a losing battle, the division was disbanded in 1943. Some particularly fanatic fascists continued to fight voluntarily on the Eastern Front or joined units of the Waffen SS.
The social treatment of the civil war and Francoism remains part of permanent controversy in Spain; most recently, a law was passed in October 2022 to begin a new phase of coming to terms with the past.