Pilar Primo de Rivera, the daughter of Miguel Primo de Rivera and the brother of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, was born on 4th November 1907. Pilar was only eighteen months old when her mother died and she was brought up by two aunts.
Pilar was very close to her brother, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, and helped him launch the Falange Española (Spanish Falange) in Madrid on 29th October 1933. In the manifesto published later that year the Falange condemned socialism, Marxism, republicanism and capitalism and proposed that Spain should become a Fascist state similar to the one established by Benito Mussolini in Italy.
In June 1934 a women's section (Sección Femenina) of the Falange Española was established and Pilar was appointed its leader. Initially women in the movement made uniforms and flags as well as working as secretaries and messengers. Later they provided cover for the Falangist hit-squads. This included hiding guns in their dresses.
On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War Pilar was living in the Republican zone. She sought refuge in the Argentine Embassy and with the help of the German Ambassador, who provided her with a false passport, Pilar managed to escape to Alicante, a city under the control of the Nationalist Army.
Pilar's brother, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, was not so lucky and was captured by the republicans on 6th July 1936. He was held in captivity until being executed in Alicante on 20th November 1936.
During the war Pilar organized the Auxilio Azul, a network which found hiding places, false papers and food for Falangists on the run from the authorities. The war increased the support for the Falange Española and by 1937 the Sección Femenina had nearly 50,000 members. Pilar continued as head of the organization and arranged for its members to serve as nurses at the front.
In April 1937 General Francisco Franco decided to unite the Falange Española with the Carlists and other small right-wing parties to form the Falange Española Tradicionalista. Pilar initially opposed the move but eventually accepted the need to unify the anti-Republican forces.
Franco rewarded Pilar by allowing her to remain head of the Sección Femenina and by 1938 the organization had 800,000 members. In this post she opposed Franco's policy of total annihilation of the enemy and tried to prevent reprisals being taken against the widows of Republican militants.
On 30th May 1939 Pilar addressed 10,000 members of the Sección Femenina at Medina del Camp. In her speech she told the audience that with the end of the war "the only mission assigned to women in the tasks of the fatherland is homemaking. Therefore, now in peacetime, we will broaden the task initiated in our Training Schools to make family life so agreeable for men that they will find within the home everything they previously lacked and will thus not need to seek relaxation in taverns or clubs."
Pilar was a strong supporter of Germany during the Second World War and in the summer of 1941 her organization, the Sección Femenina, provided nurses, secretaries and ancillary staff to accompany Spanish volunteer troops fighting on the Eastern Front.
During the war it was suggested by the Spanish government that Pilar should marry Adolf Hitler. It was argued that the marriage would ensure Spain a major position in the new fascist world order that would follow the defeat of the Allies. In December 1941, Ernesto Giménez Caballero, visited Germany but he was told by Joseph Goebbels that the scheme to establish a new fascist dynasty was not feasible because Hitler had received a bullet wound in the genitals during the First World War "which had invalidated him for ever."
After the war Pilar was given responsibility for organizing the Servicio Social de la Mujer. This involved all unmarried women between the ages of seventeen and thirty-five doing six months social service. Pilar supported the scheme to teach women to read but warned her followers: "never be a girl crammed with book learning; there is nothing more detestable than an intellectual woman."
When Francisco Franco died in 1975 Pilar urged the Sección Femenina to support Juan Carlos de Borbón as leader. However she opposed the decision to introduce democratic reforms and was dismayed when the Cortes dismantled the Francoist system in November 1976.
Pilar became president of the Association of Sección Femenina Veterans in November 1977. Pilar Primo de Riveraheld the post until her death on 17th March 1991.
How beautiful she was. She appeared translucent. With an inner beauty, of alabaster and transparent. Submitted with beatific resignation to the tragic destiny of her blood. That blood of the Primo de Rivera family, created by God to serve his greater glory and in the greatest loyalty to Spain. I saw Pilar from time to time turn her ecstatic eyes towards General Franco as if she saw in him the figure of her own father, the figure of her own brother.
The only mission assigned to women in the tasks of the fatherland is homemaking. Therefore, now in peacetime, we will broaden the task initiated in our Training Schools to make family life so agreeable for men that they will find within the home everything they previously lacked and will thus not need to seek relaxation in taverns or clubs.
Our life as Falangists is rather like our private life. We have to have behind us all the strength and decision of a man for us to feel more secure, and in exchange for that, we offer the abnegation of our services and never to be the occasion of discord. This is woman's role in life: to harmonize the wishes of others and to let herself be guided by the stronger will and the wisdom of the man.