Marina Ginesta, a 17-year-old communist militant, overlooking Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, 1936

By RHP | Posted on: December 1, 2013 | Updated on: June 15, 2014
Marina Ginestà of the Juventudes Comunistas, aged 17, overlooking Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.

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 the famous writer 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 the photo was taken: July 21, 1936. Here’s a colored version of the photo.

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for the book “Thirteen Red Roses” by Carlos Fonseca, and was also along with dozens of other photographs in the book “Unpublished images of the Civil War” (2002). 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, 2008

Marina Ginesta, 2008

Generalissimo Francisco Franco launched a military coup against the Second Spanish Republic (declared 1931). After the immediate resistance (by socialists, Marxists, anarchists, and republicans), the anarchists (CNT-FAI militias) controlled Catalonia until the PCE eventually influenced the Republican government into attacking the anarchists and P.O.U.M. (“Party of Marxist Unification” – anti-Stalinist Marxists) during the Barcelona May Days (1937) and suppressing the anarchist Spanish Revolution begun when the anarchy-syndicalist labor union (the CNT, 1.5 to 2 million workers strong) seized arms from the state to fight off Franco. Barcelona fell to Franco on the 26th of January, 1939.

Anyone interested in the Spanish civil war should read Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. It is a nonfiction memoir of his time fighting against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. He describes fighting with a fascinating anarchist socialist society and how a conception of society very much better and freer than ours is possible. Initially he fought alongside the communists, but their treatment of the anarchists soured his opinion of them and largely influenced his later novels. here are two main ideological currents of communism – Marxism and anarchism. There were also two Marxist groups, the PCE (aligned with the Soviet Union) and the P.O.U.M. (not aligned with the Soviet Union). Orwell fought with the P.O.U.M. for the whole time, though he later wished to fight for the CNT-FAI anarchists to which they were allied.

The P.O.U.M. and the CNT-FAI, though representing different strains of communism (Marxism and anarcho-syndicalism, respectively), stood together until the bitter end. The CNT-FAI was much larger and controlled Catalonia, and so the P.O.U.M. often played a support role, but was suppressed even more harshly than the CNT-FAI by the “Stalinist” PCE. So Orwell fought with Marxist communists (P.O.U.M.), allied to anarchist communists (CNT-FAI), and had his militia betrayed and suppressed by communists (PCE). This was the beginning of his disdain for Marxism-Leninism (and the case of Stalin in particular), but he remained a libertarian communist (somewhere between libertarian Marxist and anarchist) all his life. In Animal Farm, the pig Napoleon (a stand-in for Stalin) is clearly the villain in the end, but it is his similarity with the humans that came before that condemns him; Orwell saw Stalin as too similar to the liberals, capitalists, and imperialists, especially in his handling of alliances with respect to the Spanish Civil War. He wrote 1984 as a warning to the left as to what to be ever vigilant for during the revolution, so that it would liberate and not oppress.

5 thoughts on “Marina Ginesta, a 17-year-old communist militant, overlooking Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, 1936

  1. Daniel

    Actually Hans Gutmann. Another example that shows how spanish people have had the tendency to translate everything and not to be open minded to other cultures, names and ways of thinking. Let’s hope to see a free Catalonia soon.

    Reply

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