Retrato de Matilde Landa Vaz
Person - Landa, Matilde (1904-1942)

Landa, Matilde (1904-1942)




Preferred form:

Landa, Matilde (1904-1942)

Fechas de existencia:

Badajoz (España)  1904-06-24 - Palma (Mallorca, Illes Balears, España)  1942-09-26


She was the youngest of 4 siblings. Her parents, the lawyer Alfredo Rubén Landa Coronado (1849-1923) and the Portuguese María Jacinta Toscano Vaz (1865-1930), entered into civil marriage. She was born in Badajoz (as well as her father) on the 24th of June 1904 and was registered at the Civil Registry as Matilde María Carolina Landa Vaz. Her father was a distinguished lawyer, a journalist and a Republican politician. He was also a member of the Reformist Party. Her mother, native from Portel (Évora, Portugal), was the daughter of doctor Damião Salvador Vaz. He had Brahman origins but was native from Aldoná (Bardez, Goa, India). He studied at the Coimbra University while he lived in the Alentejana city, where he married Benedicta das Dores Limpo Toscano. The biographies of Matilde Landa and her siblings were influenced by the Republican and liberal coming from their paternal and maternal families. Her father, Rubén Landa Coronado, was the son of Matilde Coronado (romantic writer Carolina Coronado's sister and relative of Ramón Gómez de la Serna's mother). He studied Law and Philosophy and Arts at the Central University of Madrid, where he befriended Giner de los Ríos and Manuel Bartolomé Cossío, among others. He was a member of the first group of stockholders of the Free Teaching Institution's bulletin. His friendship with Francisco and his following relationship with Nicolás Salmerón and his supporters in France laid the foundation of the important link between his children (Aida, Rubén, Jacinta and Matilde Landa Vaz) and the Free Teaching Institution.

After ending her first studies in Badajoz, Matilde Landa stayed in A Corunna for some time with her sister Jacinta and her brother-in-law, the Galicianist Juan Vicente Viqueiria, Cossío's nephew and professor at the city's high school. She matriculated in the Professional School of Commerce, where Mathematics instruction, her favourite subject, had a very good reputation. When she returned to Badajoz, she matriculated as a free student in the city's high school and got her secondary school diploma. At the end of 1923, her father died and she moved to Madrid with her mother in order to start her university studies. She stayed at the "Residencia de Señoritas" (Girls' Student Residence), where a large number of girls coming from Extremadura were living. At the beginning of the school year, doctors detected her a lung disease and she had to abandon their studies. Firstly, she moved to Salamanca and, later, to Segovia to be under care of her brother Ruben. He worked as a philosophy teacher in both cities' high schools. In 1929, Matilde returned to Madrid, where she lived with her mother. She restarted her university studies and graduated from Natural Sciences. Her way through college consolidated her engagement to the progressive and republican ideas. In 1930, she married Francisco López Ganivet, the writer Ángel Ganivet's nephew. They had two daughters, Carmen and Jacinta. The second one was two years younger than Carmen, who died a few months from being born. When she ended her studies, she worked in a laboratory with Doctor Gonzalo Rodríguez Lafora according to her declaration to the police. He was a prestigious neurologist and the disciple of Ramón y Cajal between 1935 and 1936, with whom his nephew Florencio Villa Landa worked. When the Republic arrived, Matilde wanted to be involved in the changing processes of the country. After the revolutionary movement in October 1934, she joined the International Red Aid. At the beginning of 1936, she joined the Spanish Communist Party. After the military coup in 1936, she enrolled the Fifth Regiment's female battalion. When it disappeared, she was named responsible of the International Red Air's Hospitals and Children's Camps. She also worked in the Republic's health sector together with the photograph Tina Modotti, the nurses Mary Bingham, from North America, and the Cuban María Luisa Lafita, and Nieves Cruz Arnaiz, among others. This last-mentioned woman was the secretary and fellow of Dr. Juan Planelles Ripoll, the discoverer of the dysentery's vaccine at the Hospital of Maudes in Cuatro Caminos (Madrid). Later, she enrolled the Red Aid and the Popular Information Section of the State Ministry's Undersecretary of Propaganda, from where Matilde organized popular conferences to keep up fighter's morals and established little cultural centres. The journalist Federico Melchor Fernández and the architect Manuel Sánchez Arcas were the Directors-General. Both communists were under the geographer from Salamanca Leonardo Martín Echevarría and Manuel Sánchez Arcas' commands. They were Under-secretaries of Propaganda. An event during the Civil War that shook Matilde was her participation in the massacre of the so called "Carretera de la Muerte" (Death Road) on the 8th of February 1938. It was probably the most embarrassing fact of the Civil War, even more than the killing of Badajoz and the bombing of Guernica. Matilde, Tina Modotti and the veteran miner from Asturias, Benito Bravo, were sent to Almeria by the International Red Aid to attend the ones evacuated from the besieged city of Malaga. Max Aub described Benito Bravo's murder by a Civil Guard's corporal in front of his little child Isidro in the concentration camp of Los Almendros. In the midst of the bombing, they found Doctor Norman Bethune and his assistants Hazen Sise and Thomas Worsley. They had both moved to Valencia with their blood transfusion unit to assist the civil victims of the aerial and maritime bombing, especially the around ten women, children and sick patients that were escaping from Malaga and other near towns to Almeria since the night of the 7th of February. Matilde, Tina and Benito Bravo not only collaborated with the Canadian doctor in transferring the most serious patients but also tried to organize the transport of the enormous human line that walked through the road connecting Malaga and Almeria. In Almeria they were in charge of the reception of evacuated persons by giving them food, clothes and medicines. As she was the responsible of children's evacuation, she evacuated her daughter Carmen to the Soviet Union, who was under care of her brother Ruben, in 1938. First, she went to Kaluga, where her niece Luisa Viqueira Landa worked, and later, to Moscow, to the Children's Home for Spanish kids in the 7 Bolshaya Pirogóvskaya Street, where her sister-in-law, Josega López Ganivet, worked as a teacher. She had previously asked her siblings Rubén and Jacinta Landa to be the tutors of her daughter. Around that time, Miguel Hernández dedicated the poem "A Matilde" to her. Madrid was under the Francoist troops around 1939 and Matilde Landa was appointed to reorganize the Provincial Committee of the Spanish Communist Party in Madrid. She was detained shortly after and, after being uncommunicated for 6 months at the General Directorate of Security, she was transferred to Ventas' prison to be condemned to death. She started a frenetic activity in favour of the women condemned to death with the authorization of the prison governor, an old fellow of Matilde at the "Residencia de Señoritas", the Teresian Carmen Castro Cardús. She wrote requests and petitions for pardon from her little cell known among inmates as "the office". Her objective was to save her prison's fellows from death. The paperwork made by her sister Aida with the help of the philosopher Manuel García Morente and other family's friends succeeded in getting her a deprivation of liberty for 30 years instead of the death penalty. She was transferred to the women's prison Can Sales in Palma de Majorca, where she exchanged letters with her daughter Carmen, her siblings Rubén and Jacinta and Jacinta's fellow, Casimiro Mahou Olmeda, who were exiled in Mexico. Julio Alejandro Castro Cardús, one of Carmen Castro's siblings, ended up in Mexico too. She was imprisoned from the 2nd of August 1940 until the 26th of September 1942, when she was pushed from the prison's balcony before a propaganda act organized by the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent Paul took place. They managed the prison with the presence of the diocese's bishop and the Civil Governor. They wanted to make Matilde Landa Vaz derogate communism and accept baptism. She died almost instantly.


Lugar de Nacimiento:

Badajoz (España) in 1904-06-24

Lugar de Defunción:

Palma (Mallorca, Illes Balears, España) in 1942-09-26


GINARD i FERON, David. Matilde Landa: De la Institución libre de Enseñanza a las prisiones franquistas. Barcelona, Flor del Viento, 2005.

GINARD i FERON, David. "Carmen López Landa, exiliada y militante antifranquista (1931-2006", en Ebre 38. Revista Internacional de la Guerra Civil (1936-1939). 3 ( Febrer 2008), 77-83.

MARTÍNEZ DE PISÓN, Ignacio. Historia de dos maestras. El País (Madrid), domingo 18 de septiembre de 2005.

JIMENEZ-LANDI MARTÍNEZ, Antonio. La Institución Libre de Enseñanza y su ambiente: Tomo III Período escolar (1881-1907). Madrid, Editorial Complutense, 1996, pp. 117-118.

HERNÁNDEZ HOLGADO, Fernando. La prisión militante: las cárceles franquistas de mujeres de Barcelona y Madrid. Tesis Doctoral. Madrid, Universidad Complutense, 2011.

Related Authorities

Cárcel de Mujeres de Ventas (Madrid, España)  ( Es miembro de )

Associative relations :

Olmo, Rosario del (1904-2000)  ( Es colega/ amigo de )

Family relationships :

López Ganivet, Francisco (1901-1961)  - Marriage (Esta casado/a con)

Landa, Rubén (1890-1978)  - Collateral (Es hermano/a de)

Landa Vaz, Jacinta (1894-1993)  - Collateral (Es hermano/a de)

López Ganivet, Isabel (1905-?)  - Collateral (Es cuñado/a de; Casada con su hermano Francisco Lopez Ganivet)

López Ganivet, Josefa (1908-1964)  - Collateral (Es cuñado/a de)

Villa Landa, Florencio (1912-1992)  - Collateral (Es tio/a de)

Viqueira Landa, Carmen (1923-2010)  - Collateral (Es tio/a de)

Viqueira Landa, Jacinto (1921-2014)  - Collateral (Es tio/a de)

Viqueira Landa, Luisa (1918-2014)  - Collateral (Es tio/a de)

Viqueira, Xoán Vicente (1886-1924)  - Collateral (Es cuñado/a de)

Landa Coronado, Rubén (1849-1923)  - Descendant (Es hijo/a de)

See ancestors


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