The forms change, the background remains. When, in the early 1940s, Nazi aviation dedicated itself to systematically and persistently bombing the United Kingdom, an attack that targeted London in particular, citizens began to seek refuge underground. Due to the work and grace of the Blitz —the nickname given by the press to the campaign orchestrated by Hitler—, the galleries that until then had helped to communicate the city by subway became bunkers.

There, underground, the wail of sirens and the roar of bombs got along better.

They were not the only ones to seek refuge under the asphalt and sidewalks, meters deep. To shelter from the bombardments that the city suffered during the Civil War, the residents of Madrid also took to the underground. In addition to offering a resistant roof to hundreds of people, its galleries became an improvised warehouse and factory of armament for the republic.

We have a clear memory of what happened in London and Madrid throughout the first half of the 20th century, even if we have not lived it, thanks to the chronicles and snapshots taken by photographers such as Bill Brandt, George Rodge, Alfonso or Juan Pando. . Almost nine decades after the first bombing of Madrid, we see again images of families entrenched in the subway tunnels. The setting, in this case, is Ukraine; the explosives that shake the population, Russians.

The London Underground served as a shelter for German bombing. Image: Imperial War Museum

Removing the setting, the resolution, the color or the clothes of those who sleep between benches, supported by columns or the vaults of the platforms, the portraits are basically the same. Decades later, Ukrainians have gone underground to protect themselves from fear – they explain to The country— to possible Russian attacks and the explosions themselves.

Does not change the background. The shape, yes. Although there are still Brandts, Rodges and Pandos, mobile phones and networks achieve what was unimaginable a century ago: today it is the victims themselves who take the photos and share them with the rest of the world, generating a living narrative that Europe, which has not suffered such an attack on its own soil since the Second World War, seemed unattainable until now. Bombs and soldiers next door, four hours by plane from Madrid.

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Some of the images come from the railway station in Kharkov, the second largest city in Ukraine, located in the northwest of the country, very close to the border with Russia. After the first day of attacks, during which the population could feel the explosions in their homes, images of refugees have been shared on the networks. The East of the country has in fact been the initial objective of the Russian troops. During the first night —detailed The world— The shelling could be felt in Chuguev, 30 kilometers from Jàrkov, where the explosions took place.

snapshots they also arrive from Kiev, where neighbors have faced explosions and live with sirens warning of attacks. The similarity between the prints that can be seen in its subway and those of the Blitz has not gone unnoticed by network users, who have not been slow to compare online. In anticipation of what may happen or how long the situation may last, some neighbors have taken refuge in the underground or the basements of buildings with their petsbackpacks, suitcases, chairs, sleeping bags, provisions and water bottles.

Different context, same images


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