Legacy of SCW lives on in Guernica

July 23, 2012
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Picasso's famous painting of Guernica

For those who survived the infamous bombing of Guernica 75 years ago,  the consequences remain part of everyday life.  Now 89, Luis Iriondo Aurtenetxea was a 14-year-0ld bank assistant when the German Condor Legion’s bombers appeared over Guernica on 26 April 1937.  Though his brothers and mother survived the bombing, they spent the reminder of the war as refugees.  He now lives in Guernica and works as a painter. According to Democracy Now! columnist Amy Goodman:

Luis took me to his studio, its walls covered with paintings. Most prominent was the one he painted of that moment in Lumo when his mother found him. I asked him how he felt at that moment. His eyes welled. He apologized and said he couldn’t speak of it.

Yet Aurtenetxea is not the only one to fight war through art.

Just blocks away stands one of the arms factories that avoided destruction. It was the plant where chemical weapons and pistols were made. It is called the Astra building. . . . Several years ago, young people occupied the vacant plant, demanding it be turned into a cultural center. Oier Plaza is a young activist from Guernica who told me, “At first the police threw us out, and then we occupied it again, and finally, the town hall bought the building, then we started this process to recover the building and to create the Astra project.”  The aim of the Astra project is to convert this weapons plant into a cultural center with classes in art, video and other media production. “We have to look to the past to understand the present, to create a better future, and I think Astra is part of that process. It is the past, it is the present, and it is the future of this town.”

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One Response to “ Legacy of SCW lives on in Guernica ”

  1. Begonya Plaza on July 24, 2012 at 9:58 am

    In 1987 I was in Guernica, for the 50th Anniversary, and Luis Iriondo was amongst those I interviewed for my 45 minute documentary, Gernika Lives. Most of the survivors interviewed are now gone, and I agree, that we have to honor the memory of the dead, understand the horrors they experienced, so that it doesn’t ever happen again. Our world could not stand another atrocity like that one. Luis is a childhood friend of my father, Jesus Plaza, who I dedicated this documentary to. It’s a work of compassion. You are welcome to purchase a copy by visiting my website. Peace, Begonya Plaza

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