Related topics

Legendary Communist Leader Dies

November 13, 1989

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Communist leader Dolores Ibarruri, ″La Pasionaria″ whose bold defiance during the Spanish Civil War rallied millions in the fight against fascism, has died. She was 93.

She died Sunday evening in Madrid’s Ramon y Cajal Hospital, a statement from the hospital director said. Dr. Juan Beltran said Mrs. Ibarruri died of pneumonia with respiratory difficulties.

At her bedside was her sole surviving child - her daughter Amaya - and other relatives.

Mrs. Ibarruri began a career as a labor organizer and strike leader and wrote articles she signed as ″La Pasionaria,″ a name she chose in 1916 because her first article appeared during Holy Week, known in Spanish as the week of the Passion.

During the 1936 siege of Madrid by rebel forces led by Gen. Francisco Franco, Mrs. Ibarruri’s defiant phrase ″They shall not pass 3/8″ became the rallying cry of the loyalist Republican army.

Her speeches made her an anti-fascist heroine to millions during the 1936-39 war.

Many literary scholars believe she was the model for Pilar, the heroine of Ernest Hemingway’s novel of the war, ″For Whom the Bell Tolls.″

The daughter and granddaughter of northern Basque coal miners, Mrs. Ibarruri was a founding member of the Spanish Communist Party. At the time of her death, she was the party’s honorary president.

After Franco’s nationalists won the war in 1939, she fled to the Soviet Union and lived there for 38 years.

She returned to Madrid in 1977, two years after Franco’s death, as Spain underwent a peaceful transition to democracy.

That same year, she won back her deputy’s seat first occupied in 1936 in the lower house of Parliament. She later gave it up because of her age and delicate health.

The Spanish Communist Party, which named her honorary president in 1960, said in a statement, ″In informing with sorrow of her death, the Spanish Communists address the Communist, socialist, progressive forces and the democratic movement of all the world, expressing our will of contributing with a daily effort to the ideals of emancipation and peace which stimulated the life of Dolores Ibarruri.″

On Dec. 9, 1985, figures from the international Communist movement and from Spain’s socialist government feted La Pasionaria on her 90th birthday.

″The name of La Pasionaria sums up an entire era in the struggle of workers and the Spanish people for freedom, democracy and progress,″ Cuban President Fidel Castro wrote in an article published for the celebration.

Born in the Basque village of Gallarta on Dec. 9, 1895, Mrs. Ibarruri was the eighth of 11 children. She said the harsh conditions of her youth turned her into a revolutionary. ″I knew the terrible pain of days without bread and winters without fire,″ she wrote in her autobiography, ″My Way.″

Her family was too poor to pay for schooling so she abandoned her ambition of becoming a teacher. She married Julian Ruiz, a socialist activist five years her senior.

Ruiz once recalled her as being as independent as a mountain goat.

Separated from his wife since the 1930s, Ruiz died a few weeks after her return to Spain from Moscow.

Dolores Ibarruri turned to politics after Ruiz introduced her to socialism and Marxism. She read about the Russian revolution. ″Two names,″ she wrote later, ″struck me in my heart and in my head - Russia and Lenin. I no longer felt sad, I no longer felt alone.″

In 1934, she led a rebellion by 40,000 miners in the northern province of Asturias.

When the civil war broke out in July 1936, she led rallies, visited Republican forces and made ringing radio broadcasts.

She nearly always wore black. Once, when asked why, she responded: ″A woman of humble background like me can’t wear bright clothes. With a black dress, although it may be inexpensive, one can go anywhere and one goes more decently.″

Shortly after her return from exile, she underwent an operation to have a pacemaker installed. She had suffered sporadic health problems since.

She first entered the hospital Sept. 13, but one month later returned to her Madrid home after undergoing treatment for pneumonia.

Mrs. Ibarruri entered the hospital Nov. 8 in serious condition with pneumonia and heart trouble.

She is survived by her daughter Amaya. Five other children died in infancy. The Spanish Communist Party announced that secretary-general Julio Anguita and other party leaders would meet to make arrangements for the funeral.

Update hourly