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Catalonia and the UK share their common history under the fascist bombs

Barcelona and London, the capital cities of Catalonia and the United Kingdom, suffered sustained bombardments by fascist air forces during the first half of the 20th century. Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the aerial bombing of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) together with the European Observatory on Memories (Eurom) and in collaboration with the University of Brighton organized a conference at London’s Imperial War Museum to share Catalonia and United Kingdom’s history under the fascist bombs. The commemorative event gathered together representatives from the Catalan Government, mayors of some of the cities who suffered the most under the fascist aviation attacks, British politicians, such as Chris Bambery, former spokesman for the APPG on Catalonia, and researchers and historians from both the UK and Catalonia specialized in the Great World Wars.

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24 May 2017 09:01 AM

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ACN

London (ACN).- Barcelona and London, the capital cities of Catalonia and the United Kingdom, suffered sustained bombardments by fascist air forces during the first half of the 20th century. Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the aerial bombing of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) together with the European Observatory on Memories (Eurom) and in collaboration with the University of Brighton organized a conference at London’s Imperial War Museum to share Catalonia and United Kingdom’s history under the fascist bombs. The commemorative event gathered together representatives from the Catalan Government, mayors of some of the cities who suffered the most under the fascist aviation attacks, British politicians, such as Chris Bambery, former spokesman for the APPG on Catalonia, and researchers and historians from both the UK and Catalonia specialized in the Great World Wars.


“Catalonia and Spain were among the first places to be systematically bombed by the Axis Powers,” European Observatory on Memories (Eurom) Director, Jordi Guixé, told the CNA. “The aim of this conference was to share our experience and historical research with that of London, Coventry, Manchester, and other cities in the United Kingdom,” he said and added that it is “necessary” to go beyond the “local scope” in order to conserve better historic memory.

“The UK has a long history in terms of recognition of the anti-fascist fight,” emphasized Diplocat’s secretary general, Albert Royo and lamented that “in Spain there is still much work to do in this regard”.

Joan Josep Nuet, an MP for the alternative-left alliance ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’ in the Catalan Parliament, took part in one of the round tables during the event. He outlined that, “unlike what happened in the UK, in Spain the fascists were never defeated” and thus “the work is not finished”, especially from a legislative vantage point, which makes “reconciliation harder”. He named the martial courts which haven’t been annulled by the current Spanish Government and under which former Catalan President, Lluís Companys, was executed. “If there is still pain, there can’t be real reconciliation,” added Montserrat Palau, an MP from the governing coalition, Junts Pel Sí.

Barcelona bombings influence British attitudes

Antony Beevor, writer and historian, University of Kent visiting professor, and a Fellow of King’s College, London, gave the keynote speech highlighting the fight of both countries against the fascist attacks. “These early bombings are terribly important not just in symbolic terms but also in the DEVELOPMENT of aerial warfare during that particular period,” he said. Indeed, the sustained bombings on Barcelona and the way its civil population tried to protect their cities and fellow citizens during attacks “influenced the British attitude and the analysis of what could happen in London”.

 “Our city was used as a lab by Mussolini’s aerial warfare,” explained Josep Mayoral, mayor of Granollers, a town 30 kilometers north of Barcelona, and a member of Mayors for Peace. “In less than a minute, 224 people were killed by 5 iron birds from the fascist forces; the cities who have seen blood have the moral duty to stand together for Peace,” he said.

Gabriel Moshenska, Senior Lecturer in Public Archaeology at University College London, and Ramon Arnabat, Professor at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili participated in the second round table, with information about the fascist attacks on London and Catalonia, respectively.

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  • Public attending Diplocat's conference 'The Bombings of Barcelona and London' in London (by ACN)

  • Public attending Diplocat's conference 'The Bombings of Barcelona and London' in London (by ACN)