Dolores Ibárruri

We Demand Retribution

Date: February 15, 1937
Source: Speeches and Articles pp. 63-65, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1938
First Published: Frente Rojo
Transciption/HTML Markup: Mike B. for MIA, August 2009
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Our patience is exhausted!

We choke with indignation, we lack words to stigmatize the crime. Our hearts shudder at the sight of the horrors, the monstrous slaughter of defenceless women and children.

Undefended towns of no military significance are being ruthlessly bombarded by the fascists.

The latest victims are Barcelona and Valencia.

We do not demand that a beast should cease being a beast. We do not expect humane feelings from criminal wretches. But we appeal to the consciences of the democrats of the world. We loudly proclaim our protest and indignation at these indescribable villainies, and our suffering at the sight of these streams of innocent blood.

Yesterday, the guns of German and Italian warships hurled their shells at Barcelona and Valencia, destroying working class quarters and annihilating their inhabitants. The Spanish fascist vessels are only a smoke screen behind which the German and Italian fascist vessels are trying to hide their intervention from the world.

Junkers, Capronis and Heinkels, piloted by Italians and Germans, are showering death and destruction on our people. Democratic nations of the world!

When during the World War the barbarous invasion of Belgium by the Runs cost the lives of a few innocent victims, and a few children were maimed, a wave of indignation and protest against the German atrocities swept over the civilized world.

But in our land of Spain hundreds of children have been crippled, hundreds have perished from the shells and bombs of German and Italian aeroplanes. Yet democracy is silent.

Has human conscience died? You, in whom the noble sentiments of the human heart have not been stifled by the barbarities of the fascists, come and see the frightful spectacle presented by the roads to Malaga.

You mothers, who love your children more than anything on earth, you Christian women, you sincere Catholic women, come and see the sufferings of our mothers, our women—your sisters! You will shudder with horror. You will lean how the peaceful inhabitants of Malaga, fleeing from the fire of aircraft and warships, were ruthlessly shot down, and how mothers perished clasping to their breasts the infants whom they wished to save from the horrors of fascist violence.

The laws of humanity do not exist for the fascist butchers. Foreign pursuit planes, flying at a height of twenty metres, mowed down the unfortunate people who were fleeing in terror. Streams of innocent blood stained the road…The roads to Malaga are strewn with the bodies of countless women and children.

But enough! We cannot calmly contemplate these crimes any longer.

Our aircraft have never attacked towns occupied by the rebels, so as not to kill innocent people. We spare the lives of women and children, even though they be the women and children of our enemies.

Our airmen, our intrepid heroes, are men, not beasts.

But the hour is approaching when they will forget that they have hearts. The hour is approaching when the law of retaliation will prevail.

To you, men and women of all countries who love freedom and progress, we appeal for the last time. If our appeal remains a voice crying in the wilderness, if no heed is paid to our protests and our humane conduct, if they are to be regarded as symptoms of weakness, then the enemy will have only himself to blame—for we shall give reign to our indignation and destroy him in his den.

That is what is demanded by the mothers who have been driven to despair at the sight of the rent and mutilated bodies of their children. That is what our dead call for from their tombs. That is what is insisted on by our people, whose cup of patience is filled to overflowing.

Let not the fascists think that their crimes have dismayed and demoralized us.

The war will be a stubborn and brutal one. The enemy is destroying our towns and villages and gloating over the slaughter of our wives and children. But in spite of all, we shall win!

That is the wish of the people who rose on July 18 and are prepared to lay down their lives for freedom. And a people that is prepared to fight and die will never be vanquished!

Dolores Ibárruri Internet Archive
Marxists Internet Archive