The extraordinary story of the Spanish woman who fathered a “perfect daughter” and ended up murdering her

In the early morning of June 9, 1933, Aurora Rodríguez Carballeira woke up in her residence in Madrid, took a bath, dressed and sent her employee to walk the dogs. Then she murdered her daughter.

He shot her at point-blank range while she slept, three times in the face and once in the chest.

Calmly, he went to his friend and lawyer José Botella Asensi.

“I have come to tell you that I have killed my daughter, so that you do not think I am crazy and tell me what I have to do,” she confessed, and told him all the details, without providing a single detail that would exculpate her. At no time did she shirk her responsibility.

The murder shocked Spain, and not only because of “the lack of logical causes -if logic can fit into a parricide-“, as the newspaper La Tierra would say.

Until that day, the murderer was “the model of what the Spanish woman could have been, self-made, extremely cultured and intelligent, a brilliant intellectual who does not shy away from the public sphere”, in the words of the also Spanish Almudena Grandes, who based his novel “The Mother of Frankenstein” on Aurora, a woman -in his opinion- “fascinating”.

The murdered woman, Hildegart, was an 18-year-old prodigy, a prominent sexual and legal reformer, and a prolific writer.

“It is an extraordinary story, so fabulous that no one could have invented it,” said Grandes, one of the most famous contemporary Spanish authors, whose death in November 2021 shocked the literary world.


At 35 years old, Aurora, who was born around 1879 in Ferrol, Galicia, conceived, more than a daughter, a plan.

He admired the eugenic ideas, aimed at perfecting the human species through manipulated intervention and selective methods, which at that time were part of the intellectual debate of a large part of the ideological currents.

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In the early 20th century, many scientific authorities and political leaders supported eugenics.

He set out to breed a creature in the most optimal conditions and turn it into “the most perfect woman that, like a human statue, she was the canon, the measure of humanity and the final redeemer”, as she would later tell her psychiatrists.

He chose a man with the characteristics he considered necessary: ​​”physically perfect, of mature age, in full vitality, intelligent on the shrewd side, with an extensive and shallow culture,” Carmen Domingo, author of the biographical essay “Mi dear daughter Hildegart”.

Already pregnant, she moved to Madrid and put into practice “a series of techniques that were part of eugenics -says Domingo- on how to carry out a good pregnancy and ensure that you have a girl”, which included strict diets and exercises.

But why did Aurora want a girl if it seemed to her that “the woman is, as painful as it is to confess it, the worst of the human species” and lived in a world dominated by men?

“Because I was convinced that whoever could change the world had to be able to replicate it, and only women can have children,” explains Domingo.


On December 9, 1914, Aurora gave birth to what she longed for.

He called it Hildegart and devoted himself to pouring into what he called his “statue of flesh” the amalgamation of knowledge that he had accumulated by devouring his father’s library, since he never had a formal education.

His work started to go more than well.

Before turning 2 years old, Hildegart Rodríguez Caballeira knew how to read; at 3 he could write; at 8 he spoke English, French and German.

“What the girl studied were some specific subjects, because everything was aimed at her being a gifted person so that she could redeem humanity,” says Domingo.

At the age of 13 he was already a high school graduate, with excellent grades, and at 14 he began to study Law, with special permission due to his age.

It was also then that he launched himself into public and political life, as a militant socialist (later, a republican).

As the author Rosa Montero says, who included the dark story in her book “Nosotras”, Aurora he “taught her from the cradle with the iron hand of a circus tameruntil turning her into an anomalous and exceptional specimen, into a poor child prodigy”.

“I have not had a childhood”

In addition to studying at the university, Hildegart gave lectures and wrote articles for a multitude of magazines and newspapers. She was also the author of 16 monographs.

Hildegart's Books


At the age of 17, he finished law school with honors and began two others: Philosophy and Letters and Medicine.

By then she was already famous.

She was an avant-garde feminist who defended concepts such as sex education, birth control, sterility and divorce, with essays ranging from “The sexual rebellion of youth” to “Malthusism and neo-Malthusism” and “How to heal and heal.” prevent venereal diseases.

Eugenics was present in her writings because, she believed, it was the key to achieving a more just and egalitarian society, as she stated in her work “The Eugenic Problem: Points of View of a Modern Woman”.

in 1932 co-founded the Spanish League for Sexual Reform on Scientific Basis together with the famous doctor and scientist Gregorio Marañón.

But his achievements were priceless.

“I have not had a childhood,” Hildegart told journalist Eduardo de Guzmán, author of “Aurora de Sangre” one day: “I needed it in its entirety to study tirelessly day and night“.

Nor had he had that freedom that permeated the causes he defended.

She lived under the shadow of her mother, who controlled her entire life and never separated from her.

He accompanied her to classes, to social and political gatherings… they even slept in the same room.

Julián Besteiro, who was Hildelgart’s professor at the university, commented: “Hilde is simply formidable in her studies, but this phenomenon of being so close to her mother evokes in me the image of a baby kangaroo encapsulated in an invisible bag and with intact umbilical cord.

Hildergart Rodriguez Carballeira

Hildergart Rodríguez Carballeira was greatly admired.

That closeness, several researchers suspect, even seeped into Hildegart’s works which, although signed by her, were probably written by Aurora.

One of the most outstanding is the article titled “Injustices. Cain and Abel”, which appeared on May 19, 1933 in the newspaper La Tierra.

It was the last text that Hildegart published in that newspaper, but later Aurora would confirm that she was the author, and would say that the key to her daughter’s end was there.

In the letter, he praises the “passion and greatnessof Cain, the man who once again equaled God by removing the lifetime” (from his brother Abel).

“If you read it knowing the story, you see the two of them there, with the mother saying ‘this is not going well and will end badly‘” says Domingo.

“By signing that article, Hildergart signed his death warrant,” says the writer.

Let us therefore evoke, between borders of sympathy, the progressive figure, with bold strokes, of the rebel Cain who mastered the triple art of Love, Fight and Kill“, ends the article.

21 days later that same newspaper would announce: “A very painful event: Hildelgart has died”.

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National Library of Spain

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Although many scholars point to that article as Aurora’s public declaration of intentions, it in no way explains what happened.

What led Aurora to kill “the little girl in whom I put all my illusions of the woman I dreamed of with messianic breaths, with superhuman impulses, capable of charting new routes for oppressed and enslaved men,” as she would say at her trial?

Why do it if, according to her, “su death it was largely my failure“?

Perhaps it was because Hildegard had fallen in love, several ventured, which for Aurora put at risk the mission for which she has come to Earth.

Secret boyfriend candidates included a Norwegian scientist, a sculptor who was making a bust of Hildegart, and a writer and politician from Barcelona.

Others believe that it was not for love, but because the writer HG Wells and the sexologist Havelock-Ellis had invited her to spend time in England and in Aurora’s mind that was part of a conspiracy to turn her into a spy and prostitute her.

H. G. Wells

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Hildegart had been HG Wells’ guide when the writer visited Madrid.

Or maybe it was due to political discrepancies, or because Hildegart got fed up with her mother and wanted to emancipate herself. Or they simply made him want to see the world.

All these hypotheses and others were and continued to be considered, but for the author of “My Dear Daughter Hildegart”, Aurora murdered her daughter “because it was the result of the time in which she lived, her circumstances and her pathology.

All that was a Molotov cocktail which exploded when Hildegart decided to take a different exit than she had anticipated.

“A way out that we will never know, because there is no record of what was the exact trigger that caused Aurora to kill her creation.”

However, Aurora seemed to have clear reasons for killing that daughter who had not been “the product of a blind sexual passion, but a perfectly prepared plan, executed with mathematical precision and with a specific purpose”, as she herself would say decades later. to de Guzman.

“I who created it, who made it, who formed it over the years, I know exactly where it should go.”

It was his work and, in his mind, he had the right to destroy it: “He was born with an ideal mission from which he could not be deviated by any human weakness.”

When the lawyer Asensi took Aurora to the police authority where she confessed to the murder of her daughter, they asked her why.

There were, and of the gravity corresponding to what has now happened“, answered.

a strange trial

Although the news had repercussions in all the newspapers, in those days the front pages of the media were occupied by a government crisis that had just occurred and that would affect Aurora’s trial.

“The political moment in Spain was very complicated. We came from the Republic and Europe saw Spain as one of the most modern countries in the Western context. We had universal suffrage, which in most European countries did not yet exist.

“But when Aurora Rodríguez killed her daughter there was a change of government, from a moderate left to the right,” explains Domingo.

Aurora, during the trial, in which she appeared dressed in black and with a bouquet of red carnations in her hands.

Aurora, during the trial, in which she appeared dressed in black and with a bouquet of red carnations in her hands.

“When the trial took place (in 1934), there was a very curious situation: the lawyers and psychiatrists of the defense of Aurora were modern, left-wing and progressive, and from the first moment vieron what she suffered from a mental problem.

“But the prosecutor’s attorney, that is, the one who came from the government, and his psychiatrist were from the right, and the right is interestedba prove not she its Taba crazyeven if it was, because of the political gain that a leftist lady had killed her daughter.

The prosecutor was José Valenzuela Moreno who, to defend himself against criticism, published that same year “The murder of Hildegart seen by the prosecutor in the case”, in which he wrote that Aurora had “a brain disordered by the intoxication of a thousand conflicting readings and poorly digested.

“Oh, the dangerous part of the books! A thoughtful study of this very interesting question would be very useful… The natural intelligence of an illiterate is preferable a hundred thousand times over the muddied mind of a reader without previous moral and intellectual preparation”.

But “that disordered brain” was not that of an insane person, the prosecutor argued vigorously… and successfully, since Aurora ended up sentenced as a person in full use of reason to a prison sentence (26 years, 8 months and 1 day).

News in Herald of Madrid


Aurora welcomed the ruling with delight. Not only did she agree with him—he had spent the trial protesting against her defense attorney, denying she was crazy—but she had a new plan: completely overhaul the prison system.

But his time in prison was short because, once the attention dissipated, the prison authorities requested that a medical report be made to confirm the undeniable evidence of its imbalance and transfer her to the Ciempozuelos psychiatric hospital in 1935, where she was hospitalized until her death in 1956.

Her medical history from those decades in the asylum came to light in 1977 and has served to feed not only knowledge about her but also that of psychiatry at the time.

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