Graphic artists Thomas Henseler and Susanne Buddenberg have collaborated on a reimagination of the 28 year partition of Berlin to produce BERLIN- A City Divided, which tells five stories of personal, familial, and emotional hardship in Cold War Berlin. Henseler and Buddenberg strive to answer complex questions about the reality of Berlin at this time. This November, it will be 25 years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the artists articulate their mission and offer us some excerpts from the graphic novel.
“What we tried to achieve in creating our graphic novel BERLIN - A City Divided was to bring back a piece of the past, and make it believable and alive for a new generation that has not experienced the Cold War.
Before 1989, depending on which side of the wall you were born, everything was different, even the air you smelled. We both grew up in the West, and we often asked ourselves: how does it feel to live on the other side? Who can you trust? Who are your friends? Would you spy on your friends? Would you try to escape with your family to the other side, over, or under the wall and risk your life and the life of others? Would you leave your family and try to make it on your own? What would the perception of life on the other side of the wall be? How did the daily routine unfold under the looming presence of a controlling state?
We started to dig into the past, research, visit archives, go through documents, watch documentaries, read books, and decided that for us, the best way to tell these stories, and to bring them into life would be by working on a comic book, a graphic novel.
We had so many questions for the people we met, those who lived on the other side of the wall, and we are grateful to them for sharing their painful past and private material, some of which was over 50 years old. They left a strong impression on us: open minded, modest, in no way did they think of themselves as heroes. But, in fact, to us they are. It was often breathtaking to listen to their most painfulexperiences.
We want to share some of these experiences with you, through our work."
-Thomas Henseler and Susanne Buddenberg
Susanne Buddenberg and Thomas Henseler studied design at the Fachhochschule Aachen and film at the Academy of Film and Television "Konrad Wolf" in Potsdam-Babelsberg. After graduating, they founded "Zoom und Tinte (zoom and ink)", specializing in film, and illustration. Together the two of them have been working in the fields of comics, illustrations and storyboards. At the same time they teach in the field of design, film and game. They have published three historical comics about the East German history: "Grenzfall" (2011), "BERLIN-A City Divided" (2012) and "Tunnel 57-A True Escape-Story" (2013) and they are currently working on their fourth book.