Monday, August 27, 2007

Guernica remembered

(25 Aug) I got round to watching 'The Guernica Children'. The British government took the view that removing "useless mouths" from the Basque region, which by this time was an enclave cut off from the rest of Republican Spain, would assist one of the sides in the civil war and so run contrary to the "non-intervention" agreement. Meanwhile of course, Franco's fascist allies in Germany and Italy kept their side of the "non-intervention" pact by providing the 'planes and pilots that carried out the destruction of Guernica.

The programme tells us that there was massive public sympathy in Britain for the Basque people and after the bombing the government was forced to change its position. Some 4000 children were allowed to come to Britain (others went to France and Mexico). In one incident, a British navy ship protected a refugee ship from being intercepted by Franco's navy. It should be remembered, though, that the Basque children received no support from public funds.

Subsequently, the Daily Mail highlighted any misdemeanours committed by the Basque children. Although the campaign was based on fact, it was blown out of all proportion.

One father wrote to his son: 'If they ask you if you are Red, say plainly that you are proletarian, poor, human and christian, that wicked men infringe the sacred mandate and declare war on us; and that if this is being Red, as the murderers say, then we are Red - we are red as the poppy. But we are red because they have shed our blood and our bodies have stained with the red that runs in our veins.'

(Eye Witness Productions, 2005; repeated in April 2007 on BBC4, for the anniversary of the Guernica bombing.)

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