IES Arcipreste de Hita

Letter from IES Arcipreste de Hita

To the attention of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission:

After having studied the history of the bombings suffered by our neighborhood more than 80 years ago in the fourth year of ESO at the IES Arcipreste De Hita, we have learned to distinguish that there are at least three types of violence: Direct violence, which It consists of harming a person by attacking his body, his mind, or his material goods, structural violence and cultural violence.

In the historical case that we have studied there was a high level of direct violence. The bombs that fell from the planes exploded directly on the citizens, their houses, bars, streets, places of leisure or parks. They affected their bodies, their health, and the things they owned or used. In addition, we have learned that it is very important to take into account that it was an attack on the minds and psychological health of the people, since one of the objectives of the bombing was to investigate, if it was possible to stress the soldiers of the front by damaging and terrorizing to their family and friends who were at home not participating in the war. We believe that the bombs likely created an atmosphere of fear that affected the psychological health of people living in the city of Madrid.

We have also been able to verify how the means of supply were attacked to make food reserves more expensive, which indirectly also meant a high level of direct violence against the population. The country's economy was affected and that prevented normal daily life, including access to health, because the health systems also had problems caused by the war.

In addition, we have also observed how these acts of violence that we have studied, the bombings, had very negative consequences in the immediate future, since new techniques of attack emerged, and it was learned to use incendiary bombs that destroyed entire buildings and factories that are in the basis of the country's economy. The German army was able to train for the imminent Second World War, where the civilian population would again suffer greatly and there would again be extremely high levels of destruction.

We have also studied structural violence, which has to do with discrimination against people depending on their identity and social position, which was very present at the time we studied this project. It was different what they could do and what they were allowed to do to some people or others, depending on their social status, gender or place of origin.

In the social setting where the bombings occurred, for example, it was different to live in a bourgeois neighborhood, which suffered less from the bombings, than in more popular areas. In addition, the rich had the means to flee the city or move to other homes outside the areas at risk of being bombed. It was a society in which people were discriminated against because of their social class, and we have studied how this is important, above all, to understand the causes behind the acts of direct violence committed against the population.

We have studied how the bombings on Madrid have a lot to do with political and social discourses of the time. In the political climate prior to the bombings, there were people who were committed to education, the culture of peace, and democracy, and they also voted freely and progress was made, such as the vote for women and attempts to guarantee equality for men. citizens before the law, but many others fostered a culture of violence. This was also related to the structural violence of classism at the time.

In some areas of society, the scientific spirit was not encouraged, compared to ideas that promoted conspiracies or simply the ignorance of the population. Due to the difficulty in accessing information from a large part of the citizenry, it was easier to make people believe false and baseless arguments, and this ended in cultural violence and, later, in direct violence against the civilian population, for example by bombing it. .

Due to all this, our class has welcomed this project that has allowed us to investigate things that are very important to understand the past of our city and the present of our societies.

For all these reasons, we want to make the following requests to the European Commission:

- We call for awareness and education programs to promote the culture of peace. We think that the power of social networks should be taken into account when developing these programs, in order to reach young people and adolescents, since most of them use them, and it is important to reach as many people as possible.

- We invite the European Union (EU) to remember and bear in mind the damage caused by situations of direct violence towards the civilian population, so that they never occur again in our society and cease to be yield in the points of the planet where they are happening right now.

- It seems to us a good idea, too, to educate in the classrooms on these issues earlier, and to strengthen the programs where violence is already being educated. We believe that there should be specific subjects that talk about these issues. In addition, in History subjects, talking about the effects of wars highlighting the disastrous consequences they have, for example, the terrible consequences of the 1936 military conspiracy and all the acts that subsequently occurred during the subsequent Civil War on the whole of the Spanish population.

- We do not forget, either, that it is also important to educate adults, because in this way they will also be a tool for their children to correctly understand the dangers that are hidden behind acts of violence. To avoid future catastrophes in the future, we think it is very important to educate in respect for all cultures, ideologies and religions.

- We commend the EU for giving more importance to the consequences of wars than to short-term benefits, possible sympathy towards those who provoke them, or possible indifference towards those who can end them.

- We encourage the EU to stop making policies based on the creation of new weapons, spending so much money on military power, millions of euros on new technologies so that different populations kill each other.

- We would like that when it comes to telling us about current and past wars, we are also told about the tools that would have made it possible to prevent them. Understand the mechanisms that allow maintaining good levels of equality and freedom that prevent acts of violence from breaking out, especially acts against the civilian population. Also that we be taught what to do when suddenly there is a war going on, how to react to that situation.

- We ask the EU to make all European citizens aware of how important respect for other people is so that we have solidarity with each other and avoid terrible situations, bearing in mind that one person's freedom ends when another's begins, and that it is important that there are laws that regulate effective equality and equal opportunities for all.

- Having studied how almost all the conflicts that damage the culture of peace are provoked by high-ranking officials of the countries, we think that they should be required, in order to reach these commanders, an education through courses and lessons on the culture of peace. Once the elections are won, they could sign a contract by which they cannot exceed certain limits that damage the culture of peace. We think that in case of non-compliance they could receive large legal penalties and that their right to access this type of job again would be withdrawn.

In summary, we ask the EU to encourage all people to have the freedom to think, express themselves and disseminate ideas freely, as long as they do not seriously harm or harm other people and actively work to promote the culture of Peace.


The students of the secondary education institute, Arcipreste de Hita, in Vallecas, Madrid.

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