Germany’s Börsenverein: A Second ‘Freedom of Expression Week’

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With a more targeted framework around the Ukraine crisis, Germany’s ‘Freedom of Expression Week’ again has publishers’ leadership.

In Mykolaiv, Ukraine, July 25, 2020, now a city reported by western news media to be a ghost town under near constant bombardment in recent days. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Ioanna Alexa

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Ukraine: A New Focal Point for Meinungsfreiheit
In its media messaging today (April 8), the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, has set May 3 to 10 as the dates for a second iteration of the country’s Freedom of Expression Week—Woche der Meinungsfreiheit.

Publishing Perspectives readers will recall that last year’s inaugural effort drew broad-based support, with nearly 35 partners including Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, Frankfurter Buchmesse, PEN Center Germany, the Eintracht Frankfurt sports club and its influential president Peter Fischer, the Gutenberg Book Guild, the Anne Frank Educational Center, and the Goethe-Institut.

At the heart of the program is a drive for a widening body of signatories to a Freedom of Speech Charter. The document has 11 principles and is discussed in association with the hashtag #MehrAlsMeineMeinung or, roughly, My Opinion Isn’t the Only One that Counts. 

Peter Kraus vom Cleff

In a statement on today’s call for participation, the Börsenverein general manager, Peter Kraus vom Cleff, says, “Russia’s horrific attack on Ukraine is the current low point in a startling development: Autocratic regimes are increasingly and more brutally taking action against people, their rights and freedoms.

“Freedom of speech is often one of the first to be suppressed.

“That urges us all to act if we care about the values ​​of liberal democracy. With the Freedom of Speech Week, we want to set an example as a broad social alliance: for free speech, human dignity, democratic participation, equality for all, for peace.”

In its sophomore year, the program is carrying shades of new significance, of course.

The text issued to news people starts with the phrase Solidarity With Ukraine, pointing out, “The repression of independent and critical voices has increased worldwide in the past year. With the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the lives and basic rights of people in Europe are under acute threat.

“The current context of the week of freedom of expression is therefore more explosive than ever.”

The second point of the charter reads (emphasis ours), “Freedom of expression includes the right to information, freedom of the press, and freedom to publish and report.”

All those freedoms are being trampled by Putin’s suppression of independent news outlets,  and a furious crackdown on public acts of dissent in Russia.

This year, some 40 companies, foundations, clubs, and associations are partnering on the German demonstrations. of the action week, the. Many publishers and bookstores are involved with events, themed tables or campaigns. items on the program have already been set. The calendar of events is available here.

Participants in the 2022 Freedom of Expression Week
  • October 3rd – Germany sings
  • Amnesty International
  • Law firm Damm & Mann
  • Educational center Anne Frank
  • fire one
  • Book children Leipzig
  • Federal Agency for Civic Education/bpb
  • Book Guild Gutenberg
  • Deutschlandfunk
  • Eintracht Frankfurt
  • European Sculpturepath
  • Frankfurt agency alliance
  • Frankfurt book fair
  • Friedrich Naumann Foundation
  • Association of Press Wholesalers
  • RheinMain University of Applied Sciences, Wiesbaden, Rüsselsheim, Department of Design Computer Sciences Media (DCSM)
  • International Journalists Association
  • JoinPolitics
  • Klett-Cotta Verlag
  • Leipzig Internet Newspaper
  • Margit Horváth Foundation
  • media campus frankfurt
  • MVB
  • Network of Literature Houses
  • Penguin Random House publishing group
  • PEN Center Germany
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Swiss Booksellers and Publishers Association
  • Gruner+Year
  • City of Leipzig
  • daily mirror
  • Thalia
  • burnt places
  • Publisher CH Beck
  • VS Association of German Writers
  • Droemer Knaur publishing group
  • Wayside GmbH

From the campaign’s social media channels:

#MoreThanMyOpinion


Follow our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions. 

More from Publishing Perspectives on the German book market is here, more on the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels is here, and more on the freedom of expression and freedom to publish is here

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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