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Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) was born in Berlin in 1892, the son of a Jewish art dealer. After schooling at a humanistic gymnasium, he studied philosophy and literature at Freiburg and started a friendship with the poet C. F. Heinle. Heinle and his wife committed suicide in 1914, an event that devastated Benjamin, and the memory of the young poet stayed with Benjamin for the rest of his life. Benjamin himself would, even before the fatal day in Port Bou in 1940 when he took a lethal dose of morphine, contemplate suicide in Paris in 1931 in light of the worsening political situation in Germany.

In 1915, Benjamin met Gershom Scholem (1897–1982), whose friendship was decisive, as was his friendship with Theodor Adorno (1903–1969), whom Benjamin met ...

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