May 2019 Academic & Specialist NBN

Gerda Taro: With Robert Capa as Photojournalist in the Spanish Civil War Irme Schaber


Paris in the summer of 1937. A giant funeral procession wends its way from the city centre eastward toward the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, accompanied by the sounds of Chopin’s Marche funèbre.

The photojournalist Gerda Taro had been killed in the Spanish Civil War a few days earlier. Thousands come to pay their last respects to the émigrée from Hitler’s Germany. The poet Louis Aragon speaks at the graveside, young girls hold up a large portrait of the deceased. Why did the French Communist Party honour a foreigner — one who was not even a member of the Party — with a first-class burial?

Taro is considered one of the path-breaking pioneers of photography. She captured some of the most dramatic and widely published images of the Spanish Civil War and was the first female photographer to shoot images in the midst of battle. Her willingness to work close to the fighting set new standards for war photography and ultimately cost her her life. Taro stands alongside early 20th century war photographers like Robert Capa and David Chim Seymour.