« Victor Hugo and the 21st century »
The exhibition created by the Literary House: “Victor Hugo and the 21st century”, was presented in Germany from May 12 to August 5, 2001 at the municipal history museum of the city of Bingen. It was the first exhibition organized by the Literary House abroad. It was also the first time that three of the pieces classified as « National Treasure as Historic Monuments » were exhibited outside France, with the agreement and support of the French Ministry of Culture: the only corrected proof Les Miserables, the last word written by Victor Hugo’s hand « To love is to act », the handwritten draft of a general amnesty for the Communards.
On the occasion of the inauguration, on May 11, Mr. Daïsaku Ikeda sent a special message, which Mr. Philippe Moine, director of the Literary House of Victor Hugo, had the honor of reading in front of more than 200 guests from Mark. In his text, Mr. Ikeda remarkably underlines the spirit of Victor Hugo and the central axis of this exhibition: « He (Hugo) also worked to create the future. Unceasingly, he drew, in the sky of the future, the immense rainbow of his dream of large-scale social reforms.«
It is also in The Rhine that he evokes for the first time the idea of the United States of Europe “The alliance of France and Germany is the constitution of Europe”. 1 This assertion by Victor Hugo with the benefit of hindsight, and in the light of history, appears to us to be all the more strikingly clear since at that time, both French and Germans were already calling for war for the supremacy on the Rhine.
Resulting from a first meeting in 1998, and a collaboration of more than two years between the Literary House of Victor Hugo and the History Museum of the city of Bingen, this exhibition received the patronage of the Prime Minister of the Region Rhineland Palatinate, Mr. Kurt Beck, also in charge of Franco-German cultural relations in the Federal Government of Germany.
After a message of welcome and thanks from Mrs. Collin-Langen, Mayor of Bingen, Mr. Hofmann-Göttig, State Secretary for Culture, representing Mr. Kurt Beck, gave a speech explaining the importance of this exhibition for the strengthening of cultural ties and friendship between France and Germany. Then, Mr. Jean Gaudon, professor emeritus of the universities and member of the Honorary Committee of the Literary House, evoked the stays of Victor Hugo on the banks of the Rhine.
Mr. Ikeda meanwhile, underlined in his message, an essential aspect of his action at the international level: « Protecting the magnificent cultural heritage created by humanity is a duty for all. To contribute to the culture of mankind is also the natural duty of any religion. »
Director of the Literary House of Victor Hugo
1 The Rhine, Conclusion, 1842.