GUERNICA by Gordon & Max Morgan Witts Thomas


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Thomas and Witts specialize in disasters (The Day the World Ended; The San Francisco Earthquake: Shipwreck), and they have it down to a formula. Guernica, though, was no Act of God; the incendiary bombing of the ancient Basque city--later commemorated by Picasso's masterpiece--was a uniquely horrific mass murder of a civilian population by Hitler's elite Condor Legion. As Hermann Goering said: ""Spain gave me an opportunity to try out my young air force."" Thomas and Witts' reconstruction of the hours before the sky began to rain fire bombs is based, as always, on the memories of survivors. The raid comes--it was ""like having a preview of the end of the world,"" as someone commented. Blood, hysteria, fire and rubble overtake the people who try to flee to Bilbao or hide in the churches. Hundreds of old people, children and wounded perish. Antonio Arzagmani, a baker, rescues some newborn kittens. A preview of Coventry, Dresden, Hiroshima and My Lai say the authors who play it for maximum horror with plenty of simulated pity and indignation. Even so, and despite the clearly commercial intent, it has an impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1975
Publisher: Stein & Day