Life Onboard
Barcelona, Spain – Visiting the Peace City, Granollers, Sep 6, 2010
La Porxada is the most emblematic building of the city. At the time of the bombing, many women and children were there buying their daily food ration.
In the northeast of Spain, 26 kilometers from Barcelona, is Granollers, the capital and most densely populated city of the Comarca Valles Oriental. Granollers was the third most bombarded city during the Spanish Civil War. On May 31, 1938, Italian and German air forces supporting the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco bombed the city indiscriminately. In theory, the military objectives were a power plant, a few weaponry factories and an aerodrome located on the outskirts of the town. However, at 9:05 am, five Italian aircraft dropped 40 bombs of 100 kilograms each in the center of town. In a minute that felt like an eternity, 224 people died and 700 were injured.

The Mayor of Granollers, Josep Mayoral, expressed that it took many years to recover their culture, their language, their freedoms.
Since the war, Granollers has been trying to regain and take control of its history. The city has taken a leading role in the international initiative Mayors for Peace, a partner of Peace Boat. Led by the Mayor of Hiroshima, the initiative is composed of cities around the world that have formally expressed their support and solidarity for the abolition of nuclear weapons. As of May 2010, membership stood at 3,880 cities in 143 countries and regions. Granollers has also signed the Manifesto of Cities Open to Peace to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombardment of Granollers. In a welcome address to a group of visiting Peace Boat participants, Mayor Josep Mayoral I Antigas expressed that Granollers has a deep connection with Hiroshima and Nagasaki because it forms part of the group of cities working towards peace.

The entrance to the shelter of "Placa Maluquer i Salvador," the only shelter in the city with cells.
Historical memory has emerged as an important social and cultural priority of the city. As participants walked through the "memory itinerary", composed of various symbolic sites from the war, they encountered an underground shelter built in 1938 for the town's citizens. After descending some stone stairs, they plunged into a humid and dark area filled with a number of cells. "This is the symbol of fear, of the destruction that war entails", remarked town councilor Albert Camps as participants explored the compressed area. The life conditions were difficult, with no place to sit, no toilets, no infirmary. The scarcity of labor, resources and funds limited the final completion of the shelter, as exhibited by the flimsy ceiling made of recycled material and an unfinished structure made out of concrete. Participants talked with Mr Camps about the light, drinking water, and access to food for those in the shelter.

At the Center for a Culture of Peace, Ana and Juan, aged 82 and 89 years old respectively, shared their testimonies.
After tracing the sites affected by the war, participants proceeded to listen to testimonies of those that survived the bombing. When one hears about a war that took place far away from home, the idea of what happened there tends to be faint. But, for those that lived the war, the history of generations is marked. Ana was 9 years old at the time of the bombing. She remembers that everyone was happy because classes had started. At the sound of the planes, everyone looked out of the windows and the bombing began. Her school was completely destroyed and Ana ended up under the debris. She remembers how every sound would disturb her. "Whenever I heard the squeak of a door, I would be frightened." Juan was 19 years old and was working in a car shop when the bombs were dropped. Everything was covered in dust and smoke. He spent all day picking up injured people and the victims of the bombardment. He was forced to live in exile until 1949. "I lived through all that from the age of 15 to 17 years old - the best part of my life was stolen", he stressed.

20 participants, including three guest educators, had an opportunity to think about peace in Catalonia.
After the war, Granollers had to fight to recover their freedoms and achieve peace. Their efforts are already tangible and visible to all. Tsujioku Haruyo was impressed by the city's peace education activities and felt the people's full commitment to peace. 21 year old Kaneishi Ryohei truly valued the opportunity to listen first-hand to testimonies of those affected by the war. "The world cannot allow such suffering and misery to be repeated, the world should strive for peace above all else", he affirmed. Miyasaki Mariko, actively working to preserve Article 9, the peace clause in the Japanese constitution, said that historical memory creates the consciousness needed to rid the world of conflict and wars. Participants left Catalonia with not just a desire but a sense of duty to build a more peaceful world.