Gerda Taro – the First Woman Photographer on the Frontline

In a series of lectures, panel discussions and film presentations that took place throughout September 2016 in Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung, Berlin, an attempt was made by the organizers to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

The impetus of the war was the military putch of Franco on July 19th, 1936 supported by the German and Italian fascists, conservatives and the Church. The Franco putsch was opposed by hundreds of thousands of representatives of the Spanish civil population, people from all walks of life, as well as by progressive writers, intellectuals and artists Europe-wide.

“NO PASARAN” was the slogan that inspired the masses for the fight against fascism and dictatorship and these words still remain in the memories of the following generations as a motto calling for the selfless struggle against genocide, political and military dictatorships of all kinds.

The 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War was commemorated by a photo exhibition “Bilder der Solidarität” (Photos of Solidarity) documenting the tragedy of the war, the photos depicting soldiers and ordinary people who volunteered to sacrifice their lives for the cause of justice, those who came to Spain from all over Europe to fight against the fascists.

The photos exhibited at the Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung were made by a famous photo reporter Gerda Taro, the first female photojournalist to cover the front lines of the Spanish Civil War. She was the close friend and colleague of Robert Capa both of whom documented the war in Spain.

Together with works by Taro, visitors can see photographs by writer-photographer Alfred Kantorowicz.

Taro's photos were discovered in 2007 in the so-called Mexican Suitcase that also contained the negatives of Spanish Civil War photos by Robert Capa and Chim (David Seymour), which had been considered lost since 1939. According to the International Center of Photography these three photographers, who lived in Paris, worked in Spain, and published internationally, laid the foundation for modern war photography. Their work has long been considered some of the most innovative and passionate coverage of the Spanish Civil War. Gerda Taro sacrificed her life while photographing military events, becoming severely injured while taking photos on the front line during the battle of Brunette in Spain and dying shortly afterwards.

Kantorowicz, whose photographs are exhibited together with those of Taro, joined the Tschapaiew Batalillon of 21 nations and documented in his works his comrades in arms.

The curator of the exhibition is Dr. Benedikt Behrens.

Although not all controversies concerning the historical events of the Civil War in Spain have been solved and the repercussions of the war are still noticeable in our society, commemoration of the war atrocities is fundamental for awareness-raising, especially among the younger generation.

Lily Fürstenow-Khositashvili

29 September 2016 19:43