Robert Capas bilde «Death of a militiaman» (1936) er blitt et ikon for den spanske borgerkrigen. Capa levde «tett på», både som menneske og fotograf. Hvis bildet viser seg å være arrangert, er det noe av nimbusen som ryker. Helt fra 70-tallet har det vært hevdet at bildet er arrangert. Nå har journalister i en katalansk avis levert det de mener er ugjendrivelige bevis.

«We tried to reconstruct the events exactly as they would have to have occurred for Capa’s photo to have been taken during a military conflict,» says Ernest Alos, the reporter for Cataluna’s daily El Periodico who has led the latest inquiry. «And we discovered that the picture does not correspond to any actual event.»

I Barcelona henger en utstilling av Robert Capas borgerkrigsbilder. I den forbindelse dukket det opp flere hittil ukjente bilder Capa tok mens han var i Spania. Det er ikke minst disse som danner grunnlag for arbeidet med å påvise at Capas bilde ikke kan være tatt der det etter sigende ble tatt.

Alos and his colleagues came to the conclusion that Capa’s photo had been staged by following the lead of Jose Manuel Susperregu, photography professor at the University of the Basque Country. Having closely examined the previously unseen photographs, Susperregu sent two of them to the governing councils of towns near Andalusia’s Cerro Muriano, where Capa’s photo purportedly was taken, and received confirmation that the landscape seen in the picture is actually located roughly 30 miles (50 km) away, near Espejo, a Cordoban town isolated from the war’s battle zone. The El Periodico reporters spoke with the people of Espejo and with historians of the Civil War, and learned that no military conflicts had taken place in the area during the days when Capa took the photograph.

Men hva hvis bildet er arrangert? Forandrer det noe, spør Cynthia Young, kurator ved International Center for Photography i New York, og ansvarlig for Capa-arkivene.

«But I don’t see how one goes from ‘new location’ to ‘fake photo’ – it’s a lot more complicated than that. Capa never said the photo was taken at Cerra Muriano – not once, not anywhere.»

On this point, at least, those pursuing the meaning of Capa’s falling militiaman may find common ground. «To show that Capa fabricated this photo shakes his reputation, yes,» says El Periodico’s Alos. «But rather than destroying Capa’s myth, it forces us to confront the realities of that time and place: that it was 1936, that Capa was a 22-year-old on his first assignment.» More important, he says, «this is part of an effort to recuperate the historical and graphic memory of our country. That’s the really important thing – that we’ve taken a new step forward in understanding our own history.»

Was Robert Capa’s Famous Civil War Photo a Fake?