London, United Kingdom | Barcelona and London Bombings: Memories of a Shared History
Diplocat and EUROM organised an event to recall the Fascist bombings in Catalonia and the United Kingdom
Barcelona and London -and by extension Catalonia and the United Kingdom- suffered Fascist bombings during the first half of the 20th century. Officials and citizens of both cities were mobilised to protect themselves from attacks with coordination, solidarity and resilience.
On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the start of the bombing in the Catalan capital, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) and the EuropeanObservatory on Memories (EUROM), with the co-operation of the • Center for Research in Memory and Narrative History (University of Brighton) on 23 May organised a conference entitled "The Bombing of London and Barcelona: Memories of a Shared History,” which took place at the Imperial War Museum in London.
The event began with a minute of silence in solidarity with the victims and the relatives of the attack the day before in Manchester. In his welcoming remarks, the Secretary General of Diplocat Albert Royo said that we must firmly defend the democratic values that terrorist attacks seek to destroy, just as was done in the past with Fascism. Thedirector of Euromar, Jordi Guixé also offered words of welcome. The Catalan government was represented by the Director General of European Affairs Marina Falcó.
Antony Beevor, author and British historian, visiting professor at the University of Kent and associate at King's College London gave the opening speech where he put into context the struggle of the two countries against the Fascist attacks they suffered. Professor Beevor explained that the Spanish Fascists would most probably have won the war on their own, but the support of the Nazis "accelerated their victory." He also described the involvement of the Luftwaffe in the Spanish Civil War as a true "military laboratory."
Then a first roundtable focused on the bombings that Catalonia suffered during the Spanish Civil War. Joan Josep Nuet (an MP for the “Catalonia Yes We Can” party) called for active policies to ensure historical memory, which he said can "help overcome the traumas and reinterpret this historical period." Montserrat Palau (MP for the “Together for Yes” coalition), pointed out that while the UK led to the defeat of Fascism, in Catalonia it was the opposite, and this affects the policies regarding historical memory today. The panel was moderated by Chris Bambery, the former spokesman of the Catalonia APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) in the UK Parliament.
A second roundtable with academic specialists addressed in depth the situation in each country. Gabriel Moshenska, a professor at London's Global University, spoke about the bombings in London and the UK during World War II, while Ramon Arnabat, professor at the Rovira i Virgili University, addressed the attacks suffered by Barcelona and Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War. Both highlighted the active and often heroic resistance of the citizens.
Later, the historian Jordi Pons spoke about the report "Air Raid Precautions. Lessons from Barcelona" (1938), a sign of the interest the British Government had in passive defense measures that were adopted in Catalonia during 1936-1939. To delve into this subject, adocumentary was screened on Catalonia Television entitled "Ramon Perera, the Man who Saved Barcelona," a story about the engineer who designed many of Catalonia’s bomb shelters.
The closing ceremony was led by Josep Mayoral, a member of “Mayors for Peace” and the Mayor of Granollers, one of the cities most affected by the Fascist bombings in Catalonia. In conclusion, Mayoral said that "cities that have seen blood running through their streets have an obligation to commit to peace."
Last updated: 30 May 2017