MoCom: Motion Comics as Memory Work is a project by and for young people in West and East Germany with and without experiences of migration.

By the end of 2023, four motion comics on the topic of German division will be produced in the MoCom project, each with accompanying educational material. Both, motion comic and educational material, will be used for educational work in and outside of schools. Four groups of young people dedicate themselves to one topic each:

border crossings, fleeing and departure, shared history/shared stories, arriving somewhere new.

Young people develop learning materials for young people!

The project participants are also the target group of the MoCom project. With a collaborative and participatory approach, they develop the motion comics and accompanying materials in collaboration with artists, historians, anthropologists and contemporary eyewitnesses.

What is happening?

The participants collect materials and memories about experiences with the inner-German border – and other borders that still have an influence on the lives of many people in Germany today.

Each group researches a different main topic, which initially also serves as a working title. Depending on what materials the participants find and how they want to tell history/stories, this thematic focus can also change as the creative process progresses.

After discussing photos, interviews, drawings, and objects, they collectively develop a narrative. Together they write the manuscript for their own motion comic. Their ideas are conceptually and visually realized by professional artists. The participants themselves record the manuscript and are involved in the whole visual and acoustic design of the motion comics. Throughout the entire production process they are in close dialogue with the artists.

The MoCom project is an online project, so that young people from all over Germany can participate. They regularly exchange ideas online via video conferences. Every group started off with a weekend workshop – either online or, ideally, in person at the Marienborn Memorial to Divided Germany, near Helmstedt.

Finally, the participants present the final motion comics to the public – both at an in-person premiere in Helmstedt and at an online premiere via YouTube. Each motion comic is available in a German and an English version.

Who are we?

MoCom is organized and supported by the Sachsen-Anhalt Memorials Foundation/ Marienborn Memorial to Divided Germany. PD Dr. Anja Werner (historian) and Dr. Sarah Fichtner (social anthropologist) conceived and developed the MoCom project. The Marienborn Memorial to Divided Germany works with the Institute of Didactics of Democracy (IDD) of the Leibniz University of Hanover as a cooperation partner. As part of the Federal Foundation for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Eastern Germany’s program “Jugend erinnert”, the project is funded by the Federal Government Commissioners.

Why motion comics?

Motion comics are digital, moving image stories with text and sound. This project aims to make greater use of their potential for historical-political educational work. Each motion comic will be published with some accompanying material. Both will be used for educational work at schools and memorial sites.

The project creates approaches to get young people from very different cultural backgrounds interested in recent German history through engaging in a creative debate and pointing out parallels. At the same time, young people are also the intended audience for motion comics, which are an ideal form of low-barrier knowledge transfer via Internet platforms and social media.

The idea for the MoCom project originated in 2020 with the motion comic “Ghost Train”. In this work, Sarah Fichtner and Anja Werner use the perspectives of two children to recount memories of ghost trains and ghost stations in East and West Berlin. “Ghost Trains” was illustrated by the artists Azam Aghalouie and Hassan Tavakoli.

Marienborn Memorial to Divided Germany

The Helmstedt/Marienborn border crossing is one of the most distinctive commemorative sites of German division. Situated at the meeting point between East and West, the GDR border crossing site (GÜSt) Marienborn developed into the largest and most important border crossing on the inner German border. The emblematic architecture of large roofs and rows of lamp posts on the grounds of the control area reflects the heavily monitored border between two political systems that not only separated Germans from Germans, but also divided all of Europe and the world into two opposing power blocs.

The Marienborn Memorial to Divided Germany opened on the grounds of this unusual historic site on 13 August 1996. It is a place to commemorate those who lost their homes, experienced suffering or injustice, or were killed as a consequence of the GDR border regime.