(© Ralph Hinterkeuser)
Vilém Flusser was born on the 12th of May 1920 in Prague into a family of Jewish intellectuals. He attended the German and Czech primary school and later a German grammar school.
In 1938 he began studying philosophy at the Juridical Faculty of Karlsuniversität in Prague. Shortly after the occupation of Prague by the Nazis in March 1939 Flusser emigrated together with Edith Barth, his later wife, and her parents to London. Here he continued his studies at the London School of Economics. His father Gustav Flusser who had studied mathematics and physics lectured at the German and Czech University of Prague and was a representative of the social-democratic party in Parliament. Vilém Flusser lost all of his family in the German concentration camps. His father died in Buchenwald in 1940. His grandparents, his mother and his sister were brought to Auschwitz and later to Theresienstadt where they were killed.
In 1940 Vilém Flusser left England for Brazil. Reaching the port of Rio de Janeiro he was informed of the recent death of his father. For several years he led a life divided between his daily work and his growing philosophical and scientific interest. Among other jobs he was manager of a factory for electronic transformers, and he continued in that position until 1961. His first articles on linguistics and philosophy were published in the same year by the Suplemento Literario do Estado de São Paulo.
In 1962 he became a member of the Brazilian Institute of Philosophy, and he was appointed professor of the philosophy of communications at FAAP (School of Communications and Humanities) in São Paulo.
In 1964 he also became co-editor of the Brazilian Philosophical review. His first book Lingua e realidade was published in 1963. Because of the problematic situation in Brazil after the military coup of 1964, it was getting harder and harder for Flusser to lecture and to publish.
In 1971 during a journey to Europe to prepare the Biennale, both Edith and Vilém took the chance to leave Brazil for good. They first settled in Meran, Italy. A nomadic life began with Flusser taking part in many conferences and giving numerous lectures.
In 1981, he and Edith finally bought a house in Robion (Provence) and settled there. In 1983 he published ‘Für eine Philosophie der Fotografie’. The book has been a huge success and gone through several new editions. It has been published in 14 different languages.
On the 27th November 1991, following his lecture in Prague, Flusser died in a car accident near the German border. He is buried at the Jewish cemetery in Prague.