I am a massive fan of Martha Gellhorn. A truly inspirational journalist who changed journalism forever for women like me. She was a trailblazing journalist and war correspondent who left an indelible mark on the field of journalism through her fearless reporting, compelling storytelling and commitment to truth-telling. Born on November 8, 1908, in St. Louis, Missouri, Gellhorn’s career spanned several decades and included extensive coverage of major historical events, making her one of the most respected and influential journalists of the 20th century.

Gellhorn’s career began in the 1930s, when she moved to France to work as a foreign correspondent for the United Press (UP). During her time in Europe, she covered a wide range of stories, from the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Spanish Civil War to the struggles of refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Gellhorn’s reporting was marked by a unique blend of passion and objectivity. She had an uncanny ability to connect with the people she interviewed and brought their stories to life with a vivid and empathetic prose style.

However, it was during World War II that Martha Gellhorn truly made her mark as a war correspondent. She travelled to Europe, North Africa, and the Pacific, reporting on the war from the frontlines. Her coverage of the D-Day invasion, the liberation of the concentration camps, and the trials of war criminals showcased her commitment to exposing the atrocities of war and ensuring that the world would not forget the horrors of the conflict.

One of Gellhorn’s most notable attributes was her courage. She often risked her life to get the story, disregarding personal safety to bear witness to the suffering and bravery of those caught in the crossfire. Her writing from the war zones was marked by its unflinching honesty and refusal to sugarcoat the brutal realities of conflict. Gellhorn famously said, “Nothing is better for self-esteem than survival.”

Her work was not limited to the written word; she also contributed to radio broadcasts and documentary films. Her film “The Way of the Peace” documented the lives of American soldiers after World War II and won an Academy Award.

Gellhorn’s career extended beyond her war reporting. She covered major events like the Nuremberg Trials and the founding of the United Nations. She also wrote numerous books, including novels and travel accounts. Her novel “The Stricken Field” drew from her experiences in wartime Europe, and her travel writings, such as “Travels with Myself and Another,” captured her adventurous spirit and love of exploration.

Gellhorn’s personal life was also noteworthy. She was married to the famous American novelist Ernest Hemingway, and the couple shared a tumultuous relationship. While her association with Hemingway is often mentioned in discussions of her life, it is essential to recognise that Gellhorn’s work and legacy extend far beyond her famous marriage. She was a fiercely independent and accomplished journalist in her own right, and her career was marked by substance and significance independent of her personal life.

Martha Gellhorn’s contributions to journalism and her impact on the world were substantial. She broke new ground for women in the field of war reporting and brought a fresh perspective to the craft of journalism. Her dedication to truth-telling, her courage in the face of danger and her commitment to giving a voice to those affected by war and conflict make her a role model for aspiring journalists. Martha Gellhorn’s work reminds us of the power of journalism to bear witness to the world’s most challenging moments and to hold those in power accountable. Her legacy continues to inspire generations of journalists to tell the stories that matter, regardless of the personal risks involved.

And then there is this pitiful propagandist

One can imagine how pissed off Martha would be if she saw this.

Penny Lane

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