“A flag of peace should be raised from the ruins of what our town once was. This must never happen again”
Guernica bombing survivor
Today marks the 80th Anniversary of the bombing of the town of Guernica. Eighty years trying to comprehend and make sense of what happened and why. Eighty years of pain and anger, of death and suffering that keeps repeating itself. Eighty years after the bombing of Guernica, in the era of the International Criminal Court and when it is particularly poignant to remember.
On 26 April 1937 the aerial bombardment of Guernica, by German and Italian airplanes under Franco’s command, took the lives of 1,600 civilians, mostly women and children. It is estimated that 31 tons of bombs fell on the city in just three hours. The use of incendiary bombs created a fire that lasted until the following day and destroyed the whole city. The event, immortalized in Picasso’s most famous painting, is considered the first example of total war. Sadly, the crimes committed by Franco’s troops during the Spanish civil war, and the 40-year long dictatorship that followed his victory, remain unpunished. The Guernica bombing was the first war crime in modern history and undoubtedly, a crime that defined the course of international criminal and humanitarian law.
In the name of these tragic events, we all at Guernica37 remain committed to seek accountability for such crimes and if we prevail, to prevent their occurrence. Our legal group got its name to honour our clients, our ancestors and our friends who survived the bombing. Guernica37 is our way to celebrate all the courageous victims we walk alongside and to exercise the necessary and constructive need to learn from our past, to address it, to change it, but to never forget it.
The words ‘never again’ have lost all meaning. The holocaust survivor, author, political activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Eliezer Weisel, was referred to as a “messenger to mankind”. In his words: “Never again becomes more than a slogan: It’s a prayer, a promise, a vow. There will never again be hatred, people say. Never again jail and torture. Never again the suffering of innocent people, or the shooting of starving, frightened, terrified children. And never again the glorification of base, ugly, dark violence. It’s a prayer.”
Today, we remember the people from Guernica and with them, the people from Spain, from Syria, Libya, Colombia, Sir Lanka, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Gambia, Nigeria, who still live enduring so much pain and injustice. Today and every day, Guernica37 stands by them and hopes to fight, a little harder and a little further, to achieve justice and accountability, and hope one day to say those words with meaning ‘Never Again’.