And they rained down fire, shrapnel and death on us. And they destroyed our town. And that night we couldn’t go back home for our supper, or sleep in our beds. We had no home anymore. We had no house. But that event, which was so incomprehensible to us, left no feelings of hate or vengeance in us—only a huge, immense desire for peace, and for such events never to happen again. A flag of peace should rise up from the ruins of what was our town for all the peoples of the world.
— Response to German Chancellor Herzog by the survivors of the bombing of Gernika
Few events in the history of the world have aroused the passions of the decent, the fair, the peaceful, and the just as much as the brutal terror bombing attack on the Basque town of Gernika. From the decision of the fascist forces to attack the open city, to the horror of the bombing, to its aftermath, this short, readable history by a foremost expert tells the terrible events that colored not only the modern history of the Basques, but of all of humanity as it ushered in a new age of warfare.
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The impact of war and violence is one of the more unfortunate, although unavoidable, features of the modern Basque experience. Here at the
Centerwe have endeavored to reflect this salient reality in numerous and varied publications addressing the issue. More general studies of political violence, with a Basque dimension incorporated, include Empire & Terror: Nationalism / Postnationalism in the New Millennium, edited by Begoña Aretxaga, Dennis Dworkin, Joseba Gabilondo, and Joseba Zulaika. This collection is the result of an ambitious conference held at the CBS in 2002 that addressed questions of nationalism, globalization, terrorism, democracy, and culture in the wake of the events of 9/11. Along similar lines, Violence and Communication, edited by Jose Antonio Mingolarra, Carmen Arocena, and Rosa Martín Sabaris, takes a Basque-inspired gaze at broader questions of how violence has been represented in visual and print form, drawing on diverse examples from around the world and through history, and incorporating thematic issues such as women and sexuality, poverty and inequality, and the Internet and violence. States of Terror, a collection of essays by the late Begoña Aretxaga, reflects another attempt to understand the phenomenon of political violence on its own terms and in the specific contexts in which it takes place, in this case with a special gendered focus on political conflict in the Basque Country and Northern Ireland. Several of our publications have acted as a historical lens onto the impact of war and violence on Basque society and beyond
.War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936–1946, edited by Sandra Ott, demonstrates the impact of warfare on regular people in an intense decade that left a lasting social and political impression on the Basque Country, particularly in creating the category of Basque refugees. Furthermore, David Lyon’s Bitter Justice focuses on other casualties of war: Basque prisoners during the Civil War and the early years of the Franco regime while Cameron J. Watson’s Basque Nationalism and Political Violence explores the roots of ETA within the historical trajectory of the violence endemic to modern Spain and the conflict between Spanish and Basque nationalism. Finally, the Center has also published contributions to understanding the twin themes of war and violence from the perspective of Basque literature. The Red Notebook, by Arantxa Urretabizkaia, is a groundbreaking novel that explores the tension between political commitment and motherhood on the part of its main character. And the literary anthology Our Wars: Short Fiction on Basque Conflicts, edited by Mikel Ayerbe Sudupe, serves as a wonderful platform for considering just how much Basque authors have reflected on the impact of war and conflict on Basque society from the Civil War down to the present.