Fury over the return of Hitler's Spanish army.

Spain is repatriating the bodies of its nationals who fought and died for Hitler on the Russian front, while refusing to fund the reburial of republicans killed by Franco. The move has triggered a furious row.

Some 45,000 Spaniards either volunteered or were conscripted by Franco into the Blue Division and joined Hitler's forces on the Eastern Front.

About 5,000 died, many at Leningrad and Lubkovo, where they were stripped, mutilated and nailed to the ground with Russian bayonets.

Now Spain's defence ministry has set up a hotline for their relatives to claim their exhumation and repatriation. So far the remains of 24 Spanish soldiers have been returned.

The Right-wing government of Jose Maria Aznar, the prime minister, has ignored a United Nations recommendation for it to fund the identification of up to 30,000 people killed during and after the civil war by Franco's executioners. Their bodies are in anonymous graves across Spain.

"The people who had their relatives murdered by Franco are disgusted with the government's double standard," said a spokesman for the communist United Left party.

"They are not acting like a democratic government but one that looks after its own kind - in this case the fascists who went to fight with Hitler."

[Source: By Isambard Wilkinson in Madrid, Daily Telegraph, 25Octo03]

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This document has been published on 25oct03 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights, in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.