TCU kicked off its participation in the worldwide Guernica project, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the tragic Spanish Civil War attack, Monday night. Jodi Campbell, a history professor, began the week’s activities by leading a discussion titled “Ghosts of the Past: Memories of the Spanish Civil War.”
On April 26, 1937, German bombs fell on the innocent farmers and families that came to the market at Guernica, a Basque town in Northern Spain, Campbell said.
At that time, Guernica symbolized the Basque country’s unique and separate identity as well as the idea of a representative government, causing it to be a target for Adolf Hitler’s trial air force, Campbell said.
This aerial attack was one of the first bombings in history, Campbell said, so it sent shock waves throughout the world.
Guernica lost one-fourth of its population that day, and the streets of the town continued to burn for the next three, Campbell said.
One of the most influential people of the time that brought Guernica onto the world stage was Pablo Picasso, Campbell said.
Bonnie Frederick, chair of the Spanish department, said Picasso contributed a depiction of the event.
“‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso is one of the most important paintings of the 20th century — definitely one of the most influential,” Frederick said.
Mark Thistlethwaite, an art and art history professor, will discuss the significance of Picasso’s painting “Guernica” and the influences it has had on history tonight.
“‘Guernica’ was Picasso’s first political work,” Thistlethwaite said. “It is an allegorical painting of the horrors of war.”
Some know it as the visual image of the killing and destruction of the 20th century, and it continues to come back as an iconic image because it is so powerful, Thistlethwaite said.
In addition to influencing art and history, Guernica also was an inspiration for the Spanish literature of the time.
Friday, Frederick and other Spanish professors will read works from Spanish poets of the generation of 1927.
Also during the poetry reading, Spanish professor Perry Marchbanks will demonstrate Spanish dancing with Fort Worth dance instructor Margarita Bruce.
“Spanish tapas will be served to sweeten the deal,” Frederick said.
The culminating event of the Guernica project will be a concert Monday evening by the School of Music’s “Faculty and Friends” Chamber Music Series, Frederick said.
“This concert will include the world premiere piece ‘Guernica Trio’ by composer Octavio Vasquez,” Frederick said.
The composer will be in attendance to talk about his piece, Frederick said.
At the time of the attack, the Spanish people could not handle the unimaginable suffering, destruction and intolerance, Campbell said.
The remembrance of Guernica simmered under a pact of silence until last year, Campbell said.
“Last year, 2006, was established as the ‘Year of Memory'” Campbell said. “Spain is finally actively engaging in uncovering the past and attempting to heal old wounds.