lunes, 13 de octubre de 2014

GERDA TARO FOTOREPORTERIN BY IRME SCHABER

SPANISH

EDITOR NOTE

Gerda Taro Fotoreporterin. Mit Robert Capa im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg. Die Biografie, published by Jonas Verlag, can be considered in our view as a milestone in the studies on Gerda Taro as a photographer.

Her author Irme Schaber, the greatest expert in the world on the German photojournalist from Jewish descent (who had a tragic death at the north exit of Villanueva de la Cañada on July 25, 1937 during the Battle of Brunete) and who began her deep research on Gerda Taro in early nineties, has written a 245 pages reference-class book fruit of a  strenuous effort of investigation throughout many years and a huge gleaning of data coming from a pleiad of different sources and distributed in twenty-one chapters, twenty years after her first biography on Gerda Taro written in 1994 (and for which she won the Kodak Photo Book Prize), and seven after being guest curator of the first Gerda Taro Exhibition at the ICP of New York in 2007.

On the other hand, the graphic documentation of the book is simply superb, encompassing 224 illustrations, many of them being unpublished photographs hitherto and reproduced with a top-notch quality along with all kind of documents, press cards, pages of magazines of the time featuring pictures made by Gerda Taro, contacts sheets, etc, wisely enhancing the first-rate paper and very adequate weight of the book pages, with a painstaking labour having likewise been made in the manufacturing of the front and back covers, sporting a big thickness and resistance to the elapse of time and consistent with the category of a work of this level.

Therefore, it must be also highlighted the great effort made by Jonas Verlag für Kunst und Literatur, which has been a reference-class benchmark in quality, design and good content since its foundation in 1978 and has traditionally excelled at the launching into market of far-reaching books related to literature, art, architecture history and photography. 

Hence, this is a book being born from a huge endeavour, passion and love for photography and interest for the photojournalistic and human singularity of Gerda Taro, and in our standpoint a must-read book for any enthusiast of photography or history craving for getting exceedingly lavish information about Gerda Taro´s lifetime and professional evolution and an unutterable reason for joy, since little by little Gerda Taro´s stature as a photojournalist is being known more in-depth, so we do wish both Irme Schaber as an author and Jonas Verlag as an editorial every success regarding this extraordinary book and others which could appear hereafter.


But we are also very sad, because on page 120 of the book 


there is a reference to the Finca de Villa Alicia, one kilometer in the southwest of Cerro Muriano as the place where Robert Capa made on September 5, 1936 some pictures during a harangue in which an anarchist chief speaks to abundant militiamen, without mentioning the source of the information, because that location in the Finca of Villa Alicia was discovered in 2010 by José Manuel Serrano Esparza.

As a matter of fact, it was José Manuel Serrano Esparza the person who after many years of research, strenuous effort and a number of travels to Cerro Muriano area could locate in the Finca de Villa Alicia, placed around one kilometer in the southwest of Cerro Muriano village, all the pictures of the harangue photographed by Capa on September 5, 1936.

Therefore, the discovery of the exact location in the Finca of Villa Alicia along with the information that it is around one kilometer in the southwest of Cerro Muriano have been gleaned from the different articles on that harangue appearing from 2010 in elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com, which is only cited on page 251 at the end of the book in its Im Internet section, without explaining at any moment that the person who discovered the location of The Harangue in the Finca of Villa Alicia was José Manuel Serrano Esparza in 2010, an omission which could make the readers of the book think wrongly that it was Irme Schaber the person who found the location in the Finca of Villa Alicia.

Gerda Taro: Centenary of Her Birth and Identification on a September 5, 1936 Picture Made in Cerro Muriano Area In this article published on August 1, 2010 José Manuel Serrano Esparza reports for the first time about his discovery of the exact location of the pictures of The Harangue made on September 5, 1936 in the Finca of Villa Alicia, approximately one kilometer in the south of Cerro Muriano, as well as reporting his finding of Gerda Taro among the militiamen.

Cerro Muriano: Identification and Location of Five More Photographs Made by Capa and Taro and Appeared in the 24/10/1936 Illustrated London News

Cerro Muriano: A New Photograph Made by Capa or Gerda Taro on September 5, 1936 Found and Located

Two More Pictures Made By Gerda Taro in Cerro Muriano and Unknown Till Now Discovered and Located: Moments of PreDeath

Cerro Muriano: Discovered and Located a New Photograph Made by Robert Capa on September 5, 1936. Moments of PreDeath ( I I )

Moments of PreDeath ( I I I ): Discovered the Authorship and Location of Another Picture Made by Robert Capa in Cerro Muriano Area on September 5, 1936

On the other hand, on page 121 of the book


appears one of the photographs made by Capa during the harangue in the Finca de Villa Alicia on September 5, 1936, with a caption 


in which it is said that Gerda Taro is standing among a lot of militiamen and peasants in the middle of the picture on the left, once more without citing the source of the information, because it was José Manuel Serrano Esparza the person who in 2010 made the finding of Gerda Taro on the left, which could make the readers wrongly think that it was Irme Schaber the person who discovered Gerda Taro among the militiamen and armed peasants during the harangue of the anarchist chief visible in the image.

In the same way, on page 120 of the book, on the lower right column it is said that Gerda Taro can be seen in one of the photos on the left side:

Auf einem seiner Bilder ist am linken Bildrand Gerda Taro zu entdecken, die inmitten der konzentriert zuhörenden Milizionäre stand und von da aus fotografierte. 

In one of his pictures can be seen Gerda Taro in the left border of the image among standing militiamen while they are photographed.

Once again without mentioning the source of the information, because it was José Manuel Serrano Esparza who in 2010 discovered Gerda Taro on the left among the militiamen.


Therefore, it was José Manuel Serrano Esparza the person who discovered in 2010 for the first time Gerda Taro on the left, looking at the anarchist chief (wearing a CNT cap, with a big leather bag hanging from his left shoulder) and listening to his speech delivered from an elevated position climbed on a large barrel.  In this article José Manuel Serrano Esparza also reports for the first time his discovery of the exact location of the picture in the Finca de Villa Alicia, approximately one kilometer in the southwest of Cerro Muriano village.

Moreover, on page 120 of the book Gerda Taro Fotoreporterin. Mit Robert Cap im Spanishen Bürgerkrieg 


it is also said that the Finca was important for the defense of the nearby hills, once again without mentioning the source of the information, which appears in the different articles on this subject written by José Manuel Serrano Esparza since 2010 in elrectanguloenlamano.blogspot.com


Those hills are Torreárboles featuring a height of 692 m (beside the Finca of Villa Alicia) and Las Malagueñas featuring a height of 589 m (being at a distance of approximately 1 km rom the Finca de Villa Alicia, but in which was the Republican advanced command post in the area, with the majors Juan Bernal, José Balibrea, Gerardo Armentia and Aviraneta).

The summit of Torreárboles hill was being defended at those moments by abundant contingents of Republican regular forces and militiamen fighting against the Francoist troops attacking its south side (the one nearest to Córdoba City), while the north side, adjacent to the Finca de Villa Alicia and area of highly probable encircling manoeuver (as it happened) was defended by the militiamen appearing in The harangue series of pictures, and whose mission was trying to protect the back of their comrades located on top of Torreárboles hill.


This zone of Finca de Villa Alicia was by far the most dangerous one on September 5, 1936, because the ruthless African colonial war carried out by the very experienced in combat Francoist troops, required a exceedingly fast advance across the encircling manoeuver area, most times without doing prisoners, something already known by the militiamen appearing in image (both Alcoyanos from CNT and FAI and Andalusian peasants), Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, who risked their lives getting pictures there at those moments.


Legionnaries from the Army of Africa just arrived at Andalusia in late July 1936. From a military viewpoint they were clash elite infantry featuring a huge experience in ruthless colonial war in Africa, being very tough in fight, exceedingly skillful in the handling of guns and had a very high combat morale. Therefore, the militiamen appearing in the pictures of The Harangue made by Capa (and a few ones probably by Taro) had to face highly professional troops, with no chance whatsoever, and they withstood them all they could, since they were men belonging to the most common occupations at the time (peasants, masons, carpenters, cobblers, plumbers, electricians, sewermen, drivers, printers, mechanics, etc), obviously lacking any military drill or prowess in the handle of guns, so the fight was uneven from scratch and vast majority of times ended with victory of the Francoist troops, as happened in the Finca de Villa Alicia, Torreárboles hill and Las Malagueñas hill on September 5, 1936 and in the village of Cerro Muriano on September 6, 1936, actions in which took part two highly experienced legionnaries commanders with many years of combat experience; major Sagrado (commanding the left Francoist attacking column coming from Córdoba city) and major Álvarez Rementería (commanding the central column of the Francoist attack) under the global command of general Varela.

It provides an idea of what meant for the militiamen depicted in the pictures of the series The Harangue to be at midday of September 5, 1936 in the Finca de Villa Alicia (one kilometer in the southwest of Cerro Muriano), utterly aware about the fact that those Francoist troops were about to attack them.


Soldier of Tabor of Regulares from the Army of Africa. The Regulares Moroccan soldiers made up with the legionnaries the elite clash infantry of the Army of Africa and his men were very feared during the Spanish Civil War not only because of their tremendous ferocity in combats, always fighting to the death in front line with fixed bayonets, but also for their amazing speed and accuracy on performing the encircling manoeuveres which often annihilated enemy units and during which prisoners weren´t made, without forgetting their great marksmanship with their Mauser 7 x 57 mm caliber rifles.

If we also bear in mind that during the attack of the Francoist three columns departing from Córdoba city on September 5, 1936, colonel Sáenz de Buruaga himself (top expert in encircling manoeuvers of the Army of Africa) had the command of the right attacking column and made his onslaught with a Tabor of Regulares from Melilla, being supported by major Gerardo Figuerola (another Francoist commander featuring a lot of years of combat experience in Africa) with the Squadron of regulares of Ceuta nº 3 and the Squadron of regulares of Alhucemas, we can understand even better what meant for Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and the militiamen appearing in the The Harangue series of pictures  to be in the Finca de Villa Alicia at those moments, already knowing that the professional Francoist troops of the Army of Africa were on the brink of assaulting them, so in the images of this amazing reportage of The Harangue, can be seen both in the CNT and FAI anarchist militiamen from Alcoy (Alicante) and the Andalusian militiamen (mostly armed peasants) an inevitable fidgety, fear of leaving his wife and children without a father, tons of stress and sweat enhanced by the very high temperature, efforts to reduce the anxiety through smoking in some of them, a huge level of rage in the two anarchist chiefs giving the harangue (not one), gestures of despair, nails rubbing, some gunshots of the time whose efficient range doesn´t exceed 50 meters, while a legionary or Tabor of Regulares Moroccan soldier can accurately kill a man in a relatively easy way up to a distance of 600 meters, etc.

The pictures of The Harangue reportage (made up by twelve images, nine by Capa and three by Gerda Taro or Capa) are exceedingly hard and meaningful, made with great mastery and sensitiveness and show men coming from the miserable working context of that epoch, marked by the overexploitation, to work a daily average of twelve, fourteen and even more hours for a paltry salary resulting in a deficient feeding mostly based on bread, legumes and eggs, shameful sanitary and hygienic conditions, a lot of not paid overtime under the permanent menace of being sacked at the minimum protest, sons and daughters who have to start working at the age of nine or ten years to help their families to survive, very high percentage of illiteracy, almost utter lack of professional opportunities for women, premature aging in men and women as a consequence of exhausting working shifts usually in factories or in the countryside from dawn to dusk …

They have decided to stay there, in the Finca of Villa Alicia, and fight against professional troops that are at the moment a highly experienced infantry (whose commanders have been waging a ruthless colonial war in Africa since early twenties), knowing in advance that there is a very high probability of death for them in the battle.

Gerda Taro is utterly stunned and thrilled.

Capa too. 


Moments of PreDeath ( I ). Picture 1. Photograph made by Gerda Taro or Robert Capa during The Harangue in the Finca of Villa Alicia (one kilometer in the south of Cerro Muriano) on September 5, 1936. The authorship and location of this photograph was discovered by José Manuel Serrano Esparza.

Moments of PreDeath ( I ). Picture 2. Photograph made by Gerda Taro or Robert Capa during The Harangue in the Finca of Villa Alicia (one kilometer in the south of Cerro Muriano) on September 5, 1936. The authorship and location of this photograph was discovered by José Manuel Serrano Esparza. 



Moments of PreDeath ( I I ). Picture made by Robert Capa during The Harangue in the Finca of Villa Alicia (one kilometer in the south of Cerro Muriano) on September 5, 1936. The authorship and location of this photograph was discovered by José Manuel Serrano Esparza.

Moments of PreDeath ( I I I ). Picture made by Robert Capa during The Harangue in the Finca of Villa Alicia (one kilometer in the south of Cerro Muriano) on September 5, 1936. The authorship and location of this photograph was discovered by José Manuel Serrano Esparza.


Addenda December 9, 2014.- Jonas Verlag für Kunst und Literatur GmbH communicates us that not citing the source of the informations was an error by them and that in the next editions both in German and other languages of the book Gerda Taro Fotoreporterin. Mit Robert Capa im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg written by Irme Schaber it will be indicated on pages 120 and 121 that it was José Manuel Serrano Esparza who discovered in August 2010 Gerda Taro on the left among the militiamen during the Harangue on September 5, 1936 and that it was also José Manuel Serrano Esparza who discovered that all the photographs of The Harangue series were made in the Finca of Villa Alicia, approximately 1 km in the southwest of Cerro Muriano village, which we appreciate.