Soledad Real

Soledad Real (1917-2007)

Revered communist and feminist, Soledad Real was born in the working class area of Barcelona, ‘la Barceloneta’ in 1917. Middle child of three, and the eldest daughter, Soledad was brought up in a working class family. Her father, Valeriano Real was a politically active metal worker and her mother a seamstress. Owing to political activism within syndicate strikes, she was expelled from school aged 7 and sent to work as a seamstress to support her family. Unsurprisingly, she was brought up with great awareness of class struggles and joined the youth communist party (JSU). During the Second Republic and the Civil War she was an activist within the Catalan Communist Party and the JSU, with whom she fled to France at the end of the war. With the outbreak of WWII, she and her fellow companions were forcibly delivered to fascist troops at the Hendaye-Irun border of France and Spain. She briefly carried out guerrilla work in Barcelona in 1940 before her arrest in 1941 for threatening state security (Hernández Holgado 48). After her arrest, aged 24, she was sent to various francoist prisons, where she spent the next sixteen years of her life.

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Photo: Presó de les Corts project.

Given conditional release in 1957 but prohibited from returning to Barcelona, Soledad settled in Madrid. She married fellow political prisoner and activist ‘Paco’, with whom she had been carried out an epistolary relationship whilst in prison. She experienced the other side of prison life when Paco was arrested and imprisoned in 1961-1965 for acting against the regime. Despite her imprisonment and the latent misogyny of the Communist Party, Soledad continued as a fervent feminist communist: she set up women’s groups discussing polemic issues, she fought for women’s inclusion within local area groups, she travelled to eastern Europe and Cuba, and even stood as a candidate for the Feminist Party in European Parliament aged 81. Following the death of Franco, Real narrated her epxeirences to journalist Consuelo García, who published these as the text Las cárceles de Soledad Real in 1982. In 2003 she returned to Barcelona and continued appearing in public to give talks and receive awards until her death in 2007 aged 89. Her life is celebrated by the project ‘Las ventanas de Soledad Real‘; she also appears in the online archive dedicated to Les Corts, ‘Presó de les Corts‘.

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