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The Endless Letter on Instagram Stories

RT, Moscow / RT / 2020

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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

Between 1941 and 1945 over 25 million letters were posted and delivered in the USSR. Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Victory against Nazi Germany we have revealed a unique collection of 7,000 letters that were carefully preserved for decades in family archives. We decided to give them a new read in the format of Instagram Stories.

“Endless Letter” – is an emotional bridge between today’s peace and the horrific times of war when, against all odds, people loved, dreamed, experienced faith and anxiety. With “Endless Letter” our objective was to link the generations by narrative and visual means, with hope that our contemporaries and descendants will understand why this page of history should never be repeated.

Idea

This project is about the fate of an ordinary person. A soldier. A wife. A mother. A child. A father. It is a story of families who had to face such a horrid burden - a story about millions of people who lived and died during the second World War. One can only truly understand the full scale through emotional experience: through personal stories. And there is nothing more personal than letters.

The team worked with the renowned “Letters from the front” archive, perhaps, the most full collection of families’ war-time letters. It took the authors over 5 years to gather thousands of frontline letters from all over Russia. We decided to use the piercing quotes to create the “Endless Letter” and post them as Instagram Stories.

Strategy

These letters open up a different, private, story of the war; it is a unique testimony that connects us with that time. They speak of daily life during the war - what soldiers saw on battlefronts, how their families survived back at home, what people dreamed of, what they hoped for. 500 short quotes and accompanying illustrations by young designers are put together into a single “graphic” narrative on Instagram Stories to a non-stop original music score.

In September “Endless Letter” went offline. An exhibition was held in 12 main Moscow parks featuring over 250 posters specially created for this out-of-home experience which also had an interactive element - many of the illustrations could be brought to life through a special AR App. Tens of thousands of park-goers had a chance to watch the static images turn into animated musical shorts by hovering their smartphones over the prints.

Execution

We partnered with Moscow’s RANEPA Design School to make artistic illustrations to accompany each quote. Teachers, students, as well as famous artists Mikhail Sorkin and Peter Bankov took part in the project. Participation in the project was significant for students not only on an educational level, but also as a human experience, deeply affecting their emotions, feelings of empathy and compassion. It resulted in over 500 illustrations in a variety of shapes, from collages to portraits. 

A specially composed 4-hour-long continuous soundtrack by Maxim Makarychev adds to the atmosphere of the “Endless Letter”.

The project features the unique #VictoryFont "May" which was created specially for the project - behind each character is a documented Reichstag inscription, hand-written 75 years ago by soldiers who conquered Berlin in 1945.

In September 2020 a large-scale exhibition was held in 12 main Moscow parks featuring over 250 works of the students.

Outcome

"Lessons of Auschwitz" is part of the #VictoryPages project - a versatile social media documentary commemorating the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. The digital, multi-platform, educational project assesses the historical magnitude of May 9th, 1945 through personal impressions of contemporaries and from the fresh perspective of digital art and creativity. It is a story of Victory told by the young, for the young, using the tools and language of modern media over five social networks. 

Results:

- 40+ young artists

- 500+ unique illustrations

- Non-stop Instagram Stories soundtrack over 4 hours long

- Over 2 million views

- 100,000 engagements

- 30,000 subscribers

- Over 200 media mentions

Since the start of #VictoryPages on January 13th 2020 the project generated more than 35 million impressions, 250,000 engagements, over 50,000 followers, 4,000,000 video views (800,000 minutes of watch time) and 200+ publications in media. 

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