The Angelus Novus Foundation wants Casa Walter Benjamin in Portbou

Response to the controversy generated by the attempt of the new mayor of Perpignan of the far-right party Ressemblement National to use the name of the philosopher Walter Benjamin (Berlin, 1892-Portbou, 1940), to reopen the art center that bears the name of the thinker as a space dedicated to historical memory and to the article published by “La Vanguardia” on August 5, 2020 with the title “The Walter Benjamin affair”.

Portbou. August 5. The Angelus Novus Foundation for the study of Arts, History and Thought, given the controversy created around the attempt by the new mayor Louis Aliot of Perpignan, from the far-right Rassemblement National party, to politically instrumentalize the figure of Walter Benjamin by reestablishing the former Walter Benjamin Contemporary Art Center, created in this town in 2013 as a center dedicated to historical memory, states the following:

The Jewish thinker Walter Benjamin (Berlin, 1892-Portbou, 1940) was stripped of German citizenship by the Gestapo and persecuted for his ideas contrary to the fascist right that he denounced and saw coming, to the point of forcing him into exile and in the end committing suicide in Portbou on September 26 1940 after crossing the Pyrenees on foot, suffering from a heart condition, and before he knew that he would be repatriated to France where he had already been in the Nevers camp.

His name is not the patrimony of any single party, it is the patrimony of the entire Humanity and, his ideas and thoughts are still relevant. His memory cannot be desecrated or manipulated in favor of political programs contrary to his critical thinking. Portbou City Council, the Passatges Association and the recently created Angelus Novus Foundation, disseminate their thoughts through the Walter Benjamin Summer School, a seminar that this year reaches its fifth edition and will take place between 25 and on September 27 under the title “The Frontier of Memory”, dedicated to the 80th anniversary of Benjamin’s death. In Catalan it will present a re-issue of texts by Walter Benjamin in Catalan in the book “Art and mass literature”, the short film “Angelus Novus” by Eric Esser and the exhibition “Insula” at the station in homage to his “Little history of photography” , a collaboration with the Fotolimo Festival.

The Foundation, heir to two international libraries on Walter Benjamin and his intellectual heritage has proposed to promote the Walter Benjamin House in Portbou, the place where Walter Benjamin died and was buried. Berlin and Portbou constitute the alpha and omega of its biographical geography.

We ask Catalan and state institutions, entities and individuals with interest for the Benjamin bequest to be aware of Walter Benjamin’s importance where Portbou has the Memorial Passages de Dani Karavan, today a Cultural Asset of National Interest (BCIN ) and the need to provide resources to finance the Walter Benjamin House, a center dedicated to his memory, to contemporary art and thought, a historical place of exile and memory, where it is important that the Walter Benjamin House is situated.

The Angelus Novus Foundation for the study of Arts, History and Thought