elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com has discovered and located two new pictures, unknown till now and made by Gerda Taro (1) in Cerro Muriano area on September 5, 1936, approximately at 12:30 h at midday
in Villa Alicia estate, 1 km away from Cerro Muriano village, in the southwest, adjacent to the north slope of Torreárboles hill and full of contingents of militiamen protecting their comrades´ backs defending the summit and south side of that hill, which is already being attack by the left Francoist column under the command of major Sagrado.
On the other hand, Villa Alicia estate is in full zone of highly probable encircling manoeuver that some hours later will be fulfilled by Francoist major Baturone´s legionnaries, who will attack Torreárboles hill through its north slope (in coordination with major Sagrado´s forces who have been attacking the south slope from around 10:00 h in the morning), wiping out firstly all the Republican forces present in the area and then on Torreárboles summit (where the Republican troops had installed Hotchkiss 7 x 57 mm caliber machine-guns for some days, aware that the Francoist troops would attack them very soon), in the same way as will happen with Las Malagueñas hill, which after some hours of hard fight will be routed by the right Francoist column under the global command of colonel Sáenz of Buruaga (that includes the Tabor of Regulares of Melilla Number 3 under the command of major López Guerrero - belonging to the Group of Regulares of Melilla nº 2 of Nador of the Eastern Circumscription - and the Squadrons of Regulares of Ceuta nº 3 and Alhucemas under the command of major Gerardo Figuerola) that after been curbed for some hours, will manage to also encircle that hill, finally capturing it in slow coordination (the Numantine defense by the Alcoyanos reduced very much general Varela´s plan) with the frontal attack made by major Álvarez Rementería through its south slope.
Photo: Gerda Taro or Robert Capa
Photograph made in the Finca of Villa Alicia on September 5, 1936, around 12:30 h midday.
This picture appears in the book The Spanish People´s Fight for Liberty. A. Ramos Oliveira. The Press Department of the Spanish Embassy. London. 1937, without indicating the name of the photographer who got it and the location where it was taken.
We can see two militiamen who are listening to the enhancing words which an anarchist chief is addressing to a contingent of voluntary combatants from an elevated position. They all are hearing the exchange of rifle shots, machine gun firing and artillery blasts between the attacking left Francoist column (which is already attacking the south slope of Torreárboles) and the Republican defenders located on the summit of that hill, from which you can watch the city of Córdoba from a distance of roughly 15 km.
This is a hard image. The militiaman nearest to the camera, photographed profile and wearing a dark shirt along with a plaided blanket on his left shoulder, is looking with great attention at the anarchist chief speaking to them, striving after infusing them with courage before the combat which will happen very soon.
They have just seen reported that the Francoist troops are already attacking Torreárboles hill on his south slope and that the feared Moroccan units of Tabors of Regulares under the command of colonel Sáenz de Buruaga have already been deployed for some hours in the surroundings of Piedra Horadada, ready to launch an onslaught on Las Malagueñas hill at any moment.
Both the anarchist chiefs and Republican captain Castañeda, present during this speech in the Villa Alicia estate, are aware that the highly experienced Moroccan troops, featuring a huge speed of movements, great accuracy in their long and medium range 7 x 57 mm Mauser rifle shots and a proved ability to rectify combat fronts, will try the integral encircling manoeuver through the Finca of Villa Alicia, which is the key to be able to assault Torreárboles hill across its north slope, so the mission of the abundant contingents of militiamen and Republican soldiers being in it is to strive for hindering such an encircling manoeuver (something that they will manage to do until first hour of the night, when they will be definitely annihilated).
This very young militiaman, wearing a dark shirt with an unfastened button because of the heat and an anarchist cap with a tassel, realizes that there´s a very high probability that he dies within the next hours, which brings about a mixture of feelings in his head: the logical fear, the huge anxiety on thinking about the beloved relatives, the life experiences flowing into his mind as a movie, the dread in front of the possibility of combats with fixed bayonets - nobody wants to fight with blade weapons against the professional Francoist troops of the Army of Africa.
Stress becomes unbearable and the will for survival springs up, making the militiaman instinctively clings with his right hand - of which we can see three fingers- to the transport sling of his rifle (part of whose barrel can be observed just behind his left scapula. Immediately behind this young militiaman, we can see another older, more experienced and whose face shows more hardened features.
This militiaman, albeit is even more aware than the young one in the foreground regarding the exceedingly great danger of death approaching, shows likewise a mien revealing deep concern, but with more introspection and a relative calm taking into account the circumstances. He seems to accept his destiny with a certain acquiescence, but particularly with conviction, and tries to overcome fear, angst and uncertainty smoking a cigarette held with his left hand.
The picture is made from a very near distance, almost at point blank range, capturing them while both of them are immersed into these very difficult moments previous to a combat in which these civil fighters belonging to the most various occupation scopes are going to face professional troops of the Spanish Army of Africa, featuring a lot of years of experience in combat, great prowess in the handling of firearms and bayonet, and commanded by military officers toughened in a lot of battles during the Rif Campaigns in Morocco since the beginning of twenties.
The German photojournalist, who has been present from the beginning of the harangue (instants during which she was within some meters from the anarchist chief who gives the speech to the militiamen)
is aware of the proximity of death and is highly impressed on seeing voluntary civilian men ready to die for their beliefs fighting against professional troops, so she has been making her way through the militiamen, making pictures with her 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 square inches medium format Rolleiflex Old Standard with a non coated Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 7,5 cm f/3.5 lens to different militiamen till reaching this point, where she captures the two militiamen appearing in this meaningful image.
Picture made in Villa Alicia estate, at approximately 12:30 h midday and also belonging to the series of pictures made by Capa and Taro during the speech addressed by an anarchist chief standing on an elevated position to the militiamen trying to make them pluck up courage before the impending combat against the elite Francoist professional troops of the Spanish Army of Africa.
This photograph appears in the book The Spanish People´s Fight for Liberty. A. Ramos Oliveira. The Press Department of the Spanish Embassy. London. 1937, without indicating either the name of the phootgrapher who got it or the location where it was taken.
It´s very apparently discerned that these instants have outstanding importance to Gerda Taro, who is utterly concentrated on getting the pictures, very interested in capturing with her camera what is happening and who has managed to approach up to practically under the speaker (whose left foot and part of his left trousers can be seen on the image right half, together with what seems to be a very big cask on which the anarchist chief has helped up to address his speech to the militiamen).
This photograph is also made from a very near distance, masterfully capturing the terrible atmosphere of the predeath in combat: the very young militiaman doesn´t look at the anarchist chief haranguing them, but is leaned with his left arm on the barrel and is absent-minded , clearly deep in his thoughts, probably related with his most loved ones and the main turning points throughout his lifetime.
Understandably, he experiences the inevitable fear and restlessness alike. He knows that the combat against professional Francoist troops will occur very soon and he will have to fight for his life in an undoubtedly off-balance engagement, since both this militiaman and vast majority of the rest of them have hardly had any military drill and lack prowess in the handling of guns, because they come from the most common jobs of the civil sphere: masons, electricians, carpenters, cesspool cleaners, woodworkers, printers, peasants, drivers, potters, cobblers, etc.
The image is in my standpoint terrible, highly representative and following the photojournalistic postulates set forth forty years later by Cliff C. Edom, Professor of Photojournalism at Missouri University in his 1976 book Photojournalism.
It makes up a devastating image, whose main attention focus is the militiaman countenance, downhearted, cognizant of his very probable death, which is in the offing. The militiaman sweats profusely, not only because of the heat, but greatly as a consequence of the walloping stress, to such an extent that he has unclasped three buttons of his shirt.
Unlike other images previously made by Capa and Taro in Barcelona, Aragón front, Madrid, etc, there isn´t here even a glimmer of the typical revolutionary euphoria and frequent moments of joy and boisterous frolic photographed other times, for in this picture, the militiaman face saturated with hopelessness and the atmosphere of predeath are the key components.
In the same way as the militiaman appearing in the picture, the photographer knows that the armed civil men have no chance against troops not only being professional, but also belonging to the Spanish Army of Africa, encompassing the elite and best armed units.
Certainly, in spite of their brave resistance (unlike most of Republican effectives in Cerro Muriano - who hastily escaped northbound on watching the enhancing of the Francoist air raid on the village from 15:30 h in the afternoon, believing that the Francoist troops were going to attack them quickly trying to capture the urban area and the train station-, knowing that both the lack of trenches in Cerro Muriano and the very low houses didn´t enable an efficient defense), the contingents of militiamen and Republican soldiers located in the Finca of Villa Alicia didn´t have any chance and were finally wiped out.
Gerda Taro gets another picture of this same militiaman while he looks upwards and listens to the harangue pronounced by the anarchist chief and whose authorship and location was also discovered together with four more photographs by elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com, and corresponds to a series of five images which appeared in the British newspaper The Illustrated London News number of October 24, 1936:
Photo: Gerda Taro or Robert Capa
Therefore, it´s utterly proved, even more if possible, that Robert Capa and Gerda Taro greatly risked their lives different times during that September 5, 1936, making pictures at few hundred meters from the combat front, specially in the Finca of Villa Alicia, at those moments an even more dangerous area than the summits of Torreárboles and Las malagueñas hills, since because of the still scarce number of Francoist effectives in Andalusia in August and September of 1936 and the ruthless tactics of colonial war carried to completion in the provinces of Córdoba, Badajoz, etc, it was usual not to make prisoners inside the areas of encircling manoeuver, because the speed of movements was the key of success, and very often, the legionaries and the Moroccan troops of Tabor of Regulares
Moroccan soldier of Tabor of Regulares with a high velocity 7 x 57 mm caliber Mosquetón Mauser Model 1916 rifle. Andalusia. Year 1936. Author: Unknown
who were ordered to fulfill them by the Francoist commanders, were in their turn in danger of being encircled.
This is the context in which Capa and Taro had to get the pictures, risking their lives, obtaining a lot of excellent images both depicting militiamen who were about to engage the professional Francoist troops and refugees fleeing Cerro Muriano village, which have become everlasting icons with the elapse of time, and making that September 5, 1936, of which the 75th Anniversary has just been celebrated, a remarkable photojournalistic work which constitutes one of the most glorious milestones in the History of Photojournalism.
(1) There´s also the possibility that both pictures were made by Capa, because the image aesthetics of the first photograph (in which can be seen two militiamen, the youngest one being nearer the camera) along with its excellent sharpness for the time seem to correspond more to the Leitz Elmar 50 mm f/3.5 coupled to the 24 x 36 mm format the Leica II Model D used by Capa in Cerro Muriano on September 5, 1936 (one of the two Leica cameras used by him that day, the other one was a Leica III with Leitz Summar 5 cm f/2), together with the fact that then it was very frequent to do selective reframings changing the aspect ratio of the original image, so the second picture could likewise be a square reframing made from a 35 mm format negative featuring a 2:3 aspect ratio and also exposed by Capa with the aforementioned camera and lens.
Copyright Text: José Manuel Serrano Esparza.
Inscribed in the Territorial Registry of the Intellectual Property of Madrid
Other articles related to Capa and Taro in Cerro Muriano on September 5, 1936:
CERRO MURIANO 75TH ANNIVERSARY ( I ) : CAPA AND TARO ARRIVED TWO OR THREE DAYS BEFORE SEPTEMBER 5, 1936
CERRO MURIANO 75TH ANNIVERSARY ( I I ) : THE KEYS OF THE ESCAPE OF THE VILLAGE CIVIL POPULATION DURING THE AFTERNOON DECIPHERED
CERRO MURIANO : IDENTIFICATION AND LOCATION OF FIVE MORE PHOTOGRAPHS MADE BY CAPA AND TARO AND APPEARED IN THE 24/10/1936 ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS
THREE MORE PICTURES MADE BY ROBERT CAPA IN CERRO MURIANO AREA AND ITS SURROUNDINGS LOCATED
CERRO MURIANO: A NEW PHOTOGRAPH MADE BY CAPA OR GERDA TARO ON SEPTEMBER 5, 1936 FOUND AND LOCATED
CERRO MURIANO: DISCOVERED AND LOCATED A NEW PHOTOGRAPH MADE BY ROBERT CAPA ON SEPTEMBER 5, 1936. MOMENTS OF PREDEATH ( I I )
LA GRANJUELA (CÓRDOBA) : GERDA TARO JUNE 1937
VALSEQUILLO (CÓRDOBA) : GERDA TARO EARLY JULY 1937. LOCATIONS OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS AND IDENTIFICATION OF THE PHOTOJOURNALIST IN ONE OF THE IMAGES