Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez is better known as “La Pasionaria” which means the Passion Flower. She is regarded as one of the greatest public speakers of the twentieth century, and is especially famous for her slogan ¡No pasarán! (“They Shall Not Pass”) a phrase used to galvanize the troops defending Madrid during Spanish Civil War.
Dolores Ibárruri was born to a poor family in the Basque country. She was a very willful child and at the age of ten was taken by her mother to the church to be exorcized. She left school at fifteen to work as a seamstress, a housemaid and later a waitress. She married a union activist in 1915 and the couple participated in the general strike of 1917 when her husband was jailed.
La Pasionaria joined the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) when it was founded in 1921 and was a lifelong communist party activist. During the second republic she was jailed on several occasions and after the ruthless suppression of the Asturian uprising by Franco’s forces she sent her children to Moscow to avoid the anguish of seeing their mother in jail once more. In all she had six children but four of her five daughters died very young. Her son Rubén was killed in the battle of Stalingrad at the age of 22. She was outlived by her remaining daughter Amaya.
In 1936 she was elected to parliament as the Spanish Communist party representative for Asturias. During the civil war she worked tirelessly on the Republican side, broadcasting to troops and working as a Communist party leader. Her strict adhesion to party discipline and sometimes ruthless purging of “counter-revolutionaries” which she thought of as “fascist enemies within” are the subject of controversy.
At the end of the civil war she was appointed General Secretary of the PCE in exile in Moscow. She held this position until 1960 when she became honorary president of the party, a post she held for the rest of her life.
After Franco’s death and the legalization of the Communist party La Pasionaria returned to Spain and was reelected as a deputy to the Cortes for the same region she had represented during the Second Republic. In October 1987 Ibárruri was granted a state pension and she died on in 1989 at the age of 93. Thousands attended her funeral from all around the world. There is a monument to La Pasionaria in Glasgow, commissioned in 1974 by The International Brigade Association of Scotland.