Belle was nine-months pregnant when the Japanese Army took her husband prisoner. She was a military wife in the Philippines in 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
At the time Americans feared the Japanese would invade the west coast of their homeland. That didn't happen in Washington, Oregon, California or Alaska. But the Japanese did invade the Philippines where American forces were woefully unprepared.
The story of the American surrender to the Japanese and the U.S. military nurses taken POW is told in my book Pure Grit.
But today's story focuses on one young woman, expecting her fourth child, who got horrible news. Her husband was one of 75-thousand starving and disease-stricken soldiers, U.S. and Filipino, forced to surrender to the Japanese Imperial Army.
I cannot imagine what went through Belle Valentine's mind. On the one hand, her husband was alive. But could he stay alive while a prisoner of an army known for its brutality? The Japanese had utter contempt for soldiers who would surrender rather than fight to the death. I know one thing. Belle was determined to do everything in her power to save him.
I mentioned a short time ago, how the kaleidoscope of events in 2020 sent me into a bit of an emotional spin, prompting me to think more deeply about personal and public affairs.
One thing on my mind is media literacy. For the month of May, I'll be engaging people on social media about the topic of media literacy. I'll have Instagram Live interviews with experts and resources for adults and teens.
This week's feature story could be filed under tragic love stories. But I'm not focusing on the couple. This story is about the woman who is often stuck in a forgotten corner of history, hidden by the long shadow cast by her famous lover.
Gerda Taro believed photographs could change the world. In the mid-1930s, she served as a midwife of sorts, helping birth the powerful force of modern photo journalism.
Taro captured some of the most memorable images of the Spanish civil war, and was the first woman in history to take pictures in battle. Unfortunately, she was also the first to lose her life reporting in a war zone.
Tragedy and mystery conspired to shroud Gerda Taro and her work, leaving photojournalism to move on without her. Below: Gerda Taro at work.
The daring activism that carried Gerda to the battlefields of Spain ignited in Germany.
Gerda Pohorylle was born in 1910 to a Jewish family in Stuttgart. She came of age with the rising fascist National Socialists German Workers Party, (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei abbreviated Nazi) and joined the opposition.
In 1933, while passing out pamphlets at an anti-Nazi protest, Gerda was arrested and detained. Hitler became chancellor shortly after, and 23-year-old Gerda fled to Paris for safety.
Amid a a flood of refugees fleeing fascism, Gerda struggled to find work in Paris, but eventually got a job at Alliance Photo Agency. Hanging out with other young newcomers to Paris, she met Endré Friedmann, a Hungarian refugee trying to make a living as a photographer.
The two fell in love and developed a remarkable working relationship. Gerda advised
Endré on aspects of business and wrote captions for his pictures. He taught her the fundamentals of photography.
I'm fascinated to discover little-known stories from history. Stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
I also post here about my books and feature other authors and their books on compelling and important historical topics.
Occasionally, I share what makes me happy, pictures of my garden, recipes I've made, events I've attended, people I've met. I'm always happy to hear from readers, in the blog comments, by email or social media.