Thursday, June 2, 2011

Martha Gellhorn: War Correspondent



Martha Gellhorn in Spain during the 1930's.
JFK Memorial Library.

While in Spain, reporting the effects the Spanish Civil War had on civilians for Collier's weekly newsmagazine, Martha realized that Fascism had to be stopped in Spain or it would take another, larger war to do so. The Fascist Nationalists won the war.

On the evening of June 6, 1944, D-Day, Martha was walking through the docks of London. By this timne, she had been reporting on the world war for Collier's from England, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and the Far East. She no longer believed, as she once did,. that public opinion could be changed by journalism. After all, she and other jouirnalists had been reporting the dangerous rise of European Fascism for years, and it had only grown more powerful. What Martha wanted now was a front-row seat to the fall of Fascism, which she believed had just begun that morning on the shores of Normandy. She thought that being a journalist gave her that ticket.

But she was going to have to find her own ticket this time. Along with the troops that had crossed the English Channel from the very docks she was now strolling through, hundreds of writers, radio journalists, and war photographers had also crossed over into Normandy. Martha, by now a respected and renowned journalist, had not been allowed to travel with them for one simple reason: they were men, and she was a woman. Female reporters weren't allowed on the front lines of battle.

As Martha walked around the docks, she noticed a white ship that had red crosses painted on its side. It was a hospital ship that was going to cross the Channel to help the wounded . . .

Excerpt from "Martha Gellhorn: War Correspondent" from Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue.

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