Tuesday, August 18, 2009

War casualty

The Falling Soldier is a famous photograph taken by Robert Capa . It purportedly showed a Republican soldier falling backward after he was shot dead in the early days of the Spanish Civil War. With the recent discovery that the photograph was taken near Espejo, 30 miles from Cerro Muriano the claimed location, it now seems likely that the photograph was staged. The defense case seems to be that although the photograph was one of a series, in most of which Republican soldiers are clearly acting for the camera, taken at a location away from the fighting an infiltrating nationalist sniper had just happened to shoot one of the soldiers at the exact moment he was posing for Capa. While not absolutely impossible this is obviously not the simplest explanation.

So should it matter? After all Republican soldiers did die near Cerro Muriano some perhaps shot much as depicted in the photograph. But whether or not it should matter, it clearly does matter because the photograph became a symbol of the Republican cause. People don't like to give up the symbols of their causes. Hence the unlikely defenses of the photograph offered by supporters of the Republican cause. And why it is said that truth is the first casualty of war.

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