Because of the the goings-on in Barcelona earlier this year, I pulled this one off the shelf for my Remembrance Read in November. Guernica is in Spain, but in the Basque region, and they have always been fiercely independent. Prior to the Spanish Civil War and WW2, they declared total independence from Spain, and elected their first president. And then along came Generalisimo Franco, a fascist, supported by Mussilini and Hitler who changed the face of Spain. What he also did was encourage the Nazi party to bomb a Basque town (a sort of practice for the Blitz in London?). Guernica, the centre of Basque culture and tradition was chosen, and the commander of the bombing squadron was a relative of Richthofen the Red Baron.
Picasso, a Spaniard living in France, never returned to Spain, but he painted a large canvas of the same name, based on reports received in Paris shortly after the bombing. It is now on permanent exhibition in the Queen Sophia Museum, Madrid.
The book is the story of a family and those that come in contact with it. The story of love of many kinds; love of town, love of family, love of culture. It is also full of truth too, for this dreadful thing really did happen, and it behoves us not to forget it. I do not look lightly on things that came after - the Blitz in London by the Luftwaffe; the carpet bombing of Dresden by the RAF; Hiroshima by the American Air Force - and any other dreadful warfare that is currently happening around the world. The words "Never Again" are used too often, because somewhere in the world, as I write, someone hates another enough to start planning the same kind of thing. How sad that is.
But this is a book worth reading for many reasons. If you are interested in the Basques as a people, their traditions, their family ways, this may appeal. If you are interested in Spain as a nation and why small groups of people all round the world want their independence, you will find this an eye-opener.