Independent radio production company Made in Manchester will this weekend make history on BBC Radio 4 when it recreates a series of pre-war broadcasts to children in Germany.
They were made by The German-Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin as the Nazi’s rose to power in the 1930s and included coded messages about life at the time. The Benjamin’s Broadcasts, presented by Michael Rosen, will see Walter Benjamin brought to life by the actor Henry Goodman.
MIM Creative Director Ashley Byrne tells RadioToday: “Behind the much-mythologised figure of Benjamin the philosopher, there lies the little-known historical reality of Benjamin the broadcaster.
“When the Gestapo stormed his last apartment in 1940, they stumbled upon a cache of papers which the fleeing philosopher had abandoned in his hurry to escape Paris. Amongst these papers were the scripts for an extraordinary series of radio broadcasts for children covering everything from toy collecting to the politics of tenement housing, from the psychology of witch hunts to human responses to natural catastrophes. Designed to encourage young listeners to think critically, to question sources and to challenge clichés, Benjamin’s broadcasts stand in stark contrast to the fascist propaganda which would come to take their place.”
Benjamin committed suicide in 1940, when his flight out of Europe was blocked at the Spanish border. He died believing that most – if not all – of his writings were lost.
The Benjamin Broadcasts airs as part of Archive on 4 on BBC Radio 4 from 8pm on Saturday night, produced by Kate Schneider.