Federico Borrell García

Federico Borrell García (January 3, 1912 – September 5, 1936) was a Spanish Republican and anarchist militiaman during the Spanish Civil War, commonly thought to be the subject in the famous Robert Capa photo The Falling Soldier (Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death, Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936).

Federico Borrell García
Capa, Death of a Loyalist Soldier.jpg
Death of a Loyalist Soldier
Born(1912-01-03)January 3, 1912
DiedSeptember 5, 1936(1936-09-05) (aged 24)
Cause of deathKilled in action
Known forThe Falling Soldier

He was born in Benilloba, Valencian Community, and went by the nickname "Taino". He worked at a mill in Alcoi and he founded the local branch of the anarchist Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth (FIJL). He joined the local Loyalist militia, the Columna Alcoiana, set up to defend the Spanish Republic against the Spanish Nationalist forces of Francisco Franco.[1]

According to some sources, on the morning of September 5, 1936, Borrell was one of about fifty men who arrived at Cerro Muriano in Córdoba to reinforce the militia against Francoist forces commanded by General José Enrique Varela. During that afternoon Borrell was defending the artillery battery to the rear of the Alcoi infantry when enemy troops infiltrated behind the Loyalists and fired at them from behind. Borrell was fatally shot around five o’clock on or near the hill known as La Loma de las Malagueñas. According to Spanish government records, he was the only member of the Columna Alcoiana to die in the fighting at Cerro Muriano that day. Everisto García, his brother, identified him from the photo.[1]

Other versions claim that Borrell could have been shot and killed by rebels when posing for Robert Capa.[2] The documentary La sombra del iceberg claims that the picture was staged and that Borrell is not the individual in the picture.[3]

It is not known where Borrell, or the other, unidentified, militiaman killed shortly after, are buried, although the most likely place is the nearby cemetery at Villaharta.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Proving that Robert Capa's "Falling Soldier" is genuine: A detective story". American Masters. Retrieved 2008-07-17. Because Brotóns had himself fought at Cerro Muriano on September 5, 1936, he remembered from his first-hand knowledge that Federico Borrell García had been killed there that day. In the course of his research, Brotóns contacted the historian Francisco Moreno Gómez (author of the definitive book about the civil war on the Córdoba front), who informed him that the records in the Spanish government archives in Salamanca and Madrid confirm that only one member of the Columna Alcoyana died at Cerro Muriano on September 5, 1936. Brotóns then could be certain that the man in Capa's photograph must be Federico Borrell García. When Brotóns showed Capa's photograph to Federico's younger brother, Everisto, he confirmed the identification.
  2. ^ Isabel Hilton (September 27, 2008). "The camera never lies. But photographers can and do". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-07-26. Capa was a great photographer but he was not averse to faking. In 1937 he fabricated footage for the March of Time newsreel series. He told the Life photographer, Hansel Mieth, that the Borrell picture had been taken when the militiamen were fooling around, not in the heat of battle as had been believed. She added that Capa seemed upset and said little more except that it "haunted him badly". ... As Borrell stood to pose for Capa, he was cut down by a rebel bullet.
  3. ^ (in Spanish) "Autopsia al miliciano de Robert Capa" El Mundo. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  4. ^ (in Spanish) "El soldado, el fotógrafo y la muerte" El País. Retrieved 20 October 2013.

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