'Words Move Things. Siła słów' – this is the motto of Germany's programme as Guest of Honour at the 8th Warsaw Book Fair from 18 to 21 May. Who would contradict that statement? Of course words move us – to joy, sorrow, compassion. But can they also move a continent? Perhaps even bring its countries closer together? The German contribution has this vision in mind. Speaking on "cohesion within Europe," Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, stresses: "At a time when Europe is increasingly coming under pressure, we want to use our role as Guest of Honour to discuss topics that move us: Europe as a place of longing; alarming right-wing populist tendencies in many countries; the effects of the economic crisis – but also questions of common values and cultural identities."
German-Polish cultural dialogue
The Frankfurt Book Fair and the Goethe-Institut prepared the Guest of Honour programme together with the Federal Foreign Office. According to Christoph Bartmann, Director of the Goethe-Institut in Warsaw, it supports "our efforts to promote an intensive German-Polish cultural dialogue even in politically difficult times."
The names of the invited authors and titles of events reveal that freedom of speech will be a central theme. For example, authors and journalists such as Artur Becker, Marek Cichocki and Ewa Wanat will discuss press freedom and freedom of speech with Alexander Skipis of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Booksellers and Publishers Association). Wanat, who was dismissed from her post as editor-in-chief of the RDC radio channel in 2015, has been protesting for a long time against the PiS government's tightening of the Polish media laws.
The panel discussion 'Quo Vadis Europa?' shows, among other things, that media freedom is not the only issue that moves Europe. At this event, Ukrainian writer Yuri Andruchowytsch, Polish journalist Magdalena Grochowska and German political scientist Ulrike Guérot will represent three different European positions – and thus reflect the diversity of views on the continent.
Ulrike Guérot on new ways out of European crises:
Despite the emphasis on politics, literary diversity will not be neglected at German's joint stand. Visitors can expect a varied programme on technical, literary and socio-political issues, as well as on thrillers and literature for children and adolescents. Many authors will visit the German stand – including Literature Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller. It would be difficult to find stronger arguments for the power of words.