‘Topografia de la destrucció’, a book for never forgetting the fascists’ aerial bombings

Barcelona was a testing ground for attacks on civilian populations that would be used during the rest of the 20th century in various conflicts, to terrorise populations. A book entitled ‘Topografia de la destrucció: Els bombardeigs de Barcelona durant la Guerra Civil (1936-1939)’ is the fullest and most exhaustive list compiled so far of the buildings in Barcelona affected by the bombings.

Published by Barcelona Llibres, the book is the result of over two years’ research by Mireia Capdevila and Laia Arañó, from the Carles Pi i Sunyer Foundation, who examined documents from various collections kept at several of the city’s archives. The work was collaborated on by specialists who provided context to the bombings, the defence strategies and the consequences of the attacks.

It exhaustively documents the victims and destruction caused by the bombings and details the sites that bore the brunt of the impact, the houses and facilities destroyed, the items destroyed in each case and the number of people affected. In addition, it is the first to document the bombings on 21, 22, 23 i 24 January 1939, the final week before the city fell to Franco’s forces.

The book also features the aerial bombardment of La Barceloneta in October 1937; Escola del Mar on 7 January 1938; the Església de Sant Felip Neri, on 30 January 1938; the Catedral de Barcelona, on 19 July 1938, and the non-stop bombings that went on from 16 to 18 March 1938, among other things.

The geolocated maps included in the book enable readers to see how the bombings sought out the most densely populated areas in the city: La Barceloneta, Ciutat Vella, Poble-sec, Eixample and Gràcia.

Recalling the horror of the aerial bombings

The book’s publication concludes the “Barcelona’s aerial bombings 1936-1939” programme, organised for commemorating the 80th anniversary of the air attacks perpetrated by the fascist Italian air force against Republican Barcelona.

The commemoration featured, among other things, the creation of a videomapping entitled The Tree of Memory, projected on to the City Hall’s facade on 16, 17 and 18 March 2018, and a public exhibition entitled “A childhood under bombs”, on at the El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria until 31 March.

The book is also enshrined in the policy of recovering the memories of the victims of fascism which the Commissioner for Memory Programmes launched during this municipal term of office and resulted in the removal of close to one hundred thousand plaques from the former Ministerio de la Vivienda which had been on display in the city’s streets and the withdrawal of medals and distinctions that the Francoist City Council had bestowed on the dictator Francisco Franco and other Francoist figures and institutions, specified at the Full City Council Meeting of Friday, 25 January.

Pictures

  1. Remains of the bases of the columns of the headquarters the Escola del Mar, in La Barceloneta, destroyed during the aerial bombings of 7 January 1938 in Barcelona (ANC. Gabriel Casas i Galobardes).
  2. Església de Sant Felip Neri destroyed by aerial bombing, February 1938 (ANC. Brangulí [photographers]).
  3. Aerial bombing on Gran Via de Barcelona, 17/03/1938 (ANC. Brangulí [photographers]).
  4. Aerial bombings on Barcelona, 1937-1939 (ICGC).
  5. Aerial pictures of the bombings of 16, 17 and 18 March 1938 testify to the widespread horror of the attacks afflicted on Barcelona during those three days (Arxiu Fotogràfic of the Centre d’Història Contemporània de Catalunya).
  6. Catedral de Barcelona, 19 July 1938 (ACPiS).
  7. Catedral de Barcelona, 19 July 1938 (ACPiS).
  8. Aerial bombings on the La Barceloneta neighbourhood (ANC. Generalitat [government] of Catalonia – Second Republic).