domingo, 28 de julio de 2013



Finca de Las Malagueñas. Point of the inner path walking down from the summit of the hill and being at a distance of approximately 100 meters from the main entrance (adjacent to the nearby stretch of the N-432 Granada-Badajoz road), located at the end of the downhill where the Republican soldier on far left of the image wearing a helmet and a 7 x 57 mm Mauser rifle is going to, while the two Republican soldiers wearing helmet appearing in the middle of the picture ( taking a Maxim Sokolov M1910-30 caliber 7.62 x 54R machine-gun, its wheels and an ammunition box) are walking up towards the top of Las Malagueñas hill, where is the House of Las Malagueñas, a big country dwelling resembling a little palace, which is the advanced command post of the Republican forces in the area. September 2, 3 or 4, of 1936. © Robert Capa / Magnum Photos

The French magazine Regards published in its number of September 24, 1936 a photograph made by Robert Capa whose location has been discovered by

It´s an image in which appear three Republican soldiers wearing helmet. Two of them (visible in the center of the picture) are walking up a slight slope of a little path and advance towards the lower right corner of the frame, while another one (visible on the left of the photograph) is walking down in the opposite direction, advancing towards the lower middle left border of the frame.

This photograph was made by Capa in Las Malagueñas hill, an estate being around 2 kilometres in the south of Cerro Muriano village (Córdoba) and crowned by a 589 m strategic elevation, and the image wasn´t taken on September 5, 1936 as was believed until now, but very few days before, on September 2, or 4 of 1936.

Between mid August 1936 and the night of September 5, 1936 the so-called House of Las Malagueñas (a big country dwelling from early twentieth century which was on top of this hill) was the advance command post of the Republican forces in the area, under the authority of major Juan Bernal, in whose general staff were also majors José Balibrea, Gerardo Armentia and Aviraneta.

This picture shows three Republican soldiers.

Two of them are walking up across a small path in slight ascending ramp.

The nearest one to Capa, walking upwards, is taking on his right shoulder a Maxim Sokolov M1910-30 7.62 x 54R machine-gun that he´s grabbing with his right hand, while his left arm is within a certain distance from his waist to counterbalance the weight of the machine-gun barrel.

The second one nearest to Capa, walking upwards behind the one taking the machine-gun, is holding a dark box of 7.62 x 54R ammunition with his left hand, while he´s carrying the small but heavy stainless-steel wheels of the Maxim-Sokolov M1910-30 on his right shoulder.

The third Republican soldier, visible on the left of the two ones walking up, is going down in opposite direction, has his left arm a bit folded at the height of his elbow and is holding a 7 x 57 mm Mauser rifle with his right hand.

Both sides of the little path appear covered with very high pine trees, which go on existing currently, because this zone is full of them.

I know the area, that I visited in 1998 for the first time, a period in which it was very frequent to be able to enter Las Malagueñas estate (visiting the old House of Las Malagueñas, very abandoned and spoilt, painted with abundant graffitis, etc) through its main entrance door, placed by the N-432 Granada-Badajoz  highway, though a radio tower of the Spanish Army was installed on its summit some years later, so entrance has been forbidden because of security reasons since then, and all the access perimeter leading to the estate peak, where the House of Las Malagueñas was located, is nowadays protected with barbed wire. to preserve the radiolelectric facility.

Robert Capa made this picture on a stretch of the small path leading from the entrance door of Las Malagueñas estate – currently closed because of security reasons – to the summit of the hill, where was the House of Las Malagueñas, the advanced command post of Republican forces in the area between mid August 1936 and September 5 of that year.

That´s to say, Capa gets the picture inside Las Malagueñas estate, on a spot of the little path leading upward to the summit of the hill.

This point is going up around 100 meters from the quoted entrance door located by the N-432 Granada –Badajoz highway nearby stretch, which is approximately 300 meters from the summit, where was the House of Las Malagueñas.

Capa, who is covering the area of Las Malagueñas hill, Torreárboles hill, Villa Alicia estate, Cerro Muriano village, etc, with Gerda Taro, gets the picture while he walks down from top of Las Malagueñas hill (where was the House of Las Malagueñas and the defensive points in which the Republican forces were installing their automatic weapons) going to the main entrance door of Las Malagueñas estate.

The picture was not made on September 5, 1936 as believed till now, but very few days before, on September 2, 3 (most probable date) or 4 of 1936, and clearly proves that the Republican high officers (majors Juan Bernal, José Balibrea, Gerardo Armentia and Aviraneta, along with captains Castañeda and Del Amo) were sure since late August 1936 that the Francoist troops from the city of Córdoba would attack them very soon, trying to wipe out the menace which meant for the capital of the High Guadalquivir the presence of thousands of militiamen and Republican soldiers who after not being able to capture the city of Córdoba in mid August during the attack led by general Miaja and carried out by Armentia, Balibrea, Peris, Vigueira and Pérez Salas (such as indicates the artillery colonel José Manuel Martínez Bande in his book The Campaign of Andalusia, Military Historical Service, Monographies of the Spanish Civil War, San Martin Editorial), and after suffering a lot of casualties (above all on August 20, 1936, in which Pérez Salas column was bombed in open ground near the village of Torres Cabrera when was at a distance of 14 km from Córdoba city, and the Moroccan soldiers of Tabor of Regulares of Melilla Number 3 who fought tooth and nail in the area of Alcolea and Puente Mocho, curbing the onslaughts of Balibrea´s Republican contingent of troops), withdrew following north direction in great numbers to Las Malagueñas, Torreárboles, Villa Alicia estate and Cerro Muriano village (albeit the biggest quantities of Republican forces were in Las Malagueñas, Torreárboles and Villa Alicia estate).

Therefore, it is impossible that this picture made by Robert Capa corresponds to September 5, 1936, because by then the Republican forces had already installed and ready for combat their Maxim Sokolov M1910-30 caliber 7.62 x 54R and Hotchkiss M1914 caliber 7 x 57 mm machine-guns, above all on the elevated areas of Las Malagueñas and Torreárboles hills, for they had been waiting the attack of the Francoist troops for some days.

As a matter of fact, the Maxim Sokolov M1910-30 machine-gun appearing in the image, whose barrel, wheels and ammunitions boxes are being carried to the summit of Las Malagueñas hill (to dominate the whole surrounding area from a high position) by the two Republican soldiers nearest to Capa when this makes the picture, appears in its lightest feasible configuration, with simplified Sokolov mount, without foldable legs and lacking shield, to eliminate as much weight as possible and to allow if required its fast change of location depending on the attack angles performed by the exceedingly experienced Francoist professional troops from the Army of Africa, that they know will attack them within very few days.

This photograph was made by Capa very few days before the Francoist attack on Las Malagueñas and Torreárboles, which is where the combats front was really on September 5, 1936.

Capa´s image reveals that the Republican soldiers are preparing for the defense against the Francoist thrust that they are aware will take place in very few days. That´s why they are taking up machine-guns and ammunition boxes to the summit of Las Malagueñas hill, which is where the Republican advanced command post is located. 

And besides, the Republican high officers have already seen for a number of consecutive days some Francoist Breguet XIX aircraft coming from the Electromecánica airdrome (located 8 km in the west of Córdoba city, near Medina Azahara), flying over them in reconnaissance and espionage missions previous to the impending onslaught by general Varela.

This proves once more what we have stated for a long time:

Robert Capa and Gerda Taro didn´t arrive at Cerro Muriano area on September 5, 1936, but very few days before, and during those 24, 48 or 72 hours previous to the battle, they were in contact with the Republican high officers, the Republican soldiers and the Anarchist militiamen, and visited Las Malagueñas, Torreárboles, Villa Alicia estate, the village of Cerro Muriano, etc.

This way, Robert Capa and Gerda Taro knew perfectly, with some days of anticipation, the very violent Francoist onrush which would unleash against the Republican forces located in this area,

But they decided to stay in Cerro Muriano area and its surroundings for some days more and risked their lives different times to document the events with their cameras, not hesitating in going to the most dangerous zones on September 5, 1936, very few days after this picture was made in Las Malagueñas, when the Republican forces were already clearly preparing themselves for the defense.
© Text and Indicated Pictures: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Inscribed in the Territorial Registry of the Intellectual Property of Madrid