V WALTER BENJAMIN SUMMER SCHOOL. PORTBOU 2020
THE BORDER OF MEMORY
80th anniversary of the death of Walter Benjamin
75 years since the end of the Holocaust
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the death of the thinker and intellectual Walter Benjamin in Portbou, when he decided to end his life on September 26, 1940 in this border town when he fled into exile and learned that he would be repatriated. It was a fateful date for this intellectual who in the same year of his death and after seven years of exile (1933-1940) wrote the theses On the concept of History, premonitory of the historical situation today, of the rise of authoritarianisms, of the advance of unbridled capitalism and of the possibilities of emancipation breaking the course of history, when the past bursts into the present.
The conditions of the exile of Walter Benjamin, an intellectual devoted to research and investigation in turbulent times, undermined a personality of privileged intelligence that still sheds light on the leading intellectuals of our time.
Portbou, a wild border of smuggling culture, is also a “border of memory”, but where 300,000 people fled in exile from the Civil War from south to north, but also many German intellectuals who crossed the Pyrenees from north to the south, as Alma Mahler, Heinrich Mann, Franz Werfel, and also Walter Benjamin. The 5th edition of the Walter Benjamin Summer School is dedicated to the “frontier of memory”. We will talk about Benjamin’s years of exile through his correspondence, but also about the literature, art, and theater that some women, educators, and intellectuals brought to culture and who died victims of the Holocaust. We will remember their poetry and their creations.