The link between a journalist, a painter and the ash cloud

In 1937 Picasso painted "Guernica" after reading the report of a Times journalist about the firebomb attack on the town by the Luftwaffe Condor Legion. The ash cloud prevented the ceremony in honour of the journalist, but ...

... this has been now done by naming a street in Bilbao after him.

Last week, in a blog about the only Swiss holder of the Victoria Cross, I mentioned the painting "Guernica" of Picasso. This follow-up blog links him to te ash cloud disruption of air travel earlier this year.

The journalist who influenced Picasso was George Steer, who was covering the Spanish Civil War for The Times. He found the proof that the Nazis were actually responsible for the attack, on April 26, 1937, despite a signed non-intervention pact. His article on this was published in The Times and in The New York Times. When Picasso saw this report, together with stark photographs, he was inspired to paint Guernica, which has become a symbol of the horrors of war.

George Steer continued to cover the various "small" wars which preceded the outbreak of the Second World War: he then joined the armed forces. Although on the Gestapo wanted list, he was actually killed in a car crash in 1944, leaving a son and a daughter.

In 2006 he was honoured in Guernica with a bronze bust.This year he has had a street in Bilbao named after him: the Kale George Steer (Basque for street). The street-naming ceremony should have been earlier this year, but had to be delayed because of the air travel disruption caused by the ash cloud.

Ash cloud bombs are less harmful than firebombs!


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