Germany guest of honour of the Warsaw book fair is: With words against the dismantling of democracy


The Polish-German relations are strained. Since the Warsaw book fair is a good opportunity to revive this dialogue. Federal President of Germany Steinmeier also opened the exhibition stand of the German Ehrengasts.

Germany is the host country of the 8. The Warsaw book fair, the largest book show in Poland. However, for 2015, since in the Eastern neighboring country, ruled by the right-wing conservative PiS, are tense German-Polish relations. The book industry is politicized – it is your task to build bridges, but at the same time to break a lance for freedom of expression.

Steinmeier relies on close German-Polish cooperation

In this sense, Federal President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier said during his visit in Warsaw, the first since he took office two months ago. At a joint press conference with the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda on Friday (19.05.2107) stressed the similarities of both heads of state. Steinmeier called for the rule of law, democracy and the values of the enlightenment as part of the European identity. “Poland belongs to the core of Europe, and Poland is needed, if we want to overcome this European crisis, we are, without a doubt,” said Steinmeier.

The two presidents, Steinmeier, and Duda, with their wives at the German booth

Also, Duda stressed the importance of German-Polish cooperation for Europe and said that it must “act together”. In the afternoon, the President of the Confederation of German trade fair opened. In his speech, he warned against “political interference” in art and literature. Specifically, Steinmeier mentioned about seven years ago in a plane crash deaths of Polish President Lech Kaczynski. This was announced in a newspaper interview to Thomas Mann’s novel “magic mountain” is clearly to the values of freedom and education and against totalitarian ideologies. Kaczynski’s twin brother Jaroslaw, head of the national conservative ruling party.

“Words move”

“Words move. Siła słów”, under this Motto, 66 German publishers to present until Sunday in the Polish capital. It is a record participation, from design through Suhrkamp up Rowohlt, the German book industry relies on the fact that the climate between Berlin and Warsaw will be better soon.

66 German publishers are represented in Warsaw

“In a time when Europe is increasingly under pressure, we want to use this guest appearance to discuss common values and cultural identity”, described the chief Executive of the börsenverein of the German book trade, Alexander Skipis, the aim of the German guest of honour. Literature should be presented as a free space for open dialogue and the exchange of thoughts, emotions, and information.

Of the press and freedom of expression – this vulnerable space it went right in the first panel discussion on Thursday – the same militant Slogan “for the word and For the freedom of” the stock exchange Association, the book industry and journalists stand in terms of Turkey for freedom of expression. The German-Polish author and Journalist Artur Becker is a connoisseur of both worlds. He criticized Western media-oriented your Poland-image is often only at the state-run media. There is, however, in addition to the state radio is still a lot of liberal Newspapers.

Herta Müller speaks in Warsaw under the title: “In any language other eyes, sitting in the words”

“The relationship between Germany and Poland is still burdened – Yes Skipis not be otherwise, given the difficult shared history,” says Alexander. But after the PiS 2015 have taken over the Power, have worsened the climate clearly. “In the right-wing press that is often rushed against German publishers and authors. Again and again German personalities are depicted as Nazis. This is not acceptable.” It is all the more important in difficult times, the dialogue of cultures to be maintained. At the German exhibition stand, this dialogue of representatives of the book industry, journalists, and eleven authors.

Lively Exchange

With Polish writers and journalists talk, among other things, Wolfgang Bauer, Ulrike Draesner, Jakob Hein, Andre make, Charlotte Link, Alice Panter, Muller, as well as the Illustrator, Daniela Kohl. As a guest of honour in Poland very popular Nobel laureate for literature Herta Müller. In no other language of so many of her books have been translated into Polish. Your experience in a Communist dictatorship has consolidated the Romanian-German writer and literary, among others, in the novel, “breath swing”.

The Logo of the Warsaw book fair in 2017

Overall, are expected to be in the Warsaw national stadium is around 800 publishers and about 1000 authors from around the world. The German community can literature enthusiasts in around 800 books leaves are shown, among others, the collections “For the word and the freedom books and freedom of expression”, “The most beautiful German books in 2016” or “My father’s country – post-war biographies”.