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Humanities Week remembers Guernica and the Spanish Civil War

Eighty years ago, on 26 April 1937, the small town of Guernica in northern Spain was bombed by German and Italian planes at the request of General Franco, the fascist leader. It was the bloodiest day in the Spanish Civil War; the terror of aerial bombardment was captured by the artist Pablo Picasso in his epic, eight-metre-wide masterpiece Guernica.

The humanities, English, languages and art departments will be exploring the Spanish Civil War in a cross-curricular week of assemblies and lessons. Year 9 will be leading assemblies on the history, geography and politics of the Spanish Civil War; the Middle Years will discover the literature and art inspired by the conflict, including Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. Pupils from across the school are learning about politics in the twentieth century, including the concepts of fascism, communism, revolution, dictatorship and democracy.

The Spanish Civil War is one of the most significant events of the twentieth century, yet it is so often overlooked (at least in Britain) because of the Second World War that followed soon afterwards. However, the events that unfolded between 1936 and 1939 in Spain determined the course of history across Europe. Franco’s coup was backed by other fascist dictators – Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy – and he paid back his masters by aiding the Axis Powers during the Second World War (even though Spain remained “neutral”, at least on paper).

Franco remained dictator until 1975: it is Spain that lived longest under the dark cloud of fascism that descended across Europe in the 1930s.

All images in this post are taken from a ‘Guernica’ inspired animation made by the HCH Animation Club.