WDR 4 book tip: “The girl with the Leica” by Helena Janeczek – books – culture

At the beginning of the book there are two photos. Both show a young couple in love. Laughing, relaxed, he holds a bulky rifle in his hand. The two fought against the fascists in the Spanish civil war. They were photographed by Gerda Taro and Robert Capa, who probably recognized themselves in this couple. The great passion in the fight for freedom did not lead to a happy ending. Gerda Taro was run over by a tank while trying to escape.

Still, her story is one of courage. Gerda Taro was a cheerful, energetic young woman, the daughter of a Jewish merchant, who fled into exile in France from the Nazi dictatorship. There she got by with writing jobs until she discovered her passion for photography. And got to know a young man from Hungary. She invented a new name and résumé for him, Robert Capa. A marketing measure to get better paid jobs. She changed her own name – she was originally called Greta Pohorylla – to Gerda Taro.

The author Helena Janeczek tells this life story in three parts from different perspectives. First Willy reports, a heart specialist who met Gerda in Paris and later emigrated to the USA. She calls him “Dachshund”, he is deeply in love with her, but accepts the fate of being only a good friend. Then her close friend Ruth and finally Georg, a doctor and revolutionary, told Gerda’s partner in Paris.

“The girl with the Leica” is not a novel that takes the tension to extremes, but a carefully researched book with many flashbacks and memories. Helena Janeczek carefully and lovingly composes the picture of an extraordinary woman, whose courage and enthusiasm are deeply impressive.

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