Spaniards in Soviet Service During WW2

Many Spanish Republicans found refuge from the Spanish Civil War in the USSR. The Soviets happily drafted these men when the Germans invaded in 1941. For example Rubén Ruiz Ibarruri, the son of La Pasinaria, commanded a machine gun company of 35th Guards Rifle Division (Beevor, 1999). He was killed south of Kotluban; I think this was in Sep 1942.

Help Wanted

Please get in contact if you have more information. I’m sure I haven’t found all the units and I always appreciate more details about the ones already on the list.

Spaniards in Soviet Service:


One of the new formations raised in Moscow during Operation Babarossa in 1941 was the NKVD’s Special Purpose Motorised Rifle Brigade (Otdelnaya Moto-strelkovaya Brigada Osobogo Naznachenia or OMSBON) (Braithwaite, 2006). The brigade was intended for special operations and contained regular NKVD troops and also athletic volunteers selected by the Komsomol. The OMSBON also contained Spanish Republicans, a company of Finns and some Georgian girls knicknamed “Beria’s eyes”. There were four battalions:

  1. NKVD troops and militiamen
  2. Veterans from the Spanish Civil War including exiled Spanish Republicans
  3. Students and teachers from the Central Institute of Physical Culture
  4. Ditto

In Oct 1941 OMSBON stopped training to help restore order in Moscow (Braithwaite, 2006). During the Soviet counteroffensive of Dec 1941 OMSBON personnel were sent through the lines to harass the German rear.


Braithwaite, R. (2006). Moscow 1941: A city and its people at war. Profile Books.

See my write up of Moscow 1941

Must check out The Russian Battlefield: OMSBON – Independent Special Purpose Motorized Rifle Brigade

4th Special Service Company

Spanish communist partisans who harassed the German rear near Moscow. I can’t remember the source for this data. There is a good chance this is a Spanish company from OMSBON.

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