C&G Partners recently created the visual identity, website, exhibition design and social media strategy for the '1938 Projekt: Posts from the Past,' a captivating year-long social, web and physical exhibition program which presents a daily stream of one archival document - a handwritten letter, a diary entry, a photo, a newspaper article - from that year belonging to German-speaking Jews as they lived through the 12 months leading up to Kristallnacht and the beginning of the Holocaust.
Kristallnacht, or the 'Night of Broken Glass,' on November 9-10, 1938 was a widespread attack or 'pogrom' carried out against Jews. It took the form of assaults, property destruction, burning of synagogues, forced incarceration and murder. It affected tens of thousands of innocent Jewish citizens and is viewed by many as the beginning of the Holocaust.
Eighty years later, Leo Baeck Institute's '1938 Projekt: Posts from the Past' tells the story of how German-speaking Jews perceived the progressing situation of the year leading to Kristallnacht, using daily web and social media posts of actual archival documents from the same corresponding dates in 1938 to create a growing online calendar in real time. The 'projekt' also includes companion exhibitions and programs in the US and Germany.
Maya Kopytman, partner and lead creative on the work at C&G Partners, said the strength of the project is in how the calendar concept draws the public in by building suspense in small daily doses. "It's similar to the effect of a film where the viewer knows what happens in the end but the characters in the film don't," Kopytman explained. "We now know the events that were about to unfold in 1938, yet we witness the original owners of these documents living in varying states of denial and going about their lives, attending the opera and taking round-trip overseas cruises. Even when we read about arrests, the documents reveal how people trust things will soon be back to normal."
The archived documents depict the disbelieving reaction to the gradual rise of an authoritarian regime in their own country, providing a benign suspense with subtle signs of change and the subsequent sense of denial or suspicion. The archival documents are gripping to read today, since they portray daily life in the buildup to what we now know will be the coming violence of Kristallnacht, after which all hope was lost.
Working from LBI's original desire to use their extensive archive, C&G Partners developed the project's visual identity and crafted social, web and physical experiences.
The project's graphic design reflects the modernist, Bauhaus style of the late 1930s. In the visual identity, the numeral '8' in the year and letter 'O' in 'Projekt' are aligned and highlighted with a vertical red gesture, hiding in plain sight a commemoration of the 80 years since the 1938. The archival documents posted each day are sometimes accompanied by a brief sidebar story of a world news event from the same date in 1938 to provide historical context.