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Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opens the German stand

Frankfurt am Main/Warsaw, 18 May 2017 – On Friday, 19 May 2017, on the occasion of Germany’s participation as Guest of Honour at the Warsaw Book Fair (18-21 May 2017), Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, will officially open the German stand. On the Sunday of the fair, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel and Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski are also expected at the German stand. Together with the author Yuri Andrukhovych, the two politicians will participate in the panel discussion “Moving Europe: How can we revive the European idea?” at 1:15 p.m. This is the first time that two high-ranking political delegations will attend a foreign book fair at which Germany is participating as Guest of Honour. This underlines the great importance assigned to relations between Poland and Germany by the governments of both countries.

“Words move. Siła słów” is the slogan of the programme, developed jointly by the Frankfurter Buchmesse, Goethe-Institut and Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Foreign Office of Germany). Its aim is to present literature as a free space for open dialogue and for exchanging thoughts, feelings and information.

“At a time when Europe is increasingly under pressure, we want to take advantage of our participation as Guest of Honour to discuss topics that move us: Europe as a place many long to move to, the alarming right-wing populist tendencies in many countries, the effects of the financial crisis – but also questions about shared values and cultural identities. More than any other place, an international book fair must be committed to freedom of expression. Here, for just a few days, people from many countries come together who champion the dissemination of the written word with passion and expertise. Defending this fundamental democratic right with all possible means is our most important task”, says Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

“We’re looking forward to Germany’s participation as Guest of Honour in Warsaw”, says Christoph Bartmann, director of the Goethe-Institut Warsaw. “It supports our efforts to establish an intense German-Polish cultural dialogue, even in politically difficult times. The names of the invited authors and the titles of the events reveal that, the wide variety of topics notwithstanding, freedom of expression will be a key topic”.

The 220-square-metre German collective stand will provide a stage for a diverse range of German book culture: A record number of 66 exhibitors are utilising Germany’s participation as Guest of Honour to initiate discussions and business with Polish publishers. Employees of 23 of these publishers will represent them at the fair, including Aufbau, Rowohlt, Suhrkamp, Kookbooks, Gabal and Loewe. The Polish bookstore Co-Liber will handle book sales at the stand.

With Nobel laureate Herta Müller, the German stand will host an author who has transcended many borders both in her life and art. She has taken her experiences in a communist regime and channelled them into her literature: Her prose unsettles and moves. Herta Müller is very popular among Polish readers – more of her books have been translated into Polish than to any other language. The Romanian-German author is often considered an advocate for the defence of human rights. “The words of every language have different eyes” is the title of the event in which Herta Müller will be in conversation with the Polish journalist Adam Krzeminski.

Under the headline “Quo vadis Europa?”, the Ukrainian author Yuri Andrukhovych, the German political scientist Ulrike Guérot and the Polish journalist Magdalena Grochowska will grapple with three different European positions. Jacek Żakowski will moderate the discussion.

Wherever freedom of the press and speech are suppressed, democracy is at risk. What are the consequences of this for a society? How can authors and journalists in particular confront censorship; how can they continue to practice their professions? At the panel discussion “For speech and freedom. Opportunities and threats at times of political transition”, the authors and journalists Artur Becker, Ewa Wanat, Marek Cichocki and Alexander Skipis (German Publishers & Booksellers Association) will talk about one of the most pressing issues of our time.

Visitors will also find a rich programme dedicated to specialist, literary and social-political issues, as well as to children’s and young adult literature and crime novels. Eleven authors will have conversations with Polish writers and journalists in Warsaw. In addition to the above-mentioned authors, these include Wolfgang Bauer, Ulrike Draesner, Jakob Hein, André Kubiczek, Charlotte Link, Alice Pantermüller, Daniela Seel and illustrator Daniela Kohl. The complete programme of events at the German collective stand is available here:

The German and Polish book markets share longstanding, close ties. Polish publishing houses are important licensing partners for German publishers: In 2015, 367 licenses were assigned, a slight increase over 2014 (324 licenses sold). Since 2011, Poland has been among the ten most important languages for the sale of foreign rights to German titles. At the same time, in Germany, there is steady interest in Polish literature. Polish ranks among the 20 top languages from which German publishers translate: In 2015, a total of 48 Polish works were translated to German, including 16 fiction titles.

In 2000, Poland participated as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse; in 2006, in turn, Germany was the Guest of Honour at the Warsaw Book Fair. This exchange is also reflected in the Polish population’s interest in German culture: According to the German Foreign Office, over two million Polish pupils are learning German.

Literature enthusiasts can browse some 800 German books at the collective stand – on display, among others, are the collections “On Words and Liberty – Books about Freedom of Expression”, “Rights List Children’s Books On Tour”, “The Best German Book Design 2016”, “On the End of Loneliness - New Literary Releases from Germany”, “My Father’s Counry - Postwar Biographies” as well as, for the first time, “This Tree’s Leaf. German-language Authors’ Experiences of Nature”.

Official website of the Warsaw Book Fair: in a new window)

About the Goethe-Institut
The Goethe-Institut is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with a global reach. We promote knowledge of the German language abroad and foster international cultural cooperation. We convey a comprehensive image of Germany by providing information about cultural, social and political life in our nation. Our cultural and educational programs encourage intercultural dialogue and enable cultural involvement. They strengthen the development of structures in civil society and foster worldwide mobility.

About the Frankfurter Buchmesse
The Frankfurter Buchmesse is the international publishing industry’s biggest trade fair – with over 7,150 exhibitors from more than 100 countries, around 278,000 visitors, over 4,000 events and approximately 10,000 accredited journalists and bloggers - in attendance. It also gathers key players from other media, including the film and games industries. Since 1976, the Frankfurter Buchmesse has featured an annual Guest of Honour country, which showcases its book market, literature and culture to attendees in a variety of ways. The Frankfurter Buchmesse organises the participation of German publishers at around 20 international book fairs and hosts trade events throughout the year in major international markets. With its Business Club, the Frankfurter Buchmesse offers essential services and an ideal setting for the activities of publishers, entrepreneurs, pioneers, experts and visionaries. The Frankfurter Buchmesse is a subsidiary of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association. in a new window)

Contact for the media:
Press & Corporate Communications, Frankfurter Buchmesse
Katja Böhne, Vice President Marketing & Communications, tel.: +49 (0) 69 2102-138, in a new window)
Kathrin Grün, Head of PR and Communications, tel.: +49 (0) 69 2102-170, in a new window)
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