Google has just recognized Gerda Taro with a new Google Doodle on what would’ve been her 108th birthday.
Known as ‘the little red fox’ for her ginger-colored hair and short stature, Taro’s contributions to photography and journalism were anything but little, as she became the first female photojournalist to cover the frontlines of a war – something that sadly ended her life at a young age.
But just who exactly was Gerda Taro? Here’s everything you need to know about who she was and what a Google Doodle is.
Photojournalist Gerda Taro was known for her fearless reporting during the Spanish Civil War
Who was Gerda Taro?
Gerda Taro was a war photographer known for capturing the brutality of the Spanish Civil War during her short yet influential career.
She was born as Gerta Pohorylle on August 1, 1910 in Stuttgart, Germany into a middle-class Jewish family.
Growing up in Stuttgart and Leipzig, she vocally opposed the Nazi Party and was arrested and detained in 1933 shortly after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power for distributing propaganda material against the party.
Shortly afterwards, her family fled Germany to other countries to escape the antiemetic policies instituted by the ruling Nazi regime, with Taro ultimately settling in Paris in 1934.
In 1935, she met and started a romantic relationship with Endre Friedmann, known professionally as Robert Capa. Capa, a fellow Jewish refugee from Hungary, taught her photography and eventually hired her as his personal assistant.
After working as a picture editor for Alliance Photo, Taro adopted her current name, an amalgamation of Swedish actress Greta Garbo and Japanese artist Taro Okamoto, and cofounded the Magnum Photo agency with Capa.
After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936, Taro and Capa traveled to Barcelona to cover the frontlines of the bloody conflict. During the war, she soon became known for her intrepid reporting, with her pictures from the frontlines being published in the French newspaper Ce Soir and later heavily sought after by the international media.
Her photos of the bombing of Valencia during the conflict soon became her most celebrated. Notably, her July 1937 pictures of the situation on the ground in Spain’s Brunete region counteracted Nationalist propaganda that they controlled the area and revealed that the Republican faction still held it.
Sadly, Taro’s life was cut tragically short by the war she was covering. On July 26, 1937, while covering the Republican army’s eventual retreat after the Battle of Brunete, she was killed after the car she was riding in collided with a tank, mortally wounding her.
Although her career was short and her life ended at a young age, Taro was undoubtedly a trailblazer who not only brought critical information about the Spanish Civil War to millions of people across the world but also shattered gender stereotypes regarding the role of women in both wartime and journalism.
What is a Google Doodle?
Google Doodles are temporary changes to Google’s homepage logo to reflect an individual, anniversary, event, accomplishment, holiday and the like.
Introduced back in 1998 to recognize the Burning Man festival, they were initially created by Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin before later being produced by outside contractors and the company’s chief PR officer Dennis Hwang. Since then, a special in-house team known as Doodlers has produced them on a more regular basis.
Most Google Doodles nowadays recognize holidays such as Halloween, St Patrick’s Day, Bastille Day and the like. They’re also frequently used to mark major events such as the Olympics and to honor notable individuals such as Maria Rebecca Latigo de Hernandez, Ludwig Sutterlin and Lyudmila Rudenko.