The “Centre for Persecuted Art” in the Art Museum Solingen commemorates the 70th anniversary of Walter Benjamin’s death and exhibits his reconstructed library of over 2000 works in more than 3000 volumes. This collection was lost when the poet, essayist and art critic was persecuted by the Nazi regime. The exhibition from 2nd October to 5th December, 2010, is titled: “Die Unsterblichkeit der Sterne (The Immortality of the Stars. From Goya to Walter Benjamin and Václav Havel).” It ranges from Goya’s visions of the horrors of war, which became terrible reality during the Holocaust, to modern art’s reception of the painter. Walter Benjamin’s and Vaclav Havel’s fates in the two totalitarian regimes of the last century are shown as exemplary.
Walter Benjamin's Lost Library
Blank, specialist in 18th to 20th century literature and philosophy, reconstructed Kafka’s library which was given as a present to the city of Prague by the Porsche AG in the year 2002. His other life long passion was Walter Benjamin. After the Kafka project Blank reconstructed Benjamin’s library. He compiled all the books Benjamin had owned before his library was lost during the Nazi regime. Blank’s catalogue “In Walter Benjamins Bibliothek. Dokumentation einer verlorenen Bibliothek” was published in 2006. Now the books most important to Walter Benjamin, and some of the most rare and beautiful ones, are exhibited at the Centre for Persecuted Art in Solingen. A model of the memorial at Port Bou, where Benjamin took his life after his failed escape from the Nazis, is also shown.
The fate of the playwright Havel, from the persecution under communism to being elected as first president of his liberated country, is integrated in the history of German literature in Czechoslovakia form the collection of Jürgen Serke. Havel is shown in his literary and political struggle on his way to freedom and the reinstatement of Prague as the focal point of Europe.
The “Centre for Persecuted Art” in Solingen is the only one of it’s kind in Europe. It became well known two and a half years ago with its exhibition “Heaven and Hell between 1918 and 1989. The burned poets”. It contains Serke’s book collection and Gerhard Schneider’s collection of “degenerate” art. The curator of this exhibition is the art historian Jürgen Kaumkötter, who, in 1995, assembled the exhibition “Art in Auschwitz” in the Berlin Centrum Judaicum. An exhibition catalogue with essays by Jürgen Serke and Jürgen Kaumkötter and numerous illustrations has been published.