Friday, April 5, 2013

Gernika (Guernica)

The Spanish Civil War is often referred to as the dress rehearsal for World War II. Similar to Syria's civil war today, foreign arms and foreign soldiers poured in to fight a vicious war that destroyed cities, displaced families and irreparably damaged the nation.

A lasting byword of the terrible destruction caused by the Spanish Civil War is the Basque town of Gernika (Guernica in Spanish). The air forces of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany used the war as a testing ground for weapons later to be used in the Second World War. On 26 April 1937, Italian and German raided the town in what was one of history's first bombings of a defenseless civilian population center. This horrific tactic only accelerated through the 1940s, culminating in the firebombing of Dresden and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


The town in the subject of one of Pablo Picasso's most famous paintings, Guernica. The town by that name we saw on Saturday was a small, run-of-the-mill Spanish/Basque community with little boys playing soccer in the main square while some pre-adolescent girls ate sunflower seeds and giggled on a bench nearby.