What was Guernica?

LAST UPDATED: 7 May, 2012 @ 09:34
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What was Guernica?

LAST week marked the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the town Guernica, in the Basque country, in which 153 people died.

It happened during the Spanish Civil War when in 1937 German and Italian planes carpet-bombed the village with a mix of blast, splinter and fire bombs.

It happened at the request of the Nationalist forces, led by General Franco, in an attempt to terrify the Republican-held area.

The bombing was particularly important because it was the first time a civilian population was targeted by an aerial bombardment.

Known as ‘terror bombing’, it proved that Germany’s official position of neutrality in the Civil War was a sham.

The attack completely devastated the town, destroying nearly all the houses and businesses.

Of the 6,000 people living there, most fled from fear of further bombings.

So awful was the event, it went on to become the subject of a fierce debate, with Franco’s forces claiming it was an invention or that the Republicans had bombed their own town.

It went on to inspire the world’s most famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso, who was born in Malaga.

The raw portrayal of the tragedy of war and the suffering of innocent civilians shocked people at the time.

Years later it is still an iconic anti-war symbol used by protestors of wars around the world.

The surviving children from the village are now the age of grandparents, or great grandparents.  Many still remember the devastating day when they lost family and friends and had to flee their homes.

Their eyewitness accounts have been recorded by the organisation Gernika Gogoratuz which has recently published a book about their memories of the day.

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