The mark of men: The bombing of Gernika

The mark of men: The bombing of Gernika

Survivor’s Memories of the bombing of Gernika. Produced by Gernika Gogoratuz in colaboration with The Heinrich Böll Stiftung. (1998)
On 26 April 1937, at the height of the Spanish Civil War, the Basque people’s sacred town of Gernika, the symbolic home of their ancestral democracy, was bombed by the German Condor Legion, acting as auxiliaries to the rebel army fighting against the Spanish Republic. This devasting attack paved the way for a rapid conquest of the autonomous region of the Basque Country (Euskadi) and to the triumph of Franco´s Regime over democracy.

Gernika was flattened and hundreds died in a hail of bombs, shrapnel and fire. The bombing of Gernika was the first indiscriminate attack against a helpless town and its civil population. As such, it was also an announcement of future tragedies that culminated in the destruction of Pforzheim, Dresden and Hiroshima. Gernika became the symbol of the horrors of war of our age, portrayed in Pablo Picasso´s famous painting.

The horror of that day marked the survivors for ever, and what is more, they were forced to conceal the truth about the crime committed against them during the four decades that General Franco’s dictatorship held power. Now, 60 years on, survivors don´t want that the remembrance of this horror could fall into oblivion. Instead, they want the coming generations and all the visitors of the village to have it present looking at a reconciliation horizon embedded in a culture of peace. With this purpose, they have asked Gernika Gogoratuz to make this documentary in which they tell how they recall that fateful 26 April in 1937, from the very place they were on that day.

In this documentary, for once it is not the historians o journalists that give their interpretation of the facts, but the actual survivors of the bombing of Gernika as they reveal their lasting memories of what really happened. The reconstruction of Gernika covered all the physical traces of the bombing. This documentary collects the stories of the survivors; it´s the “human trace”.

“Forgive, but never forget!” (Elvira Otaolea)

Lenght: 45 Min.
DL: BI-1209-98


September 1998


Audiovisuals, Memory