It is said that during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II, a German officer, in the face of a retraction from the Guernica panel, would have asked Picasso if he had made the famous and tragic panel, in which the painter quickly replied: “No, it was you!”
In January 1937, the Spanish government asked Picasso to create something for the Spanish pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition that would take place in June. Apparently, the Spanish painter did not go through his most creative days, but, tragically, everything changed when he received news of a terrible bombing that occurred in Spain.
On April 26, 1937, the Basque city of Guernica had been razed to the ground by Nazi fascist planes that were testing their new equipment. Deeply moved by the photographs that depicted horror in the newspapers, the Spanish painter decided to translate his feeling of disgust to war and hope for peace and progress.
Locked up in his studio for about a month and stimulated by the sad images he held in his hands, he materialized and exhibited on June 4 what would become his masterpiece: the Guernica panel – later considered a precise prognosis of what would happen during the World War II (1939-1945).
It is said, although it is not certain, that during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II, a German officer, in the face of a retraction from the panel, would have asked Picasso if he had made the famous panel, in which he was quickly answered by the painter: “No, it was you!”.
The city of Guernica was small but largely symbolic for the ancient Basque people. The attack would have killed at least 200 people, but the death toll could be more than 1,000. Guernica had only 6,000 inhabitants at the time.
In those years, the country of Picasso was experiencing the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) – waged by the nationalists of General Franco (supported by the Nazi fascists) against the republican governments of the socialist Caballero (supported by the Soviet Union). With the German war superiority embodied in the Condor Legion, Franco ascended to Spanish power.
The citadel was bombed for two reasons: General Franco would have wished to humiliate the Basques on the pretext that they had given shelter to some enemy troops already defeated; and, for the Nazis, it was just a weapons test orchestrated by Wolfram Von Richthofen (cousin of the legendary Red Baron). “Hermann Goering, commander of the Luftwaffe (the German air force), revealed in 1946, during a trial at the Nuremberg Tribunal, that Guernica was a wonderful laboratory for testing bombing systems with explosive and incendiary projectiles in an open city. The result of the morbid experience became the most remembered episode of the Civil War. ” (TRACCO, 2007, p. 47)
When World War II broke out, on September 1, 1939, the panel was sent to the United States of America to be protected and, required by the painter himself, who should never return to Spain while Franco was alive. The despot died in 1975 and the masterpiece then returned to his home in 1981.