Farewell Marina Ginestà

With thanks to Rob Palk.

From the RHP blog:

Marina Ginestà of the Juventudes Comunistas, aged 17, overlooking Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.

Marina Ginestà, aged 17, overlooking Barcelona from Hotel Colón. She worked as a translator for a Soviet journalist of Pravda during the Spanish Civil War. She was a member of Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas (Socialist Youth), the youth organization mainly directed by Partido Comunista de España (PCE, Communist Party of Spain). Despite her initial involvement she quickly grew disillusioned with the path that the Stalinists were taking. Marina remained a militant throughout the rest of the war and was drawn to other groups at that time such as the anti-Stalinist P.O.U.M (which George Orwell was a member of) and the Anarchist C.N.T. This photographs was taken by Juan Guzman (who was born Hans Gutmann in Germany before going to Spain where he photographed the International Brigades). Date of the photo: July 21, 1936.

Marina did not know about the photo until 2006, although the iconic image was printed and circulated everywhere, serving as cover for the book “Thirteen Red Roses’ by Carlos Fonseca, and was also along with dozens of other photographs in the book “Unpublished images of the Civil War” (2002) with introduction by G. Stanley Payne.

She was identified by Garcia Bilbao who read the memoirs of Soviet correspondent of Pravda Mikhail Koltsov, with whom the young girl appears in another photo. Garcia Bilbao found that Jinesta Marina, with J, which was identified by Guzman in the caption was actually Marina Ginesta, an exile who lived in Paris translating French texts.

Marina Ginesta, the iconic girl of the Spanish Civil War, died January 6, 2014 in Paris, aged 94.

The rifle she is carrying is M1916 Spanish Mauser. It was manufactured at famous Oviedo factory in Spain for the Spanish Army.

Marina Ginesta, 2008Marina Ginesta, 2008

Colored Version

Here is a little more, from Publico, badly translated by me:

Marina Ginestà was 17, a incarnation of socialist youth and the dream of a revolution when posing proud and defiant in the summer of 1936 on the terrace of Hotel Colon Barcelona when photographer Juan Guzman took her a image that became an icon of resistance.

Dressed in a militia uniform, with hair in the wind, carrying a rifle for the first and last time in his life…

“It’s a good picture, it reflects the feeling we had at the time. The time had come for socialism; the hotel guests had left. It was euphoria. In the Hotel Colon we ate well, like the bourgeois life belonged to us.. “says Ginestà in [2008 in] an interview with Efe Agency at his home in Paris.

Not long before that war had broken out and the hotel, once a symbol of the Catalan bourgeoisie, had been converted into the headquarters of the newly created Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas.

Before the start of the war, with many other idealists Ginestà was preparing the Popular Olympiad in response to the Olympics that year organized by Nazi Germany.

“We were so naive we thought the military uprising (July 18) was against the People’s Olympics,” says the woman at the age of 89, narrating with a Catalan accent her sweet memories of a few years that shaped her life.

It took many days for those young people to understand that faced a bloody war to end their dreams.

First as a translator of Mikhail Koltsov, the special envoy of the Soviet newspaper Pravda, and then as a reporter for several Republican media, Ginestà survived the war as a militant on the home front, fighting to raise the people’s spirits and keep them high.

“We were journalists and our profession was that morality never falter, we reproduced the motto of Juan Negrin ‘with bread or without bread resisting.”…

She was present on August 36 when Koltsov interviewed Buenaventura Durruti in Bujalaroz, a conversation that Ginestà is sure got both men killed by Stalin. [I think this is the interview where Durruti said “It is possible that only a hundred of us will survive, but with that hundred we shall enter Saragossa, beat Fascism and proclaim libertarian communism. I will be the first to enter Saragossa; I will proclaim the free commune. We shall subordinate ourselves neither at Madrid nor Barcelona, neither to Azaña nor Companys. If they wish, they can live in peace with us; if not, we shall go to Madrid … We shall show you, bolsheviks, how to make a revolution.” Durruti died in the battle of Madrid, due to Stalinist duplicity. Koltsov “described his experiences in The Spanish diary, which was published in 1938. In the same year, Koltsov was summoned from Spain and arrested on charges of anti-Soviet and terrorist activities as part of the Great Purge. He was sentenced to death and shot in 1940 or 1942,according to different sources.”]

From her work in the rear too harsh memories are preserved, such as visiting a Barcelona hospital to identify bodies. “It’s the most terrible memory I have of the war. For the first time I had an idea of ​​death. Saw a dead woman with her child … Even today I comes to mind that memory,” she confesses.

But the hardest moments came when she had to leave the country to seek exile in France… In the passage over the Pyrenees, she lost her boyfriend, a political commissar, a few days before being reunited with her parents. The arrival of the Nazis [in France] forced them to take a ship bound for America.

The ship, which was heading to Mexico… [was] diverted to the Dominican Republic. Ginestá also went through Venezuela. Only then did she feel the war was lost. “Youth, the will to win, the slogans … I took them seriously. Believed that if we won we resisted. Had the feeling that the reason was with us and we’d end up winning the war, we never thought we’d end our lives abroad, “he recalled.

The disappointment of defeat, the memory “of the comrades who stayed behind, many of them shot”, is mixed with the dream of European democracies fighting fascism in World War which had just begun. “We expected to win the war in Spain and the Republic back from Franco,” she says.

Marina did not know the photo Ginestà Hotel Colón, and the symbolism that it has acquired over time. The snapshot is in Efe files and we recently managed to discover the identity of the model and locate their whereabouts.

Ginestá believes that the image has some artifice and prefer others, such as the reunion with his brother Albert in the Ebro front, that she continues to proudly display.

“They say that photo at the Colon has a ravishing look.’ Possible, because in it coexisted with the mystique of proletarian revolution and the images of Hollywood, Greta Garbo and Gary Cooper,” she says.

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  1. […] was only 4’10″ and stout with a high-collared blouse under her bandoleer). Why did Marina Ginesta die in near obscurity, despite her image becoming iconoclastic? And why could i not find an […]


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