The Spanish Civil War was a battle between nationalism/fascism and something else. I say something else because the Republicans who resisted Franco were a widely arrayed configuration of Communists, Socialists and Anarchists. One of the bastions of Republican resistance was a town in the Basque region called Guernica. Guernica was a passageway to the Basque capital of Bilbao. So whether the Republicans were advancing on Bilboa or the Nationalists were advancing on the Nationalists, they all had to go through here.
There was a nearby munitions factory that went unscathed when the attack happened. On April 27th, 1937 at 4:30 PM German Condor bombers devastated the town and killed 1600 men women and children.
This was “strategic bombing” at it’s worst. The idea that a long term bombing campaign on a country’s civilian population will stop a war has never been proven, although it has been debunked many times. Look at England which endured tens of thousands of bombs and missiles and explosions during WWII but endured and fought on nonetheless.
Guernica is a permanent stain on fascism and it defines Franco’s legacy and sycophancy towards Hitler. The world largely criticized it as unmitigated murder.
Pablo Picasso painted Guernica and packed it with symbolism that has made it a subject of art and history classes for eternity. The painting itself is 11 feet tall and 24 feet wide.
During WWII Picasso was quite a celebrity artist and Hitler being an art lover and an artist himself prominent artists were given some leniency. Yet the Nazis harassed him nonetheless. Once, Nazi officers came into his apartment in Paris and saw a photograph of Guernica. The officer remarked, “This painting, you did this.”
“No,” replied Picasso. “You did this.”
Sources and Citations
Fadiman, Clifton. The Little Brown Book Of Anecdotes, 1985. Little Brown Books, Boston.
Beevor, Anthony. The Spanish Civil War, 2007. Phoenix Publishers.