Thursday, March 26, 2015

Marina Ginestà's iconic photo

"Iconic photo of Marina Ginestà on top of Hotel Colón in Barcelona." So says the Wikimedia caption. This was posted on my FB feed yesterday, and as I'd been reminded by a friend there to read Antony Beevor's The Battle for Spain, his 2006 revision of his 1982 book The Spanish Civil War 1936-39, I wanted to learn more. The Wiki entry for Marina Ginestà tells of her 1919 birth in Toulouse, her family's emigration to Barcelona, and her joining the United Socialist Party of Catalonia. That photo was taken by Hans Guttman (later, intriguingly, Juan Guzmán) who had left his native Germany to join the International Brigades, and then, 1300 SCW photos later, fled to Mexico, where he befriended Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. He and his subject here lived long. Juan died in 1981 in the Mexican capital, and Marina in the French capital, back to her homeland, in 2014. 

She was wounded later in the conflict, evacuated to Montpellier. To flee the Nazis, she wound up in the Dominican Republic, where she married. In 1946, she left, opposing the dictator Rafael Trujillo. By 1952 she was married to a Belgian diplomat and returned to Barcelona. I wonder how she fared, two decades under Franco and the fascists she had fought against. She went to Paris in the early '70s.

This was taken early in the war, July 21, 1936. The Wiki entry notes this is the only time she carried a rifle. For a reporter, this weapon may be more her prop. She translated for Pravda, assisting Mikhail Koltsov, in turn another character. He inspired Hemingway's Karkov in For Whom the Bell Tolls. He participated in the Russian Revolution, reported on the Spanish war and served as Stalin's go-to advisor for the Loyalists, before falling out of favor and being executed with wife #3 in 1940 or '42. 

Beevor in his thoughtful introduction (all I've read so far) cites Juliàn Marías, who "never forgot the expression of a tram-driver at a stop as he watched a beautiful and well-dressed young woman step down into the pavement. 'We've really had it,' Marías said to himself. 'When Marx has more effect than hormones, there is nothing to be done.'" Consider this and the conflicting reactions to this icon.

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