It is forty years since Guernica, a small town in northern Spain, was almost totally destroyed by fore and high explosive, with the loss of more than a thousand lives.
GVs & SVs Buildings in Guernica (3 shots)
SV Balconies PAN DOWN TO women sitting in square
BW stills Guernica before bombing (2 shots)
BW stills G damaged Guernica (5 shots)
Sv Senora Fidela Izaguirre speaking in shop
CU Poster reproduction of Picasso mural
CU Senora Izaguirre speaking
GVs & SVs BW shots damaged Guernica and survivors (speech continues under)
GV Central Square, Guernica
SV ZOOM OUT Tree of Guernica in museum
SV & GV Children playing in centre of town (3 shots)
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Background: It is forty years since Guernica, a small town in northern Spain, was almost totally destroyed by fore and high explosive, with the loss of more than a thousand lives. Nearly every fact about this event in the Spanish Civil War had been disputed. But it is now generally accepted that the town was attacked by bombers belonging to Nazi Germany, which supported General Franco's side, the Nationalists, in the civil war.
SYNOPSIS: Guernica today is a town of modest size and rather undistinguished appearance -- because its buildings are almost all new. It makes metal goods and furniture. though as an industrial centre it is overshadowed by the much larger Bilbao. But its name is known, and emotions are aroused, wherever people debate the rise of Fascism and the rights and wrongs of total war.
Modern Guernica has risen from the ashes of the town that became a symbol after the attack of 26th April, 1937.
Before that tragic Monday, it was an old town -- the historic centre of Basque culture. Its importance to the Basque people raised the question: was the bombing a deliberate attack, at the instigation of the Nationalists, in the core of Basque resistance, or a military operation against a place where Republican forces could take refuge and regroup?
Senora Fidela Izaguirre, now 65, was a young woman at the time. She remembers vividly how the bombers came over, attacking the town in waves for four hours without stopping.
Picasso's famous mural, an evocation of pain, horror and protest, helped to make the name "Guernica" a legend. The attack has been seen ever since as the first indiscriminate air bombardment of a civilian target; the forerunner of the total war soon to follow.
Senora Izaguirre remembers how the people fled into the fields to escape from the bombers; and how the aircraft followed them and attacked them with machine guns. She says her father even lost his cows.
Then she remembers how, next morning, the people went back, and saw what was left of the town. She says it was like something they had seen in a film. There were bodies everywhere, and people running about crying and screaming. It was like the end of the world.
One thing that survived the onslaught, and still survives in the museum is the Tree of Guernica -- the historic oak under which Spanish kings swore to uphold Basque rights. Its survival was used by the Nationalists to support their claim that Republicans set fore to the town themselves. Now that a new generation has grown up in Guernica, historians have re-examined the evidence. They believe that the Germans did bomb the town, at the request of the Nationalists, but for tactical reasons; there is nothing to show that it was a deliberate attack on civilians as such.