Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft

The German Film AG, DEFA short, was a state owned and vertically integrated film company in East Germany with headquarters in Potsdam -Babelsberg. With the development of television in the GDR opened up for the DEFA another important field of work. The DEFA turned about 700 feature films, 750 animated films as well as documentaries and short films in 2250. Approximately 8,000 films were dubbed. To DEFA were at least temporarily, the VEB devices work of Friedrich Hagen, the DEFA Centre for Moving Image, the VEB cinema technology and as of 1953 the VEB DEFA film laboratories in Berlin- Johannisthal.

  • 7.1 Significant DEFA films
  • 7.2 The most successful DEFA films
  • 7.3 Literaturverfilmungen (selection)
  • 7.4 Prohibited and censored DEFA films
  • 7.5 fairy tale films ( selection)
  • 7.6 Children Films (selection )
  • 7.7 Indian Movies
  • 7.8 Science fiction movies


The DEFA should, according to the concern " and help to restore democracy in Germany to liberate the minds of German fascism and educate socialist citizens " of their founders. In the wake of denazification in the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ ) and the GDR, the film industry and the cultural life should be " freed reactionary elements and undemocratic antihumanistischer National Socialist ideology and its protagonists " of.

The main theme and mission statement of the SED and the DEFA films was at the beginning of anti-fascism and socialist realism. Ways of thinking and representations of nihilism, decadence, formalism, philistinism and " civil behavior " should be criticized in filmmaking or avoided and replaced by socialist ideals. So above all films in the tradition of the working class and anti-war films, which should expose the Nazi ideology emerged. The films should reflect the other hand, socialist, humanist and communist values ​​and the love of the GDR.



After the end of the Second World War, the Soviet occupation forces began to make the film industry in East Germany back on track again. The medium of film should not be used as a last means of propaganda. So granted on May 28, 1945 three weeks after the signing of the surrender by the German Wehrmacht, the Soviet commandant of Berlin, Colonel General Nikolai Berzarin have approved the opening of theaters and movie theaters in Berlin. The Soviet film distribution Sojusintorgkino (Russian Союзинторгкино ) awarded on June 6, 1945 order, the film Ivan Grozny (Russian Иван Грозный, dt Ivan the Terrible) by Sergei Eisenstein synchronize; the German version of the text and directed by Wolfgang took over Staudte. The joint stock company for film production ( Afifa ) in Berlin- Köpenick presented on June 14, 1945 under Soviet line 1000 color copies from the original negative of the Soviet fairy tale film The Stone Flower ago. Sojusintorgkino took over on July 4, 1945, all belonging to the former UFA - owned cinemas and allowed to reopen them. Following the SMAD reorganized the entire film production in the Soviet Zone.

On 25 August 1945, the Central Administration for National Education took under its President Paul Wandel as an advisory body of the SMAD work on. Head of art and literature ( and film) was Herbert Volkmann. With him came forward the cameraman Werner Krien, the Filmszenenbildner Carl Haacker and Willy Schiller, the chemist and film technicians Kurt Maetzig, the actor and production manager Adolf Fischer, the businessman, electrical engineer and electrician Alfred Lindemann and actor Hans Klering to one in the structure new film production co-operate, and formed a film active.

In order to have full influence on the production of films, the head of the SMAD confiscated on October 30, 1945 Order No. 124 all the German Reich in the field of SBZ assets belonging film production. The film companies UFA, Tobis, Tesch and Afifa were notably as under this command explains falling. These companies were merged to form Sojusintorgkino in Germany, managed by trustees appointed by the SMAD and were only allowed to take orders from facilities that had a license from the SMAD.

On November 22, 1945, the first consultation of cultural officials, filmmakers and writers about building a new film production in the Soviet Zone was held at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin. Under the direction of Paul Wandel, the members of the film Aktivs well as under other Boleslaw Barlog, Hans Deppe, Hans Fallada, Werner Hochbaum, Gerhard Lamprecht, Herbert Maisch, Peter Pewas, Wolfgang Staudte, Günther manner Born and Friedrich Wolf met. The former patent and attorney Albert Wilkening took over the command of the Soviet city district commandant of Berlin -Treptow on November 28, 1945, the interim director of Tobis Film Art AG. In January 1946, the film was officially registered active by civil law as having been divided into the Central Administration for National Education Society, and took his seat in Berlin on Dönhoffplatz in the former administrative offices of UFA, Krause 38 / 39th Director and production manager was Alfred Lindemann, First Deputy and was responsible for business and administration Karl Hans Bergmann, Kurt Maetzig was responsible for the newsreel, Willy Schiller for technical questions and Hans Klering was liaison to the Soviet occupation services. The Head of Department of Art and literature ( and film) in the Central Administration for National Education Herbert Volkmann was responsible for the political and artistic work. The task of the film Aktivs it, " to call a German film industry in the SBZ into life " was. On 19 February 1946, as new newsreel Eyewitness first time in the cinema.

On May 17, 1946 in Potsdam- Babelsberg, on the grounds of the Althoff studios the German Film AG ( DEFA ) i Gr. founded. The proposed short form DEFA came from Adolf Fischer, the logo was designed by Hans Klering. The head of the Information Office of the SBZ, Colonel Sergei Tjulpanow, the license for the "production of films of all categories " handed (not for their distribution ). Licensees were Hans Klering, Alfred Lindemann, Willy Schiller, Karl Hans Bergmann and Kurt Maetzig. Also present was the Soviet cultural officer Alexander Dymschitz.

On August 13, 1946 was the entry of the German Film GmbH, based in Berlin SW 68, Krausenstraße 38/39, in the commercial register in Berlin -Mitte. Partners were Alfred Lindemann, Karl Hans Bergmann and Herbert Volkmann. The share capital amounted to 20,000 Reichsmarks (RM ). Lindemann and Bergmann became the Managing Director, Klering appointed authorized signatory. The legal domicile of the company was laid on June 14, 1947 by Berlin to Potsdam. The four film studios of Tobis Film Kunst GmbH / syndicate Tobis GmbH in Berlin- Johannisthal, but continued to form the productive base of the DEFA.

1947 the Soviet authorities widened their influence further. The command # 174 of SMAD from October 23 undertook the Brandenburg state government to hand over the former UFA - site in Potsdam- Babelsberg " for the purpose of satisfying the reparation of the USSR German-owned " to the Soviet Union. The DEFA was the grounds therefore no longer available. The control of the film studios exercised the Soviet Technical Office for Cinematography, means the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR. The Soviet corporation Linsa, belonged to their area of ​​expertise all film companies, including rental, copying works and venues in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union, took her seat in Potsdam- Babelsberg. Linsa was under the leadership of the Soviet joint stock companies (SAG ) in Berlin- Weissensee.

The German Film GmbH was converted into a Soviet- German joint stock company on 11 November 1947 with the logo DEFA remained. The capital of the GmbH was taken over by the SED party operating VOB Zentrag, increased from 20,000 to 10,000,000 RM and belonged to 45 % of German and 55% of the Soviet side. The board of the joint company was formed from the former shareholders of the German Film GmbH, Herbert Volkmann, Alfred Lindemann and Karl Hans Bergmann, and on the Soviet side of Alexander Selva, Director General of Sojusintorgkino and Sovexport and film director Ilya Trauberg. The nine-member board was occupied in proportion to the shares of stock. On the same day, the SED secured extensive influence on the East German film production: The Central Secretariat of the SED a film commission ( DEFA Commission) was formed. It included, among others, Anton Ackermann, Otto Meier, Erich Gniffke, Paul Wandel and Gustav at Wangenheim. The DEFA Commission had to be submitted for approval to the production planning of the DEFA and rough cut and final version of all movies. In special agreements for the founding Treaty stipulates that " the personnel policies of the DEFA [ ... ] carried out in accordance with the relevant department at the Central Committee of the SED " is. The shareholders of DEFA had to commit themselves to " irrevocably " only exercise their ownership functions as a trustee of the SED and to "keep under the partnership agreement to their instructions without objection " to. All questions fundamental importance were decided jointly by the SED as trustor. Albert Wilkening was technical as permanent representative of Alexander Selva director at the DEFA.

Successor miner at the DEFA Board was Günter Matern. Bergmann worked as Head of the Department of Public Information; from 1 December 1948, he headed the founded on July 9, 1947 German Film Verlag, in the magazines New film world and the picture and sound were issued. The German film publishing was in 1952 by Henschel Verlag.

On 24 March 1948, the Central Secretariat of the SED instructed the DEFA Board, DEFA - General Lindemann to dismiss with immediate effect due to alleged financial manipulations. This then resigned his position as President and Managing Director. Its function as a production manager took over Albert Wilkening. Lindemann's successor at the DEFA Management Board Rudolf Engel, who was previously president of the Central Administration for evacuees. Already on June 1 angel was Vice President of the Central Administration for National Education and handed over his position as Board Member of the DEFA. At the same time Walter Janka was worked up to that point in the Central Secretariat of the SED, a member of the DEFA Board. On 6 October, the Central Secretariat of the SED, dismiss the DEFA shareholder Volkmann, Lindemann and Maetzig and the SED functionaries Grete Keilson, Alexander and Wilhelm Meissner Delete decided to set up as new shareholders.

After the return of the rental rights for his own films at the DEFA Sovexport by the DEFA Film Distribution was founded on 1 November 1948.

On 3 December 1948, the DEFA, which already had more than 2000 permanent employees was registered as a joint German - Soviet joint-stock company in the commercial register.

The Soviet director Alexander N. Andriyevsky took over on February 1, 1949 the post of died on December 18, 1948 Ilya Trauberg as director of the DEFA Board. On 19 April, Falk Harnack, director at the Deutsches Theater, successor of Maetzig as artistic director of the DEFA Studios for feature films after he had asked for his dismissal. Delete was on June 15, succeeding Günter Matern as a director and authorized representative of the DEFA film distribution. On July 1, Sepp Schwab was Deputy Head of the DEFA Board Alexander N. Andriyevsky. The company newspaper DEFA aperture appeared from 1 October.

Structural change after the founding of the GDR

After the founding of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) on 7 October 1949, the DEFA went gradually into German hands. In July 1950, the Soviet government appropriated all film studios, workshops and recording studios to the government of the GDR. As a still private legal trading company DEFA was initially still the Ministry of Light Industry. On 1 August 1950, the Progress movie rental was established and entrusted with the evaluation of the DEFA films. To date, he is exploiting the rights of the world cultural heritage of the DEFA film. At the Fifth International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary ( 15 to 30 July 1952) took for the first time, led by Schwab and Harnack, a delegation from the GDR part.

On 1 October 1952, the DEFA was reorganisatiert fundamentally. For this German Film GmbH was dissolved and divided into different state-owned enterprises ( VEB). The result was the DEFA Studio for Feature Films, to which the newer studios in Potsdam- Babelsberg and the traditional Berlin -Johannisthal included, where in the 1920s already classics such as Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler or Nosferatu - created a symphony of horror. Initially, the film studio or the State Committee for the film industry was regulated. Later ( from 7 January 1954) was assigned to the newly created Ministry of Culture, whose head office film controlled the game plans, production planning and approval. In addition to the movie studio also created the DEFA Studio for popular science films, the DEFA Studio for newsreels and documentaries, and in 1955 the Dresden DEFA Studio for Animated Films. In addition, a private DEFA Studio for synchronization in Berlin- Johannisthal was created in 1955.

Sale of the DEFA after the end of the GDR

Since 1990, Progress movie rental utilized as a limited company DEFA productions. In 1992, the DEFA was sold by the Treuhand. End of 1998, the newly formed, non-profit DEFA Foundation transferred the rights to the DEFA film stocks. The aim of the Foundation is to receive this and to make accessible to the public and to promote the German film culture. The exclusive, worldwide distribution rights ( rental ) still at Progress movie rentals. Progress commissioned in 1998 Icestorm Entertainment with the evaluation of the DEFA film stocks on DVD and video. The Federal Film Archive held the cinematic output materials and provides the long-term conservation of the DEFA film stocks obliged. In 2005, the DEFA films theme of the Framework Programme flashback at Mainz Film Festival Filmz.

DEFA directors-general

Important DEFA directors

  • Carl Balhaus (1905-1968)
  • Frank Beyer (1932-2006)
  • Jürgen Böttcher ( * 1931)
  • Heiner Carow (1929-1997)
  • Richard Cohn- Vossen ( b. 1934 )
  • Ernst Cantzler (* 1940)
  • Lutz Dammbeck ( b. 1948 )
  • Slatan Dudow (1903-1963)
  • Heinz Fischer (1901-1982)
  • Karl Gass (1917-2009)
  • Roland Graef ( b. 1934 )
  • Richard Groschopp (1906-1996)
  • Egon Günther ( * 1927)
  • Iris Gusner ( b. 1941 )
  • Peter Hagen ( born 1929 )
  • Falk Harnack (1913-1991)
  • Siegfried Hartmann ( * 1927)
  • Martin Hellberg (1905-1999)
  • Joachim Hellwig (* 1932)
  • Hugo Hermann (1903-1975)
  • Walter Heynowski (* 1927)
  • Kurt Jung- Alsen (1915-1976)
  • Ralf Kirsten (1930-1998)
  • Gerhard Klein (1920-1970)
  • Volker Koepp (1944 )
  • Werner Kohlert ( b. 1939 )
  • Gottfried Kolditz (1922-1982)
  • Jochen Kraußer (* 1943)
  • Siegfried Kühn ( b. 1935 )
  • Rolf Losansky (* 1931)
  • Kurt Maetzig (1911-2012)
  • Karlheinz mouth (* 1937)
  • Arthur Pohl (1900-1970)
  • Günter Reisch ( 1927-2014 * )

Important DEFA-Dramaturgen/Drehbuchautoren/Filmszenaristen

  • Jurek Becker (1937-1997)
  • Gudrun Deubener (1931-2009)
  • Karl Georg Egel (1919-1995)
  • Manfred Friday (1934-1995)
  • Joachim Nestler (1936-2002)
  • Rudolf Jürschik, chief dramaturge
  • Wolfgang Kohlhaase (* 1931)
  • Christa Kozik ( b. 1941 )
  • Ulrich Plenzdorf (1934-2007)
  • Angel car Stein ( * 1922 )
  • Klaus Vishnevsky, head of dramaturgy

Important DEFA Designer

  • Willy Schiller (1899-1973)
  • Oskar Pietsch (1918-2012)
  • Emil Hasler (1901-1986)
  • Alfred Hirsch Meier (1931-1996)
  • Harry Leupold (1928-2013)
  • Hans Poppe (1928-1999)
  • Paul Lehmann ( b. 1928 )
  • Gerhard Helwig (1924-2000)
  • Georg Wratsch (1928-2006)
  • Dieter Adam ( born 1931 )
  • Peter Wilde (1939-2010)
  • Lothar Kuhn ( b. 1946 )
  • George Kranz ( b. 1934 )

Selection of DEFA films

Significant DEFA films

The listed movies are listed the most important German films in the project.

The most successful DEFA films

The listed films are among the 50 most visited DEFA films.

Literary adaptations (selection)

Prohibited and censored DEFA films

Fairy tale films ( selection)

Children Films (selection )

Indian Movies

Science fiction movies