The death of Walter Benjamin

I’ve been running behind lately; I blame it on the Indian summer we’re having here in Portland, days of hazy, lovely sunshine that make it hard not to slack off a bit. So I’m belated in remembering the 70th (Jesus) anniversary of Walter Benjamin’s death.

Benjamin died on 27 September 1940 at the age of 48 in Portbou, Catalonia, Spain. He was attempting to escape from the Nazis to the United States, where Max Horkheimer had negotiated a visa for him.

He apparently committed suicide, via an overdose of morphine, in his room at the small hotel where he was staying.

From the Leeds Arcades Project:

On his fateful final journey over the Pyrennees Benjamin was carrying the famous suitcase, which allegedly contained a manuscript; “It looks to me as if his life was worth less to him than the manuscript.” – Lisa Fittko

That last night in the Fonda de Francia, Walter made 4 last phonecalls. He was charged 8.80 pesetas for these calls. Where these phonecalls were to, remains a mystery. Its likely they were to the American Embassy in Barcelona, but this is not verifiable.

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