Tuesday, March 2, 2010

GUERNICA - Testing ground for the military tactic of blanket-bombing of a civilian population to demoralize the enemy (1937)

Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso. This painting can be seen in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain.

"Guernica" shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians.

Guernica became a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war.

Some elements of the painting:
- a wide-eyed bull stands over a woman grieving over a dead child in her arms
- Daggers that suggest screaming replace the tongues of the bull, grieving woman, and horse.
- a horse falling in agony as it had just been run through by a spear or javelin
- A human skull overlays the horse's body.
- A bull appears to gore the horse from underneath
- On the far right, a figure with arms raised in terror is entrapped by fire from above and below.

On 26 April 1937, for over three hours, twenty-five or more of Nazi Germany's best-equipped bombers, accompanied by at least twenty more Messerschmitt and Fiat Fighters, dumped one hundred thousand pounds of high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the village of Guernica, in Spain, slowly and systematically pounding it to rubble. Those trying to escape were cut down by the strafing machine guns of fighter planes.

The warplanes of the German Condor Legion, commanded by Hitler's Air Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen, were using the war as an opportunity to test out new weapons and tactics.

Guernica had no strategic value as a military target, although Air Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen, claimed publicly that the target was a bridge over the Mundaca River on the edge of town, chosen in order to cut off the fleeing Republican troops. But although the Condor Legion was made up of the best airmen and planes of Hitler's developing war machine, not a single hit was scored on the presumed target, nor on the railway station, nor on the small-arms factory nearby.

Some time later, a secret report to Berlin was uncovered in which Von Richthofen stated, "...the concentrated attack on Guernica was the greatest success,"

The report made it clear that the all-out air attack had been ordered on behalf of Spain's military general, dictator and head of state Francisco Franco, to break the spirited Nationalist forces.

Guernica had served as the testing ground for a new Nazi military tactic - blanket-bombing a civilian population to demoralize the enemy. It was wanton, man-made holocaust.

On May 12, 1999, the New York Times reported that, after sixty-one years, in a declaration adopted on April 24, 1999, the German Parliament formally apologized to the citizens of Guernica for the role the Condor Legion played in bombing the town. The German government also agreed to change the names of some German military barracks named after members of the Condor Legion. By contrast, no formal apology to the city has ever been offered by the Spanish government for whatever role it may have played in the bombing.