Dolores Ibárruri
Person - Ibárruri, Dolores (1895-1989)

Ibárruri, Dolores (1895-1989)




Preferred form:

Ibárruri, Dolores (1895-1989)Other forms

Dates of existence/Biographical dates:

Gallarta (Abanto Zierbena, Bizkaia, España)  1885-12-09 - Madrid (España)  1989-11-12


Spanish communist leader. She was born in the bosom of a working‑class family. Her father was a specialized miner and her parents did not allow her to study to become a school teacher, as she wanted. She worked for two years in a sewing atelier. In February 1916 she married to Julián Ruiz, a miner and a socialist militant. Between November 1916 and 1929 Dolores Ibárruri gave birth to six children, of whom only two survived: Rubén and Amaya. Her first political writing, published in El Minero Vizcaíno during the Holy Week of 1919, was signed with the pseudonym 'Pasionaria', by which, years later, she would be known throughout the world. She soon joined the sector of the Biscayan socialists, who moved to communism, and in 1920 she was elected to the provincial committee of the Partido Comunista (Communist Party) in Vizcaya. She combined communist militancy, concentrated in press and propaganda activities, with her family life. In 1930 she was appointed member of the Central Committee of the Partido Comunista de España (PCE/ Communist Party of Spain), an unusual distinction for a woman at that time. With the coming of the Second Republic, the party leadership appointed her editor of Mundo Obrero, its official newspaper. She moved to Madrid, abandoning her married life. In March 1932 she was commissioned to organize the PCE Feminine Commission. Between November 1931 and January 1936 she was detained three times, on one occasion spending nine months in jail. Nevertheless, that also prevented her from being implicated in the purge of PCE directors by the Internacional Comunista (Communist International) in October 1932. Always known for her Communist orthodoxy and her full support for the Stalinist line, upon her release from prison in January 1933 she resumed her positions under the new leadership of the party, with which she had the best relations. Candidate without success in the 1933 elections of the Court, she made her first trip to Moscow with the Spanish delegation to the XIII Plenum of the Communist International. The Soviet leaders admired a speech she presented there for her passion and vivacity, although they hardly understood a word of what she said. She was also appointed director of the Spanish Committee of Women against War and Fascism. In the following year she presided over the First Congress of the PCE Women's Committee. With José Díaz, Secretary‑General of the party, she attended the famous VII Congress of the Communist International in Moscow, where the new tactic of the Frente Popular (Popular Front) was announced. She was appointed alternate member of the Secretariat of the International. Moreover, she was part of the group of sixteen communist candidates that were elected to the Cortes in February 1936 and in the following months she stood out as the most eloquent and effective speaker of the party, presenting speeches of great violence that sometimes demanded political executions. With the beginning of the Spanish Civil War she immediately became the most important propagandist of the republican cause, soon acquiring great renown inside and outside of Spain as a symbol of the revolution. Between 1934 and 1939 she published a total of ninety political writings and she personally coined some of the most famous phrases of the contest: 'Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodillas' (It is better to die standing than to live on your knees), 'Es mejor ser viudas de héroes que mujeres de cobardes' (It is better to be widows of heroes than women of cowards), etc., and she popularized the 'No pasarán'. During the war, she participated in all kinds of political activities, and especially in acts of propaganda, with great speeches and visits to fronts and barracks. She also participated in the political discussions of the party leadership, always loyal to the Soviet guidelines. Nevertheless, she had no important position of political or economic administration. In March 1939, before the collapse of the Republic, she was evacuated by the Soviets to Moscow, where she was in charge of the coordination of the emigration of Spanish communists to the USSR. In the summer of 1941, after the Hitler invasion of the USSR, she was evacuated to the city of Ufa. She led the beginning of La Pirenaica, from Radio España Independiente, which sought to promote a Spanish national alliance, both right‑wing and left‑wing, against Franco and in defense of the USSR. In October 1942 her only son, Rubén Ruiz, a young officer of the Soviet Red Army, died at the Battle of Stalingrad. Because of her political eminence and demonstrated loyalty to the Soviet Union, she was appointed PCE Secretary‑General in 1944. With the end of the Second World War she moved to Toulouse and then to Paris in order to direct the party activities which were trying to overthrow Franco. These failed completely, and in 1948 she returned to Moscow to meet with Stalin, who advised her that the armed guerrillas should be abandoned and the tactic of joining the national unions should be adopted. The PCE demonstrated, for the first time, some independence by not fully accepting this advice. At that time, Ibárruri had to leave Paris in December 1948 to undergo a bladder operation in Moscow. It had some complications and produced a very serious pneumonia that threatened her life and required several months of recovery. Although she continued as Secretary‑General, this disease marked the end of her direct leadership, because the administrative direction of the PCE was assumed by Vicente Uribe, leaving her far from the practical life of the party. She became increasingly isolated in Moscow. In 1955 she moved to Bucharest for a season, the new headquarters of Radio España Independiente, which she directed. Then she lived clandestinely for a year in Paris. In 1956, the XX Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, in which the cult of Stalin's personality and the great crimes of the deceased dictator were denounced, was a great blow for her. This same year, the PCE central committee, although quite isolated in Spain, approved the new more moderate tactic of 'national reconciliation', which failed as completely as the guerrillas. From then on, the practical director of the party was Santiago Carrillo. Recognizing that she had lost contact with Spain, in 1960 Ibárruri granted her the position of Secretary‑General. She assumed the new position of president of the PCE, which she held until his death. The 'Passionary cult' was very much alive. In the following years, she traveled to many countries, both communists and Westerners, and devoted herself to writing and reading. In 1960 she published his autobiography, El único camino, then translated into many languages. In addition, she directed the preparation of Historia del Partido Comunista de España (abbreviated version) (1960), and the four volumes of Guerra y revolución en España, (1936-1939) (1966-1977). Finally, with the democratization of Spain, she managed to return to Madrid in May 1977, at the age of eighty‑one years and after thirty‑eight years of exile. She was received as a living legend among the Spanish communists and she was elected deputy for Asturias in the first democratic elections as well as vice president of the interim bureau of the Congress. She received honors everywhere, while she finally obtained the legal change of her name, suppressing 'Isidora'. Although she rejected the concept of 'Eurocommunism', she supported, as always, the direction of the PCE. Then during the 80s, she saw with pain the fragmentation of the party. In the second volume of her autobiography, published in 1984, she wrote: 'I thought about being a religious and I abandoned the faith. I wanted to be a teacher of children and I was a revolutionary propagandist. I dreamed of happiness and life hit me hard, in the most intimate, the most endearing thing. I believed in the victory and I suffered terrible defeats with my people'. Her last article appeared in Mundo Obrero in 1986. Almost symbolically, a few days after the demolition of the Berlin Wall, she died in Madrid on 12 November 1989, before she was ninety‑four years old.

Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

Date of the event: 1936 - 1939

Cortes Constituyentes, 1977-1979

Date of the event: 1977-07-13 - 1979-01-02




Lugar de Nacimiento:

Gallarta (Abanto Zierbena, Bizkaia, España) in 1885-12-09

Lugar de Defunción:

Madrid (España) in 1989-11-12




It belongs to:


It belongs to:




He/She is a:



Las mujeres parlamentarias en la legislatura constituyente. [Índice]. dirección y coordinación, Julia Sevilla Merino ... [et al] ; con la colaboración de Ana Aba Catoira ... [et al]. Madrid: Cortes Generales, Departamento de Publicaciones. 2006. XVIII, 532 p.. 000-06-016-2. [].

Related Authorities

Temporary relationships :

Díaz, José (1896-1942)  - Later (He/She is the successor of)

See predecessors See successors

Family relationships :

Ruiz Gabiña, Julián (1890-1977)  - Marriage (He/She is married to)

Ruiz Ibárruri, Amaya (1923-)  - Progenitor (She is the mother of)

Ruiz Ibárruri, Rubén (1920-1942)  - Progenitor (She is the mother of)

See successors