Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When the Bells Tolled for Her

Her life was short. She was 26 when she died and she was buried days later on her 27th birthday. Yet she live long enough to make her mark on photojournalism - as the first woman to cover a war and die while doing so.

It was 1936 and Gerda Taro (nee Gerta Pohorylle; 1910-1937), was a photo assistant to Robert Capa (nee Endre Ernő Friedmann; 1913-1954), a photographer and photojournalist best known for his photos on the front lines of war zones.

Taro was a German Jewess. She knew about fascism first-hand. She opposed the Nazi party in Germany and was arrested for distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets. After her release, the family left Germany.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out, she went with Capa to cover the anti-fascists soldiers. It was there that she established herself as a war photographer. Below are some of her photos at Navacerrada Pass, Segovia front, Spain:

(This failed offensive was the basis for Ernest Hemingway's, "For Whom the Bells Tolled.")

A year later, Taro would be killed in a freak war accident. Her fame was such that LIFE magazine printed two full pages about her.


  1. I seem to remember a bio on TV about her. She must have been a brave and passionate woman. Jen

  2. Enjoyed your blog today. It did remind me of a photo exhibit I recently saw. I really liked the black and white platinum prints. The colored ones were fun for the first few but I thought there were too many of them. Have you seen this exhibit yet at MKAC? JT

  3. @JT: No, I haven't seen the exhibit. Are they war photos? RA

  4. Interesting blog. Thanks R! EP

  5. An impressive young woman. Never heard of her before. MAR

  6. Thanks for sharing this! KF