Germany: 2024 Freedom of Expression Runs Through May 10

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Germany’s state elections are the focus of this year’s May 3 to 10 Freedom of Expression Week from publishers, booksellers, and others.

Jan-Pieter Barbian, György Dalos, and Petra Reski, and moderator Shelly Kupferberg headline the first of the Freedom of Expression Week events on May 3 in Frankfurt. Image: Börsenverein

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

#DemocracyVoteNow Is the 2024 Theme
Many markets of world publishing are encountering challenges to “the trinity” of freedoms, as the International Publishers Association (IPA) knows them—freedom of expression, freedom to publish, and the freedom to read.

On Friday (May 3), the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, opens its Freedom of Expression Week 2024, as last year with more than 60 events, discussions, and campaigns.

Made possible by the support of more than 70 partner organizations, the week concludes on May 10, the 91st  anniversary of a signal event in 1933, when what the United States’ Holocaust Museum Encylopedia refers to as “Nazi-dominated student groups” carried out public burnings of books in 34 university cities. The books, deemed “un-German” by the Nazis, are described today as “works of prominent Jewish, liberal, and leftist writers.”

Books by Bertolt Brecht, Erich Maria Remarque, and Ernest Hemingway were listed for burning among many others, and the flames were followed by raids on bookstores, libraries, and publishers’ warehouses to seize content not aligned with the party’s positions.

In addition to the Börsenverein, key drivers of the week’s events are the newly founded Freedom of Expression Foundation and the Frankfurt Agency Alliance.

The cooperation partner for Freedom of Expression Week 2024 is the Places of Democracy History Foundation. Other sponsors include the ZEIT Bucerius Foundation, the CH Beck Foundation, the Polytechnic Society Foundation and the Palm Foundation.

The Börsenverein, in its media messaging, writes, “In view of the upcoming European elections on June 9 and several state elections in Germany, the focus of this year’s ‘Freedom of Expression Week’ is to call for active support of democracy, especially through participation in elections, under the motto #DemocracyVoteNow.

“In 2024, the Basic Law will also celebrate its 75th anniversary. The action week therefore also focuses on the legal foundation of democracy, the main pillar of which is the right to freedom of expression.”

The site on which the program’s scheduling and offerings can be found is here.

Media partners include the ZEIT publishing group, the Hessischer Rundfunk, the Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg (rbb), the Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk (mdr), RheinMain.Media (RRM), Ströer, and the FAZ.

The calendar of events for the week is devisee to present a significantly and pointedly diverse selection of topics, formats and organizers, including the Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe; S. Fischer Verlage; Thalia; the Peaceful Revolution Foundation; the German National Library with the Places of the History of Democracy Foundation; the Association of Educational Media, and the City of Frankfurt.

Participants are set to address global concerns such as democracy and human rights, war and peace, racism and anti-Semitism, as well as other current debates in Germany in the context of freedom of expression and diversity.

Events range from discussions and readings to concerts and exhibitions and are organized by a variety of partners from publishers, bookstores, media, libraries, human rights organizations, trade unions, churches, the music scene, clubs, associations and city administrations.

Highlighted Events

At this point, the Börsenverein is pointing up three signal programs:

May 3, an opening discussion: ‘Free Speech, Free Europe?’
7:3o p.m. Literaturhaus Frankfurt
With Jan-Pieter Barbian, György Dalos, and Petra Reski, moderated by Shelly Kupferberg.
In cooperation with S. Fischer Verlag and the Department for European Affairs of the City of Frankfurt. Get tickets here

May 5, a discussion and staged reading: ‘In the Best Shape?’
3:30 p.m., Frankfurt Paulskirche
The Börsenverein is participating as a partner in this event on the occasion of the celebration of 75 years of the Basic Law in cooperation with the city of Frankfurt, Ev. Academy and Foundation Places in the History of Democracy.

May 7, an evening of discussion: ‘Europe Has the Choice. Future: Democracy’
7:30 p.m., Frauenkirche Dresden
With Michel Friedman, Nicole Deitelhoff, Anne Rabe, Anne Hähnig, Noam Petri, Moderation: Klaus With Brink Bäumer, moderator, in cooperation with the Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation, ZEIT Bucerius Foundation, Palm Foundation, ZEIT Publishing Group. Register here

Partners in the 2024 Freedom of Expression Week
    • Amnesty International
    • Alliance Foundation
    • Working group for youth literature eV
    • Rankweil architectural office
    • Anne Frank Educational Center
    • Buchkinder Leipzig eV
    • Bookstore “Books near Dausien”, Hanau
    • Lehmkuhl bookstore
    • Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb)
    • Gutenberg Book Guild
    • CH Beck Foundation
    • CH Beck Publishers
    • German National Library
    • German Exile Archive 1933-1945
    • German National Library/German Book and Writing Museum
    • dpa
    • Eintracht Frankfurt
    • Frankfurt Agency Alliance
    • Frankfurt book fair
    • Paul’s Church in Frankfurt
    • Frankfurt celebrates democracy
    • Frauenkirche Dresden
    • gait
    • General Press Wholesale Association
    • House at the cathedral
    • Hessischer Rundfunk (hr)
    • Frankfurt Historical Museum/City Laboratory
    • International Journalists Association
    • KörberForum Hamburg
    • Leipzig Book Fair
    • Leipzig Internet newspaper
    • Literaturhaus Frankfurt
    • Literaturhaus Munich
    • media campus frankfurt
    • Central German Broadcasting (mdr)
    • MVB
    • Network of literary houses
    • Nicolaische Buchhandlung, Berlin
    • Palm Foundation
    • Penguin Random House Publishing Group
    • PEN Center Germany
    • Polytechnic Society Foundation
    • RBL Media
    • Berlin-Brandenburg Broadcasting (rbb)
    • Swiss Book Trade and Publishing Association
    • S. Fischer Publishers
    • Munich City Academy
    • State Chancellery of Saxony
    • Erlangen City Library
    • City of Frankfurt
    • City of Leipzig
    • Frankfurt am Main City Library
    • Dresden Frauenkirche Foundation
    • Peaceful Revolution Foundation
    • New Synagogue Berlin Foundation – Centrum Judaicum
    • Places in the History of Democracy Foundation
    • Ströer
    • Thalia
    • Overseas Club Hamburg
    • Ullstein Publishing
    • Use the news
    • Burnt places
    • VHS
    • VS Association of German Writers
    • Association of Educational Media eV
    • Droemer Knaur publishing group
    • Wallstein Publishing
    • Wexfo, Norway
    • Together – diversity makes us strong
  • October 3rd – Germany sings
  • ZEIT Bucerius Foundation
  • ZEIT publishing group

As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, Freedom of Expression Week was introduced by the Börsenverein in 2021 with the Frankfurt Agency Alliance. The supportive nonprofit Freedom of Expression Foundation was then established in 2023. 

You can expect to see the program in social media on Instagram as @woche_der_meinungsfreiheit and on Facebook as @WocheDerFreedom of Expression

A Programming Note: WEXFO 2024

On May 27, the first day of the two-day World Expression Forum (WEXFO) in Lillehammer, Publishing Perspectives will moderate an afternoon-length publishing-specific program titled Access to Information, Books, and Ideas: How to Advance the Freedom to Read.

Publishing Perspectives will moderate this event, with documentation to follow, in which speakers will explore how “politicians must look at the funding to support reading, not as funding something ‘nice to have,’ but as a pure necessity in the fight to uphold our democracies.”

Among the most serious conference-setting examinations of the gathering pressure on publishing to date, this event will bring together speakers including:

Speakers in the special May 27 focus on advancing the freedom to read are, on the top row from left, Miha Kovač; ; Jørgen Lorentzen; Even Aleksander Hagen; and Karine Pansa. On the lower row from left are Tora Åsling; Mariann Schjeide; Laurie Halse Anderson; and Olav Brostrup Müller

Ticketing information and other details about the 2024 WEXFO, May 27 and 28, is here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on issues of the freedom to publish and freedom of expression is here, more on the Prix Voltaire is here, and on the International Publishers Association is here. More on the World Expression Forum, WEXFO, is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson 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 International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, 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.