Leon Degrelle’s story is probably the most unique tale of courage and determination to come from the ranks of foreign volunteers in the Waffen SS. He worked his way up through the ranks from private to general in a very short space of time and led a distinguished career, becoming the most decorated and famous foreign volunteer in the entire German Army.

Leon Degrelle was born in 1906 in Bouillon, a small town in the Belgian Ardennes. His family was of French origin. He studied law at the University of Louvain but left University after two years. . As well as this he was also greatly interested in political science, art, archaeology and Tomistic philosophy. During this time his leadership qualities came to the fore. and it was apparent that he possessed great academic skills, having published five books and running his own weekly newspaper dealing with current issues, by the time he was twenty. He was also a devout Catholic, being an active member of Belgium’s Catholic Action Movement eventually becoming one of its leaders.

His books and newspaper became very popular winning over many people and in 1936 his Rexist party won thirty-four electoral and senate seats. This led to meetings with Hitler, Mussolini and Winston Churchill in London. He gradually became greatly influenced by Charles Maurras the French Nationalist, Italian Fascism and the German Nazi Party.

When war broke out and the Germans conquered Poland their attention turned west and to the Low Countries. Before the Belgians were beaten. Degrelle was arrested for sympathising with Hitler and endured weeks of brutal imprisonment in Belgian and French jails, eventually being released due to German intervention.

Degrelle had reservations about the Wallonian areas of Belgium being incorporated into the Reich, preferring to have an autonomous state for the French speaking Belgians and in an attempt to gain sympathy for his cause from Hitler he volunteered for the German Army in 1941 encouraging 1,000 Walloons to join in the process.

At the age of thirty-five, married with two daughters, he was an unlikely soldier. He had no previous military training at all.
In November 1941 he found himself, along with other Walloon volunteers fighting small skirmishes with the Red Army around the Donets Basin during the advance into the Soviet Union. His comrades who had supported his Rexist Party in Belgium, were surprised at the humbleness of Private Degrelle the Rexist leader, performing the lowly tasks of an infantryman and jokingly nicknamed him "Modest the First, Duke of Burgundy".

In February 1942 Degrelle got his first real taste of battle. With the German supply lines over-stretched and exposed, the Russians attempted to exploit the gaps in the German defences. The Walloons were thrust into these defensive battles including the bitter struggle for the village of Rosa Luxembourg and the defence of Gromovaya-Balka. These battles proved costly Degrelle and his Walloons, losing a third of its strength and only two of its twenty-two Officers being fit for duty. Degrelle was promoted after Gromowobajalka to the rank of Feldwebel and later on May 1st 1942 he was promoted to Leutnant for his heroic actions at Gromovaya-Balka.

Degrelle’s knowledge of tactics were somewhat dubious but his ability to lead and his unflinching courage were beyond question. He proved this time and time again during the fierce mountain warfare that his Walloons were conducting.

During the summer and autumn Degrelle was involved in numerous battles with considerable success capturing one objective after another and it was not long before his Walloon brigade caught the attention of the officers of the Waffen SS. Himmler was persuaded to incorporate the Walloons into the Waffen SS-a move which proved popular among Degrelle’s men as well as Degrelle, who saw it as another instrument for his post-war ambitions for an independent Walloon state.

In the spring of 1943 the Walloons were sent to various SS training camps and were elevated to new heights of combat prowess. In November with training complete, Sturmbannführer Luicien Lippert was appointed commander of the new 28th SS Freiwilligen Panzergrenadeir Division Wallonie with Leon Degrelle as his chief of staff.

In January 1944 Degrelle was posted to a sector near the Cherkassy salient. In January 1944 this salient was attacked by the Red Army and turned into a pocket, trapping the German Forces which included the 5 Frw. Sturmbrigade Wallonien. It was during this fighting that Sturmbannführer Lucien Lippert was shot dead outside a Mouzhik’s hovel and Degrelle himself was wounded slightly from bullets and mortar fragments. Lippert was promoted, posthulmously to Obersturmbannführer and awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold. Degrelle was awarded the Knights Cross (he would later receive the Oakleaves too) for his part in the breakout of the Cherkassy Pocket by Hitler who commended him on his bravery saying "If I had a son I would want him to be like you."

Against Hitler’s wishes Degrelle returned to combat on the Eastern Front, fighting all the way back to Berlin in the face of the Russian onslaught. When the war ended he escaped Russian captivity only to be condemned to death by the new Belgian government. He eluded their grasp however by escaping to Spain and was granted political asylum by Franco’s government.
He settled in Madrid and lived quite openly for years. A visiting Belgian journalist once interviewed him and asked if he had any regrets about the war. His quick reply was "Only that we lost!"

Why did no Waffen SS units participate in the Battle of Stalingrad?

This is part of an article by Waffen SS leader Leon Degrelle, who led his men to the bitter end at Stalingrad. As a statesman and a soldier he knew Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, Franco, Laval, Marshal Petain and all the European leaders well during World War Two. Leon Degrelle is one of the most famous Waffen SS soldiers. After joining as a private he earned all stripes from corporal to general for exceptional bravery in combat. He engaged in seventy-five hand-to-hand combat actions. He was wounded on numerous occasions. He was the recipient of the highest honors: The Ritterkreuz, the Oak-Leaves, the Gold German Cross and numerous other decorations for outstanding valor under enemy fire. One of the last to fight on the Eastern Front, Leon Degrelle escaped unconditional surrender by flying some 1500 miles across Europe toward Spain. He managed to survive constant fire all along the way and crash-landed on the beach of San Sebastian in Spain, critically wounded. Against all odds he survived. Slowly he managed to re-build a new life in exile for himself and his family.

Hitler's Russian campaign was the "last chance" campaign. Hitler did not go into Russia with any great optimism. He told me later on:

When I entered Russia, I was like a man facing a shut door. I knew I had to crash through it, but without knowing what was behind it.

Hitler was right. He knew the Soviets were strong, but above all he knew they were going to be a lot stronger. 1941 was the only time Hitler had some respite. The British had not succeeded yet in expanding the war. Hitler, who never wanted the war with Britain, still tried for peace. He invited me to spend a week at his home. He wanted to discuss the whole situation and hear what I had to say about it. He spoke very simply and clearly. The atmosphere was informal and relaxed. He made you feel at home because he really enjoyed being hospitable. He buttered pieces of toast in a leisurely fashion, and passed them around, and although he did not drink he went to get a bottle of champagne after each meal because he knew I enjoyed a glass at the end of it. All without fuss and with genuine friendliness. It was part of his genius that he was also a man of simple ways without the slightest affection and a man of great humility. We talked about England. I asked him bluntly: "Why on earth didn't you finish the British off in Dunkirk? Everyone knew you could have wiped them out." He answered: "Yes, I withheld my troops and let the British escape back to England. The humiliation of such a defeat would have made it difficult to try for peace with them afterwards."

At the same time, Hitler told me he did not want to dispel the Soviet belief that he was going to invade England. He mentioned that he even had small Anglo-German dictionaries distributed to his troops in Poland. The Soviet spies there duly reported to the Kremlin that Germany's presence in Poland was a bluff and that they were about to leave for the British Isles.

On 22 June 1941, it was Russia and not England that Germany invaded. The initial victories were swift but costly. I lived the epic struggle of the Russian Front. It was a tragic epic; it was also martyrdom. The endless thousands of miles of the Russian steppes were overwhelming. We had to reach the Caucasus by foot, always under extreme conditions. In the summer we often walked knee-deep in mud, and in winter there were below-zero freezing temperatures. But for a matter of a few days Hitler would have won the war in Russia in 1941. Before the battle of Moscow, Hitler had succeeded in defeating the Soviet Army, and taking considerable numbers of prisoners.

General Guderian's tank division, which had all by itself encircled more than a million Soviet troops near Kiev, had reached Moscow right up to the city's tramway lines. It was then that suddenly an unbelievable freeze happened: 40, 42, 50 degrees Celsius below zero! This meant that not only were men freezing, but the equipment was also freezing, on the spot. No tanks could move. Yesterday's mud had frozen to a solid block of ice, half a meter high, icing up the tank treads.

In 24 hours all of our tactical options had been reversed. It was at that time that masses of Siberian troops brought back from the Russian Far East were thrown against the Germans. These few fateful days of ice that made the difference between victory and defeat, Hitler owed to the Italian campaign in Greece during the fall of 1940.

Mussolini was envious of Hitler's successes. It was a deep and silent jealousy. I was a friend of Mussolini, I knew him well. He was a remarkable man, but Europe was not of great concern to him. He did not like to be a spectator, watching Hitler winning everywhere. He felt compelled to do something himself, fast. Impulsively, he launched a senseless offensive against Greece.

His troops were immediately defeated. But it gave the British the excuse to invade Greece, which up till now had been uninvolved in the war. From Greece the British could bomb the Rumanian oil wells, which were vital to Germany's war effort. Greece could also be used to cut off the German troops on their way to Russia. Hitler was forced to quash the threat preemptively. He had to waste five weeks in the Balkans. His victories there were an incredible logistical achievement, but they delayed the start of the Russian campaign for five critical weeks.

If Hitler had been able to start the campaign in time, as it was planned, he would have entered Moscow five weeks before, in the sun of early fall, when the earth was still dry. The war would have been over, and the Soviet Union would have been a thing of the past. The combination of the sudden freeze and the arrival of fresh Siberian troops spread panic among some of the old Army generals. They wanted to retreat to 200 miles from Moscow. It is hard to imagine such inane strategy! The freeze affected Russia equally, from West to East, and to retreat 200 miles in the open steppes would only make things worse. I was commanding my troops in the Ukraine at the time and it was 42 degrees centigrade below zero.

Such a retreat meant abandoning all the heavy artillery, including assault tanks and Panzers that were stuck in the ice. It also meant exposing half a million men to heavy Soviet sniping. In fact, it meant condemning them to certain death. One need only recall Napoleon's retreat in October. He reached the Berzina River in November, and by December 6th all the French troops had left Russia. It was cold enough, but it was not a winter campaign.

Can you just imagine in 1941 half a million Germans fighting howling snowstorms, cut off from supplies, attacked from all sides by tens of thousands of Cossaks? I have faced charging Cossaks, and only the utmost superior firepower will stop them. In order to counter such an insane retreat, Hitler had to fire more than 30 generals within a few days.

It was then that he called on the Waffen SS to fill in the gap and boost morale. Immediately the SS held fast on the Moscow front. Right through the war the Waffen SS never retreated. They would rather die than retreat. One cannot forget the figures. During the 1941 winter, the Waffen SS lost 43,000 men in front of Moscow. The regiment Der Führer fought almost literally to the last man. Only 35 men survived out of the entire regiment. The Der Führer men stood fast and no Soviet troops got through. They had to try to bypass the SS in the snow. This is how famous Russian General Vlasov was captured by the Totenkopf SS division. Without their heroism, Germany would have been annihilated by December 1941.

Hitler would never forget it: he gauged the willpower that the Waffen SS had displayed in front of Moscow. They had shown character and guts. And that is what Hitler admired most of all: guts. For him, it was not enough to have intelligent or clever associates. These people can often fall to pieces, as we will see during the following winter at the battle of Stalingrad with General Paulus.

Hitler knew that only sheer energy and guts, the refusal to surrender, the will to hang tough against all odds, would win the war.

The blizzards of the Russian steppes had shown how the best army in the world, the German Army, with thousands of highly trained officers and millions of highly disciplined men, was just not enough. Hitler realized they would be beaten, that something else was needed, and that only the unshakable faith in a high ideal could overcome the situation. The Waffen SS had this ideal, and Hitler used them from now on at full capacity.

From all parts of Europe volunteers rushed to help their German brothers. It was then that was born the third great Waffen SS. First there was the German, then the Germanic, and now there was the European Waffen SS. 125,000 would then volunteer to save Western Culture and Civilization. The volunteers joined with full knowledge that the SS incurred the highest death tolls. More than 250,000 out of one million would die in action. For them, the Waffen SS was, despite all the deaths, the birth of Europe. Napoleon said in St. Helena: "There will be no Europe until a leader arises."

The young European volunteers have observed two things: first, that Hitler was the only leader who was capable of building Europe and secondly that Hitler, and Hitler alone could defeat the world threat of Communism.

For the European SS the Europe of petty jealousies, jingoism, border disputes, economic rivalries was of no interest. it was too petty and demeaning; that Europe was no longer valid for them. At the same time the European SS, as much as they admired Hitler and the German people, did not want to become Germans. They were men of their own people and Europe was the gathering of the various people of Europe. European unity was to be achieved through harmony, not domination of one over the others.

I discussed these issues at length with both Hitler and Himmler. Hitler like all men of genius had outgrown the national stage. Napoleon was first a Corsican, then a Frenchman, then a European and then a singularly universal man. Likewise Hitler had been an Austrian, then a German, then a greater German, then Germanic, then he had seen and grasped the magnitude of building Europe.

After the defeat of Communism the Waffen SS had a solemn duty to gather all their efforts and strength to build a united Europe, and there was no question that non-German Europe should be dominated by Germany.

Before joining the Waffen SS we had known very difficult conflicts. We had gone to the Eastern front first as adjunct units to the German army but during the battle of Stalingrad we had seen that Europe was critically endangered. Great common effort was imperative. One night I had an 8 hour debate with Hitler and Himmler on the status of non-German Europeans within the new Europe. For the present we expected to be treated as equals fighting for a common cause. Hitler understood fully and from then on we had our own flag, our own officers, our own language, our own religion. We had total equal status.

I was the first one to have Catholic padres in the Waffen SS. Later padres of all demoninations were available to all those who wanted them. The Islamic SS division had their own mullahs and the French even had a bishop! We were satisfied that with Hitler, Europeans would be federated as equals. We felt that the best way to deserve our place as equals was in this critical hour to defend Europe equally well as our German comrades.

What mattered above all for Hitler was courage. He created a new chivalry. Those who earn the order of the Ritterkreuz, meaning the cross of the knights, were indeed the new knights. They earned this nobility of courage. Each of our units going home after the war would be the force that would protect the peoples' rights in our respective countries. All the SS understood that European unity meant the whole of Europe, even Russia.

There had been a great lack of knowledge among many Germans regarding the Russians. Many believed that the Russians were all Communists while in fact, Russian representation in the Communist hierarchy was less than insignificant. They also believed that the Russians were diametrically opposite from the Europeans. Yet they have similar familial structures, they have an old civilization, deep religious faith and traditions which are not unlike those of other European countries.

The European SS saw the new Europe in the form of three great components; central Europe as the power house of Europe, western Europe as the cultural heart of Europe and eastern Europe as the potential of Europe. Thus the Europe the SS envisioned was alive and real. Its six hundred million inhabitants would live from the North Sea to Vladivostok. It was in this span of 8,000 miles that Europe could achieve its destiny. A space for young people to start new lives. This Europe would be the beacon of the world. A remarkable racial ensemble. An ancient civilization, a spirtitual force and the most advanced technological and scientific complex. The SS prepared for the high destiny of Europe.

Compare these aims, these ideals with the "Allies." The Roosevelts, the Churchills sold Europe out in Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam. They cravenly capitulated to the Soviets. They delivered half of the European continent to Communist slavery. They let the rest of Europe disintegrate morally, without any ideal to sustain it. The SS knew what they wanted: the Europe of ideals was salvation for all.

This faith in higher ideals inspired four hundred thousand German SS, three hundred thousand Volksdeutsche or Germanic SS and three hundred thousand other European SS. Volunteers all, one million builders of Europe.

The ranks of the SS grew proportionately with the growth of the war in Russia. The nearer Germany was to defeat the more volunteers arrived at the front. This was phenomenal; eight days before the final defeat I saw hundreds of young men join the SS on the front. Right to the end they knew they had to do the impossible to stop the enemy.

So from the one hundred and eighty-men strong Leibstandarte in 1933 to the SS regiments before 1939, to the three regiments in Poland, to the three divisions in France, to the six divisions at the beginning of the Russian war, to the 38 divisions in 1944, the Waffen SS reached 50 divisions in 1945. The more SS died, the more others rushed to replace them. They had faith and stood firm to the extreme limit, The exact reverse happened in January 1943 at Stalingrad. The defeat there was decided by a man without courage. He was not capable of facing danger with determination, of saying unequivocally: I will not surrender, I will stand fast until I win. He was morally and physically gutless and he lost.

A year later the SS Viking and the SS Wallonia divisions were encircled in the same way at Cherkassy. With the disaster of Stalingrad fresh in the minds of our soldiers they could have been subject to demoralization. On top of it I was laid down with a deep sidewound and 102 degree temperature. As general in command of the SS Wallonia forces I knew that all this was not conducive to high morale. I got up and for 17 days I led charge after charge to break the blockade, engaged in numerous hand-to-hand combats, was wounded four times but never stopped fighting. All my men did just as much and more. The siege was broken by sheer SS guts and spirit.

After Stalingrad, when many thought that all was lost, when the Soviet forces poured across the Ukraine, the Waffen SS stopped the Soviets dead in their tracks. They re-took Charkov and inflicted a severe defeat on the Soviet army.

I do know after the battle when the Germans were being pushed back the Russian offensive was halted by Feild Marshall von Manstein who had under his command 6 SS Panzer Divisions that had just been upgraded from Panzer Grenadier divisions in France. Von Manstein crushed the Russians in a great battle. Stalin wrote after that never had they been so close to defeat. The only thing that stopped the Germans was the rain and mud but they could have restarted the attack a few months later when the ground froze - instead Hitler waited tuntill the following summer so the new Tiger and Panthers could be used. Von Manstein called this milatary suicide.

Léon Joseph Marie Ignace Degrelle (15 June 1906 – 31 March 1994) was a Walloon Belgian politician, who founded Rexism and later joined the Waffen SS (becoming a leader of its Walloon contingent) which were front-line troops in the fight against the Soviet Union. After World War II, he was a prominent figure in national conservative movements.

After studying at a Jesuit college and successfully studying for a law doctorate at the Université catholique de Louvain, Degrelle worked as a journalist for the conservative Roman Catholic periodical Christus Rex. During his time at this publication, he became attracted to the ideas of Charles Maurras and French Integralism. Until 1934, Degrelle worked as a correspondent for the paper in Mexico, during the Cristero War. He led a militant tendency inside the Catholic Party, which he formed around the Éditions de Rex he founded. The Éditions drew its name from the battle cry of the Cristeros: Viva Cristo Rey y Santa María de Guadalupe, alluding to Christ the King.

Degrelle's actions inside the Catholic Party saw him come into opposition with the mainstream of the same Party, many of whom were monarchist conservatives or centrists. The Rexist group, including the likes of Jean Denis, separated itself from the Catholic Party in 1935, after a meeting in Kortrijk. The newly formed party was heavily influenced by Fascism and Corporatism (but also included several elements interested solely in Nationalism or Ultramontanism); it had a vision of social equality that drew comparisons with Marxism, but was strongly anti-communist (anti-bolshevik). The party also came to denounce political corruption in Belgian politics. Drawing its support (in 1936, the peak of the votes for Rex), from Brussels (result of the votes expressed in percentage 18,50%), Wallonia (15,16%), Flanders (7,01%), and German-speaking Community of Belgium (or the territory corresponding to this present-day Community) (26,44%), Rexism had a Flemish ideological competitor in the Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond which advocated an independent Flanders and exclusive use of the Dutch language.

In 1936, Degrelle met Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, both of them providing Rexism with funds (2 million lire and 100,000 Marks) and ideological support. Elections in that year had given the Parti Rexiste 21 deputies and 12 senators - though it was in decline by 1939, when it managed to win only 4 seats in each Chamber. The party progressively added Nazi-inspired Antisemitism to its agenda, and soon established contacts with fascist movements around Europe. Degrelle notably met with Falange leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera and the Iron Guard's Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. With the Fascist and Nazi elements within the party becoming increasingly dominant, its original social Catholic teachings and its Catholic identity were pushed increasingly to the background, and would virtually disappear later on, in the middle of World War II.

During this time (mid-1930s), Degrelle became acquainted with the cartoonist Hergé. In a volume published after his death (Tintin mon copain), the Rexist leader claimed that his years of journalism had inspired the creation of Tintin - ignoring Hergé's statements that the character was in fact based on his brother, Paul Rémi.

When the war began, Degrelle approved of King Leopold III's policy of neutrality. After Belgium was invaded by the Germans on 10 May 1940, the Rexist Party split over the matter of resistance. He was arrested as a suspected collaborator, and evacuated to France, being released by the Germans when the Occupation began. Degrelle returned to Belgium and proclaimed reconstructed Rexism to be in close union with Nazism - in marked contrast with the small group of former Rexists (such as Theo Simon and Lucien Mayer of the Catholic resistance) who had begun fighting against the Nazi occupiers from the underground. In August, Degrelle started contributing to a Nazi news source, Le Pays Réel (a reference to Charles Maurras).

He joined the Walloon legion of the Wehrmacht, which was raised in August 1941, to combat against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front, and Degrelle himself joined it in combat (with leadership of the Rexists passing to Victor Matthys). Lacking any previous military service Degrelle was compelled to join as a low ranking private, only later becoming an officer. Initially, the group was meant to represent a continuation of the Belgian Army, and fought as such during Operation Barbarossa - while integrating many Walloons that had volunteered for service. The Walloons were transferred from the Wehrmacht to the control of the Waffen SS in June 1943, becoming the 5th SS Volunteer Sturmbrigade Wallonien.

From 1940, the Belgian Roman Catholic hierarchy had banned all uniforms during Mass. On 25 July 1943, in his native Bouillon, Degrelle was told by Dean Rev. Fr. Poncelet to leave a Requiem Mass, because he was wearing his SS uniform, which Church authorities had strictly forbidden (due to their perception of the pagan nature of the SS). Degrelle was excommunicated by the Bishop of Namur, but the excommunication was later lifted by the Germans, since as a German officer was under the jurisdiction of the German chaplaincy.

Severely wounded at Cherkasy in 1943, Degrelle steadily climbed in the Schutzstaffel hierarchy after the inclusion of Walloons in the Waffen-SS, being made an SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) in the early months of 1945. He received the Ritterkreuz (Knights Cross) from Hitler's hands (he later claimed Hitler told him "if I had a son, I wish he'd resemble you"). He was later awarded the oakleaves (mit Eichenlaub), a distinction earned by two other foreigners, the Estonian Alfons Rebane and the Spanish commander of the Blue Division Gen. Agustín Muñoz Grandes.

Note: Degrelle was promoted directly to SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor der Waffen-SS by Heinrich Himmler on 02.05.1945; an entry to this effect appears in his Soldbuch, however this promotion cannot be considered official as Himmler had been stripped of all SS and Party posts by Führer order on 28.04.1945.

After Germany's defeat, Degrelle fled first to Denmark and eventually to Norway, where he commandeered a Heinkel He 111 aircraft, allegedly provided by Albert Speer. He was severely wounded in a crash-landing on a beach in San Sebastian in Northern Spain. The government of Franco in Spain initially refused to hand him over to the Allies (or extradite him to Belgium) by citing his health condition. After further international pressures, Francisco Franco permitted his escape from hospital, while handing over a look-alike; in the meanwhile, José Finat y Escrivá de Romaní helped Degrelle obtain false papers. In 1954, in order to ensure his stay, Spain granted him Spanish citizenship under the name José León Ramírez Reina, and the Falange assigned him the leadership of a construction firm that benefitted from state contracts. Belgium convicted him of treason in absentia and condemned him to death by firing squad.

While in Spain, during the time of Franco, Degrelle maintained a high standard of living and would frequently appear in public and in private meetings in a white uniform featuring his German decorations, while expressing his pride over his close contacts and "thinking bond" with Adolf Hitler. He continued to live undisturbed when Spain became democratic after the death of Franco.

Degrelle continued publishing and polemicizing, voicing his support for far right solutions. He became active in the Neo-Nazi Círculo Español de Amigos de Europa (CEDADE), and ran its printing press in Barcelona - where he published a large portion of his own writings, including an "Open Letter to Pope John Paul II" on the topic of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the extermination purpose of which Degrelle called "one big fraud, Holy Father." His repeated negationist statements on the topic of Nazi genocide brought Degrelle to trial with Violeta Friedmann, a Romanian-born Venezuelan survivor of the camps; although the lower courts were initially favourable to Degrelle, the Supreme Court of Spain decided that he had brought offence to the memory of the victims, both Jews and non-Jews, and it sentenced him to pay a substantial fine. It was also decided that he should pay a fine for his Open Letter to Pope John Paul II as well.

Asked if he had any regrets about the war, his reply was: "Only that we lost!" In 1994, Degrelle died of cardiac arrest in a hospital in Málaga in Southern Spain.