Book Prologue
  Author Interview
  Snapshots & Sounds
  About the Author
  Discussion Guide
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Chapter Excerpts

The Spanish Dead

Remembering the Bullring

Images Spilling From Fingers

Save Spain!

A Wearable Pair of Boots


The Last Refugee

Guernica in Gernika
When Steer [a reporter for The Times of London] reached Gernika at two o'clock on Tuesday morning, traveling by car from nearby Bilbao, he observed a town still "flaming from end to end." Houses and buildings had continued to fall throughout the night. Even before daybreak, he had watched as survivors loaded farm carts pulled by oxen with the few possessions they managed to save, then abandoned the ruins of their former home, most of them heading for Bilbao, where thousands of people from other parts of the Basque region lost to the rebels already had sought refuge.

"In the form of its execution and the scale of the destruction it wrought, no less than in the selection of is objective" the reporter reflected,

     the raid on Gernika is unparalleled in military history. Gernika was not a military objective. A factory producing war material lay outside the town and was untouched. So were two barracks some distance from the town. The town lay far behind the lines. The object of the bombardment was seemingly the demoralization of the civil population and the destruction of the cradle of the Basque race.     

Concerned people in Paris received their first detailed information about the atrocity in Gernika on Thursday, April 29, when L'Humanité  reprinted Steer's article in its entirety, and surely Picasso also read it carefully and with immediate outrage by the end of that day. No record survives detailing the artist's first anger-infused conversations about what had occurred in Gernika with both French and Spanish friends, but it's clear that for virtually all of Paris's artistic and intellectual elite, the subject soon was inescapable. Nothing like this calculated and meticulously planned massacre of hundreds, perhaps thousands of civiliansthe death toll as yet remained unknownhad occurred before in modern times; never before had innocents been slaughtered solely to incite terror and to destroy symbolically an entire people. This  was the bloody footprint of fascism, the city's poets, thinkers, and artists agreed in animated conversations in cafés and salons, their comments increasingly taut with the realization that the governments of France, Great Britain, and the United States simply didn't seem to care.

Excerpted from Picasso's War by Russell Martin, Copyright© 2002 by Russell Martin. Excerpted by permission of Dutton, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.