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Hannah Sophie Schmitt, Visitor

Hannah Sophie Schmitt

© Privat

I am a grandchild of Frankfurter Buchmesse

My grandfather Samuel Schmitt was a publisher and author, and the founder of Viernheim publishing. He published bibliophilic books, which were hand-printed and sold in wooden bindings. 

In the early sixties he visited Frankfurter Buchmesse several times with my grandmother. They travelled daily from the small Hessian town of Viernheim, which gave the publishing house its name, to Frankfurt. Sometimes even in the morning fog, because the overnight stays in Frankfurt were too expensive. 

Occasionally they stayed at a friend of my grandfather's, who was called "the scoundrel". Today, however, only the fading memories - and three sons who obviously are children of Frankfurter Buchmesse as they celebrate their birthdays in July, nine months after the book fair in each case - bear witness to this. 

Just don't drape anything too beautifully!  

Back then, everything was kept simple. There was a table and a tablecloth, and the books and folders with reproductions were placed on it. My uncle remembers one year when he was allowed to help decorate the table.  

He was admonished not to drape the books in nice, neat piles, but rather in a somewhat untidy way so that people could "rummage" through them. My grandfather said that otherwise people wouldn't look at them and certainly wouldn't buy anything. At least that is how my uncle remembers the situation. 

In his footsteps through the halls 

Unfortunately, my grandfather died in 2002 - one year before I was born. But his love of books, of writing and his penchant for bibliophilia lives on in me. One day, at the age of 15, I decided to also go to Frankfurter Buchmesse. Since then, I have been to each Frankfurter Buchmesse that has taken place. 

When I walk through the book fair today, almost seventy years after my grandfather, I'm not just wandering through the halls, but I’m also following his footsteps. So literally, I’m a grandchild of Frankfurter Buchmesse.



Hannah Sophie Schmitt took part in the Frankfurt Book Fair's 75 Stories campaign via Instagram in September. Like her, all winners will receive two weekend tickets for #fbm23 and also an anniversary chair after the fair.