domingo, 28 de septiembre de 2008

ROBERT CAPA IN CERRO MURIANO: THE DAY IN WHICH REALITY SURPASSED IMAGINATION (2nd Part)

Text and Indicated Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza. LHSA 

THE PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN BY CAPA OF THE REFUGEES FLEEING FROM CERRO MURIANO VILLAGE
Throughout his professional career as a photojournalist,  getting pictures revealing the impact of war on civil population was top priority for Robert Capa, and Cerro Muriano was not an exception this September 5th 1936.

There are six known photographs made by Robert Capa depicting refugees fleeing from Cerro Muriano, whose exact location, unknown for 71 years, is the following one:

A)

Escaping from Cerro Muriano, September 5th 1936. First photograph of refugees taken by Robert Capa by the Cortijo of Villa Alicia, inside the Finca of Villa Alicia, around 1 km in the southwest of Cerro Muriano village. Photo: ROBERT CAPA © By Cornell Capa/Magnum Photos
Discovery of the exact location of this picture: José Manuel Serrano Esparza 

Vertical photography taken by Capa on September 5th 1936 at midday, with an old woman on the left holding a little child between her arms and a man on the right clad with the typical Andalusian hat and taking a little boy between his arms. You can also see a boy being approximately eight years old in short trousers and a donkey in the background with a very little child hardly glimpsed mounted on it.

This is the first photograph of refugees taken by Capa and is made around high noon of September 5th 1936 by the Cortijo of Villa Alicia, inside the Finca of Villa Alicia, around 1 km in the southwest of Cerro Muriano village. The hill that can be seen in the background is TorreArboles, and fierce fighting is taking place on the other side of it (the one facing the city of Córdoba) between Republican forces defending Torre Arboles and Sagrado´s major column of rebel troops.

These people are listening the shots and are gathering beginning to go up towards Cerro Muriano village following north direction to subsequently abandon the village walking by the railway until reaching the Obejo Train Station and El Vacar viillage.

B)


Escaping from Cerro Muriano, September 5th 1936. Second picture of refugees made by Capa in a very narrow street inside Cerro Muriano village. Thanks to a reportage made in Cerro Muriano in 2006 by Patricia Fonseca and Bruno Rascao and published by the Portuguese magazine Visâo in September of 2006, we have been knowing for three years that the woman appearing in this picture mounted on a donkey is María Josefa Ruiz, and the child she is wrapping between her arms with a white blanket is her son Juan Romero. The little child part of whose head can be glimpsed by the hat is the other son of María Josefa Ruiz, while the girl eating what seems to be an apple is her daughter. Photo: ROBERT CAPA © By Cornell Capa/Magnum Photos

Juan Romero Ruiz was the person who discovered that the woman appearing mounted on the donkey is Josefa Ruiz. He discovered her 70 years later when Adela Romero Blanque (Josefa Ruiz´s granddaughter) showed him a book in one of whose pages was this picture. And Juan Romero Ruiz was also the person who spotted in Cerro Muriano village the exact location in which the photograph was made.

Horizontal photograph, taken by Capa on September 5th 1936 at around 15:20 h in the afternoon in a narrow street of Cerro Muriano, depicting a mother mounted on a donkey with a little boy wrapped in a white blanket between her arms and a felt hat immediately on the right. You can see two windows in the background under a scorching sun rendering a very high key area. Immediately on the right of the donkey´s head, you can watch a little girl eating what´s probably an apple.

They are advancing from left to right, fleeing in north direction to reach the railway towards the Obejo Train Station and El Vacar.

This is the second picture of refugees fleeing from Cerro Muriano taken by Capa. Because of the narrowness of this street and the fact that he was using a Leitz Elmar 5 cm f/3.5 lens, Capa was possibly forced to lean his back on the other wall of the street behind him in order to have a minimum shot distance doing his best trying to include them all inside the image. That´s why the frame is so tight, cutting some of the woman´s head on top and and the donkey´s body halfway below.

From this picture on, the refugees photographed by Capa are people compelled to abandon Cerro Muriano after some air attacks of fascist aircraft on the village.

Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. The beginning of the long march. Many of Cerro Muriano inhabitants (specially women, old men and children) began here, in the outskirts of the village, to walk following the railway towards the Obejo Train Station. On September 5th 1936 there was only field both on the left and on the right of the track. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. The refugees go on advancing walking always toward the north bound for Obejo Train Station, 5 km from Cerro Muriano. A big and original telegraph post appears almost exactly as it was in 1936. Incredibly, vast majority of these very old telegraph posts are nowadays in good condition (and almost intact in some cases) between Cerro Muriano, Obejo Train Station and El Vacar, because the immediate post Civil War years in Spain were a period of famine until 1942 and of great necessities of all kind until late fifties. This way, in spite of the fact that telephone prevailed after the war till currently, telegraph posts were left mostly as they were, including the cables. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. A big pine has grown up in the middle of the railway after so many years and the absence of trains making the route Almorchón-Córdoba since eighties. The refugees go on advancing towards Obejo Train Station and El Vacar (a village 11 km from Cerro Muriano). © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

C) Horizontal photograph taken by Capa on September 5th 1936 at around 15:30 h in the afternoon in the north outskirts of Cerro Muriano village.


Escaping from Cerro Muriano, September 5th 1936. Third picture taken by Robert Capa of refugees fleeing from Cerro Muriano to save their lives, following north direction towards Obejo Train Station. Virtually impossible to spot the exact location of this picture, because of its very blurred background, but very probably it was taken at the beginning of the long march in the outskirts of Cerro Muriano (full details about this picture in the section on photographs of refugees in the main text). Photo: ROBERT CAPA © By Cornell Capa/Magnum Photos

There are three women wearing black dresses and walking under a scorching sun: two young mothers (on the center and left, the one on the left is taking a very little baby in her arms and the one in the center is taking a blond more grown up child with his right arm while takes the arm of an old woman on the right of the frame helping her to walk) and an old woman on the right.

This is probably the third picture of refugees fleeing from Cerro Muriano taken by Capa.

Virtually impossible to find currently the exact location of this picture, because the background is very white and blurred. But they´re probably beginning their trek towards Obejo Train Station from the north outskirts of Cerro Muriano village.

D) Vertical photography taken by Capa on September 5th 1936 at around 15:35 h in the afternoon of a woman taking in her left arm a very big checkered baggage with her belongings. She has got the back of her right hand almost touching her chin. A lot of fear is reflected on her face and she´s looking at Capa rather puzzled. Behind her you can see a telegraph post which is nowadays exactly as it was 71 years ago. She is going to Obejo Train Station.

This is the fourth pictures of refugees fleeing from Cerro Muriano taken by Capa.

Escaping from Cerro Muriano, September 5th 1936. Fourth picture of refugees taken by Robert Capa of civil population fleeing from Cerro Muriano to save their lives (full details about this picture in the section on photographs of refugees in the main text). Photo: ROBERT CAPA © By Cornell Capa/Magnum Photos
Location of the photograph discovered by José Manuel Serrano Esparza

Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. Spot on which Robert Capa took his fourth photograph of refugees. The woman is walking towards Obejo Train Station and the north outskirts of Cerro Muriano (seen in the distance) are approximately three kilometres from this location. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

E) Vertical photograph taken by Capa on September 5th 1936 at around 15:45 h in the afternoon of an old woman taking a very little baby wrapped in a blanket in her arms. She shows a great deal of angst and fear and is walking very fast. One of the arms of the baby is hanging from the waist of the woman.


Escaping from Cerro Muriano, September 5th 1936. Sixth picture taken by Robert Capa of refugees fleeing from Cerro Muriano to save their lives. The woman is very anxious and fearful and is walking very quickly taking a very little baby in her arms. Photo: ROBERT CAPA © By Cornell Capa/Magnum Photos
Discovery of the location of this picture: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. Exact location on which Robert Capa took his sixth picture of refugees. The woman taking the baby in her arms, walked along the old way to Obejo Train Station and El Vacar, going on the right of the railway. She advanced from right to left of the photograph, coming from Cerro Muriano and following north direction, doing her best to reach Obejo Train Station as soon as possible and avoid so any possible danger. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

This is another very dramatic image of people escaping from death. The telegraph post located on the right of the woman as we watch the picture, was broken after the Spanish Civil War, but the rest of this spot currently remains exactly the same. The body of the woman is hiding some big trees similar to the one appearing on the right of the frame.

This is the fifth picture of refugees fleeing from Cerro Muriano taken by Capa, and the woman is also going to Obejo Train Station.

Later on, most of these refugees would go on their march to El Vacar and Pozoblanco, always advancing walking northwards.

Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. Some of the stretches of the escape route were specially hard for refugees that afternoon of September 5th 1936, as can be seen in this picture of the railway towards Obejo Station full of dense trees and vegetation on both sides. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza


Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. After a hard march walking approximately 5 km, the refugees approached to Obejo Train Station. This spot in the picture is around 400 meters from it, which will appear before their eyes immediately after arriving at the bend on the right visible in the background of the picture. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza


Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. The refugees come across an auxiliary water reservoir for filling the steam locomotives of the period. This spot is about 200 meters from Obejo Train Station, already visible in the background. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. A sight of hope. At last, the refugees are arriving at the Obejo Train Station. This spot is located one hundred meters from it. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza


Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. After walking about six kilometres from Cerro Muriano, the refugees reached the old Obejo Train Station. In the same way as Cerro Muriano Train Station, this place has been out of working since 1985, though throughout last years of the XIX century and most XX century they were important epicentres of transport of people as part of the great railway going from Córdoba (Andalusia) to Almorchón (Badajoz). The lack of activity has made that a lot of vegetation and weeds have grown up on the tracks. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza


Escape from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. Big main water reservoir by Obejo Train Station. In spite of the fact that almost three generations have elapsed since 1936, though rusted, it´s almost brand new. Very probably, refugees were given water at this spot. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza


Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. After stopping at the Obejo Train Station seen in this picture, refugees took up again their march walking towards El Vacar Train Station (six kilometres beyond) always going northwards from right to left as we see the photograph, by both sides of the tracks. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza


Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. The refugees left Obejo Train Station behind them and walked again following north direction (advancing towards the camera) to arrive at El Vacar Train Station (six kilometres behind the camera). © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

F) Horizontal photograph taken by Capa on September 5th 1936 at around 16:30-17:00 h in the afternoon, with a woman on the right taking a very little child in her arms.


Escaping from death, September 5th 1936. Fifth picture taken by Robert Capa of refugees fleeing from Cerro Muriano to save their lives. Photo: ROBERT CAPA © By Cornell Capa / Magnum Photos

Spotting of the area in which this photograph was made: Patricio Hidalgo Luque in 2004. His is the main merit.

Discovery of the exact location with photographic evidence: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

© José Manuel Serrano Esparza

She appears wearing a kitchen apron on her dress. Behind her (on the left of the frame) we can see a very young girl walking barefoot who is looking at Capa, and after her we see very probably the husband of the woman and father of both girls, clad in a black attire, cap and bearing a blanket. He´s also looking at Capa.

This picture is very dramatic. The woman isn´t looking at Robert Capa. Her sight is stray, because of great fear and she is very anxious and worried about the security of her two daughters.

It´s evident that they all have fled Cerro Muriano village full-blast to save their lives, leaving all their belongings behind.

Updating April 9, 2010:

This photograph was taken by Capa in a stretch of the Córdoba-Almorchón railway located in the area of Campo Alto, around 9 kilometers from Cerro Muriano village and near El Vacar village

Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. The refugees coming from Obejo Train Station arrived at El Vacar village from the south (in the background) and advancing walking towards the camera (just behind it is El Vacar train station). © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. After walking six kilometers more, very tired and sweating, the refugees reached El Vacar Train Station (on the right of the photograph) where they stopped to rest and drink and were offered some food by the local inhabitants. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

Escaping from Cerro Muriano 71 years later. After arriving at El Vacar Train Station (in the image), 11 km in the north of Cerro Muriano village, the refugees keep on advancing towards Villaharta, 12 km in the north of El Vacar village. © Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza


                                       

                                   

Text and Colour Photographs inscribed in the Territorial
Registry of Intellectual Property of Madrid. Copyright
Jose Manuel Serrano Esparza. LHSA

Texto y Fotografias en Color inscritos en el Registro
Territorial de la Propiedad Intelectual de Madrid.
Copyright Jose Manuel Serrano Esparza. LHSA