[1] The Walk and Guide

Overview 1/11

Who was Benjamin?

Walter Benjamin: philosopher, literary critic and translator. He is born into a well-to-do family in Berlin in 1892. After obtaining his school-leaving certificate, he studies philosophy, German and art history, soon founds sociocritical discussion forums and in 1914 is elected President of the Free Berlin Student Council.

Even though he obtains a summa cum laude, the highest grade, for his doctorate in 1919, he is destined to spend the rest of his life in extremely precarious economic circumstances. As a Jew and a Marxist intellectual he will soon come into conflict with National Socialism, and after several years in exile in France, and despite a heart problem will decide to flee to the USA from Southern Europe. However, almost immediately after crossing the Pyrenees he dies in unexplained circumstances in the northern Spanish border town of Portbou in September 1940.

The multimedia guide gives an insight into the thoughts of the writer and philosopher. Tourists, school classes, those interested in history and walkers with an inquiring mind set out on the trail of a forgotten story.

The Walk

Since June 2007 the 16 km long Walter Benjamin Trail from Banyuls (France) to Portbou (Spain) commemorates the flight of the great German intellectual- and also, expressly, the many nameless people who have left their footprints here. After the gentle gradient of the plains at the beginning and a first information point on the topic of assistance to escape, the path begins to climb, at first gradually, then after several hours and a final steep section you reach the pass at 500m above sea level- and shortly after this several well-protected places for a well-earned rest at our most detailed information point.
Enjoy the countryside and let our guide accompany you. Have you enough food and water with you? Protection against sun and wind? En route there is nothing but olive trees and cacti.
The route has many traditional uses: as an ancient smuggling route, as the ruta Lister - in 1939 Republican General Enrique Lister’s unit left Spain here fleeing Franco’s dictatorship- or as the F-route, which from 1940 on Hans and Lisa Fittko used to take refugees to safety from the steadily advancing National Socialists.

This Guide

Anyone who wishes to know more about the bewilderingly eventful and fascinating history of this region will be well-served by this guide: both on the website historia-viva.net and the smartphone app for en route , we send you on a multi-media quest with contemporary eyewitness accounts, photos, historical documents and a map which shows where you are in actual time.
After ➀ installing the app from the Android store or from our website, ➁ download a tour from the pop-up menu of the app. Perhaps also download ➂ the map/computer tiles for offline use of the map en route: then you will not be dependent on an internet or mobile phone connection.

➔ N.B: The contents of the individual information points appear in the browser, we, therefore, strongly recommend that you have an up-to-date version of Firefox or Chrome.
➔ N.B: You do not need an online connection on the path, merely GPS for navigational purposes. Texts, sounds, images, videos and the map to help you find your way along the narrow paths will have been downloaded onto the SD card.
➔ Switch on the speakers/headphones of your smartphone/tablet, to hear the commentary.

Sources and External Links

External Links open in a new browser window or tab.
You need an internet connection.
  1. For the home page of historia viva click here