Memorial 'Passatges a Walter Benjamin' Cemetery Portbou

This Memorial of Dani Karavan commemorates Walter Benjamin.

Walter was guided over the Spanish/French border by Lisa Fittko, a Resistance fighter who was working at the time with the American Varian Fry in Marseilles. Fittko's husband Hans Fittko had been at the Gurs concentration camp with Benjamin. Both had been interred there as German nationals on French soil.
Lisa Fittko got Benjamin to Portbou after an arduous journey, and noted that Benjamin had with him a portfolio which he guarded carefully. Benjamin, on arrival, was informed that he would be turned over to the Gestapo in the morning - and it could be that the Mayor of the town was looking for a bribe. Benjamin believed the Mayor, who was lying, and committed suicide that night with a dose of morphine he had gotten from Arthur Koestler, the writer, should he be arrested. His manuscript was given to a Frau Gurland, who was fleeing the Gestapo. It has never been recovered and is assumed to have been discarded by Gurland, for fear she would be searched while on a train to Lisbon, Portugal.

Benjamin was buried in Portbou, though the body has never been found.

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  • Text: Paul Moerenhout & Warren Leming
  • Photos: