For the 80th anniversary of the terrifying events of Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany, C&G Partners worked with the Leo Baeck Institute to develop “1938 PROJEKT: Posts from the Past”. The year-long social media, web and exhibit program presents 365 daily posts of archival documents from the year 1938. In transposed real time, they tell the story of how Jewish citizens perceived that increasingly fateful year. C&G Partners developed the project’s visual identity and crafted social, web and physical experiences.
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 people and is viewed by many as the beginning of the Holocaust. Eighty years later, “1938 PROJEKT: Posts from the Past” tells the story of ordinary people’s perceptions of the year leading to Kristallnacht. Using daily web and social media posts of actual archival documents from the same corresponding dates in 1938, the project creates a growing online calendar in real time.
Every day this year, a new document — a handwritten letter, a diary entry, a photo, a newspaper article — is posted to social media and the website, reflecting the experiences and intimate impressions of its former owners as they grappled with the gradual loss of their rights, livelihoods, homes, and personal safety. The archives depict the disbelieving reaction to the gradual rise of an authoritarian regime in their own country, providing an initially benign suspense with subtle signs of change and a subsequent sense of denial and suspicion. The archival documents are gripping to read today, portraying daily life in the buildup to what we now know will be the coming violence of Kristallnacht, after which all hope was lost.
C&G Partners recommended using social media as the lead component to provide the world with a glimpse into the LBI archive. Each document has a custom-designed post that is shared daily on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook with the website and exhibition used as a repository for the content as it appears. The design approach, with strong, easily recognizable branding across all channels, conveys the story of 1938 by “dating” each document in chronological order as it is posted.
The project’s graphic design reflects the contemporaneous Bauhaus style of the 1930s, with shadows of the graphic propaganda motifs of the Third Reich. The archival documents posted on the website 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.
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 nod to the 80 years since 1938.
The “PROJEKT” also includes companion physical exhibitions and programs in the US and Germany, designed by C&G Partners. The US exhibit, which includes enlarged reproductions of 36 documents from the archive featured online throughout the year, runs throughout the year at LBI’s New York location.