I received this request for assistance from Daniel Clarke, who needs help researching how the diaspora commemorated the bombing of Gernika. Feel free to write Daniel directly or to post your comments here.
I am a student at the University of Cambridge, England, working as part of a project looking at memory, heritage and identity in post-conflict situations, with five case studies around Europe (www.cric.arch.cam.ac.uk).
Specifically, I am working in Gernika – based at the ‘Gernika Gogoratuz’ peace research centre – examining the way in which memory of its destruction in the Civil War has persisted through the years.
Particularly given the difficulty of open commemoration in the Basque Country itself during the dictatorship, I am interested in what kinds of transmission of memory were taking place amongst the Basque diaspora.
I would love to hear about any such practices within the community, either public commemorative events, programmes, monuments etc., or simply reflections on the ways in which the memory of the event has been transmitted unofficially through family customs etc.
I am particularly interested in the situation pre-1976 (when the public commemorations appear to begin in Gernika), but information on such activities in any period would be much appreciated – if possible including when they were started, by whom etc.
Daniel Clarke (email@example.com)
2 thoughts on “Commemoration of the bombing of Gernika amongst the Basque diaspora”
I’ll go ahead and post mine, hopefully leading to some other thoughts from others.
I don’t recall my dad ever mentioning the bombing at all. He grew up maybe 10-15 kilometers from Gernika, in Gerrikaitz (which was also bombed during the war, I’ve read). I’m sure Gernika was an important place to him and his family.
He came to the US in the early 60s when he was 18. He worked a lot, so wasn’t home a lot to talk about his homeland and while I believe that his homeland is very special to him, beyond random comments, he never talked about it much. Especially politics. He never talked about politics (except to say that “that was better in Spain” or “that wouldn’t happen in Spain” 🙂
I don’t recall now when I first learned about the bombing and its historical significance. In college I started reading some history of the Basque Country and I spent a year in Donosti trying to learn Basque. It was then that I went to the Reina Sofia and saw the painting. I think it was about then that I learned about the bombing and what it means in the history of Euskal Herria. But, it was something that I sort of discovered on my own.
I don’t know how experiences were for other kids of Basques in Homedale or, more generally, Idaho. I have no idea if my dad is typical or the exception. I don’t remember anyone else talking about Gernika back then. It seems that the recognition of the bombing has come more recently. I don’t think there are many young Basques that don’t know something about it now, but back then (20+ years ago), I don’t remember anything being said about it.
We’ve visited Gernika many times over the last ten years. The Peace Museum is very impressive. The history is there, but up until the late 90’s, the only thing I knew about Gernika was Picasso’s painting.