We want peace, not oblivionOn 16, 17 and 18 March 1938 the population of Barcelona suffered three days of relentless air raids by Fascist Italy’s air force. The attack was not made against military targets, its aim instead being to repress and terrorise defenceless civilians and pave the way for the Francoist offensive. A comprehensive programme of acts is planned to remember the events and strengthen the city’s commitment to peace.
The main commemorative act will be the video mapping projection on the façade of the City Hall on 16, 17 and 18 March, entitled the The Tree of Memory. Created by the artist Xavi Bové, the display moves away from the recreation of pain and offers a gigantic tree connecting earth and sky through rays of light and subtle voices, ending up as a global cry for peace and freedom.
During the presentation of the acts, the Commissioner for Memory Programmes, Ricard Vinyes, asserted: “Ethically it’s good and culturally it’s necessary to remember that not so long ago a city such as Barcelona went through what other cities in the world are going through now”.
The First Deputy Mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, added: “The major tragedy of our times is that, in contrast to those who suffered the bombardments and were taken in by other countries, today cities are not being allowed to take in people who flee their homes because of war”.
An exhibition at El Born CCM will be opening in July entitled ‘Una infància sota les bombes’ [A childhood beneath the bombs]. The exhibition offers an account of the experience of children who lived through the bombardments by using their drawings.
The Museu d’Història de Barcelona (MUHBA) has put together an extensive programme of activities for schools and guided tours of air-raid shelter 307 and the anti-aircraft gun emplacements on the Turó de la Rovira hilltop. It has also published new studies and books such as Barcelona, topografia de la destrucció, offering a detailed look at sites hit by bombs and the damage sustained there.
1936-1939, when it rained fire
At 10.15 pm on 16 March, and practically over the 41 hours that followed, Fascist Italy’s air force dropped 45,000 kilos of bombs on the city. The attack killed 551 people and wounded 1,151, as well as completely destroying 76 buildings and causing major damage to a hundred more.
These were not the only bombardments the city suffered during the Spanish Civil War, the worst affected areas being Poblenou, Barceloneta, Sant Andreu, Can Tunis, El Gòtic, El Raval, L’Exiample and Guinardó.
A few months before, air-raids caused a massacre of children in Pl. Sant Felip Neri, where 153 people lost their lives, 50 of them children.