Sunday, 6 November 2011

Martha Gellhorn - war correspondent


In 1971, sitting in the bar at the Continental Palace in Saigon I met the famous war correspondent, Martha Gellhorn, the woman who changed the face of war reporting by giving accounts of the suffering of real people . A pioneer in journalism, telling the story of war in a unique and personal way, she reported on virtually every major world conflict that took place during her 60-year career.Gellhorn covered the Spanish Civil War the Finnish-Soviet winter war, World War II, the Vietnam War and the 1977 Arab Israel conflict.

When I met Gellhorn she must have been 62 going 63 and was a compelling person with a magnetic personality and had just come back from having been with US forces somewhere in the central highlands.; I was 23 on my first Red Cross mission sitting at a table with a few other journalist and she joined us. I was unsure of who she was at that moment but I could immediately see the respect accorded to her by journalists that knew her incredible history. I can recall her commenting on the futility of war and the deeper meaning of life...”That spiritual world up or out there,” she described so wistfully with delicate hand movements, and then she dismissed the comment.

Many years later I found out exactly what she thought about the US engagement in the Vietnam war.
"The American army in Vietnam was an army of occupation, victims and victimizers both," she later wrote. "Victims because they were wrongly sent 10,000 miles from home, to take part - even as mildly as storekeeper, clerk, cook - in a political aggression. Victimizers because they looked on Vietnamese as a lesser breed..."

She was a striking lady at her age and someone you wanted to be alne to find out more about her remarkable life. Magnetic yes, and still so beautiful and elegant.  I was so lucky to have met her when I was a young Red Cross delegate. Wikipedia has a section on her marriages and love affairs which may be of interest to some. However, I find her courage and writing ability as two things I will remember forever about this pioneering war correspondent.

Caroline Moorehead, author of Gellhorn: A Twentieth Century Life, says Gellhorn remained undaunted for most of her 90 years. "I think she was fearless but she knew what it was like to be frightened," a toughness she got from her upbringing, Moorehead says.

Gellhorn covered wars in a different way than other journalists. "She didn't write about battles and she didn't know about military tactics," Moorehead says. "What she was really interested in was describing what war does to civilians, does to ordinary people."

In 1939 Gellhorn witnessed the first weeks of the Winter War between Finland the Soviet Union. She was in Helsinki when the Soviet air forces bombed the city, as a declaration of war. "An Italian journalist had remarked in Helsinki that anyone who could survive the Finnish climate could survive anything and we decided with admiration that the Finns were a tough and unrelenting race, seeing them take this war as if there were nothing very remarkable in three million people fighting against a nation of 180 million." (Gellhorn in The Face of War, 1959) Gellhorn also met President Svinhufvud, whose name she wrote "Szinhuszue". Svinhufvud offered his guests small apples from his orchard. At the Karelian front Gellhorn interviewed Finnish fighter pilots, astonished by their age: "they ought to be going to college dances," she remarked. Gellhorn's reports emphasized that Finland was not the aggressor and deeply influenced the public opinion in the United States about the war.
Gellhorn married Hemingway on November 20, 1940, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. (photo left) Hemingway's friend, Robert Capa, photographed the ceremony for Life. The author dedicated his famous novel about the Spanish Civil war, For Whom the Bells Toll (1940), to Gellhorn. Maria in the book was partly modelled after her. "Her hair was the golden brow of a grain field," Hemingway wrote of his heroine. In the film version of the book, Ingrid Bergman played Maria, but hair was darker than Gellhorn's. However, Gellhorn had suggested her for the role.

The first years of their marriage were happy, although Gellhorn was never really attracted to Hemingway, or believed in romantic love. Hemingway taught her to ride, and shoot, and fish. In the afternoon they played tennis.

Gellhorn was sent to China by Collier's to report on the China-Japan war. They met General Chiang Kai-shek ("he had no teeth"), and continued to Burma, where they spent some time. Hemingway returned to Hong Kong and Gellhorn left for Singapore and Java. "She gets to the place,"

Gellhorn was sent to China by Collier's to report on the China-Japan war. They met General Chiang Kai-shek ("he had no teeth"), and continued to Burma, where they spent some time. Hemingway returned to Hong Kong and Gellhorn left for Singapore and Java. "She gets to the place,"


Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway with unidentified Chinese military officers, Chungking, China, 1941
Since she walked out on Ernest Hemingway in 1943, after five years of marriage, Gellhorn had refused to talk much about him. She was a writer in her own right, a woman who had covered the heaviest of wars, and she wished to be remembered for that. Yet all people recalled was the marriage. That obviously was disappointing to such a talented writer.

After the war she served as a correspondent in Java. Her only play, Love Goes to Press (1947), written in collaboration with Virginia Cowles, did not gain much success. Liana (1944) was a story of a mulatto woman. "True, there is a suspiciously Hemingway-like handling of the dialogue," wrote John Lucas in Contemporary Novelists (1972), "but for the rest there is a sharpness, a truth of observation in the studies of Liana herself and of Marc that would make the novel worth reading if there were nothing else to commend it." The Wine of Astonishment (1948) fallowed a U.S. in Europe in World War II. "Anything at all would do," thinks one of the characters, Lieutenant Colonel Smithers, "except this hour to hour hanging on, with time like a rock in your brain." A young soldier, Jacob Levy, confronts man's inhumanity toward man in Germany. The book was partly based on Gellhorn's experiences - she had been at Dachau a week after American soldiers had discovered the concentration camp.
The Continental Palace in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) where I met Martha Gellhorn in 1971.

In 1958 Gellhorn received an O. Henry Award. The sale of a short story to television enabled her to pay in 1962 her own way to Africa. Gellhorn's love affair of the continent lasted off and on for thirteen years. Much of her time she spent in Kenya, where she had a residence in the Rift Valley. Eventually she fond hopeless to try to write about the "natural world where everything was older than time and I was the briefest object in the landscape." One morning she was attacked on a beach - according to her friend, she was raped. Later she wrote a short story dealing with the traumatic experience.

Between 1934 and 1967, Gellhorn published six novels. She covered wars in Vietnam in the 1960s, and the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1967 for the Guardian of London. "The American army in Vietnam was an army of occupation, victims and victimizers both," she later wrote. "Victims because they were wrongly sent 10,000 miles from home, to take part - even as mildly as storekeeper, clerk, cook - in a political aggression. Victimizers because they looked on Vietnamese as a lesser breed..." In 1962 Gellhorn made a tour of German universities.

She could describe vividly decades later, how people were dressed and what they discussed on particular occasions. She had a sharp eye for significant details, and her writing was clear, clever, and precise - all qualities of a good reporter.  Her article Is there a new Germany ? written in February 1964 shows her accute powers of observation, analysis and committment to truth. She could describe vividly decades later, how people looked like on any ocassion when questioned..

There is an excellent doco on youtube with a Spanish commentary. You'll love it as you see the places she visited and so many photos of her exciting life.

How I enjoy her writings, love her as a person and am so grateful to have met her. R.I. P Martha..

27 comments:

Allie Baker said...

Hi Bob, I would like to email you about this article but I can't find you email anywhere on your site - can you email me? Allie.baker@ymail.com Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Set about by placing a minor gum elastic as a injure,
or as terrible as multiple humbled finger cymbals that postulate a contrive and several months of
rehabilitation. If lump is causing your Carpal Tunnel hurting, ice will
discussion for continuing annoyance and this is not special to second pain sensation.

Do wrist operation crucial to outset confab a doc for right diagnosis in front starting
time any physical exertion subroutine to
speak your carpal tunnel. These let in "endoscopic surgical procedure" and through carpal tunnel, as this could effort further wound.



Look into my page :: Keaau carpal tunnel specialist
Also visit my webpage ; Keaau carpal tunnel specialist

Anonymous said...

Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an
extremely well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information.
Thanks for the post. I will definitely comeback.
Feel free to surf my webpage : pain and swelling in feet and ankles

Anonymous said...

They are generally also used in herbal preparations. More specific are the cornerstone of the proximal toe joint, can cause pain and disability in lupus determine what triggered a lupus patient's kidney function, which is used, with some of the muscle. Sometimes we don't eat very much in the body.

Now stepping down off my headache. These may precede other symptoms of the hormone testosterone, called
a malar rash.

My web page ... lupus treatment Fishkill

Anonymous said...

One portion of Libby's day or you can regular add few drops of Orchard apple tree cider vinegar to your refreshing veggie salad if you care. All the same, there are some in unlike parts of cosmos due to the ticker attacks. These are the types of things you need to inquiry use regularly to help oneself amend your cholesterol levels.

Here is my page: natural remedies treating high cholesterol

Anonymous said...

Introduction to journey Blogging provides
an living is what some feature described as a
"surviving sati", a Mention to the now outlawed
practice session of widow burning at the stake.
"

My web blog ... click here

Anonymous said...

Howdy! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this
post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
Many thanks for sharing!

Feel free to visit my web page; link

Anonymous said...

Thankfulness to my father who informed me regarding this webpage, this blog is truly remarkable.


Have a look at my web page :: Lipo Slim

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
I'm planning to start my own website soon but I'm a little lost on everything.

Would you advise starting with a free platform like Wordpress or
go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I'm totally overwhelmed .. Any tips? Bless you!

My webpage: bmi calculator for men

Anonymous said...

What's up, the whole thing is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing data, that's in
fact excellent, keep up writing.

Also visit my web site; http://leanmuscleformulablog.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks very nice blog!

Feel free to visit my site :: how to lose weight fast for women

Anonymous said...

Useful information. Fortunate me I discovered your website by accident,
and I am stunned why this accident didn't happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

Also visit my web-site slimlipoplusdiet.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks in support of sharing such a good opinion, article is pleasant, thats why i have read it entirely

Also visit my web page ... Miles Martz | Activity Streams | Review Cheats | Page 53548

Anonymous said...

Great site you have got here.. It's hard to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

Here is my web page - User talk:Haix17J - Acrobalance

Anonymous said...

continuously i used to read smaller articles which also clear their motive, and that is also happening with this paragraph which I
am reading at this place.

Also visit my web-site :: http://int.lababiochem.ru/groups/test...

Anonymous said...

Nice replies in return of this issue with genuine
arguments and describing all about that.

Review my homepage Lose wegiht

Anonymous said...

Sir, pls deliver that video to my email I.D. It will be assistance
ful 2 make pcb simple. Thankyou.

Stop by my web-site; xerox phaser 8560 Service manual

Anonymous said...

Just what regarding the shade printing. You ask which
is cheaper in B&W yet exactly what about basic use. My inkjet smears every
shade I try to print. So is laser much better for throughout top quality at
an acceptable expense.

Here is my homepage: Xerox phaser 8560 toner

Anonymous said...

I savor, result in I found exactly what I was taking a look for.
You've ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

Stop by my site ... Easy Diets That Work

Anonymous said...

I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.
nonetheless, you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following.
unwell unquestionably come more formerly again
as exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike.


Here is my web page how much should you weigh

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your facts.
No problem installingl the vist64 vehicle driver.


Here is my site xerox phaser 8560 solid ink

Anonymous said...

http://metin2lcok.za.pl/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=4522
http://newworld.s-club.tw/viewthread.php?tid=66477&extra=
http://www.detectivespro.ro/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1181
http://www.abc-harry-potter-online.de/cgi-bin/forumdr/cutecast.pl?session=bLUtHY1UT2hAIEp16cLXnfTXDA&forum=1&thread=128496
http://demo.opensourcecms.com/minibb/index.php?action=vthread&forum=1&topic=1#msg11
http://forum.safetypro.com.vn/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=93094&extra=
http://quchengli.com/mybbs/viewthread.php?tid=1019822&extra=
http://www.jinmaoyishu.com/jmysbbs/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=34750&extra=
http://forum.1ak.by/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=64776
http://druzhina-team.ru/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=25676

Anonymous said...

http://web23844.w253.938030968.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=42008&extra=
http://www.86wzfc.com/bbs/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=139054&extra=
http://chinavisualart.com/bbs/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=54634&extra=
http://forum.gospodina.md/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=87992&sid=9d5418301643ed1ddc4feee2ad83fb9e
http://a.fyiming.cn/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=319929&extra=
http://haco.vso.vn/diendan/showthread.php?4191-Uncovering-Fundamental-Details-For-beautiful-shoes-outlet&p=5832#post5832
http://0512.51wyx.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=30261&extra=
http://graemespence.co.uk/elkmobile/Elkarte-mobile/index.php?topic=111263.new#new
http://www.jhszj.com/bbs/thread-94760-1-1.html
http://forum.sohastore.vn/threads/effective-products-in-beautiful-shoes-across-the-usa.23097/

Anonymous said...

http://crosspointdota.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5262
http://www.gsxxoo.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=97792&extra=
http://forum.brzezinaosiek.pl/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11302
http://bbs.mzwok.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=41039&extra=
http://www.chizt.com/viewthread.php?tid=96798&extra=
http://www.sktbr.ru/forum/?content=thread&id=70
http://zonsy.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=774314&extra=
http://xueshengqun.com/thread-950787-1-1.html
http://www.9ai7.com/bbs/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=65203&extra=
http://www.batsmanstorpet.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=2&TopicID=104155&PagePosition=1&ThreadPage=1

Anonymous said...

http://forum.projectmanagementstudy.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=421849
http://www.2bank.net/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=18477&extra=
http://mgcamd-sharing.net/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=153871
http://toplyoo.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=24933&extra=
http://www.80coco.com/bbs/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=1101260&extra=
http://www.schoolrejection.com/index.php?/topic/3219-%d0%be%d1%81%d0%bd%d0%be%d0%b2%d1%8b-%d0%bc%d0%b0%d1%80%d0%ba%d0%b5%d1%82%d0%b8%d0%bd%d0%b3%d0%b0-%d1%80%d0%b5%d1%84%d0%b5%d1%80%d0%b0%d1%82-%d1%81%d0%ba%d0%b0%d1%87%d0%b0%d1%82%d1%8c/page__gopid__48229#entry48229
http://yaoganbbs.com/thread-435471-1-1.html
http://www.nmsffa.nm.org/cgi-bin/forum/Blah.pl?m-1371366958/
http://www.seoagentservice.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=136715
http://www.advokaturaa.lt/forumas/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=84508

Anonymous said...

http://tiengnoinguoitieudung.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=1216356&extra=
http://17.anlid.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=50335&extra=
http://h.42t.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=115162&extra=
http://yinyinge.com/thread-225734-1-1.html
http://forum.mellanmjolk.org/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=43601&sid=699f052713f54a8b7bec8b76c185cd57
http://live.wanliyan.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=36537&extra=
http://203.131.209.142/HISdev/node/43149
http://www.rftbank.co.kr/inobbs/bbs_read.php?code=ibd00_qb&nbd=ibd00_qb&dbcal=no&uid=19&page=1&start=0&mode=&no=0&lng=kor
http://avba.info/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=52472&extra=
http://dm.7wanli.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=14327&extra=

Anonymous said...

Hi there, yeah this post is genuinely nice and I have learned lot of things from it concerning blogging.
thanks.

Feel free to surf to my weblog - read More