web analytics

Tag Archives: seymour

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Trafalgar Square 2009
Indaloproductions.com

Latest Alqueria pieces


Flamenco dancer

Ritmo Andaluz Show

“¡Viva la Republica!” The Spanish Civil War, its aftermath and hopes for the future

The 20th of November 2005 marked the 30th anniversary of the death of  Generalissimo Francisco Franco and with it a time to reflect on the events which brought him to power. The trauma of the Spanish Civil War was arguable the most acute in Spain’s history, surpassing the defeats of 1898 or the debacle of the Armada of 1588.


Franco and Hitler
Franco and Hitler

The country ripped itself apart, feeding off extremism, both domestic and foreign. The Soviet Union supported the fast fragmenting Republican left, while Germany committed the infamous Legión Cóndor and Italy the Corpo Truppe Volontari to the Nationalists.

To these external powers it was a chance to further their political aspirations and test new military hardware. France and Britain remained neutral, appeasing Hitler and openly discouraging support for the Spanish 2nd Republic. To the ordinary Spaniard the choice was less clear.

Following the military dictatorship of Rivera and the restoration of democracy in 1931, the government swung from a left coalition to the centre-right coalition which included the conservative Catholic CEDA. Finally in 1936 power rested with the Popular Front a coalition of socialist, communist and anarchist groups. Mismanagement and a disastrous agrarian policy left much of the country in crisis. This general discontent led directly to the right-wing coup attempt of the 17th of July 1936.

The attempt failed, but its momentum was impossible to stop. Spain became polarized, people caught on the wrong side of the divide suffered terribly. Atrocities on both sides claimed the lives of tens of thousands. The resulting Civil War was fought by Spaniards for control and security of their homeland. While 40,000 volunteers formed the International Brigades to primarily fight fascism, in the service of the republic.                                                                                                                            Andalucía itself was polarized, with Seville in the hands of Franco’s Nationalists; the vulnerability of Málaga became obvious. On the 17th of January 1937 three Nationalist columns approached the city, the Italian Volunteers from the North, from the west came General Quiepo de Llano with his Army of the South and from Granada Munoz’s forces completed the encirclement, reaching the periphery of the city on the 3rd of February.


Surrendering republicans
Surrendering Republicans

Although large numbers of republican troops were available for the defense of the city, bad organization made them no match for the disciplined Nationalists. The ringing of the church bells in Málaga would warn of yet another air-raid, the German and Italian aircraft coming two or three times daily. The indiscriminant bombing and strafing, sent the population scurrying to the rocks and caves of the cliff face or racing into the hills above the town. The flimsy houses of the exposed town suffered immense damage as total war was unleashed on the civilian population.

The journalist Claude Cockburn wrote in The Daily Worker: “If you were to imagine, however, that this terribly hammered town is in a state of panic you would be wrong. Nothing I have seen in this war has impressed me more than the power of the Spanish people’s resistance to attack than the attitude of the people as seen in Málaga”

On the 8th of February, Nationalist forces entered the city and an exodus of one hundred and fifty thousand refugees started. The pitiful progression of humanity included civilians and the fleeing Republican militia, turning the coastal road to Almería into a human quagmire. Constantly harassed by the Legión Cóndor from the air and shelled by the Nationalist vessels Canarias and Almirante Cervera from the sea.

The highway became littered with the dead, people and animals putrefied by the roadside as the endless procession of bewildered human debris passed unseeing. The scene of human depravation was a forerunner of what was to come. Over the following eight years millions of displaced people haunted the major routes of Europe away from Nazi tyranny.

Almería swelled with the human influx. Those who couldn’t find shelter simple camped in the streets. Exhausted by the 200 kilometre trek, without food and with limited water the situation was desperate.

On the evening of the 12th Nationalist forces bombed Almería. Ten bombs fell on the huddled exhausted refugees. Among the casualties were children queuing for preserved milk and dry bread. No attempt had been made to attack a Republican battleship in the harbour or the militia barracks.

The terrible events on the road to, and in Almería were only part of the horror of the Spanish Civil War. Atrocities were committed on both sides of the conflict. Losses were between 500,000 and 1,000,000, depending on which figures are used. If it is true that the character of a nation is not determined by crisis, but by how the country comes through that crisis.

How did Spain fare?

Franco brought some liberalisation to Spain as he tried to find a place for it in Europe, but the sceptre of the Civil War hung over the Dictator and his country. With the death of Franco in 1975, came an opportunity to reconcile and to forgive and to finally prove that Spain was a country equal within a community of democratic European states.







Defeated Republicans cross the Pyrenees
Defeated Republicans cross the Pyrenees

In the introduction to the book Heart of Spain The former Minister of Education and Culture, Esperanza Aguirre Gil de Biedma gives an insight in just how this was achieved, echoing the optimism of all Spaniards and of the foreign nationals who have made the peninsular their home.

“…….Those events should not be consigned to oblivion, having been overcome by means of our constitution, that instrument of concord, and by the vigorous Spanish reality of our time, based on the peaceful coexistence of all Spaniards and our mutual confidence in our future”

Rojos in the Hills. The Spanish Civil War, Are the wounds still suppurating?

The Law of Historic Memory or to give its full title, La Ley por la que se reconocen y amplían derechos y se establecen medidas en favor de quienes padecieron persecución o violencia durante la Guerra Civil y la Dictadura was passed by Congress on the 31st of October 2007. Amongst other things it offers compensation and recognition to the victims of the three year conflict. However, the ranks of surviving Republicans must be diminishing rapidly. The Deputy Prime Minister in 2007, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said that the legislation should “heal wounds without re-opening them”.

Are the wounds still suppurating?

 

I had the opportunity of speaking with some Civil War veterans. They included ex-combatants and civilians living in the villages of the Sierra Subbètica. I was a bit concerned about the willingness of people to speak openly and imagined conversing in hushed tones while secreted in some dark corner. The reality was different people spoke openly even with enthusiasm interrupting each other to get their point across. The progress of time had certainly numbed many raw nerves.

I met Amalia in Zuheros as she enjoyed the early evening breeze sitting on her doorstep with two of her neighbours. We discussed the events of over 70 years ago. Her most vivid recollection was the arrival of the Falangists in the village. They shaved her hair for reasons she didn’t understand “They took my hair away but left a knot on the top of my head. They dragged me by it”. Those with a grudge against her family or perhaps afraid of similar treatment jeered as she was paraded around the village. When I asked about executions she simply said that some men had been ‘taken away’, old feuds settled. It was simple! Tell the local militia commander that your rival was of a different political persuasion. He did the rest.

Rojos in the hills

Another resident of Zuheros José Poyato, told me there were Rojos in the hills between Zuheros and Baena . They exchanged fire during the day. At night they used the echoes from the surrounding Sierra to call to their friends in the opposite camp. One man told me that Republican militiamen slept in the village after firing on it during the day. The Republicans never entered the village in anger and from the way he was speaking the stand-off was good sport.

 

In Iznájar I met Antonio whose uncle had served with the Nationalist Ejército de Africa in Spanish Morocco. His uncle had told him that in 1936 the local council was Republican. After they communalised the produce from the surrounding wheat fields they are olive groves now, support was lost and the Nationalists replaced them. A Republican force from Loja did try to retake the town but were driven back by the small garrison. The handful of defenders moved quickly from position to position making the enemy believe they were there in greater numbers. Those I spoke to who were involved with the Nationalists had little or no contact with the Italian or German war machines. Their only interests were, first survival and second what was best for their village. Politics was of no interest to them and the grandiose plans of the Republicans meant nothing if the agricultural system collapsed. The only reticence in answering my questions came about when I mentioned the bombing of Almería, Málaga, Guernica and Madrid. “We didn’t command the Condor squadrons!” was the terse reply, this was my only question that seemed to concern them.

Rojos in the Hills

The Restaurante Rosi is at the northern end of Iznájar’s Bridge and here I met Fernando and Manuel. Both from families who supported the Republic. Fernando was twelve when the Falangists came for him, tipped off by a friend. Fernando spent two weeks living rough in the campo trying to avoid the death squads. He told me that his family gave food to the Maquis, Republicans who carried on the fight after Franco’s victory in 1939. When I asked them whether they had any knowledge of the International Brigades, Manuel told me of his uncle who saved an Italian serving with the Garibaldi or Figlio Brigade. “He was being hunted by the Italian Fascists, my uncle hid and fed him”.

 

When asked if they had any bitterness towards Britain and the United States for not ousting Franco in 1945 they just shrugged their shoulders. “We were not interested in politics, if it got to dangerous to be republican we became Nationalists” said Fernando. This philosophy was repeated by most of the village people I spoke to. The importance of politics diminishes the closer to the soil one lives.

 

These people supported who ever they needed to in order to survive, in that respect they were impartial. Their wounds were not sectarian and must therefore be resilient to re-opening. It is for us outsiders that impartiality is a problem.

 

One particular villager, a learned man who enjoyed the simplicity of village life informed me that the impartial account of the Civil War has yet to be written. I realized how true this was when in Zuheros. While interviewing one of the village elders he referred to the Rojos in the hills! Zuheros was Nationalist! This shook me. I have an affinity with Zuheros and an intense hatred for fascism so my very simple mind told me unconsciously that Zuheros must be Republican. To discover it was Nationalist was very worrying. Even I, a foreigner who was born over a decade after the events in question couldn’t manage impartiality!

 

I do not believe that the people of the Sierra Subbètica have much interest in whether or not pensions are awarded to the few remaining ex-combatants. They have put the past behind them and in its rightful context. Their wounds are now tough scar tissue. They may not forget the past but they have forgiven.

 

 

Bailén and Napoleon’s Spanish Problem

 

Reprisals  after the 2nd of May uprising in Madrid.  Goya
Reprisals after the 2nd of May uprising in Madrid. Goya

 

Bailén and Napoleon’s Spanish Problem

Comments about the fighting prowess of the Spanish soldier during the nineteenth century have not been complimentary. Describing their efforts as variable is perhaps the best one can expect. It has even been suggested that the proximity of luncheon has had a decisive effect on some major engagements. The soldier, historian and contemporary of the period, William Napier, wrote ‘I cannot say that they (the Spanish) do anything as it ought to be done, with the exception of running away and assembling again in a state of nature’.

Is this justified or just a northern European generalisation?

The Spanish War of Independence or the Peninsular War as it is known to the British started in 1808 and ended with the Battle of Toulouse in April 1814. The War began in early May with the insurrections which followed massacres in Madrid. French troops opened fire on a crowd in the Puerta del Sol killing over a 1,000. It was the ordinary people who rose up against Napoleon. The upper strata of Spanish society preferred to accept passively the will of their conquers. Much has been made of the British involvement in the war, however there were more Franco-Spanish actions than those between France and the other two allies.

The two most significant battles were at Vitoria where Wellington’s Anglo-Portuguese Army delivered the fatal blow and at Bailén. Without Bailén there would have been no Vitoria.

Napoleon was determined to quell the uprisings and sent an army of some 23,000 men south to pacify Andalucía. Under General Dupont, the Army mainly consisted of inexperienced conscripts but he had several regiments of veteran troops to support and bolster his force. Their aims were to put down the insurgencies in Sevilla and Córdoba. Dupont sacked Córdoba, carrying off all the portable wealth of the city in a vast train of wagons and pack-mules. His brutality increased the scale and ferocity of the rebellion with many armed peasants joining a Spanish force intending to intercept the French Army.

After the destruction of Córdoba the French column, burdened with its plunder and wounded moved slowly across the Plain of Andújar along the road to Madrid. The town of Andújar, a French logistical base had by this time been taken by Castaños’s Spanish. By the 19th of July his Army stood between Dupont’s French and their passage to Madrid.

From first light the French made five separate and concerted attempts to break the Spanish line and gain the road to Madrid. First the French infantry tried to break through but were repulsed. The French heavy cavalry then managed to crumble two battalions but were eventually forced to retire. Twice more the infantry tried and twice they were repulsed. At twelve thirty in the afternoon, Dupont made a final desperate attempt to advance but was again held. He himself was wounded and his Swiss regiments defected to the Spanish. A Spanish division led by Peña finally completed the encirclement of the French Army. Dupont sued for a ceasefire. Over 17,500 uninjured French soldiers threw down their arms and surrendered.

The lengthy ceasefire negotiations ended with the agreement that the prisoners be sent back to France. The Spanish however reneged on this stipulation under pressure from the British. The British argued that they would simply be re-armed and sent straight back across the Pyrenees. The French were imprisoned on the uninhabited island of Cabrera where almost two thirds succumbed to disease and malnutrition. The conditions on Cabrera were no worse than those in the prisoner-of-war hulks around the British coast however.

This was the first major defeat of the French Grande Armée and sent Napoleon into a blind rage. He accused Dupont of thinking more of his plunder than his duty. It was Bailén that swayed the British into putting Wellington ashore at Lisbon almost a year later and the endgame at Vitoria.

The news of the battle was received in London with outpourings of Hispanic fervour. The courage and heroism of the Spanish were regaled in the British press. Poems were written to commemorate the deeds of the Spanish people .The Morning Chronicle of April 1809 carried a poem concerning the Siege of Saragossa where 40,000 died.

“……

In house by house, in street by street,

The Franks a brave resistance meet;

Hopeless and baffled they retreat—

Huzza! for Saragossa.

……”

A delegation from the Spanish Supreme Junta visited London and were given one and a half million pounds, 120,000 muskets and 100,000 uniforms. Closer to home, it forced the aristocracy to join the rebellion.

This was certainly not the achievement of cowardly or indisciplined soldiers. The Spanish liked to decide who, when and where they fought, disappearing if they got into trouble and re-emerging when more favourable conditions existed. The French commanders often remarked that innumerable Spanish contingents kept materialising all over the country. By British standards of the day they were indisciplined. Wellington admitted that without a mule-train of 8,000 beasts bringing in supplies daily he would not have been able to keep his army in the field for more than a month. On several occasions open mutiny occurred within the British ranks due to the non-arrival of supplies. To the Spanish who lived off the land this amounted to indiscipline.

During the nineteenth century Spain was a remote country isolated by mountain ranges, the phrase ‘Europe ends begins at the Pyrenees’ held true. The Spanish character was little understood in London. These differences, when it came to the Peninsular War complemented one another. Wellington’s long and vulnerable lines of

supply were never seriously disrupted. The ‘indisciplined’ regulars and irregulars of Spain never allowed the French to move freely and hinder Wellington’s rear-guard.

 

 

 


Franco and beyond: His legacy and a discussion into the effects of a Spanish Republican victory in 1939

On the 1st of April 1939 Franco declared the Civil War to be at an end, Republican refugees poured into France and were interned in camps such as Gurs and Vernet others headed for the hills carrying on the fight with the Maquis, those with means or influence fled to the Soviet Union, Mexico or Chile. Five months later, Hilter invaded Poland, and Britain declared war on Fascist Germany, diverting the world’s attention away from the Iberian Peninsular.

 

Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde Salgado Pardo de Andrade
Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde Salgado Pardo de Andrade

During those early months of the Second World War, Franco’s purge of Republican sympathisers was very thorough, the number who met their ends in cellars or on the remoteness of the campo can only be estimated. This butchery was not of prime importance to the policy makers in London, it did not weigh heavily on their consciences, the problem which kept them awake at night was how to stop Franco bringing Spain into the War as an Axis power.

Spain was in no shape to wage war, its infrastructure was destroyed and its once vast gold reserves, fourth largest in the world had been lost. The Republican finance minister Dr. Juan Negrín had sent half the reserve to Moscow, much to Stalin’s delight, while of the remainder; some went to France and the rest to the republican government’s purchasing commissions, set up by Indalecio Prieto of the PSOE to obtain war materials.

It wasn’t however the materials and men that Spain could deploy against Britain which gave the ministers of the Crown nightmares, it was quite simply Gibraltar. A Gibraltar in British hands and a neutral Ceuta, some 20 Kilometres distant on the North African coast, meant the Mediterranean was open to the Royal Navy. Offensive operations could be launched while maintaining a supply line to Malta, and re-supplying friendly forces such as Tito’s Partisans in Yugoslavia, Franco held the key and it was in retrospect a pivotal key.

The British government approached their tasks on three fronts. Firstly a blockade, to let just enough material into the country to keep the population focused on survival. Secondly, making the Madrid government financially dependent on the western powers with loan bonds issued through Washington and London. Thirdly, although not proven, wheeling and counter dealing directly between Churchill and Franco. This last scenario would go a long way to solving two mysteries of the war years.

On the 12th of November 1940 Hitler issued his directive number 18. The first part dealt with relations with France, the second with Spain and Portugal and Spain’s prompt entry into the War. In January of 1941 Operation Felix was planned to begin, German forces moving into Spain from Vichy France, moving south and overwhelming Gibraltar’s defences. Once the Rock fell, two divisions of German troops would cross the Straits and garrison Ceuta, closing the western Mediterranean to the Allies.

The only step necessary to the realisation of this plan was the agreement of Franco; he would have had a great deal to gain by being instrumental in an Axis victory. Hitler and Franco met in a railway carriage at Hendaye on the French Spanish border in late October 1940. Franco made such demands that the German leader could not deliver; 700,000 tons of grain, fuel for the entire Spanish army, re-equipping the Spanish army, the French African territories of Morocco and Oran handed over to Spanish control and redrawing the borders of the Spanish Sahara. Franco may have been a despot but he was not a stupid man, he held his position with such vigour that Hitler was reported as saying he would rather have three teeth pulled than speak to Franco again.

Why did Franco insist on these demands which he knew could not be delivered?

By late October it was clear that the Luftwaffe would not gain air superiority over the RAF and therefore no invasion of Britain, obviously prolonging the war, a crucial factor considering the philosophy behind the German armed forces. They were designed for Blitzkrieg, followed by occupation. Fast moving ground troops coupled with a tactical air force were not meant to fight a war of attrition. An unconquered Britain not only meant a large well armed belligerent war machine operating on Hitler’s doorstep, it all offered a springboard for forthcoming allied offensive.

Was all this clear to Franco?

Did he foresee in the eventual intervention of the United States?

The successful outcome of operation Felix could have radically altered the war’s course, so what did Franco get for the frustration of Hitler’s plans?

Could this be answered by the second mystery?

When de Gaulle’s 2nd armoured division entered Paris in August 1944, many of the tank crews were ex-soldiers of the Second Spanish Republic, they had fought the Fascists from Madrid to the Aragón, from Paris to Berlin, they were confident the fight would be taken back to Spain. Certainly General Alvarez had no doubts, at his headquarters in Toulouse plans were in an advanced state. Just the threat of a full scale Allied invasion may have been sufficient to force Franco to negotiate. Even a strong Republican force crossing the Pyrenees with Allied air and material support would have poised a serious problem to the Franco regime. But it was not to be. The only action sanctioned by the Allies was a foray of 150 men into the Spanish Pyrenean foothills with disastrous results and a demoralising retreat.

Was a deal done between Franco and Churchill in those dark days of 1940?

Was it a case of the security of Gibraltar in exchange for the final extinguishing of the Republican cause?

If Franco did foresee the defeat of Nazi Germany, did he also foresee the falling of the Iron Curtain and the American paranoia against all things Red.? In mid 1960 Eisenhower paid 1.8 billion dollars into the Spanish coffers in exchange for the construction of four bases.

On the 1st of April 1939 Franco declared that the Civil War was at an end, it wasn’t until mid 1960 that he declared the Spanish War had been won.

For I am involved with mankind: Robert Capa and Gerda Taro at Cerro Muriano on the 5th of September 1936

I met Bruno Gómez Obrero at his bar, the Casa Bruno just after the breakfast rush; I was drinking a cup of strong coffee and munching on a toasted roll amongst the debris of the morning assault. It was a chance meeting. He had asked me to move my car which I had abandoned in my usual chaotic fashion. I muttered an apology and mentioned my reason for being there, Robert Capa, Civil War, Fallen Soldier, etc etc.

 

The Fallen soldier Image by Robert Capa
The Fallen Soldier Image by Robert Capa

Bruno told me that he had lived all of his life in the village as had his Father before him. Born in 1939 he was something of a local historian, having absorbed all of his
Father’s recollections, Bruno was a recognised authority on the village’s past.

Cerro Muriano lies just over 18 Kilometres from central Córdoba, the hill from which it gets its name is to the north and the redundant Rio Tinto mine to the south. A disused railway line passes through and the N432 bypasses it.
There was nothing remarkable about the town, its place in history due to the controversy surrounding a photograph made by a young Hungarian photojournalist in the autumn of 1936.

Did I want to see where Capa’s photograph was taken, Bruno said this in such a matter of fact way that it didn’t initially register. “Yes of course” I said, trying to hide my astonishment. I struggled to keep up with my guide as I juggled my camera case and note books, we crossed the overgrown railway line and past its forlorn station. The walk took us past a sports field and into a gully. The remains of the Minas Cobre buildings were to our right, a steep bank with a military perimeter fence running along the top to the left.

About 600 metres into the gully, Bruno pointed to the left, “Allí” he said, the climb looked steep. I was unbuckling my camera bag, when Bruno stopped and pointed to a less torturous if not longer route to the top. During this trek he acquainted me with the events of the fifth of September 1936, according to his Father recollections.
He told me several times and he stressed the point that there was no battle here, just a skirmish and sniping from the Nationalists. There were only a few Republicans in the mine-zone, these had come from the direction of Villa Del Rio to the east, but his Father was certain the photographers (Capa and Taro) were there. The nationalists entered from the north through Cerro Muriano while another column was reported to be moving up from Córdoba. Refugees were fleeing towards Pozoblanco to the north passing through the advancing column, many he said were put in the Nationalist trucks and never seen again.

We arrived at the top of the bank just inside the military zone very close to a cave entrance. This was, according to Bruno the spot were the Republicans and the photographers were. It had a clear view of the mine area, Cerro Muriano and the Lomo de las Malageu?as. The cave was said to be by the more romantic locals, a hiding place for the bandolero José Maria El Tempranillo, but more interestingly by the more level headed residents as a magazine dating from the Civil War.

The information I got from Bruno was at a very local level and had to be put into context. The diary of the Nationalist commander in the area, general Varela, states that the main concentration of the Republican force was on the Lomo de las Malageu?as, this would put Bruno’s position for Capa as some 1.3 Kilometres to the northwest. Some reports saying that the Alcoy CNT Militia which Capa had attached himself to was protecting an artillery battery; this is why the cave could be so important.

According to Varela’s diary his Right Column moved along the Alcolea-Madrid highway for five kilometres then headed to Cerro Muriano entering the town from the north. The Central Column moved along the Córdoba-Almadén highway towards La Lomo de las Malageu?as. The intention being a pincher movement directed at the main republican force for in the Malageu?as.

So far Bruno’s account and the official record appear to be consistent. The Column of the Right included native troops from Spanish Morocco, which ties in with evidence
from a third source, that of Borkena who states that Moorish troops attacked the small
detachment at Cerro Muriano. He goes on to say that the Republicans did not put up much of a fight but fled, he mentions seeing the CNT tasselled forage caps amongst the fleeing refugees, most would have made the 1.3 kilometre journey to the main force on La Lomo de las Malageu?as, however. This description ties in Bruno’s insistence that the action in Cerro Muriano was only a skirmish.

We have anecdotal evidence that puts Capa in the mine-zone of Cerro Muriano on or before the fifth of September 1936. In some of his photographs of the fleeing refugees the railway line is clearly shown, this would put him in the village proper, about 300 metre from the mine-zone and about 1.5 kilometres from the main force at La Lomo de las Malageu?as.

Was the picture real or faked?

There are many scenarios I will outline but two, one for either camp.

Borkenau’s evidence suggests that the contingent at Cerro Muriano and presumably the mine-zone were in high spirits, drinking wine and one was seen making off with an entire leg of ham. They were behind the Miaja’s main Republican force which was between them and the Nationalists. In this sort of mood they may well have performed for Capa. Images of the CNT Militia jumping a trench and another of them taking aim in the trench, do not show the type of body language which suggests they were under fire.

The Nationalist would not have blundered in town, but would have sent an advance guard, the Moroccans? Taking the cavorting Republicans by surprise and dropping our Militiaman in front of Capa’s lens.

Or perhaps!

We know that Miaja dithered and did not take his opportunity to attack Córdoba before Varela arrived with his reinforcements. This missed opportunity and the resulting idleness would have frustrated both Capa and the republican forces. The commanders would have agreed to almost any diversion in order to keep the men in good spirit. Capa may well have taken advantage and staged the pictures. The pictures of the refugees which were taken on the morning of the fifth may have been his last before he moved to a safer location with the main force at La Lomo de las Malageu?as.

The only thing of any certainty is that if the truth is know it will be none of the scenarios put forward, but a train of circumstances not even considered.

After visiting Cerro Muriano and other towns and villages in Andalucía, talking to ordinary people about the Civil War, it has made me realise how ‘UNIMPORTANT’ the authenticity of this picture is. Capa’s reputation does not stand or fall on this one picture.

A photographer who can capture all the horror of war in the eyes of fleeing refugees, without resorting to the shock tactics of mutilated corpses, is a true photojournalist of the highest order. Capa has proved time and time again not only to be involved with mankind but to be able to depict the plight of mankind to us lesser mortals.

As for the Spanish man or woman in the street, they aren’t concerned with the picture; they are concerned however with the lessons of their disastrous civil war and are also rightly proud of how they have become reconciled, put it behind them and looked to the future.

Republican Spain: Images of tragedy and compassion. Robert Capa and Gerda Taro in Spain during the Spanish Civil War

This year marks the 81st anniversary of the death of Gerda Pohorylle. As a young idealistic socialist she quit her German homeland and made for France, arriving in its capital during 1934. Here she changed her name to Gerda Taro. She was responsible for moulding a young bohemian photographer into arguably the greatest photojournalist in the history of news gathering.

Robert Capa, real name Endre Friedmann was himself a refugee from Admiral Horthy’s Hungary, met Taro in Paris in the autumn of 1934. Their mutual attraction was immediate, they became lovers, colleagues and conspirators.

Taro set to work on Friedmann’s appearance. She persuaded him to forsake his tattered leather jacket for a suit, shirt and tie. This gave him a semblance of respectability by concealing his most obvious gypsy features. Once the transformation was complete she sent him back onto the streets camera in hand.

Gerda Taro and Robert Capa
Gerda Taro and Robert Capa

To complete the illusion and to hype the cost of Friedmann’s pictures the pair invented the persona of Robert Capa. An imaginary American photographer attributed to be rich and successful.

The device worked well with Friedmann scouring Paris for saleable images and Taro touting the photographs around editorial offices at inflated prices. The ruse was inevitably discovered and Friedmann had no option but to adopt the guise of Robert Capa.

The legend had a momentum all of its own, afloat on a sea of humorous anecdotes, courage and evocative photography. Capa caught the essence of conflict. Not the blood and guts images that only serve to shock but the facial expression of nations at war. The shapes and tones of the suffering expressed by those who suffer most, civilians and foot soldiers.
In 1936 Taro and Capa went to cover the Spanish Civil War. Taro was by now a photojournalist in her own right and was looking forward to having her pictures published under her own by-line. They were both vehemently anti-fascists and
determined to use their journalistic skills in the cause of the Spanish Republic.

In late August 1936 the couple arrived at the front to the north of Córdoba. There was a lull in the fighting and in desperation Capa staged several photographs. He was desperate to provide images of Republican successes, but these photographs lacked conviction and fooled no one. However, the one he took at Cerro Muriano did. This was the famous Fallen Soldier photograph as it became known. Debate over the image’s authenticity has continued since its first publication.

On the 5th of September Capa photographed a CNT militiaman falling as if dropped by a bullet. The photograph caused a sensation when first published and controversy ever since. Doubts exists. Were Capa and Taro even at Cerro Muriano on that date? The pro-camp has offered up one Federico Borrell García as the dying militiaman.

Some of the photographs from the sequence are staged. Another frame shows a different militiaman falling in the same spot as the Fallen Soldier. Coincidence? Capa used an early Leica probably a III or IIIa. A very portable camera but requiring an external exposure meter. If one was staging a photograph with such a camera it would seem logical to adjust aperture and shutter speed for a particular light. Then bring on the actors.
It was not only Capa’s photographs that attracted comment. His personal life also came in for scrutiny. As a house guest, one visit from Capa usually sufficed. He would borrow money, cigarettes, booze and if he could get away with it your wife. While running the Magnum office in Paris, he was not adverse to spending the wages of the correspondents on assignment.

He lived in hotels drinking and gambling into the early hours, if he needed female company he was quite willing to pay for it. A lot of his tales were questionable to say the least. His cure for a hangover was to spend hours in the bath, anyone’s bath.

This however was the nature of the man. He was also very generous. If he had money, everyone ate and drank until the cash was exhausted. He spent hours with the young recruits to the Magnum agency teaching them their trade. His most endearing quality was his compassion.

This compassion was obvious in his interaction with others, manifesting itself in his captured images.

Can we forget the flaws in his character?

We do not know all the events which shaped his life. Nor should we. They have absolutely nothing to do with us. We do know that Capa never forgave himself for being in Paris when Taro died. Crushed by a tank during the Republican retreat from Brunete, she didn’t even reach her 26th birthday.

Capa left his photographs to the world. Can we judge him by those alone?

At the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Capa’s Spanish Civil War photographs are archived. In these images we see intensity like no other. We see  pride, fear and hopelessness on the faces of those men and women at Montblanch as they watch the International Brigades leave Spain. We walk the bomb cratered road of misery from Málaga to Almería. Share the horror of the civilian retreat from Cerro Muriano.

In those black-and-white images we see a mother and daughter in Bilbao running for cover during an air-raid their frightened faces upturned. Their coats hastily fastened.
They live again for us. You can walk among the ruins of Madrid, the Crucified City, or share the laughter of the militiamen and women as they relax in Barcelona.

From Bilbao to Almería, Capa captured the emotions of the nation. Not the great events or the mighty statesmen but those who really matter, the ordinary people.

The Mexican Suitcase. Robert Capa’s lost negatives found in a suitcase in Mexico

September 1936, Cerro Muriano, a minor skirmish between Republican and Nationalist forces, two photographers, one photograph, result a timeless icon of the Republican struggle.

The ‘Fallen Soldier’ photograph helped to secure Robert Capa’s place in history as probably the greatest war photographer of all time.

A heady statement indeed.

But does this one picture justify the title? Was the picture even genuine or was it staged? I honestly and sincerely do not think it matters. Capa’s work doesn’t stand or fall on this one image. Through his work we look into the very souls of the victims of war, we see the fear and the pride, the panic and the passion, living again through these old nitrate negatives. We mustn’t forget the other photographers who also risked all, in particular Gerda Taro, Capa’s female companion and David Seymour (Chim), all three displaced Europeans on a quest to fight Facism and to further the republican cause. Taro gave her life, “…Who spent one year at the Spanish front and stayed on” was how Capa described her death in their joint book Death in the Making, while Chim specialised in portraying the child victims of the war.

Their photographs are some of the most evocative and compelling of the War, doing much to help our understanding not only of the conflict itself but also of the human cost; the civilians bewildered and frightened, the combatants proud determined and dying. Histories are often written by the victors, these pictures help to redress that balance offering a black and white testimony to the heroism and suffering of Spain’s Second Republic.

The Mexican Suitcase
The Mexican Suitcase

All of these three photographers died young, Taro in 1937 from wounds received at Brunete during the Loyalist retreat. Chim killed by Egyptian bullets while covering the Suez Crisis of 1956. Capa himself in 1954 a victim of the ubiquitous landmine in French Indo-China. Their deaths left a void not only in the art of reportage but also in the understanding of the existing images. Unanswered questions remain over many of the photographs. Who took them? Location? Sequence? Etc? Negatives vital to the understanding of certain sequences have also been lost and subsequent prints have been made from copy negatives.

In keeping with the character of the people involved so the story continues in similar fashion. In 2007 a suitcase was passed to the International Centre for Photography (ICP) in Manhattan, it was the property of a Ben Tarver who had inherited it from his aunt, the widow of General Francisco Aguilar Gonzalez Mexican Ambassador to the Vichy Government of 1941. Inside there were three cardboard boxes containing over 3,500 negatives. They are from the cameras of Capa, Taro and Chim all depicting the Spanish Civil War and include images of García Lorca, Hemmingway and La Pasionaria.

Gerda Taro Sleeping (From the Mexican Suitcase cache)
Gerda Taro Sleeping (From the Mexican Suitcase cache)

This cache has become known as the Mexican Suitcase, The ICP is presently scanning and archiving the nitate negatives which are subject to autocatalytic decomposition meaning that the decomposition process is self sustaining, once it starts it is very difficult to control. The scanning process is also fraught with problems as the process of decomposition causes the film strips to become friable and likely to break or crumble. We can only hope that the professionalism and skill of the ICP can complete the work successfully, eventually making the images available to the world. All the stress and tension of this undertaking must be offset by the excitement of being the first to see the images of that distant turbulent conflict.

Just how the suitcase found its way to Mexico is another convoluted and ambiguous thread which dogs any research regarding Capa, Taro and Chim. There appears to be two versions of events.

First up is the relatively straight forward tale of Capa’s dark room assistant and close friend Cziki Weiss, he is said to have simply handed the case to the Mexican Embassy in Paris before being sent to a Moroccan detention camp. Cziki finally arrived in Mexico in 1941 where he settled, although there is nothing on record that shows he made any attempt to contact the Mexican authorities to see if the case had made it out of France.

Militiamen in happier times (From the Mexican Suitcase cache)


Militiamen in happier times (From the Mexican Suitcase cache)

The second version involves Capa heading for the United States via Marseilles , suitcase in hand. During the journey he may have feared that he would be arrested, so he was said to have handed the case to an ex-Republican soldier with instructions to take it to the nearest Latin-American embassy.

The truth may be a construction of shreds from both of these narratives, or perhaps a further twist awaits and there are in fact two suitcases with one yet to be discovered. We can further complicate this proposal if we consider that the original strip of film which included the Fallen Soldier image was lost after a presentation of prints from the strip by Fotografia Italiana in 1972. Could there also be in some dusty archive a strip of five or six negatives which could prove irrefutably whether or not Capa staged his most famous image.

I hope not in the case of the latter for if it did prove that the Fallen Soldier photograph was faked it could reflect on his other work, the vast body of which approaches genius. I think the controversy should continue and I for one hope that the ‘Fallen Soldier’ strip remains undiscovered.

Capa wanted his photographs to record the truth about a vicious war which tore a country and its people apart, he wanted his images to act as a warning which was unfortunately not heeded about the aspirations of the Nazis and their repugnant ideology.

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For Capa’s images that is a gross underestimate.

The road to Almería from Málaga to escape Francos bombing during the spanish civil war

 

 

Bombing of Málaga
Bombing of Málaga 1937 © unkown

The Road to Almería

To say Málaga was a doomed city is easy with hindsight. Due to Franco’s failure to take Madrid by storm in late 1936 the battle-lines to the east of the city had become deadlocked. The new strategy was to isolate Madrid by cutting the road to Valencia. In February 1937 the Nationalists launched an offensive to force a crossing over the River Jarama.

In Málaga the situation was desperate. Of the 12,000 Republican defenders less than 4,000 had rifles with little ammunition of which even less was usable. The Republican Prime Minister, Largo Caballero, had said ‘Not a round more for Málaga’.

The defence of Madrid was the Government’s priority but the growing anger over Andalucía’s virtual autonomy may have affected this decision. Elements of the anarchist militia, the CNT and armed communists defended Málaga. The former completely caught up with their social revolution and the organisation of the new farming communes. The latter enjoying their new found prominence brought about by the increased influence of the Soviet Union in Spanish affairs. There were no trenches dug or roadblocks erected. The only act against the Nationalists was to shoot hostages as a retaliation against air-raids. Málaga was under constant bombardment, from the air and sea. While the Nationalist fleet including the German heavy cruiser Admiral Graf Spee shelled the City, Republican warships at Cartagena remained at anchor.

Colonel Villalba the Republican commander in Málaga was of variable ability. His inability to organise its defence was either dereliction of duty or a deliberate act of sabotage. There is strong evidence for the latter. Facing these fragile defences of the ‘White City’ were four Nationalist columns under the overall command of the Duke of Seville. This was the first action for the CTV, Corpo Truppe Volontarie the Italian expeditionary force in Spain.

On the 8th of February the City fell.

Arguably the reprisals taken by the Nationalists were the most appalling acts of terror during the whole war. Some 20,000 were executed. The bewildered and demoralised defenders that fell into the enemies hands were simply shot out of hand. The killings continued until 1944. Carlos Arias Navarro, the prosecutor responsible for the horror was Franco’s last Prime Minister holding office in 1975 and subsequently under King Juan Carlos.

The nationalist column attacking from Granada purposely left the coast road out of Málaga open. Not from any concern for the civilian population but to allow escape and so reduce resistance within the City. It was on this road that the refugees began their tortuous 200 kilometre march to Almería. From Sunday the 7th of February some 150,000 refugees left Málaga. Estimates put the number arriving in Almería as only 40,000.

Members of a British aid team carrying supplies originally destined for Málaga encountered the refugees on the road. Their initial impression was of horses, mules and donkeys loaded with household effects being drawn by their sullen masters. These were the strong. As they drove on the whole horror of the situation became clear. Thousands of unaccompanied children bedraggled, exhausted, cold, bewildered and frightened, aimlessly followed. Their feet swollen and bleeding from the ordeal. It was then that they realised the scale of the disaster. Mothers and Fathers followed carrying, consoling and protecting their children. The old lagged further and further behind, falling by the wayside waiting for the inevitable. The pitiful procession not only suffered the elements but the indiscriminate bombing and strafing from the fascist air-force. Remains of the dead were still being found in the 1960s and many more wait to be discovered.

Driving on towards Málaga, the aid team’s progress became increasingly more difficult. The sheer number of refugees halted their progress some ninety kilometres from Almería. They started ferrying children to the temporary safety of Almería. It was only a small van and they carried between 30 and 40 children a trip. To choose which children to take, which to leave behind must have been harrowing for the aid team.

 

Refugees in Almeria

 

The population of Almería doubled with the influx of almost 40,000 refugees. Shelter was scarce with most sleeping in the streets. A large queue formed outside the Provincial Committees for the Evacuation of Refugees store for food. Many children waited for preserved milk and dry bread, their first food for many days. It was the evening of the 12th of February. The final cynical act was about to be played out as the air-raid sirens started to sound. Fascists aircraft bombed the centre of Almería The queue waiting for food took a direct hit as ten large bombs devastated the small town. No attempt was made to hit a Republican warship in the harbour or the military barracks. Over one hundred civilians mainly refugees were killed or injured.

Many photographs exist of these events. Robert Capa and Gerda Taro used their expertise and compassion to show the injustice and suffering. Looking at these faded nitrate prints we again see the faces of those devastated people. We see the long pitiful procession of displaced people. Tragic scenes which over the next eight years became familiar all over Europe.

If Málaga was sacrificed by the Republic, it was due to military expediency and therefore understandable. Unlike the policy of non-intervention of western democracies which led to the sacrifice of Spain. It was these democracies that reaped the whirlwind of Nazi aggression, honed and practised in Spain. It was the war in Spain that assured Hitler that the democracies would not fight. It was that assurance that influenced his decision to invade Poland.

Would intervention by Britain, France and the United States have saved Spain from Franco? Possibly, but there was no will to get involved. Society gossip filled the front pages of British and French newspapers, with the war almost an afterthought. The last despatch by Delaprée, Spanish correspondent for the Paris Soir stated, ‘the massacre of a hundred Spanish children is less interesting than a sigh from Mrs. Simpson’. With that sort of indifference the policy of non-intervention was inevitable.

 

Franco and beyond: His legacy and a discussion into the effects of a Spanish Republican victory in 1939

On the 1st of April 1939 Franco declared the Civil War to be at an end, Republican refugees poured into France and were interned in camps such as Gurs and Vernet others headed for the hills carrying on the fight with the Maquis, those with means or influence fled to the Soviet Union, Mexico or Chile. Five months later, Hilter invaded Poland, and Britain declared war on Fascist Germany, diverting the world’s attention away from the Iberian Peninsular.

Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde Salgado Pardo de Andrade
Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde Salgado Pardo de Andrade

During those early months of the Second World War, Franco’s purge of Republican sympathisers was very thorough, the number who met their ends in cellars or on the remoteness of the campo can only be estimated. This butchery was not of prime importance to the policy makers in London, it did not weigh heavily on their consciences, the problem which kept them awake at night was how to stop Franco bringing Spain into the War as an Axis power.

Spain was in no shape to wage war, its infrastructure was destroyed and its once vast gold reserves, fourth largest in the world had been lost. The Republican finance minister Dr. Juan Negrín had sent half the reserve to Moscow, much to Stalin’s delight, while of the remainder; some went to France and the rest to the republican government’s purchasing commissions, set up by Indalecio Prieto of the PSOE to obtain war materials.

It wasn’t however the materials and men that Spain could deploy against Britain which gave the ministers of the Crown nightmares, it was quite simply Gibraltar. A Gibraltar in British hands and a neutral Ceuta, some 20 Kilometres distant on the North African coast, meant the Mediterranean was open to the Royal Navy. Offensive operations could be launched while maintaining a supply line to Malta, and re-supplying friendly forces such as Tito’s Partisans in Yugoslavia, Franco held the key and it was in retrospect a pivotal key.

The British government approached their tasks on three fronts. Firstly a blockade, to let just enough material into the country to keep the population focused on survival. Secondly, making the Madrid government financially dependent on the western powers with loan bonds issued through Washington and London. Thirdly, although not proven, wheeling and counter dealing directly between Churchill and Franco. This last scenario would go a long way to solving two mysteries of the war years.

On the 12th of November 1940 Hitler issued his directive number 18. The first part dealt with relations with France, the second with Spain and Portugal and Spain’s prompt entry into the War. In January of 1941 Operation Felix was planned to begin, German forces moving into Spain from Vichy France, moving south and overwhelming Gibraltar’s defences. Once the Rock fell, two divisions of German troops would cross the Straits and garrison Ceuta, closing the western Mediterranean to the Allies.

The only step necessary to the realisation of this plan was the agreement of Franco; he would have had a great deal to gain by being instrumental in an Axis victory. Hitler and Franco met in a railway carriage at Hendaye on the French Spanish border in late October 1940. Franco made such demands that the German leader could not deliver; 700,000 tons of grain, fuel for the entire Spanish army, re-equipping the Spanish army, the French African territories of Morocco and Oran handed over to Spanish control and redrawing the borders of the Spanish Sahara. Franco may have been a despot but he was not a stupid man, he held his position with such vigour that Hitler was reported as saying he would rather have three teeth pulled than speak to Franco again.

Why did Franco insist on these demands which he knew could not be delivered?

By late October it was clear that the Luftwaffe would not gain air superiority over the RAF and therefore no invasion of Britain, obviously prolonging the war, a crucial factor considering the philosophy behind the German armed forces. They were designed for Blitzkrieg, followed by occupation. Fast moving ground troops coupled with a tactical air force were not meant to fight a war of attrition. An unconquered Britain not only meant a large well armed belligerent war machine operating on Hitler’s doorstep, it all offered a springboard for forthcoming allied offensive.

Was all this clear to Franco?

Did he foresee in the eventual intervention of the United States?

The successful outcome of operation Felix could have radically altered the war’s course, so what did Franco get for the frustration of Hitler’s plans?

Could this be answered by the second mystery?

When de Gaulle’s 2nd armoured division entered Paris in August 1944, many of the tank crews were ex-soldiers of the Second Spanish Republic, they had fought the Fascists from Madrid to the Aragón, from Paris to Berlin, they were confident the fight would be taken back to Spain. Certainly General Alvarez had no doubts, at his headquarters in Toulouse plans were in an advanced state. Just the threat of a full scale Allied invasion may have been sufficient to force Franco to negotiate. Even a strong Republican force crossing the Pyrenees with Allied air and material support would have poised a serious problem to the Franco regime. But it was not to be. The only action sanctioned by the Allies was a foray of 150 men into the Spanish Pyrenean foothills with disastrous results and a demoralising retreat.

Was a deal done between Franco and Churchill in those dark days of 1940?

Was it a case of the security of Gibraltar in exchange for the final extinguishing of the Republican cause?

If Franco did foresee the defeat of Nazi Germany, did he also foresee the falling of the Iron Curtain and the American paranoia against all things Red.? In mid 1960 Eisenhower paid 1.8 billion dollars into the Spanish coffers in exchange for the construction of four bases.

On the 1st of April 1939 Franco declared that the Civil War was at an end, it wasn’t until mid 1960 that he declared the Spanish War had been won.

La España republicana: Imágenes de tragedia y conmiseración

Spanish Translation (Mexican) of Republican Spain: Images of tragedy and compassion

The translation is courtesy of Rogelio Villarreal

Este año marca el 81 aniversario de la muerte de Gerda Pohorylle.Siendo una joven socialista e idealista abandonó su patria, Alemania, y encaminó sus pasos hacia Francia, llegando a la capital en 1934. Ahí cambió su nombre por el de Gerda Taro y fue la causa de que un joven fotógrafo originario de Bohemia se convirtiera en uno de los más grandes fotoperiodistas en la historia de la recabación de noticias. 

Robert Capa, verdadero nombre de Endre Friedmann, refugiado de la Hungría de la época del almirante Horthy, conoció a Taro en París el otoño de 1934. La atracción mutua fue inmediata y en ese momento se hicieron amantes, camaradas y conspiradores.Al aparecer Friedmann, Taro se puso a trabajar, convenciéndolo de que abandonara su desgarrada chamarra de cuero por un traje, con camisa y corbata, que le daba una apariencia respetable al ocultar sus fuertes rasgos gitanos. Una vez efectuada la trasformación, lo envió de vuelta a las calles, con la cámara en la mano.

Gerda Taro and Robert Capa
Gerda Taro y Robert Capa

Para completar la ilusión y para disparar el precio de las fotos de Friedmann, la pareja se inventó al personaje de Robert Capa, un rico, exitoso e imaginario fotógrafo estadounidense.La estratagema funcionó bien, con Friedmann peinando las calles de París en búsqueda de imágenes redituables y Taro tratando de obtener precios estratosféricos de los fotógrafos de las agencias de noticias. El fraude acabó descubriéndose y a Friedmann no le quedó otra que adoptar el disfraz de Robert Capa.

La leyenda tuvo su propio impulso y estuvo en vigencia entre las anécdotas humorísticas, de valor y de fotografía evocadora. Capa captó la esencia del conflicto, no las imágenes de sangre y entrañas que sólo sirven para asustar, sino más bien la expresión facial de los países en guerra, las siluetas y los sonidos de quienes sufren, que expresan aquellos que padecen mayormente, la población civil y los soldados rasos.

En 1936 Taro y Capa fueron a cubrir la Guerra Civil española. Taro era ya toda una fotoperiodista y procuraba hacer que publicaran sus fotos bajo su propia firma. Los dos eran rabiosamente antifascistas y estaban decididos a aplicar sus capacidades periodísticas en favor de la causa de la República española.

Los últimos días de agosto de 1936 Capa y Taro llegaron al frente, ubicado al oriente de Córdoba. Hubo un respiro en la lucha y Capa, a toda velocidad, puso en escena distintas fotografías. Estaba ansioso por mostrar imágenes de los progresos republicanos, pero estas fotografías carecían de fuerza de convencimiento y no lograron engañar a nadie. No obstante, una que realizó en Cerro Muriano sí la tuvo, la famosa foto de El soldado caído, cuya autenticidad ha sido puesta en duda por decenios.

El 5 de septiembre Capa retrató a un miembro de la milicia anarcosindicalista, CNT, mostrando su caída como derribado por una bala. El fotógrafo causó sensación al publicarla y gran controversia desde entonces. Existe duda si Capa y Taro estuvieron en Cerro Muriano por aquellas fechas, a la vez que los expertos de campo han señalado a Federico Borrell García como el miliciano moribundo.

Para algunas fotografías de esta secuencia se preparó en verdad el escenario, pues otro cuadro muestra a un miliciano derribado distinto, exactamente en el mismo lugar que El soldado caído. ¿Pura coincidencia? Capa usaba una antigua Leica, probablemente una III o una IIIa, una cámara bastante manual pero que requería aparte de un exposímetro. Si uno intentaba hacer una fotografía cuyo escenario hubiera sido predispuesto para esa cámara, parecería lógico ajustar la apertura del diafragma y la velocidad del disparador a una luz determinada y sólo después hacer venir a los actores.

Se ha discutido la vida íntima de Capa tanto como sus fotografías. Rara vez lo volvían a invitar a una casa de visita; con una vez era más que suficiente. Hubiera pedido dinero, cigarrillos, alcohol y, si pudiera salirse con la suya, hasta la mujer del anfitrión. Durante la época en que se quedó a cargo de la agencia Magnum en París se gastó el salario de los corresponsales asignados.

Vivió en hoteles, bebiendo y apostando hasta altas horas de la noche; si necesitaba compañía femenina, estaba dispuesto a pagar. Muchas de sus anécdotas eran subidas de tono, a decir lo menos; para curarse las crudas se metía por horas al baño, al baño de quien fuera.Así era el carácter de este hombre. Aunque también era sumamente generoso; si tenía dinero todos comían y bebían hasta que el efectivo se acabara. Pasaba horas con los jóvenes reclutas en la agencia Magnum, enseñándoles el oficio. Pero su cualidad más alta era la conmiseración.Esta conmiseración se hacía evidente en su convivencia con los demás, manifestándose en las imágenes captadas.

¿Podríamos perdonar sus defectos de carácter?

No conocemos todos los acontecimientos que conformaron su vida, tampoco tendríamos por qué, ya que no tienen nada que ver con nosotros. Sabemos que Capa nunca se perdonó por no haber estado en París al momento de morir Taro, arrollada por un tanque durante el motín republicano en Brunete, sin haber siquiera completado sus 26 años.

Capa legó sus fotografías al mundo, ¿podríamos limitarnos a juzgarlo por éstas?En el Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía se encuentran archivadas las tomas fotográficas que Capa realizara de la Guerra. En estas imágenes vemos una fuerza como en ningunas otras, reflejada en las caras de aquellos hombres y mujeres de Montblanch mientras miraban la salida de las Brigadas internacionales. Recorremos el mísero camino de Málaga a Almería con los hoyos dejados por las bombas o bien compartimos el horror ante la retirada de los civiles en Cerro Muriano.

En estas imágenes en blanco y negro vemos a la Madre y la Hija corriendo en Bilbao buscando refugio durante un ataque aéreo, sus asustados rostros contrahechos, con sus abrigos apretados, vuelven a la vida ante nosotros. Se puede caminar entre las ruinas de Madrid, en Ciudad crucificada, o compartir las risas de los milicianos y las mujeres en un rato de esparcimiento en Barcelona.

De Bilbao a Almería Capa captó las emociones del país, no los grandes acontecimientos ni a los influyentes hombres de Estado, sino a quien realmente importa, la gente común y corriente.

Photojournalists during the Spanish Civil War

 

Kati Horna
Kati Horna © Magnum Photos

 

We’re here for the Republic

On July the seventeenth 1936 the failed coup of Mola, Franco and Sanjurjo resulted in Civil War. The people were armed via unions such as the UGT (Unión General de Trabajadores) and CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) halting the Nationalist advance west of Madrid and pushing them out of Barcelona. The Madrid lines held until the first international column of volunteers arrived on the tenth of November. It was a desperate attempt to stop the advancing Fascists in Madrid’s Casa de Campo.

Foreigners flooded to Spain some crossing the Pyrenees on foot before moving down to Barcelona. It was mostly ordinary workers with a smattering of intellectuals and adventurers who came. Not all came to fight with rifle and bomb, some came as journalists to report the truth. The new advances in photographic technology by Rolleiflex and Leica helped bring a new breed of newspaper correspondent, the photojournalist. The medium format Rolleiflex available to the public since 1929, was a twin lens reflex camera allowing portability and reliability. The 35mm Leica was even smaller. The superb quality of the lens allowed the small negative to be enlarged in the dark-room, making the tiny device a practical tool. The Leica, particularly the Leica III range introduced in 1933 became legend, its distinctive profile is still copied today by compact digital camera manufactures.

Well known photographers such as Spain’s Agustí Centelles, Poland’s David Seymour (Chim) and Hungary’s Robert Capa are well documented but not all photographers were men. The tragic Gerda Taro a German of Polish decent and Kati Horna from Hungary are arguably the best known female photojournalists.

Both Taro and Horna were close friends of Capa. Taro was his colleague, companion and lover during her brief photographic career. She died at the Battle of the Brunette in 1937 while still in her twenties. Capa taught her photography and naturally her style initially mimicked his, later however she developed an approach of her own. Taro spent an increasing amount of time away from Capa, their business activities requiring him in Paris. This allowed her to develop as an individual. Her developing style becomes obvious as one compares the images they made together. Capa dedicated the book Death in the Making to her. This reads: “For Gerda Taro, who spent one year at the Spanish front – and who stayed on.”

Kati Horna, born Kati Deutsch broke new ground in the photography of conflict. She documented the effect of war on the non-combatants. The suffering of the civilians caught up in a conflict which was not of their making. Much used today, however in the thirties it was a new and radical approach. Unlike Taro, Horna survived the war and finally settled in Mexico with her partner, the Spaniard José Horna. José had been imprisoned by the Nationalists in 1938 before Kati rescued him. They then made their way to Paris, the United States and finally Mexico City. Kati Horna died in 2000 leaving a horde of photographs from the Spanish Civil War. These have since been scanned and archived. Although she never gained the fame and notoriety enjoyed by some of her contemporaries, she was at least their equal in photographic ability.

The exploits of these photojournalists have been told and retold, to some extent cleansing their true characters. Making them squeaky-clean, they were in fact human-beings with all the faults associated with their dangerous but highly visible careers. Of the five photographers mentioned, three Taro, Capa and Chim died while covering conflicts around the world. Taro was killed at Brunette in 1937, Capa died in 1954 in French Indochina and Chim lost his life during the 1956 Suez War.

Using the camera in support of a cause for which one is sympathetic must test one’s powers of impartiality. The phrase ‘The camera doesn’t lie’ is one of the greatest misconceptions ever. The camera has always lied and it is becoming easier to ‘doctor’ an image. The pressures on these photojournalists to portray ‘action’ images or images which would show the Republic in a favourable light must have been tremendous. It is now known that Capa changed the provenance of his ‘Fallen Soldier’ image. It was taken at Espejo and not Cerro Muraino as he suggested. This is not proof that it was staged but as there was no reported fighting at Espejo when Capa was there, some doubt must be cast on its validity. Who took which picture is also in dispute, particularly between Capa, Chim and Taro as they worked together on occasions and I would imagine shared equipment. One picture attributed to Taro taken on board the warship Jaime I in Almería harbour, appears to show herself in the shot. There is never ending debate regarding authenticity and title.

Despite all of the controversy over one or two images the vast bulk of their work remains a testimony to their skill, compassion and bravery. The impact of these monotone images is not diminished by the absence of colour. Colour would only be a distraction.

Centelles’s images show the bitter street fighting, mourning mothers and wives as they weep uncontrollable over the corpses of their loved-ones. Perhaps his most poignant images are those of shuffling masses of refugees heading north across the Pyrenees and into internment in France. Frail women consoling frightened children in the hastily erected French camps. Uncertainty and fear all too evident on their young faces. David Seymour (Chim) specialised in photographing children. He photographed the orphaned and the injured. Images of children with missing limbs playing football on crutches, trying desperately to regain normality by performing a familiar task. One of his images simply shows two Republican militiamen gently carrying a heavy crucifix to safety. The impact of this photograph in the propaganda war was immense.

Capa reacted with people, if ever there was a person who possessed the ‘common touch’ it was he. His images are well known and moving. At Montblanch in October 1938 he captured the faces of the parading soldiers. The pride and resignation as they said goodbye to the International Brigades. One can see the fate of the Republic in the eyes of these men. Their gratitude to the departing columns and the belief in their now almost certainly lost cause. It is arguable a masterpiece of photojournalism. Taro, who fell somewhat under the shadow of Capa, made some moving images of the refugees.

from Málaga as they tried to find safety in Almería. Of the children once more, the innocents who suffered so badly. Left to her own devices she tended to be more openly political. She covered conferences and meetings, helping the propaganda machine of the Republic. Horna was overtly political and much involved with the anarchist cause. Her images depict those behind the lines. The agrarian struggle which was a major cause of the War, threshing grain and ploughing amidst the uncertainty of war. The backbreaking toil with antiquated and inefficient tools. Her work above all others echoed many of the causes which led to war.

We still have the same breed of photojournalists today. It is still an extremely dangerous and necessary job. We have seen a new wave of development in photography, long focus fast lenses, digital cameras and sophisticated editing software. These are simply tools however. We still need the courage, compassion and dedication of individuals to produce moving and thought provoking images

 

 


Capa: The legacy

Cerro Muriano is a small unremarkable town in Andalucía a few miles to the north of Córdoba. It is home to a disused railway line and a now defunct Rio Tinto copper mine. However on the 5th of September 1936 it became famous throughout the world. It was the location for the most iconic image ever taken during the Spanish Civil War.

The Fallen soldier photograph or Death of a loyalist it has many names and many doubters, its authenticity has been in question since its initial publication. The photographer responsible was Robert Capa, a Hungarian and ardent antifascist who fled Horthy’s regime as a teenager. He ended up in pre-war Paris where he befriended Gerda Taro, a German socialist.

Together they went to Spain on assignment for Vu magazine. My own research located the couple in Cerro Muriano on the 5th of September, arriving with Franz Borkenau author of The Spanish Cockpit. They spent only a matter of hours in the village and never visited the Republican front line which was almost one and half kilometres away. When Valera’s Moors entered the pueblo from the north skirmishes broke out, prompting the trio to head towards Madrid at an accelerated rate. Photographs taken by Capa of Taro and Republican soldiers clearly show the mine structures, but the Fallen Soldier sequence shows none of these buildings. The militiamen in the photograph are not men under fire. Their body language is not that of men in fear of their lives. There was also the mystery of the missing negative strip showing the sequence of events. Apparently lost by Fotografia Italiana magazine after they printed the negatives from the strip. They showed the CNT militiamen purported to have fallen, alive and well in a later frame. Arguments then followed about the printing order of the negative sequence.

The controversy continued.

 

The Fallen Soldier image exposed as a fake by El Periódico in 2009
The Fallen Soldier image exposed as a fake by El Periódico in 2009


In July 2009 El Periódico blew the whole myth apart. Using the hill profile from the image they superimposed it over a hill profile from the town of Espejo. Espejo is some forty kilometres away from Cerro Muriano. I checked the profile and agree, although I will delay a definitive decision until after I have visited Espejo later this year. It is known that Capa was there on the 25th of September as were elements of the CNT militia. There were however no hostilities in the area at that time.

It is therefore very likely that Capa faked the picture. Alex Kershaw in his book Blood and Champagne stated that in a 1947 radio interview Capa made some oblique remarks about the Fallen Soldier image. He said it was born in the imagination of various editors minds, but no record of the broadcast appears to have survived.

If he did fake the picture, why?

Capa had struggled to make a living selling pictures under his real name of André Friedman. So he, in league with his girl friend Gerda Taro developed the persona of Robert Capa a successful but fictional American photographer. This subterfuge enabled them to sell his pictures at inflated prices and it worked, but not for long. Lucien Vogel the editor of Vu magazine caught Friedman resplendent in a dirty torn leather jacket, photographing a meeting of the League of Nations in Geneva. The pictures duly arrived on Vogel’s desk in his Paris office and carried Friedman’s alias, Capa. Vogel summoned Friedman, who had no option but to adopt fully the alias. Impressed by the vitality of Capa’s work the Vu editor was to commission Capa to cover the civil war in Spain.

Adoption of the Capa persona meant the re-invention of the man, his Bohemian appearance was at odds with the image. His faithful leather jacket gave way to a well cut suit while carefully cropped hair completed the veneer. Capa and Taro headed for Spain, relative novices to photojournalism and certainly under pressure to supply quality images. They had to live up to their own hype. Under these conditions it is not too difficult to imagine the staging of one or two shots. I am certain he didn’t expect the image to gain such notoriety. Developing a life of its own it inspired generation after generation and became an icon of the very war itself.

Purely for the sake of this argument we shall dismiss the Fallen Soldier image as a fake.

Where does this leave the remainder of his work?

How does it affect the Capa legend?

Gerda Taro is an integral part of the Capa legacy. Colleagues, partners and lovers. They both conspired to develop the Capa makeover and she acted as his agent. Taro learnt the art of photography and eventually supplied images under her own byline. Her images didn’t have the impact of Capa’s, but had their relationship matured her technique would undoubtedly have improved. Fatally injured during the Republican retreat from Brunete, her life tragically cut short. An out of control tank collided with the press car on the running-board of which Gerda was travelling. She died of her wounds the next day, the 26th of July. Capa was in Paris at the time setting up a darkroom. He never forgave himself for not being there. He never fully recovered from the trauma of her death, blaming himself for not being at Brunete. She died just days before her 26th birthday.

After Taro’s death, Capa continued his work in Spain documenting the conflict. He captured the feelings of the refugees as they fled the Nationalist advance. He captured the look of hope on the faces of the militia men and women manning the barricades in Barcelona. He captured all the emotions of a people at war.

During the winter of 1936 and 1937 he photographed Madrid, the crucified city, as it suffered the remorseless bombing from Germany’s Condor Legion. The scene of a devastated room with a rubble strewn floor. A pitiful photograph of a young couple full of hope and just married hanging forlornly from a cracked and wrecked wall.

In February, he photographed the refugees flooding into Almería from Málaga after the torturous march along the coastal road. Subjected not only to thirst and hunger but the cynical attacks from Nationalist forces. A grainy image of a young girl peering from the perceived safety of her mother’s apron. Her Mother sobs while hiding her face from the child reassuring her, though the situation appeared hopeless.

In May Capa was in the Basque town of Bilbao capturing images during an air raid. It was here that he took an iconic and evocative photograph. A Mother runs for the safety of an air-raid shelter, staring upwards towards the sinister silhouettes of danger. She clutches the hand of her young daughter. Her coat hastily buttoned, the buttons out of sequence with their respective buttonholes. Her eyes are following her Mother’s gaze. Confused; she doesn’t know why her Mother was acting so strangely. An unasked question on convoluted lips as they scurry towards Capa’s camera.

The picture which to me sums up Capa’s brilliance was taken at Montblanch near Barcelona on the 25th of October 1938. It was during a ceremony thanking the International Brigades for their intervention in the war before their withdrawal. The event was one of high emotion. Delores Ibárruri gave her now famous ‘You are legend’ speech, while Brigaders and republican soldiers looked on. The eyes of those present betrayed their feelings, gratitude, pride and resignation to their inevitable fate. A lone Republican soldier picked out from the crowd. Head involuntarily tilted as he makes the clench fist salute. The words of an anthem formed on his lips. Capa captured not only the emotion of that particular day but of the whole war.

Montblanch near Barcelona on the 25th of October 1938. The International Brigades are withdrawn
Montblanch near Barcelona on the 25th of October 1938. The International Brigades are withdrawn


The probable staging of the Fallen Soldier image does not infringe on the validity of his other work. This approaches genius and I hope that others are not dismissive over this one issue. His work still includes some of the finest examples of the photo-journalistic art. His technical ability and sympathy for the subject are all too clear

from the images he created. He has chronicled the Spanish Civil War not through the horrific images of death and mutilation. He had the ability to see war through the eyes of the ordinary people, the people who really matter.

British Brigaders in the International Brigades. 1936-1938

 

British Brigaders in the International Brigades. 1936-1938
© John MacDonald

British Brigaders

125,000 foreign nationals came to fight for Spain’s Second Republic during those desperate years of civil war. At least this was the hugely inflated figure published by Franco’s foreign Ministry in 1952. Andreu Catells estimated the number at 60,000 in his book Brigadas Internacionales de la Guerra de Espana written in 1974. Some served with the militias but the vast majority with the International Brigades. Catells’s figure of 60,000 probably includes the Spanish serving with the brigades of which there were many drafted in to make up numbers after initial heavy losses. In September 1937 a decree by the Republican Government ensured a Spanish presence in the Brigades. The decree ruled there must be a Spanish battalion in every International Brigade, a Spanish company in every battalion and a Spanish section in every company. The Spanish Brigaders were paid almost a third more than their foreign counterparts. An accepted figure today for the number of foreigners in the Brigades between 1936 to 1938 is just over 35, 000 from 53 nations. This figure is insignificant compared to those who intervened on the behalf of the Nationalists.

 

The outwardly simple task of counting the volunteers is not easy. Some used assumed names, some epithets and a surprising number appeared to have changed their identities several times. This was to try and keep on the right side of the Non-intervention Agreement which the British Government had extended to include the situation in Spain. Under the Act it became illegal for ex-prisoners of war to return to Spain. James Rutherford, despite changing his name was re-captured by the Nationalists and duly shot on the strength of the act. The British Government also reimplemented the Foreign Enlistment Act which further legalised the execution of more British volunteers by Franco’s men.

 

Of the 35,000 Brigaders some 2,300 were British. The earliest arrivals, after an inactive couple of months with the Tom Mann Centuria fought with the German Thaelmann Centuria or the French Commune de Paris Battalion. The British Battalion of the 15th International Brigade wasn’t formed until the December of 1936. Of the original 19 Britons serving with the Commune de Paris Battalion only nine survived the war. James Albrighton and 14 other British nationals served with the sinister Muerte es Maestro Centuria which took part in the furious defence of Madrid in the November. This action alone reduced the Centuria to 40 men from an initial strength of 128.

 

As the casualties mounted so recruitment slowed, falling off sharply in February and even further in the March of 1937. The background of the volunteers also changed with the frivolous thinking twice. No longer seen as good sport for adventurers, it was instead a good way of getting yourself killed. The largest age group was 21 to 30, with almost a third from south east England mainly London. The four most common occupations listed by the Brigaders were Labourer, Miner, Motor Driver and Seaman.

 

These men came despite the hostility of the British establishment. It wasn’t just the stream of pro-Franco lobbyists being warmly greeted by Government departments, it was an active involvement with the events unfolding in Spain. The aircraft that collected Franco from his internal exile on the Canary Islands was paid for with British cash. It delivered him to Spanish Morocco where he could oversee the embarkation of his Ejército de África onto Hitler’s JU-52s bound for the mainland. The journey was organised by the British Secret Service and accompanied by a British Major and his daughter. Recent de-classified papers at the Public Records Office in London show the extent of MI6 involvement. The Rapide aircraft piloted by Captain Cecil Bebb and on hire from Olley Air Services at Croydon aerodrome was authorised at the highest level of the British establishment. Major Hugh Pollard, his daughter Diana, and another young woman Dorothy Watson were also on the flight which collected Franco. Nor were the British press sympathetic to the volunteers, only four of the hundreds of daily newspapers in the country showed anything like sympathy. This attitude only began to change when the refugee Basque children arrived in Britain during 1937.

 

The British Brigaders fought on all fronts from Lopera to Belchite including Jarama. Here the British rifle companies totalling 400 took 275 casualties in the desperate attempt to hold ‘Suicide Hill’. The machine gun company had been supplied the wrong ammunition and had to hold off the advancing Nationalists with small arms. When the correct cartridges did arrive they were boxed and had to be belted by hand before the heavy machine guns could be deployed. The British Battalion was also actively involved in the last major action of the War. At the Ebro, they took considerable casualties trying repeatedly to capture Hill 481, ‘The Pimple’ as it was known to the Brigaders. Their attempts were unsuccessful. Without the reserves and infrastructure possessed by the Nationalists this battle ended like most others during the conflict with a Republican rout.

 

In October 1938 the British Brigaders left Spain, leaving some 500 dead. Returning to, at worst a hostile reception and at best ambivalence. The world war which followed vindicated them in the eyes of many and the Law of Historical Memory honoured them with Spanish Citizenship. They were on the losing side in a pivotal war in world history. They were fighting for a democratically elected government and for freedom and this is how they should be remembered.

 

There is a sculpture to their memory on London’s South Bank. The inscription reads. ‘They went because their open eyes could see no other way’

 

Who do we celebrate? The labourers and bus drivers who gave up everything, who went to fight against fascism, or the peers and politicians who actively supported and helped Franco. Conveniently forgetting their involvement with the start of the Second World War.

 

NB: For the total number of Brigaders I have accepted Richard Baxell’s figure but I accept it is still under debate.

 

Photojournalists during the Spanish Civil War

 

Kati Horna
Kati Horna © Magnum Photos

We’re here for the Republic

On July the seventeenth 1936 the failed coup of Mola, Franco and Sanjurjo resulted in Civil War. The people were armed via unions such as the UGT (Unión General de Trabajadores) and CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) halting the Nationalist advance west of Madrid and pushing them out of Barcelona. The Madrid lines held until the first international column of volunteers arrived on the tenth of November. It was a desperate attempt to stop the advancing Fascists in Madrid’s Casa de Campo.

Foreigners flooded to Spain some crossing the Pyrenees on foot before moving down to Barcelona. It was mostly ordinary workers with a smattering of intellectuals and adventurers who came. Not all came to fight with rifle and bomb, some came as journalists to report the truth. The new advances in photographic technology by Rolleiflex and Leica helped bring a new breed of newspaper correspondent, the photojournalist. The medium format Rolleiflex available to the public since 1929, was a twin lens reflex camera allowing portability and reliability. The 35mm Leica was even smaller. The superb quality of the lens allowed the small negative to be enlarged in the dark-room, making the tiny device a practical tool. The Leica, particularly the Leica III range introduced in 1933 became legend, its distinctive profile is still copied today by compact digital camera manufactures.

Well known photographers such as Spain’s Agustí Centelles, Poland’s David Seymour (Chim) and Hungary’s Robert Capa are well documented but not all photographers were men. The tragic Gerda Taro a German of Polish decent and Kati Horna from Hungary are arguably the best known female photojournalists.

Both Taro and Horna were close friends of Capa. Taro was his colleague, companion and lover during her brief photographic career. She died at the Battle of the Brunette in 1937 while still in her twenties. Capa taught her photography and naturally her style initially mimicked his, later however she developed an approach of her own. Taro spent an increasing amount of time away from Capa, their business activities requiring him in Paris. This allowed her to develop as an individual. Her developing style becomes obvious as one compares the images they made together. Capa dedicated the book Death in the Making to her. This reads: “For Gerda Taro, who spent one year at the Spanish front – and who stayed on.”

Kati Horna, born Kati Deutsch broke new ground in the photography of conflict. She documented the effect of war on the non-combatants. The suffering of the civilians caught up in a conflict which was not of their making. Much used today, however in the thirties it was a new and radical approach. Unlike Taro, Horna survived the war and finally settled in Mexico with her partner, the Spaniard José Horna. José had been imprisoned by the Nationalists in 1938 before Kati rescued him. They then made their way to Paris, the United States and finally Mexico City. Kati Horna died in 2000 leaving a horde of photographs from the Spanish Civil War. These have since been scanned and archived. Although she never gained the fame and notoriety enjoyed by some of her contemporaries, she was at least their equal in photographic ability.

The exploits of these photojournalists have been told and retold, to some extent cleansing their true characters. Making them squeaky-clean, they were in fact human-beings with all the faults associated with their dangerous but highly visible careers. Of the five photographers mentioned, three Taro, Capa and Chim died while covering conflicts around the world. Taro was killed at Brunette in 1937, Capa died in 1954 in French Indochina and Chim lost his life during the 1956 Suez War.

Using the camera in support of a cause for which one is sympathetic must test one’s powers of impartiality. The phrase ‘The camera doesn’t lie’ is one of the greatest misconceptions ever. The camera has always lied and it is becoming easier to ‘doctor’ an image. The pressures on these photojournalists to portray ‘action’ images or images which would show the Republic in a favourable light must have been tremendous. It is now known that Capa changed the provenance of his ‘Fallen Soldier’ image. It was taken at Espejo and not Cerro Muraino as he suggested. This is not proof that it was staged but as there was no reported fighting at Espejo when Capa was there, some doubt must be cast on its validity. Who took which picture is also in dispute, particularly between Capa, Chim and Taro as they worked together on occasions and I would imagine shared equipment. One picture attributed to Taro taken on board the warship Jaime I in Almería harbour, appears to show herself in the shot. There is never ending debate regarding authenticity and title.

Despite all of the controversy over one or two images the vast bulk of their work remains a testimony to their skill, compassion and bravery. The impact of these monotone images is not diminished by the absence of colour. Colour would only be a distraction.

Centelles’s images show the bitter street fighting, mourning mothers and wives as they weep uncontrollable over the corpses of their loved-ones. Perhaps his most poignant images are those of shuffling masses of refugees heading north across the Pyrenees and into internment in France. Frail women consoling frightened children in the hastily erected French camps. Uncertainty and fear all too evident on their young faces. David Seymour (Chim) specialised in photographing children. He photographed the orphaned and the injured. Images of children with missing limbs playing football on crutches, trying desperately to regain normality by performing a familiar task. One of his images simply shows two Republican militiamen gently carrying a heavy crucifix to safety. The impact of this photograph in the propaganda war was immense.

Capa reacted with people, if ever there was a person who possessed the ‘common touch’ it was he. His images are well known and moving. At Montblanch in October 1938 he captured the faces of the parading soldiers. The pride and resignation as they said goodbye to the International Brigades. One can see the fate of the Republic in the eyes of these men. Their gratitude to the departing columns and the belief in their now almost certainly lost cause. It is arguable a masterpiece of photojournalism. Taro, who fell somewhat under the shadow of Capa, made some moving images of the refugees.

from Málaga as they tried to find safety in Almería. Of the children once more, the innocents who suffered so badly. Left to her own devices she tended to be more openly political. She covered conferences and meetings, helping the propaganda machine of the Republic. Horna was overtly political and much involved with the anarchist cause. Her images depict those behind the lines. The agrarian struggle which was a major cause of the War, threshing grain and ploughing amidst the uncertainty of war. The backbreaking toil with antiquated and inefficient tools. Her work above all others echoed many of the causes which led to war.

We still have the same breed of photojournalists today. It is still an extremely dangerous and necessary job. We have seen a new wave of development in photography, long focus fast lenses, digital cameras and sophisticated editing software. These are simply tools however. We still need the courage, compassion and dedication of individuals to produce moving and thought provoking images

 

‘Enchanting
Spain’

A photo journey
through Spain

book

Written by:
John MacDonald
&
Patricia Díaz Pereda.

ISBN 978-1-909612-70-9
To order from Amazon.co.uk
Click here


by John MacDonald

 

Trafalgar

Moving on a pavement artist. London. 2009

eSCAPE"

 

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close