martes, 12 de julio de 2011


Text: José Manuel Serrano Esparza. LHSAEnlaceSPANISH VERSION

                                                                                                                     Foto : Robert Capa / © ICP New York has been able to discover a new photograph, made by Capa or Gerda Taro on September 5, 1936, which has remained practically unknown for 75 years.

It is a picture taken in the Finca of Villa Alicia

approximately 1 km in the southwest of the village of Cerro Muriano, on September 5, 1936, around 12:30 midday and in which we can see two militiamen, one of them in his forties, wearing a beret, white shirt, black trousers, dark cardigan buttoned up only in the area near his neck, and another one much younger, closer to the camera, filling the left half of the image and wearing a large blanket with some white stripes, a white shirt (whose right sleeve we can see under the blanket, occupying the lower left border of the picture) and whose chin, lips, nose and right cheekbone appear lit by the sun, in the same way as the forward and upper area of his anarchist militiaman cap - crowned by its tassle - , which bears the sickle and hammer embroidered on its upper right zone, though it doesn´t indicate his belonging to communist party, but a symbol which was also often used in the anarchist caps of C.N.T and F.A.I together with the letters U.H.P (Union of Proletarian Brothers).

This picture appears in the book ROBERT CAPA Cuadernos de Guerra en España (1936-1939) of the Image Collectio, Sala Parpalló Diputación Provincial de Valencia Edicions Alfons El Magnànim Institució Valenciana D´Estudis I Investigació of 1987, and though inside the book the caption under the picture states that the image was made in Madrid in 1936 (an understandable error, not only because of the very difficult identification and location, but also because the framing is very tight and the look upwards of both militiamen makes anybody think that it is a political rally in a big city), it actually corresponds to the series made by Capa and Taro in the Finca of Villa Alicia, on which we reported about in:

The most significant element for the identification has been the militiaman in his forties clad with a clear colour beret, who is the same person that can be seen in the first picture (upper left half) of the British newspaper The Illustrated London News from October 24, 1936, in which there are some
Enlacephotographs made by Gerda Taro and Robert Capa, a discovery made by

In such a photograph, this militiaman with a clear colour beret is just under another anarchist civil combatant wearing a dark cap of C.N.T or F.A.I (we can only see roughly a fourth part of it) who mainly distinguishes from the rest of militiamen because he is wearing a huge white handkerchief on his neck (on his right there is an anarchist militiaman with a short sleeved white shirt and a military cap, who is looking at Gerda Taro; and just behind the cap, there is an Andalusian militiaman with the typical clear hat of this region of Spain).

They all are attentively listening to the words addressed to them by a militiaman chief, who strives after encouraging them before the battle that will begin very soon and in which they´ll have to fight against General Varela´s troops, specially the legionnaires and the feared colonel Sáenz of Buruaga´s Moroccan Tabors of Regulares, who will try to perform the encircling manoeuver through north area of Las Malagueñas hill and a further penetration through the Finca of Villa Alicia, also attempting to encircle Torreárboles hill on its north side, linking with the legionnaires of the third Francoist column.

It all is well known in advance by the Republican high officers present in the area, mainly the majors Juan Bernal, Balibrea, Aviraneta and Captain Castañeda, who have been preparing Cerro Muriano village defense for some days, being aware about the impending attack that Francoist troops would launch on them to free Córdoba city from pressure, so they have placed abundant contingents of anarchist militiamen and regular Republican soldiers not only defending the summits of Las Malagueñas (where the Republican advanced command post in the area with Juan Bernal, Balibrea and Aviraneta is located) and Torreárboles, but also on Finca of Villa Alicia (where is Captain Castañeda, advising the anarchist militiamen), a zone of maximum risk of encircling manoeuvering, which must be defended at all cost to prevent the Francoist troops falling on the back of the defenders of the peaks of Torreárboles, who have been withstanding the attack of one of the three Francoist columns on the south side of this hill for some hours.

Once more, it can be observed the stress and anxiety on the faces of armed civilian men, lacking any military drill or prowess in the handling of guns, but being ready to face the professional troops of the Army of Africa, featuring a lot of years of experience in ruthless colonnial war in Morocco against the very tough men of the Rif.

In the image, we can also glimpse part of other three militiamen appearing in the aforementioned picture of The Illustrated London News of October 24, 1936:

a) Just over the beret, the militiaman wearing a huge white handkerchief around his neck, and whose face exceeds the boundaries of the photograph.

b) Just over the upper central area of the blanket resting on the militiaman left shoulder with clear colour beret, we can see the beginning of the short sleeve of the man clad in a white shirt and military cap (out of image, in the same way as the superior area of the face from the nose upwards).

c) Just on the far right area of the militiaman left shoulder, we can observe the right half of the body of another militiaman wearing a black beret and which in the picture of The Illustrated London News appears with the back of his dark beret - lit by the sun- nearly touching the military cap worn by the militiaman with a white shirt and a military cap probably captured during the assault of a military barracks in the preceding weeks.

We must also highlight that in this image in which appears the militiaman wearing a clear color beret - along with another younger militiaman with the sickle and the hammer on his anarchist cap-,
both the leather gun sling hanging on the area of his left shoulder nearest to his neck and what seems to be a calibre 12 shotgun, part of which protrudes over the clear colour beret of the militiaman, appear with higher level of detail than in the number of The Illustrated London News of October 24, 1936.

Copyright Text: José Manuel Serrano Esparza. LHSA.