Emilio Esteban Infantes
|Born||18 May 1892|
|Died||6 Sep 1962|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseEmilio Esteban Infantes y Martín was born in Toledo, Spain into a traditional military family. He enrolled in the Toledo Military Infantry Academy in 1907 and graduated in 1910. Serving in the Spanish African Army, he was promoted to the rank of captain in 1912 amidst the Rif War. In 1928, he was promoted to the rank of colonel. In late 1928, he was appointed a professor at the Zaragoza Military Academy by the academy's new commandant, former Toledo classmate General Francisco Franco. In 1932, his family was implicated in a coup d'état against the Republican government and was thrown out of the army. On 17 Jul 1936, he was in Madrid, Spain when the Nationalist uprising began. He joined the Nationalist forces in Burgos, Spain and was sentenced to death, in absentia, by the Republican government. During the civil war, he was the Chief of General Staff of the Castillian Army Corps during its Brunete offensive of Jul 1937 and the Battle of Teruel between Dec 1937 and Feb 1938. He then served as the commanding officer of the Navarre 5th Division. Despite his units' successes during the Spanish Civil War, he was viewed as a distant commander who rarely visited the front lines, and that leadership style and reputation would follow him into WW2. In May 1940, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and was given the responsibility of the Army General Staff of Morocco and IV Military District. When Germany invaded Russia in Jun 1941, a large number of fiercely anti-communist Spaniards were organized into División Azul, or Blue Division, and sent to serve under the German Army banner as the German 250th Infantry Division. On 12 Dec 1942, Esteban Infantes was given command of this division as it fought on the Eastern Front; he was personally inducted into the German Army by Adolf Hitler, and he held the German rank of major general. In Feb 1943, Russia attempted to break the siege at Leningrad, Russia. Russian 55th Army attacked the 250th Infantry Division at the Battle of Krasny Bor, and the Spaniards were able to hold ground against a numerically superior force; this victory established the reputation of Esteban Infantes, and the commander of the German 18th Army, Colonel General Georg Lindemann, personally came to congratulate him on the victory. This victory also led to his promotion in the German Army for the rank of lieutenant general, as well as winning a German Gold Cross. In Sep 1943, pressure from the United States caused Franco to recall most of the Blue Division troops, leaving only a small contingent behind, known as the Blue Legion; Esteban Infantes remained to organize the Blue Legion before he returned to Spain. On 3 Oct 1943, amidst his work to establish the Blue Legion, he was awarded the Knight's Cross. He returned to Spain in Dec 1943; upon his return, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and was given command of IX Military District. After the European War, he served in various posts such as the President of the Supreme Council of Military Justice, Commander of the VII Military District, and the Chief of Central General Staff. He published his memoirs in 1958 under the title Blue Division: Spanish Volunteers in the Eastern Front. He was also an active in lobbying for special privileges for Blue Division veterans. Esteban Infantes passed away in 1962.
ww2dbaseSources: Blue Division Soldier 1941-45, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Feb 2010
Emilio Esteban Infantes Timeline
|18 May 1892||Emilio Esteban Infantes was born.|
|12 Dec 1942||Spanish General Muñoz Grandes passed the command of the German 250th Infantry Division of Spanish volunteers to General Esteban-Infantes; Muñoz Grandes was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves upon his departure.|
|6 Sep 1962||Emilio Esteban Infantes passed away to illness in his home in Gijón, Spain.|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939