Introduction

Visual Index (Entire Poster Collection)

Catalogue

Chronology of the War

Acknowledgements

Lists of References

Afterword: Herbert R. Southworth Collection


 

La aviación fascista pasa sobre la capital de la República. ¿Haces tú algo para evitar esto? Ayuda a Madrid

[The fascist airforce passes over the capital of the Republic. What are you doing to prevent this? Help Madrid]. . Junta Delegada de Defensa de Madrid, Delegación de Propaganda y Prensa. Huecograbado Rivadeneyra, Madrid. Platinum tone; 90 x 65 cm.

One of the major threats to the civilian population of Madrid during the siege of the city from November 1936 to March 1939 was the massive bombing by rebel planes. Contemporary observers estimated that more Spaniards were killed on city streets and in their homes from aerial bombings than at the front. The people of Madrid took refuge in caves, under bridges, and in the metro to avoid the bombs, causing one observer to refer to Madrid as "a blind city of frightened troglodytes." By depicting two young children huddled fearfully under a brick archway as they look up at the menacing sky above, the author of this poster hoped to make Spaniards sympathize with the horrific conditions in the capital and thus spur them to aid Madrid. The fact that the children are alone with no parent in sight makes the poster a more powerful appeal to the viewer, and is also a reminder of the large number of children who were orphaned during the conflict. In addition, by referring to the city as "the capital of the Republic," the artist suggests the larger significance of saving Madrid. This poster dates between November 31, 1936 and April 21, 1937 when the Junta Delegada de Defensa de Madrid was in existence.

The experience of being under constant bombardment was something that many writers tried to capture in their accounts of the war. Louis Delaprée, the correspondent for Paris Soir, described how it felt to hear the enemy aircraft approach during the night: "Rustling noise, buzzing, thunder, in an impressive crescendo; it is the rebel aeroplanes ... Defenseless, we hear above us this deep and musical vibration, herald of death."

Delaprée's reports became so impassioned that his newspaper refused to publish them. In his memoirs, loyalist Arturo Barea also recalls his reaction to seeing the victim of a gruesome bombing along a frequently bombarded street in Madrid known as Shell Alley. The terror apparent in Barea's recollection of witnessing a man's brains spread out in front of him is an indication of the horror that children and adults alike experienced daily. "Out of the corner of my eye I saw something odd and filmy sticking to the huge show window of the Gramophone Company. I went close to see what it was. It was moving. A lump of grey mass, the size of a child's fist, was flattened out against the glass pane and kept on twitching ... I felt nothing but stupor. I looked at the scrap of a man stuck on to the shop window and watched it moving like an automaton. Still alive. A scrap of human brain ... I was hollow inside, emptied and without feelings. There seemed no street noise in the void around me."

 
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