Gernika-Lumo, Spain –
On 26 April 1937, Gernika was bombed by the German Condor Legion in support of Franco’s troops during the Spanish Civil War – the first bombing of a non-military city and its civilian population. After the end of Franco’s dictatorship, Gernika began freely to celebrate the anniversary of the bombing, with a sentiment of reconciliation. From then on, a number of organisations were created in Gernika with the aim of encouraging an act of reconciliation with the German authorities.
In 1987, the 50th anniversary of the bombing was commemorated as the town hosted the Preliminary Congress of the World Association of Martyr Cities. Also in that year the Gernika Gogoratuz Peace Research Centre was created. Gernika established twinning programs with other towns including Pforzheim in Germany (which was bombed during World War II) and initiated a youth exchange program designed to promote peace, reconciliation and respect for cultural diversity.
1988 saw the setting up of the monument Gure Aitaren Etxea, by Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida, and in 1990 Large Figure in a Shelter, by British sculptor Henry Moore, was erected beside it. These monuments are symbolic of Gernika-Lumo as a city of peace.
In 1997 the president of the German parliament sent a message to the people of Gernika asking for forgiveness for the events which took place 60 years before. In this way, reconciliation bewteen Gernika and Germany was finally acheived.
The Gernika Peace Museum was created in 1998, initiated by the Gernika-Lumo local council. It provides a space for both visitor and inhabitants to learn about the events of 26 April 1937, but also to promote a culture of peace.
Gernika-Lumo was awarded the UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize on 6 September 2004. The prize rewards municipal initiatives which have strengthened social cohesion, improved living conditions in vulnerable neighbourhoods and contributed to the development of a true urban conviviality. Innovative practices led by candidate cities were shared with the global community by including them in an on-line database named ‘The City, Network of Cultures’.
In May 2005, Gernika-Lumo hosts the 5th INMP Conference.
Sources and related documents:
Guernica in Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guernica
Gernika Peace Museum www.museodelapaz.org
UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize www.unesco.org/culture/citiesforpeace/