Eva Perón

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Eva Duarte de Perón, called Evita (around 1947)
Eva Perón's signature

María Eva Duarte de Perón (also called Eva Duarte, Evita ; * May 7, 1919 in Los Toldos ; † July 26, 1952 in Buenos Aires ) was an actress, radio presenter, the Primera Dama (" First Lady ") of Argentina , as "Presedenta “Socially committed and the second wife of President Juan Perón .

To person

Eva Duarte was born as one of five illegitimate but recognized children of the unmarried Juana Ibarguren (1894-1971) and her married lover, the wealthy landowner Juan Duarte (1872-1926), and grew up near Junín . When she was three years old, her father left the region and the mother was left alone with the 5 children. At the age of 15, Eva Duarte went to Buenos Aires and began to work intensively on her career. Here she worked first as a model , later as a radio presenter , theater and film actress . From 1938 she became increasingly known as a film actress and radio presenter. The following year, on May 20, 1939, it first appeared on the front pages of a magazine. Further high-profile appearances followed and on August 3, 1943 she became the spokeswoman for the Argentine Radio Association. In the same year she achieved her breakthrough as the interpreter of a very successful radio series about famous women characters in history.

Eva first met Juan Perón in 1944 at a charity party after an earthquake in San Juan in Luna Park there. When she saw in the course of the event that the seat next to him was vacant, Eva unceremoniously sat down next to him. A love affair developed between the two of them in the weeks that followed. On October 13, 1945, Juan Perón, the labor minister popular with the workforce, was dismissed from his office at the behest of some of the military and taken to a prison island. She participated quite bravely in the public protests. She spoke on the radio for his release and helped organize the mass strikes and demonstrations that many thousands of Argentines were staging on the streets. She was particularly active in the march of the poor "Descamisados" (shirtless) on the government building and the general strike called. Due to this public protest movement, Juan Perón had to be released on October 17, 1945.

Eva and Juan Perón were ecclesiastically married on December 20, 1945 in La Plata. After the wedding, she changed her name to the well-known María Eva Duarte de Perón. The couple had no children.

In the subsequent election campaign in 1946 for the future presidency, she gave her husband massive support. On her weekly radio show "For a Better Future" she gave populist speeches calling on the poor to support Perón. Above all, she repeatedly emphasized her own growing up in poverty so that the lower classes could identify with her. Eva Perón showed that she is one of them from her origins.

Role in politics

Eva and Juan Perón at an event on May 1, 1952
Eva Perón with the Brazilian President Eurico Gaspar Dutra in Rio de Janeiro (1947). National Archives of Brazil.

After Juan Perón was elected President of Argentina on February 24, 1946, Eva Perón increased her social commitment to the Descamisados ("shirtless") and became her heroine. She organized the first charity campaigns, but these were repeatedly interrupted by brief periods of illness. She campaigned for the introduction of social programs and the suppression of the power of the big landowners in the politics of the country. Thanks to her talent for speech and her instinct for the needs of the poorer classes, she was able to bring the political activities of the president closer to the lower classes in return. She acted as "Presidenta", so to speak. With their support, a bill was introduced into parliament on September 11, 1947 to improve the civil rights of women in Argentina. From autumn 1947 she worked in the Ministry of Labor.

The members of the working and socially less well-off sections of the population in Argentina adored Evita, but she was hated by the rich elite. This loathed Evita's poor roots and hated her earlier promiscuity . But military circles in particular believed that a woman like her played a far too active role in politics at a time when women in Argentina were still not allowed to vote. This hatred was mutual, which led, among other things, to the persecution of opponents and the banning of newspapers such as La Prensa . Evita developed a position of power in a short time. Ursula Prutsch writes: “Evita wasn't educated, but she was smart. She was quick to grasp and had strategic intelligence. Soon she was an accomplice to intrigues that hurt her and opportunities that might benefit her. This knowledge gave her power. "

From June 6th to August 23rd, 1947, the Perón couple went on the famous “ Rainbow Tour ” to Europe, where they met a number of heads of state, including Francisco Franco and Pope Pius XII , who granted them an audience. In Switzerland she was officially received by the Foreign Minister and dined with the Federal President in the Von Wattenwyl House . The goal was to massively advertise the Perón government, which was still viewed externally as fascist . Other historians also regard this form of rule as a subtropical form of a European workers' party; the Peronists themselves saw their politics as the third way between communism and capitalism . As a young man in Italy, Juan Perón was impressed by Mussolini and was one of the Argentines who sympathized with Nazi Germany in the 1930s and during the Second World War . Eva Perón was also closely related to some openly appearing National Socialists , which is why American and British secret services and members of the government assumed that she played a decisive role in the flight of wanted National Socialists to South America, claims Frank Garbely , without citing a source as evidence.

On June 19, 1948, Eva Perón established a charity foundation, the Fundación de Ayuda Social Eva Duarte de Perón. This foundation campaigned for the construction and development of old people's homes, orphanages, hospital wards and other urgently needed social institutions. She gave gifts to the poor and needy. It was a marathon of charity, which especially shaped their later reputation. Because Evita touched sick people and kissed lepers, the pictures and information about them were intensively brought to the masses by the media, an image of the saint, the Santa Evita, quickly spread. Eva Perón was de facto an actor in the politics of Argentina through her foundation, although she officially did not hold a political office. From 1948 onwards, it broadened the scope of the foundation by founding and financing additional sub-organizations and branches in other regions of the country.

But she also tried to give help and support to the outside world. In September 1949, Evita was involved in setting up a campaign for the victims of the earthquake in Ecuador.

Influence on women's politics

Bust of Eva Perón in La Plata

As the first woman at the top of politics in Latin America, she had a major influence on the development of the role of women in society. Women in Argentina were still politically non-existent and could not have a say in the country's political situation. In addition to her work in and for the Eva Duarte de Perón Foundation, she therefore strongly supported the rights of women in Argentina. In several radio addresses in 1947 on women's suffrage and other issues relating to the role of women, she became an important mouthpiece for the women's organization of the Peronist Party . Her speech in Buenos Aires was received with a great response on the Plaza de Mayo.

In the House of Commons, a law was passed on September 17, 1932 that gave women over 18 the right to vote regardless of whether they were illiterate or not. The conservative upper house (Senate) rejected the law. When Juan Perón was elected president in February 1946, he enacted a law that would give women the right to vote . Some conservatives tried to block the law and repeatedly delayed voting on it. When Eva Perón returned from a trip to Europe and understood the situation, she went with many supporters to the congress building and made it clear that she would stay until the law was passed. The law was passed and Argentine women were given the right to vote and stand for election in September 1947. In some provinces, women had been given the right to vote and stand as a candidate before. Through these activities, her political commitment and also her personal charisma, Eva Perón became a person of Argentina recognized by the general public.

In 1949 she co-founded the Peronist Women's Party, in which women could participate politically and socially in connection with the Eva Perón Foundation and under the leadership of Evitas. In the 1951 presidential election, women were allowed to vote for the first time in Argentina 's history .

This tireless work and its public actions were not without health consequences for Eva Perón. At an inauguration ceremony on January 9, 1950, it collapsed. She had to undergo a thorough medical exam, which resulted in a cancerous growth on the uterus. Regardless, she resumed work on January 27th. On May 1, 1950, she gave a widely acclaimed “Bridge of Love” speech between Perón and the Argentine people. For the upcoming presidential elections for autumn 1951, Juan Perón announced his renewed candidacy on February 24, 1951. This was done with the peculiarity, according to his proposal, that Evita should run for Vice President.

Despite her political activity and her commitment to integrating women into politics, she never accepted public office. In September 1950, Alexander writes in “The Peron Era,” the New York Times announced that Argentina assumed that Evita would run for the vice-presidency if Perón was re-elected president. Although Evita herself has never commented on the extent to which it is appropriate to hold a public office as a woman in the male-dominated country, it can be speculated that this is a “bold break with Argentine tradition”. Finally, in 1951, Evita tried to give her power a real foundation by running for vice presidency. This move angered many military officials, who despised them and opposed their increasing influence over the government. Under this intense pressure and in view of her illness, Juan Perón withdrew her nomination. When putsch plans by extreme military circles around General Mario Benjamin Menéndez became known in the summer of 1951, Evita denounced these secret plans in front of the public in a radio address on August 31, 1951. In doing so, she helped ensure that the forces of the hateful military did not come into play due to public pressure. For her actions, she was awarded the Juan Perón Medal on October 17, 1951, and gave a speech on the occasion from the balcony of the presidential palace. Three weeks later, on November 6, 1951, she had to undergo difficult cancer surgery.

In November 1951, Juan Perón was re-elected as President of Argentina. On the Latin American level, the “Evita myth” has led to a two-part cultural change. On the one hand, it was demonstrated to the public and the political rulers what a noteworthy role the awareness and exercise of their fundamental rights of the masses, including women, play. This was also evident in later years in political disputes, for example in Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Argentina itself. On the other hand, however, it also led to the fact that candidate presidents increasingly instrumentalized their wives in the election campaign, an Evita role to use the positive reverberations of social integrity for their own popularity. Evita Perón's last public appearance was on June 4, 1952 when Juan Perón was sworn in for his second term as President of Argentina.


Eva Perón († 1952) with the Spanish pathologist Pedro Ara, who preserved her corpse
Memorial plaque on the grave of Evita Peron

Eva Perón died of cervical cancer at the age of 33 . About half a year before her death, the German gynecologist Hans Hinselmann was flown in as an expert . He was the developer of colposcopy , which made the first early detection of cervical cancer possible. On July 24, 1952, two more German doctors joined them: Paul Uhlenbruck from Cologne, a cardiovascular specialist , and Heinrich Kalk from Kassel, a liver specialist. A few weeks before her death, she was given a lobotomy to treat pain and general anxiety and restlessness .

Eva Perón died on July 26, 1952, without the experts being able to help her. Her body was embalmed . The coffin, which had a glass lid, was laid out in the congress building and displayed. After Perón's fall in 1955, the body disappeared from the public for 17 years as the new rulers fought against the memory of her and her husband. Eva Perón's body was secretly flown to Milan in 1957 and buried under the name Maria Maggi de Magistris . In September 1971 the body was brought to Madrid, where Perón lived in exile. In 1974 Isabel Perón , the third wife of the Argentine President, who had been in office again since 1973 but who died on July 1, 1974, had the body of Eva Perón transferred to South America. On October 22, 1976, he was buried in the Duartes family grave in the La Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires. Eva Perón has remained a legend to this day. Even today, many people still make pilgrimages to their final resting place. Especially on Mother's Day, many people come to the tomb, pray and lay flowers.

There are two coffins in the Duartes family crypt. However, Eva Perón does not lie in any of these coffins. She lies embalmed in the family crypt at a depth of six meters. However, this path is blocked with a steel plate. At that time it was assumed that Eva Perón's body could be kidnapped again and therefore decided to take this precautionary measure.

Personality cult

Eva Perón became the focus of a special personality cult . Her picture and name appeared everywhere. Despite her dominance and political power, she was always careful not to interfere with the important symbolic role of her husband. While in control of the President's affairs, she always sought to justify her actions as "inspired" or "encouraged" by the wisdom of Perón. Even today, Evita is one of the nation's greatest benefactors for many Argentines, men and women. In 1955, after the fall of Perón, anti-peronists also coined the myth of the whore and the dominatrix. They painted the picture of a cold, power-hungry woman who ran charity as a show.


Evita and Juan Perón in 1950
Official portrait of Juan Domingo Perón and Evita, by Numa Ayrinhac , 1948. Perón is the only president of Argentina to date who has been
portrayed with his wife

The life of Eva Perón and her advocacy for the interests of the Argentine people inspired the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber to create a musical out of it. In 1974 he and Tim Rice began to study the material and its representation intensively. The musical Evita about the life of Eva Perón premiered on June 21, 1978 in London at the Prince Edward Theater . Many of the songs from it were enthusiastically received by the Argentine population. This musical was later Madonna in the lead role of Alan Parker filmed . Her story was also shown on television (with Faye Dunaway as Evita).

The Spanish two-part series (2012) by director Agustí Villaronga Letter to Evita (in the original Carta a Evita ) is a TV drama that, against the background of Evita Peron's visit to Spain in 1947, focuses on values ​​such as empathy for the poor and moral courage. Julieta Cardinali played the role of Evita Peron, other roles were with Ana Torrent (Carmen Polo, Franco's wife), Nora Navas (Juana Doña, a resister), Carmen Maura (Paca, mother of Juana Doña), Jesús Castejón (Franco) , Héctor Colomé (Perón) and v. a. occupied.

Another film about Eva Perón was released at the end of 2015. A drama that was staged by the Argentine director Pablo Agüero, the original title is: Eva no duerme (in German: Eva doesn't sleep ). This is primarily about the 17-year journey of the corpse and the cult of the dead around Evita.


Web links

Commons : Eva Perón  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ursula Prutsch: Eva Perón. The life and death of a legend . CH Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-68276-6 , p. 16 .
  2. Ursula Prutsch: Eva Perón. The life and death of a legend . CH Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-68276-6 , p. 48-50 .
  3. Ursula Prutsch: Eva Perón. The life and death of a legend. A biography . 1st edition. CH Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-68276-6 , p. 105 .
  4. Tomatoes and stones for Evita. In: NZZ , July 25, 2016
  5. ^ John Barnes: Evita First Lady. A Biography of Eva Perón. 1978 New York.
  6. ^ Frank Garbely: Evita's secret. Evita Perón's trip to Europe. 2003 Zurich.
  7. ^ Jad Adams: Women and the Vote. A world history. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-870684-7 , page 323.
  8. ^ Jad Adams: Women and the Vote. A world history. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-870684-7 , page 326.
  9. ^ Mart Martin: The Almanac of Women and Minorities in World Politics. Westview Press Boulder, Colorado, 2000, p. 10.
  10. - New Parline: the IPU's Open Data Platform (beta). In: data.ipu.org. Retrieved September 29, 2018 .
  11. Ursula Prutsch: Eva Perón. The life and death of a legend . CH Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-68276-6 , p. 153-160 .
  12. ^ DE Nijensohn, LE Savastano, AD Kaplan, ER Laws: New evidence of prefrontal lobotomy in the last months of the illness of Eva Perón. In: World Neurosurgery . Volume 77, number 3-4, 2012 Mar-Apr, pp. 583-590, ISSN  1878-8750 . doi : 10.1016 / j.wneu.2011.02.036 . PMID 22079825 .
  13. Ursula Prutsch: Eva Perón. The life and death of a legend . CH Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-68276-6 , p. 198 .
  14. Santa Evita - cult of the dead about a folk heroine: A bestseller describes the odyssey of Evita Peron's corpse. In: Spiegel , August 28, 1995
  15. Heroine from the Golden Age. In: Berliner Zeitung , October 27, 2007.
  16. New film about Eva Perón. In: moviepilot.de. Retrieved September 27, 2014 .