Guernica, the Basques, and Picasso
In "Missing, Assumed Dead," the Kam McBride's mother mentions a painting by Pablo Picasso in reference to the Spanish Civil War and the treatment of the Basque people. Franco hated the Basques for many reasons, the least of which is their firm stand to maintain their unique culture. They spoke Euskara, not Spanish. They had their own traditions, and even worshipped in their own way. Franco began a campaign against the Basques equivalent to Hitler's treatment of the Jews in World War II. The Basques had an extensive rebel underground, but they were just too few to fight back against an organized army.
On April 26th 1937, a massive air raid by the German Luftwaffe on the Basque town of Guernica in Northern Spain shocked the world. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the raid which became a major incident of the Spanish Civil War.
The bombing prompted Pablo Picasso to begin painting what many say is his greatest masterpiece...Guernica.
The painting became a timely and prophetic vision of the Second World War and is now recognised as an international icon for peace.
Read more on Guernica and its symbolism at:
Excerpt from Missing, Assumed Dead
She (Kam) examined a grainy, slightly out of focus picture labeled “Vasco Family, Jordan Valley, OR.” A short, middle-aged man with dark hair and complexion and a pretty, light-haired woman stood by a wagon with a donkey harnessed to it. Sheep dotted the landscape behind them.
“A shepherd in Oregon? That’s kind of, um, rural.” Kam squinted at the picture and wondered whether she needed glasses. “The rest of Dad’s family lived in the Midwest, didn’t they?”
“Yes, but some of the Vasco line emigrated from Spain to Oregon as well.”
“Not Spanish but Basque. I did a bit of research on their immigration to the U.S. when I learned your father had Basque cousins. A lot of them moved to eastern Oregon to tend sheep.”
Kam rolled her eyes. She sensed a lecture coming. “Why did they leave Spain?”
“Escaping the Fascist takeover during the Spanish Civil War, I’d imagine.” Eileen tapped the joystick on her chair to face Kam. “It was terrible for them. Franco teamed up with Hitler, who let his air force practice bombing on civilian populations. Guernica—you remember the Picasso painting—was almost destroyed, thousands of Basques slaughtered.”
“I didn’t know about the Hitler connection. What did he have against the Basques?”
Eileen frowned. “I suppose he was just pandering to Franco to gain an ally. The Basques were thorns in Franco’s side.”